It's peculiar, and I hadn't expected to feel like this about something as seemingly abstract as economics but there comes a point where economics isn't an abstract any longer and you realise that all around you the effects of macro forces are taking their toll on real people and changing the ways in which people feel about themselves and the life they're living and the place they live in. When I first moved to Ireland 15 years or so ago, it was quite frankly a completely different country, beautiful and warm, slightly quaint and somehow home, but different. I arrived in time to experience first hand a completely unprecedented boom which has transformed this country. From a country which was renowned for grinding poverty and massive emigration, joblessness, and a stoicism and humour which was developed out of that experience Ireland became this amazingly dynamic place to be. I moved to Dublin about 13 years ago, and from a grim dirty Victorian and Georgian shell which had once been one of the most beautiful cities in northern Europe but had not been able to support itself, I witnessed it completely re-form itself into a glittering and shining city, in which people had opportunities generations before them had not had. The rate of physical and architectural redevelopment was astounding and delighting in equal measure, and everywhere there was hope and energy and vibrancy. Dublin is a modern city on a par with any in Europe now. People from all over the world flocked to Ireland, and to Dublin in particular to be a part of this resurrection. Some were economic migrants and refugees who'd never heard of Ireland before in some cases but who had now heard of this place where the streets were paved with gold and there were more jobs than people. Many were professionals and highly qualified young people from all over the EU anxious to take advantage of the freedom of movement which allows people to work anywhere in the EU they wish. Many were returnees, people driven away after college because of lack of jobs who had always longed to come home. The result was that in ten years a city which had been bleak and hemorrhaging its youth, and which was pretty mono-cultural suddenly became a multicultural melting pot with all races and creeds represented, and picking up Irish accents along the way. Anyone who has lived in this country for the last ten or fifteen years will tell you that whatever the drawbacks were to the so called Celtic Tiger economy, this decade has been one of the most exciting and vivid periods in this country's history. The cultural and social changes which took 40 years to happen elsewhere happened in ten here. I was so inordinately proud and happy to tell people I lived here and would rave about to anyone who'd listen. Irish people were proud of themselves, they'd been through misery and yet through a lot of hard work and a touch of typical Irish chutzpah and cunning they had finally reached the promised land. People had a standard of living which was finally congruent with the rest of north western Europe and then radically exceeded it. The sense that we had finally crawled out from underneath the shadow of the bad old days of the Troubles, the 800 years of struggle, the gloom of history and the gloom of Church domination, even from behind our big neighbours on that other island wink was palpable. It was actually fun to live here, and fun to be Irish. That hadn't been always the case for a very long time. I cannot explain how much fun and excitement and creativity this city and this period of my life has afforded me. I'm glad I witnessed it and played my own small part in it. We were known for our culture and dynamism the fun and the exhilaration of life here. Yes there was greed, and clearly there was a good deal of reckless and negligent decision making. Our captains of industry and politicians failed us completely and made no provision for a rainy day, indeed no one seemed to believe there would be another rainy day, so powerful was the sense of freedom created by enthusiasm and optimism. Some of what made this country the place that felt instantly like home was lost along the way, but it was hard to mourn that when we had gained so much and seemed likely to continue to grow and develop. And in any case we were hardly the only country in the world making the kinds of decisions we made, and we were held up as the shining example of what a country which had dragged itself from the gutter to a pinnacle looked like. The last two years have been a gradual process of the collapse of this little Golden Age. Global recession and criminally bad economic policy decision making on the part of our government has sucker punched this country and we're on our knees again. I can't tell you how humiliated most Irish people will have felt yesterday when it was announced the IMF and our European Union neighbours will be bailing us out to the tune of tens of billions perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars and our economic self determination would be severely hampered by the requirements of our creditors. I have been to dozens of leaving parties for friends who have lost their jobs and been forced to find work abroad, I know so many people who's lives have been turned upside down by redundancy and wage cuts and massive cut backs in basic government services. The truly epic austerity measures which have already been imposed threaten to undo the social gains made over the Celtic tiger period and now there will be even more cuts to come. The people in the most vulnerable positions in society are facing hardship and difficulty, even people who would not have been expected to be vulnerable are facing hardship. People are falling through the cracks. To the rest of the world this is really just a slightly news worthy story, something to pass remark on briefly (if at all) over a glass of wine or a beer, before moving on to William and Kate's engagement, who'll win X-Factor, why Obama is such a disappointment or whatever else is more interesting. Even if some of our immediate neighbours do seem to take a ghoulish delight in all this their interest soon moves on. Plenty of people have a few less than sympathetic words to say about our greed and foolishness as though the Paddies were bound to cock it all up. But to me and to the rest of the people living in this country yesterday was a watershed moment, a bitter and a wretched one, probably one which will shape this country's political, social and cultural future forever. The newspapers, TV news outlets and radio cover every single last gruesome detail of the crisis all day every day, to the point that I cannot take them in any more. Yesterday was a day when I felt very personally sad, angry, and humiliated all at once. This evening on my way home Dublin looked the same as it had two years ago, glittering, full of light and life and colour and shimmering with its newness. But it was as though the air had changed or the soul, something felt crushed and broken. This isn't just an abstract political debate or a boring discussion of finance. It's terribly real. It's corny, but the Script's first single from their new album is about returning home to Ireland after achieving huge international acclaim and touring the world to find the place somewhat changed from the fast paced, wealthy fleshpot they'd served their musical apprenticeship in. It's a good song actually and strikes a typically Irish note. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtCpC8jE_Cs I'm genuinely sad for the country I call home. I actually had a quick cry tonight! Can you believe it?! :redface: stupid I know, I don't cry like ever. I told my friend (big matcho straight Irish fella), and he said he got choked up last night during a TV debate between politicians arguing about whose fault all this is which made him so angry and sad all at once. Sorry if this a bit incoherent it's kinda stream of consciousness stuff and I needed to get it off my chest.