When does a recession become a depression? Well, one answer to that is “when it is YOU that loses the job”.
So I am officially in a depression then.
But I am not one to give up without a fight.Oh no.
Settle down. make yourself a cup of coffee. This is a longish one.
I tried looking for a job and all but gave up after a couple of months due to the lack of replies. Of course I also took into account that not only am I at the wrong side of forty but I am also at the wrong side of fifty. And with so many of our graduates also unemployed, what hope is there for me? I can understand that.
So I decided to set up my own business. After all, there are bills to be paid. But hold on fella, this is a recession. Remember? So it is. But. ‘If you can make it in a recession, you will be truly successful when the inevitable upturn comes’. Isn’t that the sage advice?
So off I went. Playing to my strength’s, I set up an IT support and Web development company. Offering a good quality value-for-money service, I identified a sector that was in need of my talents. But then I discovered that they are broke in that sector. Almost all of them. A disastrous season has left them licking their wounds. And if they don’t absolutely positively HAVE to have it, they won’t pay for it. In fact many are closing down for the winter months. They might or might not reopen in March/April 2013. So back to the drawing board. Or should that be torture rack? Now I am expanding the service offering again and spreading the net wider. Even internationally. (You would be forgiven for thinking that the state must be showering me with information on how to grow my business. But no. I did receive an offer of some mentoring and I took that up. But that’s it. The silence has been and remains deafening. Do I expect them to come to me? No but surely more could be done to foster business? Or maybe that’s just me grumbling. The fact is that the government/country is broke.)
Not only am I offering the above services to a wider, albeit destitute, market place but I am now also promoting my photography skills. Having been a keen amateur photographer for the past thirty years, I learned the trade taking and developing slide film. Some of you may not even have ever heard of slide film before. However, if you can get it right with 35mm slides, you are more than half way there. I embraced digital photography when it was in its’ infancy and now I am the proud owner of some decent digital Canon kit, remote triggers, remote flash triggers, lighting stands, tripod, filters, lenses and my gadget bag is way too small to hold it all. I love it though. Through and through. You can see some of my work on http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkearns/ if you are really interested.
This morning, the immediate future for me looks like this:
a) Spend three days a week trying to generate business on the phone.(Must stop writing and get to it!)
b) Spend two days a week looking for jobs (it’s a time-consuming and desperately frustrating process).
c) Spend Two days a week writing. Who knows? Lee Child did it after being rendered redundant.My novel is taking a bit longer than anticipated as I struggle with trying to make a living. Sorry for the delay!
But I am not out of ideas yet either. I have reached out to people I know abroad. Specifically the USA and Canada. With some 80,000+ people leaving Ireland annually, perhaps now is just “our turn” to go. More on this anon as something could be stirring.
Whilst our politicians play softly softly with the EU (although it seems that the Angela Merkel IS the EU these days, however that happened) the reality of how hard life is here in Ireland now is constantly being downplayed/hidden.If you have a job, you are OK. But so many people turn up for work on any given day only to be told that that’s it. The game is up and the jobs are gone. It’s terribly sad but true. How far is anyone from poverty when their wages/salary is taken away? Work out your own position.Would you spend in this environment?
Some say that we need a war. Imagine that anyone could even contemplate that! War is NEVER the answer. Perhaps we should blow up all the bridges though. Now that would create employment. But seriously, something has to give. It is inevitable. What options does Ireland have if this burden of debt is not lifted? Normal trade is not taking place, retail is almost annihilated. You can’t be an entrepreneur if there is no market. No trade equals no tax equals no way out! As I see it, these are some options:
1) Leave the Euro and regain some control over our currency again. This will allow exports to boom as our prices become as cheap as china’s, creating jobs in the process.
2) Default on the country’s debts. Iceland is still there isn’t it? And that’s what they did.
3) Or we could lobby to become part of another bloc. Perhaps another state attached to the USA. Or Britain (voluntarily this time). Or Russia, China or anywhere that could stand to gain from a strategic relationship.
One thing is clear though. We desperately need a plan B, because the guy’s and gal’s in EU-land couldn’t organise a p**s up in a brewery. At least not while the party is still on.
But the people of Ireland are not revolting, I hear you say. Yes indeed. That is a charge that has been levied. I suppose that we are a nation that is seething at the moment. And make no mistake. We are seething. And the time will come when it will spill out. I believe that that time is almost upon us. Our government politicians keep telling us that the EU will look after us. A deal is tantalizingly close, they add. We all know that we can’t continue like this. Our society is being held together by the thinnest of threads. Every time Frau Merkel pronounces that any aid will not be applied retrospectively to troubled countries, our rulers hastily contrive a follow up clarification statement with her which is usually of the ethereal kind,;lacking in substance, buying time, staving off the revolution.
But for how much longer.
Some say (OK, it was Merkel) that Ireland’s problems were created by ourselves. So much for not generalising. Our banks loaned lots of money to lots of people. But where did the Irish banks get the money? From the German/French/USA banks, amongst others. Where was the “due diligence” there? Applying the same logic then, those countries also created the problem. Yet the entire population of Ireland has been left alone to carry the burden. And what did the Irish people do with the money? They had the temerity to believe that they could enjoy a good lifestyle. Perhaps buy a place in the sun. (Someone should make a TV programme…oh wait.) In short, we thought that we were as good as anyone else in the developed world. And we were. We were.Until the crushing debt of the state being told that they MUST take on the debts of the failed banks, transforming private debt (for banks) into sovereign debt and thereby crushing both the state and the people. All to protect the Euro and the states who had loaned to Irish banks. To protect the pension funds of Europe.
This is not austerity. Call it what it is. This is madness! The Irish government has already raided the pension funds of the Irish people. Are they buying time or postponing the inevitable? So long as it affects someone else, it appears to be OK in certain parts of Europe.
And don’t mention the war. The Germans have paid for that already, haven’t they? It’s a thing of the past and we must move on. Yet Germany was rebuilt and would not be the so-called “powerhouse” of Europe today but for that. And the whole concept of a European Economic Community was an attempt to avoid a recurrence of the wars that ravaged us all during the early 20th century by bringing us all together. I see a distinct lack of any sense of “community” at present. A lack of “we’re in this together”.Where is the vision of the future now? Utopia has become Dystopia.
And while factions in Greece and Spain have already turned to violent demonstration, I believe that when timid Ireland does likewise, the game is up.
A lot is at stake and not just for Ireland. I sincerely hope that we make it. Hope. The maddening thing is that this whole mess is man-made. The world is still spinning. The seasons come and go. It’s our perspective that has changed.
I am not done yet. Not by a long shot. I am not (listed as) unemployed as I am self-employed.
But I thought that I would play my part in letting the world know what life in Ireland is really like now. Please excuse the rant and my wordiness. I have forms to fill out.
- Germans name Kenny as ‘European of the Year’ (independent.ie)
- Let’s get a European divorce — Angela Merkel drops a bomb on Enda Kenny over Ireland’s debt deals (irishcentral.com)
- Merkel and Kenny agree that Ireland needs ‘special approach’ (forexlive.com)