Tag Archives: Ireland

Prime Time Late Debate: ‘Ooo Sweden, very attractive’

According to RTE’s Donagh Diamond the purpose of education is to make money, working hard means being wealthy, equality is taxation and taxation is concerned with taking money from wealthy people, Sweden is an example of economic neo-liberalism and, most surprisingly, the banking bailout bonanza never happened.”

Donagh Diamond’s contributions, interjections and questions to panelists on RTE’s ‘Prime Time Late Debate‘:

To Richard Boyd Barrett:

“Would you be in favour of absolute equality?”

“Interestingly the man from Tasc said that leveling down was his exact expression” “in your ideal society…does everybody end up with pretty much equal wealth? In short, what the plain people of Ireland might call, are we talking about communism?” “A more attractive style of communism?”

“…you’re talking about a very very even divvy up of the resources, a very even divvy up of wealth. I mean, just how even are we talking?”

“In your ideal, I’m trying to get a straight forward thing, in your ideal society are there wealthy people?”

“I’m just talking about slightly better off people, when people work hard can they keep their money?”

To Cormoc Lucey:

“Is it possible to level everybody up?”

“That comment of Michael McDowell’s, that wasn’t seen as very centrist.”

To Ivana Bacik:

“Where do you stand on this whole question of equality of outcome versus equality of opportunity?”

[McDowell seemed to be striving for inequality in society] “Of course he never said that, though all of you on the Left seem to imply that he did.”

To Mary Fitzpatrick:

“Where do you stand on this question of equality of outcome, equality of opportunity? I suppose I might ask, where does Fianna Fail stand? Because people seem to suggest that Fianna Fail stands where ever it suits them at any particular  moment in history.”

“…should people have equal share of the pie? Should they just get health care, equal education and then compete? These are the issues we are discussing…”

“…let me suggest that maybe it’s the furthest possible from abstract, because if you believe in some very very real form of equality of outcome you would take a lot of tax from people who are wealthy you would redistribute it to people are less wealthy. The question of tax immediately arises as soon as you talk about the question of equality, I think that is something your constituents are deeply concerned about.”

“…in a system where we are having equality of outcome, much much would have to be taken from the wealthy people and redistributed to people, where do you stand on that?”

To Michael Taft:

“Where do you stand on this whole question of, I mean you’re involved in Tasc, we had Nat O’Connor there, where do you stand on equality of outcome or equality of opportunity?”

“Just let me stop you there, there is always this reference to the Nordic countries, I always wonder quite how much people here know about the Nordic countries, Sweden, which is the country referred to most often, has just re-elected a centre right government, it cut back welfare dramatically because it thought there was no incentive to work. The incentive to work was so bad that 16% of its entire current budget was spent on sick pay. Their finance minister says one of the key things they did was introduce more private provision in health care. They’ve introduced free profit making schools. This model, the Left cites, it’s not the sort of model you would really be citing if you knew what was going on in Sweden.”

[The centre-right government was only elected when they abandoned their free market type of Thatcherite policies and actually adapted the social democratic model] “They cut back social welfare though.”

To Lucinda Creighton:

“Where do you stand on this debate? Which, in essence, there seems to be a trade off between the amount of growth you want in an economy, the amount of incentive, perhaps an American style, it was mentioned, perhaps a Boston style economy versus a more European style economy which may be much more equal, but…might not grow so quick.”

[Investment in education provides a level playing field, or well it ought to] “But it doesn’t really though.”

“…no matter how fair your education system, there are going to be lucky people and unlucky people, there are going to people that by the time they are four years of age will have very involved parents who are going to probably be involved teaching since they were virtually born. They may be just lucky in terms of genetics, so if you have a system, if you have a dynamic American style system that focuses only on the equality of opportunity, wouldn’t that essentially mean that the person who is not so lucky or not so smart is just never gonna get rich?[my emphasis]

To Eoin O’Broin:

“One of the catch cries of Sinn Fein for as long as I can remember was equality, and it might not have caught the public’s imagination in 2007, but do you think it’s going to catch the imagination this time? Exactly what sort of equality are you looking for?”

[The Swedish Christian Democratic government…rejects the idea that we are all individuals struggling against each other to try and get on in society and they…] “We are all individuals aren’t we?”

