The economy of a small island off the west coast of Europe yielded unprecedented levels of growth over many years. Whether it was due to the wise decisions of politicians and economists, or the result of exposure to the favourable breezes of economic growth from overseas, nobody really knew, but the impact was startling.
All over the country, landowners divested themselves of the family holdings for huge sums of money. Young families, unable to afford homes nearer their work places, moved to newly built housing estates miles from the centres of population and the road network was improved to facilitate the commute.
On every street corner expensive restaurants and luxury car dealers did a roaring trade. In the cavernous out-of-town shopping centres, queues formed outside the designer-labelled stores and prices soared – even a cup of coffee required a letter from the bank manager.
Taxes were cut and cut again; debt mounted; regulation was eased.
Eat drink and be merry, the commentators said, new times have come.
Meanwhile, waiting lists in hospitals rose, schools crumbled. And when the monstrous recession finally revealed itself, services to the most vulnerable were hit hardest, in an effort to get out of the mess.
You fools, said the international money watchers, now you belong to us.
From Luke 12: 16-20