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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 2, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

    24 hours

    Harry McGee

    Kiefer Sutherland’s mug appeared on the cover of one of the weekend magazines (I’m not sure was he promoting a film, his TV series or his band). It didn’t really matter. There’s only one thing we identify him with nowadays. Since early this morning, Brian Cowen has slipped into the Jack Bauer bracket, with 24 hours to save the world. OK. He no longer has a square jaw. But don’t forget his ability as a lead vocalist and his one time legendary heroics as an air guitarist in the UCD bar.

    Cowen made his first direct intervention last night and already it seems it’s shaping up to be a long night. I predict that victory (and maybe a pyrrhic one) will be snatched out of defeat at the very last moment .

    However, some of the details (and gaps) that have trickled out of the talks do not fill me with too much confidence. There will have to be some hard maths done to see if the pensions levy, cuts on overtime etc. (rather than an actual pay cut) will achieve the €2 billion in savings.

    I bumped into a Fine Gael eminence grise (this is a classy blog this! and don’t ye forget it)  in the Dail carpark last week who once had a very strong say in the finances of the nation.

    “When they agreed cuts,” he told me, “you could be sure that about two thirds were real and the last third was strictly for show. The trick was that to make sure that nobody really checked them out too much”.

    In other words, there was always an in-built provision for a fudge. And I suspect that this is what we may get tomorrow.

    The ‘nobody really checked’ line applies to journalists. Media nowadays is becoming more and more about  immediacy, rolling news and supreficiality. Most journalists are so preoccupied with the daily rush that they no longer have the time or the support or the resources (especially now) to really investigate things properly.

    An exception to that is the Guardian’s major investigation into how British companies avoid the tax men over there (it started this morning and you should check it  out here). The first case study was Diageo which owns Guinness. I wonder is Diageo doing the same with the Guinness as it is with Johnnie Walker (i.e. effectively the famous Scotch whiskey distiller has become a Dutch company for ‘tax efficiency’ reasons).

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