Maybe we are guilty. Bubbles are fed by the psychology of those who pay. The heady feeling that we were wealthy because the little house down the street from our own had just been sold for a million, blinded us to the reality that we were taking part in a huge international pyramid scheme. While it is true that no-one forced us to borrow or to buy ludicrously over-priced houses, our collective "guilt" must be seen in the context that a growing population did need places to live, and that we are a nation of homeowners, not renters.
In addition, our banks, our Government, our planning process and the constructionocracy all effectively colluded to encourage us to keep buying beyond our means. The roles of the banks and the builders in this process are wholly explicable on the basis of short-term self-interest. Unfortunately, it would appear that the Government, which should take a statesman-like and long-term view of the common good, was similarly motivated. Their short-term interest was the next election.
Democracies get the governments they deserve. Collectively, we were like Carmella Soprano
, the wife of Tony. As long as Tony (ie the Government) was bringing home wads of cash, we didn't ask too many questions about where it was coming from, nor did we fret, as we should have, about the family's long-term financial prospects.
I know I will be accused of wandering outside my sphere of competence when I say this, but my 15 years in Ireland
, as a returned emigrant, as a doctor working in the health service, and as a concerned observer of our system of government, has forced me to conclude that we are a failed political entity.