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When you’re not queuing for Santa’s Grotto… December 10, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy.
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If you want an indication as to how the recession is really beginning to bare its teeth you could do worse than have visited the Christmas Fair held in the local community centre where I live. Numbers of stalls were down markedly on last year, but so were numbers of those attending. There were no queues for Santa’s grotto, plenty of places for the dinner were available. And talking to the people at stalls there was considerably less interest than last year, and last year less than the year before or the year before that again.

It wasn’t that it had collapsed, and kudos to the organisers, but it was clear that something is changing.

But how could it be otherwise. If you went there you’d be spending, if you had children, at a minimum €2.5 for the pleasure of seeing Santa Claus. Get a raffle ticket for the local NS, the local creche and the community centre itself and you’d easily have gone through a twenty euro bill. That’s before you’d bought anything at the stalls. A cup cake, a small piece of jewellery – even at a few euro, or whatever and suddenly the costs spike upwards again. And the dinner – €8.50/€3.50 for children.

Last week we saw cuts in expenditure, part of a €3.5bn ‘adjustment’. As the Campaign for Labour Policies itself put it, a couple with an income of €25k will see a drop of 1.1 per cent. Those on €175,000 will see a cut of .09 per cent. Respite care cuts, benefits cuts, cuts in back to education allowances, child benefit cuts, all those myriad small cuts. But that was just this years cuts – but they don’t operate in a vacuum. They follow on from budgets since 2009 which have seen social expenditure cut again and again.

Unemployment now at 14.5 per cent or so. Tax increases. Wages static or falling.

That’s why the numbers at the Fair are declining. I presume there will be one next year, but then next year we’re slated to see a further €3.1 billion at Budget 2014 and another €2 billion in 2015 (and that’s if things go ‘well’). I genuinely wonder if there’ll be much point in holding a Fair in two or three years time.

Again, the organisers are in no sense at fault. But they can only deliver so much. If there’s no one there to interact with what they provide this too will fade away.

It puts a whole different spin on phrases like ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ (copyright AIB) and ‘End in sight’ (Irish Daily Star).

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1. LeftAtTheCross - December 10, 2012

But it’s not all doom and gloom, Brown Thomas’ results are up 13%.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2012/1102/1224326034429.html

That’s austerity in a nutshell for you.

doctorfive - December 10, 2012

the squeezed middle

Michael Carley - December 10, 2012

“We have products there from €5 all the way up to a €2 million diamond, which is something we are doing with our friends in Tiffany. It’s a bit of fun.”

Tomboktu - December 10, 2012

At the other end of the scale from BT: Has anybody else noticed that Dunnes has wider aisles and lower shelf units?

2. LeftAtTheCross - December 10, 2012

I will admit that I bought something in BT once. A bread knife, it was a christmas present for my mother.

doctorfive - December 10, 2012

SBP the other week had about six pages of budget speculation and the magazine had eight pages of gift suggestions, cheese knife €195, set of dice (4) €295

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2012

I don’t get the print edition any longer, get it online, so I missed that particular gem. Dear oh dear oh dear – that says it all.

doctorfive - December 10, 2012

Advertising at play of course but those two just seemed so ridiculous.

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2012

And yet they’ll sell.

3. irishelectionliterature - December 10, 2012

Similarish story with the local Christmas fairs over my neck of the woods. Was at two of them Sunday week ago.
What struck me too though was the queues for the opening. It was fairly obvious that people were doing some of their Christmas toy and other shopping there in the hope of picking up a bargain or two, people that wouldn’t have dreamt of it a few years back.

Heard an ad on the radio the other day for trips to see Santa in Lapland, it got us talking about how during the boom Children being bought to see Santa in Lapland were ten a penny. Cant imagine that there are too many going there now.

As an aside was at my Dads anniversary mass yesterday and the sermon was given by a person from the SVP as it was their annual collection. She was talking about the budget cuts and how one client was a woman whos husband walked out on her and the four children three years ago. Between the 50 euro reduction in back to school allowances and the drop in Childrens Allowance this woman will have lost the bones of 900 euro from her income this year. … sickening.

