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Céad milliún fáilte

The tourist board cliché of "Céad míle fáilte", from those ads with fiddles and pints and oysters, literally means "a hundred thousand welcomes". Perhaps we need to update this to better represent the "current economic climate".

A recent letter to one of the national newspapers suggested that in all this talk of bank recapitalisation, loans and nationalisation, we are not being sufficiently clear about the vast sums of money being flung around. The author of the letter suggests that instead of the word 'billion' we should use 'thousand million'.

I think this is a very good idea. Let's try it out on an example:
The government is investing €4 billion in Anglo Irish Bank.
The government is investing €4 thousand million in Anglo Irish Bank.


This brings us to an article in today's paper:

Spending cash we do not have to save a bank we do not need
- Irish Times
Brian Lucey - Monday, June 15, 2009

Lucey forcefully makes the same point that others have made, especially those in the Opposition, that this "investment" in Anglo Irish Bank is not necessary. His argument is good, I agree with the thesis, Anglo should probably burn. He concludes as follows:

In my view this would be profoundly immoral. It is a waste, a deliberate calculated waste, of taxpayers’ money for which we will never get an economic return. It is spending money we do not have to prop up a bank we do not need and for which we will pay massively at a time when all around the State cutbacks (due in no small part to the folly of the self-same bank) are rife.

What sets his article apart from others in its ilk is his last paragraph, which I will quote in full. This helps to put into perspective the insane scale of borrowing even four thousand million euros.

To fully service (i.e. to set aside over 10 years sufficient funds per annum to pay off both the interest accrued and the principal borrowed) this €4 billion would require some €500 million per annum. Put another way: the monies to be borrowed and then to be poured into Anglo will cost the taxpayer a sum sufficient to pay for cervical cancer vaccines for the next 40 years.

Maybe we should all start using this terminology.


  1. Mark Allen wrote:

    A bit condescending isn't it? Is he suggesting that the average Irish Times reader is to stupid to know that a billion is a thousand million?

    Is this a view you'd also share?

    By agreeing with his patronising and mentally deficient argument, it seems it is.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink
  2. irokie wrote:

    I don't know, but maybe the average Irish Times reader would know to write "too".

    Your categorisation of his argument as mentally deficient is fallacious.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

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