Money matters – OK? Flags and parades and fireworks have their place too but let’s think for a minute about money. One of the most cheering things for unionism in recent years was the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. The very idea that by striking out alone, the twenty-six counties might be better off than the six counties – well, that was almost unbearable. But then the whole thing imploded south of the border, and unionists could once again console themselves with the fact that, bad as things are here, they’re worse down there.
But even when things are going well on the surface, they can be going badly below the waterline. Recently I came on a summarized report from Stanford University, entitled “Twenty things about US Inequality that Everyone should Know”. Inequality? In the home of the brave? And land of the free? Yep, seems so.
Let’s take child poverty. Twenty-one per cent of all children in the US are living in poverty. That’s worse than it is in France, Germany, the UK, even the south of Ireland. Every fifth youngster.
Let’s take wealth inequality. In 1983, the top 10% of households in the US controlled over 68% of the total wealth. Pretty grim, eh? When they checked again in 2007, the top 10% were controlling over 73% of the wealth. And they call it democracy?
Let’s take homelessness. On any given night, 750,000 Americans are homeless - they sleep on the streets, in alleyways, where they can. Oh, and most of them are black. Same as in prisons.
Let’s talk about salaries. In 1965, CEOs in the US got paid 24 times as much as the average production worker. In 2009 they were being paid 185 times more. Them as has, gits.
And so it goes. Watching too much television or going to a lot of Hollywood movies, you could get the wrong idea about that country, couldn’t you? What fills me with wonder is the 22-carat brass necks of those who make decisions to invade other countries under the banner of bringing them a better way of life, when the poor idiots doing the fighting will face this warped inequality when they go back home.
But hey, that's the US. Here on this side of the Atlantic we have our problems, but we're free of the inequality scourge. Right?