December 9, 2007

Reaching for Starbucks in Shanghai

Posted in International Economy · 81 comments ·
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The growing appetite of young Chinese workers for all things western, including dairy products, is having a profound effect on global agriculture.

Many years ago, in the mid 1980s, when I worked as a barman in a Chinese restaurant in Toronto (yes, you read right!), one of the Chinese waiters explained to me that he thought we – that is all westerners – smelt of dairy products. He claimed he could smell butter, cheese and milk from our skin.

Probing a bit deeper, I asked whether this was a pleasant experience for him, to which he recoiled and exclaimed that our odour repulsed him. This prompted a bout of arm-sniffing self-consciousness, as he went on to claim that Chinese people didn’t eat dairy, believing it to be an almost barbaric staple.

This was not one man’s idiosyncrasy. It was true. Others confirmed the theory to me that, indeed, Chinese people detested dairy as much as we love the stuff. So it was a great surprise to me to notice on a recent visit the epidemic of Starbucks in Shanghai.

The first thing to strike you about Shanghai is the foreignness of it all; the buildings, the teeming masses, the ambition and the sense that you are in a true 21st century megapolis. However, on the street the small details are as revealing and one of those small features is Starbucks.

Here, in the shining city of the country that supposedly hates dairy, a milky crème brulee or full-fat frappuccino epidemic has taken hold. There is a Starbucks on almost every street corner and it is full of Chinese students and workers sipping iced vanilla lattes.

Have the Chinese changed their eating habits? It seems that they have. The offices of Glanbia in Shanghai are a testament to this. Glanbia is in, among other things, the milk-formula business, which is booming in China. Chinese maternity wards are making a wholesale shift to milk-formula feeding and this is having a profound effect on the worldwide price of dairy. In a year when stock market and house prices have been falling, the price of agricultural produce has gone through the roof. This has a lot to do with the changing tastes and demands of China.

Another thing you notice in Shanghai is the number of traditional American steakhouses. Beef consumption in China is also skyrocketing. By switching from fowl to beef, the Chinese have had a huge impact on the price of global agriculture and may now be kicking off a 20-year trend, during which we will all experience consistent food price inflation. Before we think about where this might be taking us, let’s proffer a few ideas as to why it is happening.

The east is going west as quickly as the west is going east. The middle classes in the west have become obsessed with the east and the middle classes in the east have become obsessed with the west.

Look around the suburbs of Ireland and see how the middle class infatuation with all things eastern has become almost obsessional. Think about yoga, lentils, sushi, lemon grass, chilli, coriander, pak choi, chopsticks, rice wine vinegar, sake, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, nam pla fish sauce, garam masala, cumin, Buddhism, meditation and ashrams.

What we are seeing is definitional consumption. So, when choosing what to eat, many people are not so much satisfying the biological taste bud urge of ‘‘I like that’’, but rather the more socially subtle signal ‘‘I am like that’’.

So the well-heeled, worldly westerner is not only deciding to love the taste of sushi, lemon grass and coriander, they are also sending out a clear signal as to how they would like to be regarded.

They want to be lemoney-grassey, sushi-eating, coriandery type of people, as opposed to meat and two veg types. This sets them apart on the social hierarchy. In the new moral code of the western middle classes, less is more.

Only the poor are fat and only the rich have green-budgets based as they are on self-restraint, making do and going without. Sacrifice is the new excess and what better image of sacrifice than the self-styled Donnybrook version of Ghandi, abstaining, dieting and refraining. Oh such self-control in an era of bling!

In China, the new middle classes have no truck with such self effacing carry-on. They love spending, brands and flashing their cash. They have rejected Confucianism for consumerism. Shanghai is brand central, where the fashionable are kitted out head to toe in Versace, drink Krystal and generally out-spend the west.

Many of them want to eat, drink and look like us, while many of us, want to eat, drink and act like them. Their middle classes are actively rejecting their traditions in favour of ours and our middle classes are rejecting our traditions in favour of theirs.

The impact this will have on economics could be profound. Already we see China’s impact on oil prices, as it drives its industries to make the goods necessary to get the cash to spend in Starbucks. We are also seeing the great untold story of agricultural inflation, where Chinese demand is among the key factors driving up the price of a pint of milk in Ballincollig.

Both of these trends are completely at odds with the past 20 years, when cheap oil in the late 1980s to the early part of the century and cheap food from the 1970s to now have been the dominant background noise to our economic expansion.

