Tag Archives: the recession

Greek Tragedy

The International Monetary Fund has taken control of Greece’s finances. What a lot of people don’t know is that this all happened before….

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The Gods on Mount Olympus suffered a severe culture shock when the IMF took over the Greek economy back in ancient times. In fairness, the IMF had little choice. Years of mad expenditure on things like wars, giant urns and paternity settlements with outraged and often startled mortal women had left the coffers pretty bare. The final straw, though, was the building of the Seven Wonders of the World (a Lighthouse at Alexandria, for feck’s sake, they didn’t even have electricity). 

The rest of the world only realised how bad things had got when the Olympics had to take place in the nude, since the Greeks couldn’t afford to pay the sponsor (Nike, of course). The following day the doors of Olympus were flung open and the little men with quills and abacuses moved in.

Since they were economists (and therefore clueless, why is it just accepted that they’ll do a better job than the Greek government) their rescue plan was not a success. It involved Pegasus, the wingéd horse, being let out for stud fees. Unfortunately there were no wingéd mares for him to service, and attempts to mate him with other animals met with mixed results (the penguin, for example, is the result of his dalliance with an otter). 

As the plan brought in little extra cash, the IMF decided to cut costs instead. At the time the Gods were building a summer house for Poseidon who, as someone who lived most of his life underwater, needed a sun holiday for two weeks every year. The IMF made them stop construction, although the building had no roof, many of its pillars were still lying in the front garden, and the statues that were to adorn it were unfinished, with faces still blank and uncarved, or with limbs missing. It was called the Acropolis, and looks the same to this very day.

The economists realised they could save even more money by barring the gods from drinking nectar, on which they were spending an absolute fortune. Horrified, the Gods built themselves a still, and invented a drink using the snake-hair of Medusa. They called the result “ouzo“, which means “tasting like wolf’s-pee mixed with lighter-fuel”. While this dulled their pain to some extent, it did nothing to help their finances. There was only one thing left. Reluctantly, one by one, the Gods got jobs.

Not all were successful. Oedipus’s Marriage Guidance Service did not fare well. Cyclops did equally badly as an optician, since even the most short-sighted of his patients had twice the eyesight that he had, and he eventually handed the business over to the four-eyed God, Specsavus.

Pan started brilliantly. Playing on his pan-pipes he staged a concert where he played stuff like Wind Beneath My Wings and that load of crap from The Bodyguard, and quickly discovered that he had an adoring audience among the kind of listeners who think Celine Dion is too hard-edged. As his fame grew, though, so did his ego, and he decided that he could do a show of rock-epics. A rock song played on the pan-pipes would infuriate even the gentlest soul, and Zeus was far from that. When he heard the pan-pipe version of Smells Like Teen Spirit he went and paid Pan a visit, and, well, that’s why Pan walks with his legs on backwards. 

But some of the Gods were very successful. Geras, God of Old Age, invented Grecian 2000. Athena, Goddess of Handicrafts, came up with a prototype of the Circus Big Top, which she called the “demisroussos”. And one of the Goddesses surprised them all by joining an escort agency, and by doing remarkably well.

It was amazing how much money men would pay to see Pandora’s Box.

Before the Flood

Sorry I’ve been missing. I’ve been up to my eyes at work.

In these straitened times, that should be a good thing, but it isn’t. Another river of shit is flowing towards the wonderful people who work with me. We’re all going to get paid less when we come back after Christmas, and some, though thankfully only a few, won’t be coming back at all.

I’ve been so busy because I’ve had to pull together information that the people at the top will use to control the river, to decide in what directions to channel it and where to let it burst its banks. Shit happens, and they have to decide who to. They hate it, and I don’t envy them.

Meanwhile the staff carry on working, and discussing next week’s (much-diluted from last year) Christmas party.

I feel so sorry for the ones who’ll be going. The rest of us, well, we’ll manage. we’ll get by on our lower salaries and, if things ever pick up again, we’ll see good times again.

But the anger at the Government and the financial misfits who caused all this will still burn inside. It will not burn with flashy and short-lasting flames of rage and shouting. It will smoulder deep, deep inside, and because of this it will last much longer. And this deep-felt anger is burning  in other companies, in the public service, in all of society.

We keep being told that things are going to change. Unless the powers-that-be really are as divorced from the people as they appear, then they must see that things will have to. Because the people of Ireland have had enough.

A Better Opportunity

Way back in the last century, when our last recession was at its worst, I had my own business.

My typical week was spent dealing with the needs of the couple of clients that I had, reading the paper a lot (that was when I learnt to do the Irish Times cryptic crossword) and waiting for the phone to ring.

And ring it did, quite often. Every month or so some new person would phone offering me the opportunity to invest in some grand scheme. I remember one where we were going to invest in gold coins (possibly bought from ageing Nazis),  and another one where we would buy special champagne, which would be released for sale to the world when the then far-off millennium arrived.

Each salesman would ring doggedly every day for couple of weeks till it finally sank in that no meant no. Then a few days later some new person, with some new scheme, would ring, and the whole rigmarole would start again.

Time passed, the economy improved, and I noticed that phone calls like that stopped, as if the people had realised that now they could make more money from, well, real jobs. Of course, scams did continue (I won the Dutch lottery once), but they tended to be done via fax or eMail, so you felt that their heart wasn’t really in it, and that they had no real expectation of success, like the small boys you see fishing along the Grand Canal.

Now, of course, we’re fecked again, and so yesterday I received a letter offering me the “opportunity to make a substantial first or second tax-free income with very little effort.” They say that they have chosen me “through careful profiling” (i.e., opening the phone-book at random), and assure me that the business has “absolutely nothing to do with stock market investment”. Then they say that:

“It’s time to tell you what we do but remember, please read this letter through to the end.” With my heart now beating wildly (if they’d profiled me carefully enough, they’d have known not to make that happen) I turned the page.

They bet on horseracing.

I did read through to the end. They call it “investing”, claim that they invest only when the circumstances are totally in their favour, and that if I ring a special number each day they will let me know whether or not there is an opportunity that day. They freely admit that not all selections will win, but claim that more than 52% will, and then produce a table showing how in such a circumstance my winnings will grow and grow.

All this for just a €160 registration fee and a €97 monthly subscription (neither of which costs, incidentally, feature in their working example).

Now, it’s true that there are surer ways of getting rid of all your money than betting on horses, such as setting fire to it, waving it above your head while walking up O’Connell Street, or having children. Nevertheless the suspicion remains that if their method was that good then they’d keep it to themselves, since the more people bet on their selections the lower the price is likely to be (see, I know stuff).

Anyway, I’ve decided that my life has enough excitement in it already (I have Sky Sports 1, 2 and 3!!)) so I won’t be availing of their offer. I do have a friend, though -well, acquaintance, really – who might be interested. I met her through the internet, she’s a Nigerian princess who is unable to gain access to her substantial funds at present, but who is looking for someone who’ll allow her use of a bank account to transfer them into. I’m going to give her all the details of my new friends.

I’ll think they’ll get along together quite well.