There was an interesting story in the New York Times on Monday of this week focusing on Ireland's current economic plight.
The story revealed a sad state of affairs for sure with but offered some glimmers of hope and, as with other similar stories recently, reflected praise of the Irish government's willingness to face into the economic headwinds and take the required medicine.
As for the Irish people. Well, the photo was of a family out on a nice walk in the woods. If nothing else it was in stark contrast to recent photos out of Greece.
"Having embraced severe belt-tightening to mend its tattered finances, Ireland is showing glimmers of a turnaround. A year after it received a 67.5 billion euro bailout, or about $90 billion at current exchange rates, modest growth has returned and the budget deficit is shrinking.
"But the effects of austerity have pummeled Ireland's fragile economy, leaving scars that are likely to take years to heal. Nearly 40,000 Irish have fled the country this year alone in search of a brighter future elsewhere; the trend is expected to continue," the Times reported.
The story noted praise for Ireland's knuckling down from Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, who declared that Ireland was already "almost out of the crisis."
Eh, well he is living in a palace in Paris.
Anyway, the report painted a picture that is about as far removed from all those Celtic Tiger stories than you could easily imagine.
"Underneath the surface, however, the grinding reality of Irish life belies those glowing commendations. Salaries of nurses, professors and other public sector workers have been cut around 20 percent. A range of taxes, including on housing and water, have increased. Investment in public works is virtually moribund.
"On Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Kenny's government is announcing an additional 3.8 billion euros in tax increases and spending cuts for 2012 that will affect health care, social protections and child benefits.
Retail sales fell 3.8 percent in October from a year earlier as spending was down even on things like school textbooks, shoes and other basic goods."
The report stated that the budget deficit has fallen to around 10 percent of gross domestic product this year from a staggering 32 percent in 2010.
"But even under the best circumstances, it will not reach the Europe-wide target of 3 percent until 2015."
Ah well, at least Christmas is coming though the budget this week, foisted upon the wee sod though it might have been, could well have been concocted by Scrooge.