This is now changing and a era of food inflation is on the way. This will have an impact on the price of agricultural land around the world, as the yield from land rises on the back of food price inflation.

Additionally, as the west reacts (rightly) to the green agenda we could see what the UN refers to as a ‘‘massive switch to agro-fuels’’.

Last year more than one-third of the total US maize crop went to ethanol for fuel – a 48 per cent increase over 2005.This trend is on the increase all around the globe and will take more land out of agricultural production, putting further upward price pressure on food prices and by extension agricultural land prices.

We may well be on the cusp of the great new era for global farming. And the trigger to this revolution can be traced to skinny-tall lattes on the Bund in Shanghai and wheatgrass juice in the ashrams of Rathmines.


  1. David wrote:

    “The impact this will have on economics could be profound. Already we see China’s impact on oil prices, as it drives its industries to make the goods necessary to get the cash to spend in Starbucks. We are also seeing the great untold story of agricultural inflation, where Chinese demand is among the key factors driving up the price of a pint of milk in Ballincollig.”

    We have come a long way from the days of the “Milk Marketing Board”, a government quango which determined that the price of a pint of milk in Dublin was what it was-and nobody sold it any cheaper than the farmers set price.!
    It seems like only a few short years,(to me) since Ben Dunne became the consumers champion (Eddie Hobbs style) and fought the Irish Farmers Association´s attempt to close down Dunnes Stores, because they offered milk sourced from Northern Ireland in their supermarkets at a reasonable price, and finally broke the stranglehold of the farming lobby.
    There are only a few big stores which do so today, nevertheless it was a milestone achievement, thanks to Ben Dunne.!

  2. Vincent

    Yes, the agri-business and the farmers have shifted to the tune of the oil price. Or rather to the tune of fuel security. This is relative, and will correct itself with each new innovation. But it is food security which will be of more importance in the next extended cycle. The attack on the Twins, brought forward this situation. And a little forward, only.

  3. Liam

    Lets get a few things straight. Farmers get f*** all for their milk. Here in the UK thare has just been news that the major supermarkets have been fixing milk prices for years (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7132108.stm). These price hikes have not been passed onto producers. Even if an bord bainne has lost it’s teeth I am sure tesco and dunnes would not hesitate in fixing the price of milk in the republic to make a few pence more. Seems like the farmers of ireland may make more money from their glanbia shares than the milk they supply to ballyragget. Well done to the co-op society 70 years ago for organising milk production

    Continuing this rant, Bio fuel is probably the mose eco unfriendly crop you can imagine (even worse for the environment than all those cows farting) http://www.earthhealing.info/biofuels.pdf To get energy security from bio fuels is a totally inefficient road to go down (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel) it’s about 1% efficient. (best yield come from algae which I think grows on water ?) Leave the land for food not fuel. What will bio fuel give us ? a quick fix for our inefficient SUVs and further starve the 3rd world.

  4. Ed

    Interesting times – an increase in the demand for food can only be good for Ireland and for some countries in Africa. We should all apply the Smurfit mantra “there is no such thing as a problem, only opportunity.

  5. David,

    I’m going to be careful of how I phrase this, as it involves making generalisations about Racial groups, but I’m quoting the BBC on this, so I hope I’m on safe ground: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6397001.stm

    Northern Europeans (including the Irish) are freaks in that they have a genetic mutation that makes them able to digest milk. A large proportion of the Earth’s population don’t have this, making eating anything Dairy an unpleasant experience. I quote the above link

    In some parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa, the vast majority of people are lactose intolerant to some degree.

    I think this is the origin of complaints about your Body odor! But it doesn’t detract from the rest of the article.

    Paul

  6. Donal

    Let the fall of Decadence in the West begin and the rise of eastern wisdom replace it

  7. B

    Dairy products are over sold.

    They are glorified social welfare payments to farmers. It is a waste of land, time and a blight on the environment to produce it. Historically Dev wanted to keep the (crucial to his success) farming vote and resettled farmers from Connaught to Leinster to produce milk. Old fashioned crap that he was well used to peddling. Go back a few generations of Irish dairy farmers and you will find a lot living and working the land in Kildare and Meath to be repotted small holders from the Western counties.

    Couple that with the Church run (Knights of Columbanus) Dublin Dairies and you have a State created closed loop of market and supply for the product with vote management that the Shinners would be proud of.