“Since we insist on talking about Sweden, and despite how doubtful I am about talking about it, would you be in favour of their sort of taxes as well?…It’s not a million miles from twice the total tax take.”

“Do you think people watching this programme will think ‘Ooo Sweden, very attractive’? About the total tax take.”

“It is not slightly higher…It is not slightly higher…They don’t get more take home pay in their pocket.”

To Eamon Ryan:

“You’ve actually been in government and had to make decisions, where do you fall in this debate?”

[The governments job is to put some constraints on the market, still leave it free to operate in some instances, but to avoid the inherent…] “Only free in some instances?!” […instability and unfairness in the free market system…]

To Ivana Bacik:

“One of the key issues of course is how much money people get to keep, among the three largest parties you’re the party that is suggesting that this correction, if you’ll excuse the use of the term, that we have to undergo will be done by about half taxes and about half expenditure cuts. That’s the direct opposite of all the economic advice, the OECD advice, the ESRI pointed that out to us. Everybody says that the most successful adjustments are done by a greater proportion of expenditure cuts. Why does the Labour Party know better?”

“It might interest your voters in south county Dublin, you could be a fairly ordinary teacher and another public servant and between them they’d be on €100,000 a year.” [No, it’s an individual income]

To Cormoc Lucey:

“…fortunately we have an accountant here…the budgets during this economic correction we have been going through, have they been focused overwhelming on the poorest in society?”

To Ivana Bacik:

“We have seen, essentially, what the government was saying is that we can’t have huge numbers of people outside the tax net. If you were in government you would have had to do the same thing.”

“What troubles me about this is there is a huge amount of economic literature that says that if you are to through these sort of fiscal problems, and a large number of countries, including Ireland in 1989 is included in the OECD study, and they say that people who know these things and who study these things say that the preponderance, if you wanted to succeed, should be expenditure cuts, and the Labour Party seems to be blithely rejecting that.”

To Eamon Ryan:

“Just a straight forward issue, privatisation of services, we are going to have to deal with it aren’t we?”

[We shouldn’t be ideological on it] “We have no money so we don’t have to worry about that.”

It goes on for another 10 mins.

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The Finance Bill, there is no alternative

Even in the absence of a functioning government the Irish Times continues to campaign relentlessly for passage of the Finance Bill, a move that will seal “the abnegation of our economic sovereignty“.

Both the parties and media pundits realise that if the bill is not passed before the Dáil is dissolved it will be rejected by the public in the election.

“Today’s controversy will surround the enactment of the Finance Bill. Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan claims that it would be logistically impossible for him to get the Bill through the Dáil by Friday. The normal timetable for the passage of the Bill would be the end of March. The main Opposition parties, now including the Greens, want it done by Friday so that the election can be called. It is worth remembering that this is no normal Finance Bill. Rather, it is the domestic requirement to satisfy the terms of the bailout by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. There is little wriggle room in this Bill for any party, including Sinn Féin. All of the hours of debate in the world won’t turn back the clock on our loss of sovereignty.” [A time for reckoning, 24/1/11]

“The Green Party will now be on the Opposition benches along with Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Sinn Féin and a number of Independents. The challenge facing all of them is to find a way of ensuring that the Finance Bill is passed over the next week or so, despite the absence of a government. All agree with Fianna Fáil that the Bill should become law before the general election begins. The problem is that there is a serious difference of opinion between Fianna Fáil and the rest as to whether it can be done.” [Drama far from over as FF seeks to pass Finance Bill, 24/1/11]

AT ANY other time, the publication of the Government’s Finance Bill might be expected to generate much discussion and debate but the current political turmoil dominates the media to such an extent that the Bill published yesterday is little more than a sideshow. However, the Finance Bill, which will put into legislation the measures announced in last month’s Budget, is the only reason the Government is still in existence. If there is one major item that Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are still in agreement on, it is that the Finance Bill must be passed by the 30th Dáil. Most of the significant measures in the Bill are necessary to fulfil the terms of the bailout that the Government negotiated with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. This State no longer has sovereignty over its fiscal policy and it will not reclaim it until many years have passed and many billions of euro have been repaid.” [Bill is tough but necessary, 22/1/11]

