A Young Person Reacts To Budget 2017



Young person Mike McGrath Bryan


Cherubic Broadsheet arts writer Mike McGrath-Bryan removes his headphones (for once) to provides a response to Budget 2017 and its implications for his generation.

Ignore him at your peril.

Mike writes:

If you’re under twenty-six in this country, the message of #budget2017 is clear, as it was to me and my friends eight years ago. You’re a second-class citizen, and continued austerity measures are driving you either back to your parents’ house to wait your turn in life, or to the airport.

Having struggled with employment your entire adult life so far, as well as the spiralling cost to yourself or your family of education, you have found that your social welfare only increases by €2.70, as opposed to €5.

This at a time when centrists boast openly of recovery (with Noonan, in fact warning of “prudence” after giving himself and the lads payrises), and an economy built on the tech sector that you’re expected to carry the can for “going forward” if you do decide to stay.

Mostly run by companies exploiting a “knowledge development box” to specifically avoid paying the taxes necessary to run public services, that are then subsequently threatened with privatisation in the face of… austerity. Or malfunctioning ideology.

A knowledge economy which they somehow expect to build, in spite of the underwhelming announcement of €36m for third-level education, falling two-thirds short of recommendations at a time when the sector is badly starved of resources after a decade of cuts.

Partly due to a privatisation drive from neo-liberal elements of academia’s top-brass, and in line with the mood of the political and economic elite, they do so with the support of Young Fine Gael and other Christmas-partial turkeys among your number.

By the way, they’ll soon be expecting you to pay massively inflated student loans instead of receiving a grant, because it’s all worked so well in the US. and the UK. to lower the economic and class barriers to entry.

Expect Labour Youth to row behind the efforts against this as they frantically try and distract from the soaring fees that Ruairí Quinn instituted almost immediately after lying to students about their affordability under a Labour government.

And it’s a landlord’s budget for sure, this year – going to college is all fine and well, if you or someone close to you can afford your fees and upkeep.

If you/they can’t, then aside from the obvious knock-on of working student life affecting your grades and ultimately your whole degree, you’re contending with a ridiculous wringing of cash from desperate people that’s beginning to eclipse the boomtimes.

Don’t expect this to change – it was a landlord’s budget for a Dáil where one in four are landlords. Living at home and studying? Sucks to be rural, then, in the face of mounting transport costs and little to no relief on the horizon if student loans become a thing.

When/if you do graduate, what’s there for you? Well, as stated, you’re going headfirst into the field of your choice, where at many points of entry, you’re still expected to work for free, and continue to afford living in an increasingly precarious property bubble while doing so.

Whether it’s the ongoing drudge of unpaid internship, or whatever they concoct to replace JobBridge, dues-paying in your industry is now firmly ensconced as literal as well as allegorical.

If times get tough, all roads lead to call centres, the modern-day factories, where you get by on babysitting seething, infantile manifestations of first-world problems over the phone.

To say nothing of the pace of promotion should one choose to stay in the relative security of the aforementioned. And your reward for this grind? In this year’s budget, half a percent off the USC that was originally “an emergency measure” eight years ago, again, against a debt you did nothing to create.

And what about alternative/freelance career choices. Should you try and at least attempt to establish some sort of sustainability for your creative outlets or other talents, you’ll soon find the arts have been reduced to a sideshow in the Budget by an establishment that knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Without so much as a dedicated governmental department, artists of various media find themselves scrapping for inconsistent funding annually, with only a comparatively incremental increase despite the arts turning over treble their public investment on average, and forming a major part of this country’s all-important tourist attraction.

Your writer’s personal interests aside, let’s mosey along to those of you in your late twenties.

Having been denied opportunities at work, seen scutter made of the sustainability of your creative outlets, and with everyone around you voting for parties that roast you on a spit for staying in this country, you are perhaps now beginning to feel the societal pressure to “settle down”, enter massive mortgage debt and procreate, for the perpetuation of the way of things.

Should you choose to indulge this, you’re expected to buy a house, with a massive loan over several decades, and if the banks that *your* tax money bailed out will lend, the Budget’s much-hyped benefits for first-time buyers only apply to those expensive new-build units, because you have to incentivise those developers that put your generation in this mess in the first place for some reason.

What of your own personal coping mechanisms with the weight of all of these betrayals and aggressions? What of those of us dealing with them at the end of a period of prolonged austerity? How do you get through the grind?

One would think that investment in mental health treatment and awareness would be a priority at every level of society afflicted by austerity, especially with suicide rates and negative mental health implications peaking with austerity’s harshest measures.

How many under-30s in this country have lost friends and family to suicide, illness and emigration? What’s in the plans for the long-term social damage inflicted by a “lost decade”?

Scant mention made, if anything of substance, the year after then-Health Minister Leo Varadkar decided to divert ringfenced mental-health funding elsewhere, a move Simon Harris was compelled to reverse more by public pressure, one suspects, than by ethical imperative.

I can hear the gears turning a mile off. Same old arguments. Still getting the like of “Why don’t you leave?”, etc. Accusations of “populism”, as though elitism hasn’t resulted in the current mess. A spiel that every young person has had thrown at them in the past decade.

Why should we keep leaving, why should we keep settling for less, why should we toil away at dead end jobs and keep hoping that we won’t open up our social media and see our friends/peers talking about the latest person they’ve lost?

This is our country too, whose future rests in our hands. These are our families and friends, our communities, our scenes and our stories. And you will hear from us soon.