    Dairy production and mass production of goods that are made cheaper elsewhere is nonsense in Ireland. Ireland as an island nation is unique in the fact that most people won’t eat seafood. We negotiatied away our biggest resource for the short term gain of retaining the farming vote. We chose junk food over abundant healthy food. If eating vast quantities of dairy is so good for us why are we so fat and why do we (along with the Finns) keel over with fat dairy related diseases.

    If the government including the greens (small g for green as in naive) gave a hoot about the environment they would have outlined plans to reduce the emissions of animal agriculture (30%) and concrete (8%) rather than picking the soft target of the motorist for whom it is impossible to get to work to pay for the farmers handouts and all the other taxes that they love to waste in our name.

    Watch the Chinese get fatter as they adopt the Western diet. But they will run out of land first.

    The Irish have an a la carte attitude to what they will eat or accept is from Asia. They rarely interact with people actually from Asia preferring to have them work in their homes or serve them food. They think that what they get in the Chinger is Chinese food but in reality the food is Westernised and things like chickens stomachs, lambs stomach, pigs feet and offal are off the menu. I see no organic balut or tilapia on toast.
    We will eat sausages which is bizzare because everything that isn’t used is put in sausages. We will eat it as as long as we don’t know what it is. We are squeamish.

    These same people that eat organic food are coked out of their bins at the weekends and are the worst at paying their bills. If you ask any milkman who has a milk round in a working class area and a middle class area the main differing factor is that the working class pay their bills. The middle class for all their bullshit about equality, yoga, organic carrots and pontificating about recycling are most hypocritical when it really comes down to brass tacks. They will brazen it out rather than pay the man what he is owed. The list of excuses is almost endless.

    The middle class take a middle of the road safe version of what they think is Asian rather than what is actually Asian. Nobody wants, for instance, to take on the Chinese attitude to debt (have none) and personal responsibility ( you control your own fate) but prefer to keep the notion that things that go wrong are the fault of someone out there and no debt is too much debt.

    We have a cartoon notion of what Asia and Asians are about. We lump them all together and assume they are all the same, with similar values etc etc. But countries right beside each other could hardly be more different.

    Take the 2 hour flight from Taipei to Manila and compare the difference. The Philippines had Western values imposed on them and what did they get? An economy permanently up the creek, half their population working abroad and religious violence in one small corner. Sound familiar? Same dominant religion as Ireland and a religion going against the grain of the region. Also they had the ignominy of being used as an air base for US operation in the Vietnam war. Again familiar territory compared to Ireland. Shannon Airport.

    They spent 400 years in the Vatican and 30 years in Disneyland. The 400 years in the Vatican has left them with a culture of not questioning their leaders and a general ignorance of the bigger picture. The parallels with Ireland are startling. Give me what I want and don’t tell me where it came from. There are no consequences for my actions. Milk come from the fridge and that’s all I want to know.

    These same people that embrace Chinese culture I wonder do they want to abandon too the Western principle of the Good Samaritan and help people on the street in difficulty. This is an alien concept to the Chinese who will walk around a slumped body on the street instead of offering assistance. The Chinese are streetwise, can be cold and don’t suffer fools. We are slow witted and heavy footed compared to them and all the mandarin classes and organic sushi in the world won’t make a jot of difference. The Chinese will have us for breakfast organic or not, with or without milk.

  8. SpinstaSista

    You are spot on about the Chinese, B. They have a great working ethic, don’t believe in debt and are prepared to take responsibility for their own fate. However, they do not seem to have much regard for human life and human rights if Falun Gong bulletins are to be believed. I have never been to China, but apparently people walk past dead babies in the streets there without batting an eyelid. This may of course be an exaggeration and opinions from people who have visited China would be welcome.

    Chinese people have gained a foothold in Ireland at lightning speed and we can learn a lot from them in many ways. However, they do not have the same natural warmth as the Irish. Go into any Chinese run business and you will get the sense that profit and efficiency come first and second respectively and customer satisfaction is way down the list of priorities.

  9. B

    My business is “Chinese run” and we find that the customer satisfaction is A1. Our main issue is with the Irish natives of supposed high class using overt and covert racist tactics and comments. We are not in retail and deal exclusively with middle class “educated” people. When I hear of these incidents I am ashamed of my own country.