“The Green Party is standing by its commitment to remain in Government until the Finance Bill has been passed. It hopes that climate change and other legislation can also be secured. Spurred on by the farming and business lobbies, Fianna Fáil backbenchers are preparing to revolt over carbon control legislation and in the circumstances, Mr Cowen is unlikely to upset them any further. Political observers have suggested that Mr Gormley would have improved the party’s chances of avoiding annihilation in the election had he left Government, offering to support the Finance Bill from the Opposition benches.” [What a difference a day makes, 21/1/11]

“Passage of the Finance Bill will bring the 30th Dáil to an end. That legislation is due to be introduced next week. While the Opposition parties have offered to facilitate its speedy passage, Mr Cowen is sticking with traditional timing, much as he did in rejecting EU pressure to introduce an early Budget. The upshot is likely to be a late February/early March completion date. In the meantime – and in spite of grumbles of “jobs for the boys” from the Green Party – the Taoiseach is likely to refresh his Cabinet by replacing Mr Martin, Mary Harney, Dermot Ahern and perhaps others who have announced their retirement.” [Deckchairs on the Titanic, 20/1/11]

“The Opposition parties should guillotine the passage of the Finance Bill and bring on the election.” [They are where they are now, 19/1/11]

“As political events unfold, it might be in the national interest for Fine Gael and Labour to agree that they would guillotine the Finance Bill through the Dáil and Seanad – if their primary aim is to have a general election as soon as possible.” [Fianna Fáil convulsions, 17/1/11]

“This amounts to an unwillingness to face the electorate. Only one piece of legislation is required before the Dáil is dissolved and that is the Finance Bill. It could be enacted quickly if the political will exists.” [Edging towards a general election, 8/1/11]

“THE NEED for a general election at the earliest possible opportunity has increased, rather than diminished, in the aftermath of the Budget. There should be no question of a long, drawn-out debate on the Finance Bill in the New Year or waiting until special legislation on climate change or corporate donations has been adopted. The sooner the electorate is given an opportunity to shape the political future of this State, the better. We are at debt’s door and it is simply not good enough to revert to party politics.” [Election required as soon as possible, 10/12/10]

Wallets Full of Blood

Together with our interview with filmmaker Eamonn Crudden, A curse on the zombie establishment, we would like to present below the trilogy of short films that make up Wallets Full of Blood, his cinematic account of Ireland’s property fuelled crisis. Enjoy…

Wallets Full of Blood: Houses on the Moon

‘A chilling and original take on the golden circle that is quickly turning the country to rust.’ Notes On The Front on Houses on the Moon

‘The most mordantly evocative document of post-‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland there is.’  Most Sincerely Folks on Houses on the Moon

Wallets Full of Blood: Zombie Banker Blues

‘A nice little going away present for ‘Fingers’ Fingleton when he finally ‘steps down’ this Thursday.’ Dublin Opinion on Zombie Banker Blues

‘An outstanding evocation of the emotional devastation of negative equity.’
Eurotrib.com on Zombie Banker Blues

Wallets Full of Blood: Roscommon Death Trip

‘Not one for the shockers, I loved this one. The directing, the filming, the cut, the audio is simply genius’. Culch.ie on Roscommon Death Trip

‘I strongly advise you all to watch this.’  The Punishment of Sloth on Roscommon Death Trip

End Times

What happened today? What was all the noise about government bonds, spreads, cats in bins. This is what happened:

The graph shows the 10-year bond yield for Irish government bonds (essentially the cost of borrowing), which looks fairly dramatic, until you look at the same data over a longer time frame, in this case the last 3 years:

Data provided by Bloomberg.

In media exile – Part 1

An interview with Joe MacAnthony

“Above all, perhaps, the story [of the Irish Hospital’s Sweepstake] underlines what journalism must continue to combat: censorship, state secrecy and the unwarranted power of an influential few.” [Stephen Dodd writing in 2003 in the Sunday Independent, one of only a handful of mainstream articles on the issue] [1]

In the early 1920’s, lotteries promising huge prizes and pledging support for worthy causes gained enormous popularity across the world. With no governing body or independent commission to monitor their working, corruption and fraud dogged these alleged charitable enterprises, their prizes and monies frequently disappearing.

In Ireland, the lotteries fiercest critic of the time was Justice Minister Kevin O’Higgins. He claimed to have ‘developed pneumonia from the dampness in his office caused by the tears of lottery promoters who are coming in crying about the poor and how they wanted to help them.’

Continue reading In media exile – Part 1