Sponsored Link

33 thoughts on “A Young Person Reacts To Budget 2017

    1. Anomanomanom

      I was to young to be worrying about work in the 80s but like you said its a good thing it was a utopia. And my and everyone else’s family haf loads of money and 3 holidays a year and loads of jobs to go around. Not like this poor generation under 25. No they are first generation to ever have bad times.

    2. De Kloot

      I know. Kids today will never know the joy of the dole queue down at the Labour as it snaked out the door and down the road. The glee one would feel when given a famous butter voucher every once in a while that would bring a smile to manys the housewife…. On the walk home, your lungs full of the freshest smog filled air helped you along the way followed by an afternoon of the best TV RTE had to offer.

      Thing is it’s all relative…. in 30 years time young Mike here will regale and horrify his grandkids with the nightmare that was 2016 Ireland and they’ll scoff…. ” we have it worse….” And they very well might….

    3. Zaccone

      “My generation had a rough decade, therefore every other generation afterwards should also suffer” is such a terrible attitude to have.The 1980s being a bad time to be young in Ireland doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the 2010s being a bad time to be young in Ireland, does it? We as a society should be striving to ensure living standards get better every decade, not trying to compare suffering over time.

      Whats relevant is where government resources are currently going. Is the first time buyers grant a better use of funds than mental health. Are the reduced welfare rates for under 26s fair etc.

      1. JayH

        “2010s being a bad time to be young in Ireland”

        There’s never been a better time to be young in Ireland – that’s the point.

        1. pedeyw

          So what, be happy with what you’ve got? Don’t bother trying to improve it? Sure you can barely afford rent, let alone savings, or a car or anything else despite having a reasonably well paid job, who cares? It’s the best ever time to be young in Ireland.

          1. scottser

            my first car was a 1980 ford fiesta. monkey puke yellow with a skidmark brown door. it cost 1500 pounds back in 1990 to insure it – bear in mind you could open the door lock with a house key. there was only one company who would insure anyone under 25, pmpa. – twas stolen in drumcondra in 1992 along with my tape collection. I know you don’t normally do this but 40 YZI is the reg no if anyone sees it.
            Ireland is the sow that eats her farrow, as the man said.

  1. Jake38

    “you are now expected to “settle down”, enter massive debt and procreate…………….”

    Please don’t procreate, Mike.

      1. Neilo

        Hey kids, it’s our world too! Old farts like me will NEVER stop voting for vaguely centrist parties. Mua to the ha ha ha.

  2. Von Liz

    Great piece. I first thought, ‘I wish Kenny and Noonan etc could read it’, but they’d just laugh it off.

  3. Steve

    I rent rooms and I think the scheme is great but the extra 2k is just going to put more money in homeowners pockets , as opposed to more rooms on the market.

    It’s just pushing the tax free rent you can make a month from a grand up to approx 1150. That marginal 150 isn’t gonna to make you rent an additional room, if you had one available. The gov tax loss on increasing the scheme would have been better spent on reducing 3rd level fees by X amount.

    But then again maybe the extra 150 euro my pocket means I spend more on clothes , goods etc which means more employment , VAT etc….and down the rabbit hole we go.

  4. nellyb

    “Why should we keep leaving” – if you aren’t willing to waste the best years of your life struggling for no good reason, then emigration is a pretty good option. Take this opportunity and live your life. I am trying to convince mine to beat it after graduation. Noonan will only rob him blind to feck off for 3 months summer holidays. No tanks

  5. rotide

    i was just starting to like bryans articles , shame.

    As has been echoed here – the eighties and early 90s. In fact, the 70s, 60s and 50s too while we’re at it.

    complaining about having to get a part time job while in college really puts the icing on the snowflake cake

    1. Tony

      I’d say he’s GUTTED just narrowly missing out on the the approval of a hilariously self regarding internet person like yourself.

    2. Mike McGrath-Bryan

      “snowflake” = disqualified from debate.

      Having a different frame of reference to yours doesn’t render young peoples’ opinions on the situation invalid.

      1. Deluded

        Indeed not.
        (… and we were happy to debate and criticise back in the 70s and 80s and 90s too, we didn’t become curmudgeons yesterday ; )

      2. Bertie Blenkinsop

        Genuine question Mike, what age are you?

        I’m curious to know what passes for “young” these days….*

        * not a Jimmy Savile quote

      3. Andy

        Complaining about having a job while in college pretty much disqualifies you from being taken seriously.

      4. rotide

        “neo liberal elite” = Disqualified from pretending to be a writer.

        If you’re going to trot out the same old stuff then don’t moan when words you don’t like are throw back at you.

        In this case, someone who thinks that working through college is giant problem falls very very firmly into the snowflake category. I did it. Many of my peers did it and guess what, we got through it;.

        I would go into further detail about how you mix and match the challenges facing those going into a creative industry versus those going into the tech industry to suit your narrative but I’m not going to bother with the instant shutdown of debate so beloved of the unreasonable left.

  6. Rob_G

    Just in relation to the suicide rate – that Paul Corcoran study is bunk, suicide rates in Ireland peaked in 2001.

  7. Spaghetti Hoop

    Unemployment runs in cycles. Highs and lows are also tied to professions…but not countries. Take two skills (ideally high and low) and learn them both well; be always up and ready to travel. Never rely on your parents. Keep your home bank account and Credit Union Account fluid. Never listen to advise which your brain questions. Never ever contemplate suicide or self-worthlessness. Strive high.

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link