    They can be spiky in business but they come from a culture where thousands will take their place at a moments notice.

    The Chinese have been in Ireland for years some up to 40 years and some born here. We just noticed them recently when they started to come in large numbers. There has been a Chinese supermarket in Dublin 2 since 1981.

    Chinas streets are not littered with dead babies. It may happen in some places and they do have a cavalier attitude to life and death but lumping all of China together in one big concept is like saying the Irish and Dutch are the same as each other. The Chinese even have skyscrapers which for some bizzare reason are banned here.

  10. JJ Tatten

    Aaaah, the old ‘dead babies’ line. Nice to see that old chestnut is still kicking around.

    Has anybody ever noticed how, down through the years, the ‘babies’ or ‘dead babies’ reference is always trotted out to demonise a people we’re suspicious of?

    Apparently the English, Protestants Jews and ‘de blacks’ also ate; killed,stepped over (delete where applicable) babies – alive and dead. And in the the bigotry heartland of old East End, us ‘Micks’ were up to the very same thing!

    But to para-phrase Spinsta-Sista’s get-out-clause ‘This may of course be an exaggeration and opinions from people who have visited China/England/Israel/Africa would be welcome’

    Well done Spinsta-Sista for spotting a cultural link which bonds us all together.

  11. SpinstaSista

    Thanks for correcting me on that B. As I said, I haven’t been to China so my only experience of the Chinese is the people who are here. The only Chinese people I have dealt with are in retail.

    I don’t lump China together in one concept – that would be foolish as the country is so big. They’re not hot on freedom of expression but neither were we in the first few decades of the Irish Free State.

    I do not approve of the Chinese attitude towards human rights.

  12. SpinstaSista

    JJ Tatten

    I stand corrected. It’s definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Irishman Jonathan Swift advocated eating babies in his pamphlet “A Modest Proposal”!

    http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html

    ”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled …”

    I’d rather have a Chinese takeaway myself.

  13. B

    The Irish attitude to human rights is as bad. We don’t execute people in execution chambers but are willing to execute them by negligence in our hospitals.

  14. SpinstaSista

    “The Irish attitude to human rights is as bad. We don’t execute people in execution chambers but are willing to execute them by negligence in our hospitals.”

    B, with regard to human rights in China, perhaps you should speak to some Falun Gong members and see if they agree with you.

    “The Chinese will have us for breakfast organic or not, with or without milk”

    You seem to be hell bent on serving us up to the Chinese!

  15. B

    The Chinese will serve themselves. I think the Chinese attitude to human rights is to elevate the rights of the group higher than the rights of the individual and punish the renegades. I am not condoning it but stating what I have been told.

    Ireland as I have said before pays lip service to human rights but it has in the past imprisoned and executed people that society did not want. These being the people committed to mental institutions over land and the not-to-be-discussed forced exile of half a million Irish people to Britain and America when the Catholic Taliban took over after independence. We seem to still be in the thrall of them when many of them should have been shot as traitors.

    Condemn the Chinese for flagrant human rights killings, violations and injustices but we still have not come to terms with the fact that we did the same thing. The Chinese are bad but we did the same thing. And in some places we still do the same thing. We are a democracy in the same way that Singapore is. In all but name. We have weak opposition and practically one party government from the Foundation of the State. The press here can say jack shit about anything and this can be seen in the weak output of the media. They will be sued if they say anything. Our libel laws are crazy and it is still illegal to directly criticize a minister. Ask yourself why on television journalists interview each other and how often words like “alleged” are used and the frequency of news reports with no names and no details.

    We live in fantasy land if we think what we have is democracy.

  16. Ed

    The biggest problem with doing business with China is the issue of saving face – to lose face is one of the worst things that can happen to a Chinese person and so if they make an error, it’s difficult if not impossible to get them to admit to it – it’s weird, but there you are.

  17. Donal

    B,

    The Taliban should be compared to the Catholic Church in this Country. They banned television, music, men shaving and all forms of technological ownership in the home – they were the Afghani version of The Khmer Rouge and were content living in the stone age.

    The Catholic Church has done more for this country than it is now given credit for; of course there were scandals from some priests who shouldn’t even be classed as human beings but the moral teachings were we given by the overall honest majority can’t be ignored.

    It’s broad-minded liberals whose brains have fallen out that have lead to this country going under, and promoted hedonistic practises that they can profit from without giving a rat’s Arse about the social impact.

