Apparently, An Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen is the 5th best head of government in the world, in an article called 'Go To The Head Of The Class'.
Biffo, as rendered by Conor Casby, who sneaked these painting onto the wall of the National Gallery of Ireland
If you're not Irish, perhaps I should explain. Ireland's recession makes Britain's look like a walk in the park. Ireland enticed lots of multinational companies in by offering beggar-thy-neighbour tax rates. When they got an even better offer, they shut up shop, leaving no tax and high unemployment.
Meanwhile, low European interest rates designed to make those canny Germans spend their savings persuaded millions of Irish people to invest in property to a degree which would horrify even a North London dinner party. From high to low, every greedy bastard was paying millions of Euro for very ordinary houses in very ordinary places. This in a country which has no housing shortage - the population's still only half what it was before the 1840s famine. They bought holiday homes and investment properties.
And that's just ordinary greedy bastards. In the realms of serious money, bankers were lending obscene amounts to their property developer friends, who got planning permissions from their corrupt politician friends, who appointed them to the banks' boards of directors, who lent more money to the speculators and bought obscure financial instruments without oversight because they were the bankers and the politicians and the speculators and the regulators. Like Iceland, the banks were exposed so many multiples of their assets, and the assets of their entire country, that a tiny upset would ruin the entire nation. Which is exactly what happened. And in response, Cowen's governments took over the entire liabilities of all of these despicable banks, without question. None of their directors are in prison despite evidence of influence buying and sharp practice, and none of them are going to suffer.
Ireland was treated like a village in which the local council and shopkeepers and lawyers all looked after each other and assumed that the only way was eternally up. The politicians kept taking bribes (former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was taking suitcases of cash - claiming not to have a bank account - even while he was Minister of Finance and before him, Charlie Haughey owned a fleet of helicopters and an island on a salary of £I3500).
The priests, of course, were busy abusing children and couldn't spare the time to muse on the morality of national greed and an entire class of corrupt rulers.
So why am I moaning about this now? To recap, a famous American news magazine has decided that Brian Cowen is the 5th best leader in the world. Let's have a look at Biffo's (Big Ignorant Fecker From Offaly) record shall we?
Unemployment - 13%
Benefits - cut massively
Salaries - cut
Emigration - massively up
Public investment - abolished
Bond markets - only Greece is less trusted
Taxes - up massively (for people, not for business).
So to summarise, everyone in Ireland, under the enlightened leadership of Brian Cowen is:
Where was Biffo while the financial system was going absolutely fucking mental? Er, he was Minister for Finance (2004-2008). Then he got a promotion!
Why does Newsweek like him? Because he's abandoned social democracy and instituted the kind of social Darwinist dog-eat-dog minimal government system which even Somalia would think a bit selfish.