During the years when all seemed well with the Irish economy, a scandal bloomed in front of our faces but went mostly unnoticed: the scandal of public waste. Vast overspending on infrastructure (including a number of white elephants), extravagant use of overpriced consultants, the creation of dozens of quangos whose primary purpose seemed to be jobs for the boys, the culture of junketry that took hold in the semi-state sector and the Oireachtas - these and other dubious practices flourished during the years when the state's coffers were overflowing. The insiders benefited; the rest of us got ripped off.
Now, as the state scrambles to bail out the banks and to bring order to the shattered public finances by taking money out of the pockets of ordinary working people, Shane Ross and Nick Webb tell the story of the wasters: the people who perfected and benefited from the culture of cronyism and waste. Thanks in large part to Ross and Webb's journalism in the Sunday Independent exposing scandals in FAS and CIE, we already know part of this story. In Wasters, the authors show how wide and how deep the rot runs, and they show that every scandal has one thing in common: insiders profiting at the expense of ordinary people.