Imagine borrowing the money for a down payment for a home from your parents.
Now you owe them. They act as if they're happy to do it, even if they aren't pleased that you frittered away too much of your salary when you should have been more fiscally conservative.
But they have a stake in your existence by making that loan, and before you know it, your mother is calling you every day to tell you how much you can pay for a new suit, and you can't afford to buy steak for dinner. Your father tells you how much you can give to the kiddies for their walking-around money.
You don't want to live like that.
The EU is about to force large wads of cash down Ireland's throat, all in an effort to prop up the euro so that other nations don't go under. The Irish government keeps insisting that it can make it on its own, get its own house in order, but things aren't progressing fast enough for the EU member states.
An Taoiseach Brian Cowen is already unpopular because he's being blamed for the financial crisis, but the house of cards was tumbling before he took office. He'd like to control the cost-cutting schemes so that he doesn't lose a vote of confidence and lose his position, but if the EU makes all the decisions on what gets cut and what must go, he can be sure the Irish electorate will send him packing.
Sadly, it won't make a bit of difference if Enda Kenny switches places with Mr. Cowen. Once the EU bails out Ireland, it owns Ireland, and the voting public can change partners but the dance won't be any different.
They can protest cuts to the health care system from one end of the island to the other, but cuts will be made because Ireland has spent itself into bankruptcy. He who pays the piper, as they say, and it will be the EU calling the tunes.
The EU will demand an increase in the VAT and the Irish will see prices rise. The EU will demand cuts in social welfare programs that its members believe are wasteful, and the programs will be gone. The Irish people and their elected officials will be painted out of the picture.
Members of the EU who have long been jealous of Ireland's low corporate tax, the vehicle that drove the Celtic Tiger, will casually step in and raise it. Corporations will flee to other tax shelters, leaving Ireland worse off and facing a more difficult time paying back the EU's loans.
A steady diet of spuds and buttermilk looms on the horizon, a return to the bad old days. And there's your parents, telling you they told you so when you went on that spending spree.