Monthly Archives: August 2009

Lo and behold

Introducing a fan of Simon Schama…

to the less refined wonders of Mark Steel, and…

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Guerrilla Busking

But first…

“One of the country’s most influential political figures, Ray MacSharry, has dramatically intervened in the banking debate to declare that Nama will not save “fat cat” builders and developers and some of them could even end up in social housing.” [Liam Collins and Daniel McConnell, ‘Builders to end up in social housing’, Irish Independent, 30/8/09]

“THE director of a major debt collection agency says he is “not in the business of imprisoning people” but that’s the only method available to those trying to collect unpaid bills….Declan Flood, the CEO of the Irish Institute of Credit Management, revealed that 200 people are imprisoned annually arising out of non-payment of debt.” [Vincent Ryan, ‘Locking up defaulters ‘is only way to recoup debt’‘, Irish Independent, 7/6/09]

Where’s General Petraeus when you need him?

I may be completely out of the loop, but as far as I can tell Newsnight introduced a very worrying expression tonight – a “political surge” towards a global climate change agreement. The worrying part being that the talking head who proposed the phrase, described the need to have a “political surge, just like the surge we saw in Iraq.” It was amazing to see how quickly the idea caught on, within seconds the whole panel was discussing the need for a “political surge.” And in doing so retroactively legitimised the escalation of military conflict in Iraq.

Lets hope it doesn’t catch on.

George Lakoff on Bush’s infamous ‘surge‘.

Propaganda: Lesson 2

“Tell you what, I think I know what I’d be doing if I had money, and if I wasn’t already massively over-exposed to the property market by virtue of owning a reasonable home. I’d be buying property. In fact, I might do it anyway.” [Brendan O’Connor, Irish Independent, July 29 2007]

“RESIDENTIAL property values have fallen by between 40 and 50 per cent from the peak levels they achieved in 2007, according to one of the country’s leading estate agencies.” [Ronald Quinlan, Irish Independent, August 23 2009]

“for the past decade or so in this country, anyone who wanted to gamble on the property market — which can, as we are seeing now, be much more volatile than the stock market — was given money hand over fist to do so. And yes, it’s infuriating that we are now being expected to pay for the really big losses…But in the meantime we still can’t put the shit back in the bull.” [Brendan O’Connor, Irish Independent, August 23 2009]

Thy name is Brendan O’Connor.

Our ‘lavish’ social welfare system

Benefit Cheat Idol: Harry, Wills, Charlie, Liz and Phil.
Benefit Cheat Idol: Harry, Wills, Charlie, Liz and Phil.

According to trinity’s Dr Constantin Gurdgiev anyway (Editor of Business & Finance magazine). On Thursday’s RTE Prime Time the good doctor referred to OECD data to support the contention that Ireland showers its unemployed with cash.

Other commentators are predictably unconvinced, having tackled the issue a number of times before. The question remains though, with authoritative figures such as trinity research fellows continuing to make the unchallenged claim that Ireland’s social welfare system is a benefits bonanza on national television, what will it take to kill this conservative meme once and for all?

Graffiti via ‘Bristol Graffiti’

Better late than never

eventually, 23 years later…I have come to believe that the media is the problem – or a large part of it – and not the solution. The media is a centre of corporate power, and it is inextricably tied into the other centres of corporate power.

There is a vivid contemporary illustration of how the media is part of the problem and not the solution. There is a virtual unanimity now that the resolution of our fiscal crisis necessarily involves cutting social welfare, and the rationale for this is that social welfare payments increased in 2009 in real terms and now have to fall.

That unintended boost to social welfare payments in 2009 represented a tiny step towards a fairer distribution of wealth and income. This is the very reason why that must now be reversed. There is not a single national newspaper or radio or TV station that persistently argues the opposite. All are caught in the headlights of the official orthodoxy.

Along with the education system and the churches, the media is the major propagator of ideology and, as spectacularly happens in the case of RTE, this occurs unwittingly.

It is common sense as, for instance, it is common sense that the fiscal crisis cannot be resolved through more taxation (ie through redistribution of income) ; it has to be done through public expenditure cuts and that must mean social welfare cuts. It makes sense.

Anything else is a cop-out. Not once, I think, did any of the press own up to its part in the crisis that has befallen us. For instance, most newspapers made large profits from the property boom which they did a great deal to inflate. Where has there been any recognition of that?” [Vincent Browne, Sunday Business Post]

A welcome coincidence

Shock horror, a decent article about Honduras in the Irish media…

“Latin America has long been plagued by military coups – routinely backed by the US – against elected governments. And Honduras, the original “banana republic”, has been afflicted more than most. But all that was supposed to have changed after the end of the cold war: henceforth, democracy would reign. And, as Barack Obama declared, there was to be a “new chapter” for the Americas of “equal partnership”, with no return to the “dark past”.

But, as the coup regime of Roberto Micheletti digs in without a hint of serious sanction from the country’s powerful northern sponsor, there is every sign of a historical replay. In a grotesquely unequal country of seven million people, famously owned and controlled by 15 families, in which more than two-thirds live below the poverty line, the oligarch rancher Zelaya was an unlikely champion of social advance.” [Dangers in US ambivalence to ditched Honduran democracy]

Marking the return of a Seumas Milne / Irish Times ‘syndication’, after a full 9 year break.

It’s highly unlikely that it’s appearance has anything at all to do with the submission for publication of the MediaShot below to the IT”s foreign desk a day before. But it’s a welcome coincidence.