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2012

It is beginning to bite isn’t it?

On a slightly happier note, that’s an interesting point about picking up a bargain. Got a Ben 10 watch, I kid you not, for €1. Got a huge Ben 10 fan in the house, and I have to be honest I kind of like it too. Story arcs. What’s not to like/

Garibaldy - December 10, 2012

It’s no Star Wars Clone Wars.

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2012

True… true :)

Garibaldy - December 10, 2012

Never mind South Park, which tackled the really important issue on the week of November 5th. Disney’s purchase of Star Wars.

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2012

Age appropriate? I think not!

4. CL - December 11, 2012

Not to worry.
According to Olli Rehn the neoliberal technocrat in charge of Irish economic policy:

.’there is light at the end of the tunnel … there are signs that confidence is returning’ and.. ‘Ireland has returned to the debt market .’
The article in today’s FT is headlined, ” Europe must stay the austerity course’

5. makedoanmend - December 11, 2012

I suppose what’s interesting now is the time scale involved. We’re several years into the crash, but at the same time the entire perceptional shift in our ordinary economic expectations has been very rapid – we’ve gone from exburence to lethargy/despondence fairly rapidly. How many people really expect the future to be better than the past in material terms any time soon, if ever again?

The economic slide started in 2007, crashed in 2008 and the Austerity dogma had already been articulated and implemented by 2009 in many economies. To be sure, we were served up various Kabuki/morality plays to ensure a so-called compliance with the Austerity story in various countries, but the swiftness and completeness of the necessity of Austerity by so many varied governments seems quite odd. But then, again, for certain sections of the economy, austerity had been nipping at their heals for near on 30 years. Would the middle-stat “lifestyle” have thrived without the massive amount of personal debt incurred? Was Austerity always gooing to be the end result of the Reagan-Thatcher revolution?

As we head into 2013, the FT call to stay the asuterity course combined the various “expert” and govt forecasts that Austerity may last until 2018 and possibly beyond is a fairly straightforward message that Austerity for certain sections of soceity is their new way of life – forever. We’ll get a few dead cat’s bounces as capital looks to mop up any remaining labour efficiencies in the West through wage competition and the use of debt to create bonded rentier conditions on a ever greater proportions of the society.

However, I’d suggest, again, that socialists must be able to address the new situation where the economy is in permanent decline rather than rely on previous economic analysis where growth was a given.

WorldbyStorm - December 11, 2012

“However, I’d suggest, again, that socialists must be able to address the new situation where the economy is in permanent decline rather than rely on previous economic analysis where growth was a given.”

+1

greengoddess2 - December 11, 2012

Who said that ?

6. CL - December 11, 2012

Reports that the capitalist economy is in ‘permanent decline’ are probably premature.

paul - December 11, 2012

I am struck, though, by an ongoing contradiction in my thinking. I believe that they way out of our current crisis is to lay off the austerity, write off debt and allow the economy to grow again.

But at the same time, I believe in the Green idea that we cannot endlessly pursue growth without facing environmental catastrophe: maybe in the near future and maybe in the more distant future, but most likely a slowly evolving mess over the lifetimes of myself and my children.

So I end up hoping for a short period of growth, accompanied by wealth re-distribution and a calmer economic future.

But not only does it seem a futile hope in terms of where our politics is heading, it also feels a little like a gambler in the bookies in the late afternoon, hoping for a few big wins before he gives it all up and begins living sensibly.

LeftAtTheCross - December 11, 2012

I’d agree, ‘permanent decline’ due to the running down of the free gift of limitless energy from fossil fuels in particular. It’s a process one would like to engage with from a starting point of social ownership of the means of production etc., in order to plan for the inevitability of reducing economic output, rather than facing into it from positions of denial and short-termism associated with markets. We can expect the elites to insulate themselves from the effects at the expense of the rest of us, and in particular the populations of the more ecologically exposed and economically disadvantaged regions of the globe.


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