The National Assets Management Agency or Nama is becoming the latest word to rival those vulgar expletives that must be deleted from more gentle texts. It denotes a paradigm of non-ethical behaviours that creep through the political and financial worlds to emerge unscathed wearing the benign g. low of the poor taxpayers bail-out.
Never in the history of the known world has such a strange set of circumstances prevailed. A mere handful of individuals - some in the realm of land speculation and development, others their greasy bankers ogling large and excessive annual bonuses - will be the lucky recipients of the charity of the millions of taxpayers of a beleagured country. That paupered isle will endure decades of penury for the sake of this few.
Someone should cry halt. "Halt!!!"
The money involved is measured in billions. Billions are not the type of number that the average person is readily acquainted with. Figures as large as this are usually used in the realms of cosmology where one measures the distances and times of the scales of the universe. If the government on behalf of the taxpayer provides a €60 billion Nama bailout it is equivalent of €4 for every year that the universe has been in existence! The mind boggles at this excess.
If for instance we surmise that between developers and bankers there are some 2000 individuals who are centre stage in this sordid affair then the cost per individual is a cool €30 million! As many of these individuals have amassed large private wealth over the 'good times' why not just take all their private wealth and see what the residual balance is. I hear shouts of protest. What about constitutional rights of the individual and his or her property? To those I say what of the constitutional rights of the millions of taxpayers who are being penalised for corrupt behaviours on the part of developers and their backing banking institutions. It is clear where the balance lies.
The logical route out of this mire is to take ownership of the non-functioning banking system. This will allow determination of the true extent of the quagmire. All non-performing loans should be called in. The defaulting developers exit stage left without a penny. A real 'Nama' manages the defaulted projects to maximise the long term potential of the toxic assets. A separate healthy state bank provides real banking services to business and the public to be sold off at a later stage when economic conditions dictate. At the end of this sorry tale the impact on the poor taxpayer will be minimised, a new highly regulated banking sector will have been formed (minus highly paid and over-bonused executives) and a new regulated property market will slowly emerge.