I went to an informal college reunion last night. Sufficed to say I'm surviving on Zantac and Solpadeine today. Anyway, I digress. There were approx twenty of my old classmates there. We're all in our late 30s. We all enjoyed the fruits of the Tiger and, like most people, felt invincible, that it would go on forever, so without exception we all have massive mortgages and huge business loans. However, all that optimism has long since evaporated. But it was such a psychological lift to see the old faces.
After the initial guarded banter, 'Sure I'm grand, how are you yourself?', a couple of drinks loosened tongues. It was terrifying. Of the twenty or so there approx half are emigrating after Christmas. Not thinking of it, but actually doing it, planned and organised. All have their houses on the market but most said if they don't sell and they can't rent them, feck it, they were going to hand back the keys and default. I was stunned. Genuinely. It had never occurred to me that these people would even be capable of this kind of talk but the consensus was that the country was so fecked, that it was bound to dump the mess onto the taxpaying middle classes and they simply weren't willing to sacrifice their and their kids futures on bailing out the mess. These are people in their late thirties with kids! I couldn't believe there was so much consensus. As you may know I have tentatively been looking at the option myself but most of my old classmates aren't tentative at all, plans made, houses on the market and jobs organised. These people would have been high earners, some are still although much less than three years ago, so I was a little taken aback but the confirmed mood of them all was that our situation is irredeemable, we have no viable way out and it's every man for himself.
This morning is a hangover in more ways than one, and I would discount the comments as drunken ramblings were it not for the detail in the plans- countries decided upon, tax rates discussed, jobs set up, schools investigated- so now I'm left thinking, am I the fool who hasn't copped on yet?!
If these guys, and earners like them, leave the tax pool our tax receipts are going to collapse. The exchequer deficit will worsen. I'm certainly more pessimistic of our chances this morning than I was yesterday morning.