    Those people are equally as responsible for the death of Katy French last week, as well as the scum who gave her the drugs.

    The church still has strong ideals & faith for mankind and has preached that human behaviour means being responsible and not giving into pleasures for our own selfish thoughts, which is what alot of people will come to regret later in life.

    Those lessons at least kept us as a state that valued human beings before profit, until the “Celtic Tiger” came along and started taking victims of its own.

    The best we’ve ever been? More like the worst, when the banks lose all their money building a moat in the sky against a tidalwave from the sea.

  18. Criostor

    You must be typing too fast again Donal .. take your time!

  19. Ed

    “The Catholic Church has done more for this country than it is now given credit for;”

    I used to be of that opinion until I realised that they turned down a serious effort by Queen Victoria to educate the Irish after the famine – a few towns and cities got model schools before they put the brakes on – that set the Irish back fifty years.

  20. Criostor

    With respect Ed,

    I wouldn’t have trusted Queen Victoria. She wasn’t amused to anything, including human decency as her government allowed the famine to occur in the first place by selling all our potatoes and letting us die of starvation.

    She was a proponent of the soup kitchens which made people whom were on their knees renounce the pope before they even could have a slurp! It might’nt have been in every case but it did happen and I wouldn’t trust anyone like her even if she appears serious.

    The existing Royal Family in the UK are no different, they are weak willed/spirited and hearted and are of no use to anyone.

  21. Joe H.

    Hey “B” the stuff you wrote on the Chinese was interesting … I never knew for instance about them not liking debt. Some other stuff as well.

    So please keep commenting on what David writes as I for one an interested in what you write.

  22. The standard of debate on this website is, of late,debased..lets get back to focus on chaos, corruption, and incompetent administration (Fianna Fail) or the likely repercussions worldwide, in poverty stricken countries, of the fact that the price of flour has risen by 40% in recent months because farmers are producing more and more ethanol thanks to government subsidies.
    Meanwhile irish farmers have demanded a derogation from the Green Party´s new road tax on gas guzzling 4 wheel drive vehicles. I always thought the red tractor diesel they fuelled them with, was derogation enough.!

  23. Callan

    I’ve to take issue with a few things B wrote. De Valera didn’t resettle families from the west to Leinster to produce milk, it was to further his dream of 8 million people living in frugal comfort. While this might have cornered a segment of the farming vote, it radicalised other parts of that constituency in the opposite direction. The lingering bitterness towards DeValera is as much to do with his economic policies in the thirties, when the farmers who owned most of the cattle couldn’t sell them because of the Economic War, as they have with his political activities in the twenties.

    “Dairy production and mass production of goods that are made cheaper elsewhere is nonsense in Ireland. Ireland as an island nation is unique in the fact that most people won’t eat seafood. ”

    Hardly. You associate New Zealand with sheep, not sardines, for a reason. The reason being that you’re less likely to drown grazing sheep in a field than you are on the high oceans hunting the cod fish. The economics of farming made more sense as well. Just one example from close to home: The Ulster Plantantions were a land grab, not a pierfront property grab, for a reason. I’ve heard of strong farmers, gentleman farmers, and ranchers, but I’ve never heard their equivalents used when it comes to fishermen. If you live somewhere with abundant good grazing, like Ireland or New Zealand, then it’s a no brainer as to how you’re going to produce most of your protein. Neither do I think we could buy our milk in cheaper from abroad than we can produce it at home. Farmers have been getting awfully excited over Brazilian Beef and New Zealand Lamb lately. No one has thought it worth their while to ship milk in from either of those places yet.

    “We negotiatied away our biggest resource for the short term gain of retaining the farming vote. We chose junk food over abundant healthy food. If eating vast quantities of dairy is so good for us why are we so fat and why do we (along with the Finns) keel over with fat dairy related diseases.”

    Seafood, as a resource and the basis for a strong, sustainable economy, is simply a non starter. “Overfishing” is the condition of having to few fish, “Overgrazing” is the condition of having too many animals, both are currently relevant. The B&B owner I stayed with in Ballina a few years ago summed it up thus: One man with a fishing rod on the banks of the Moy was of more economic benefit to North Mayo than ten men sailing a trawler out of Killalla. And whoever recommended “vast quantities of dairy” as the basis of a healthy diet?

    “If the government including the greens (small g for green as in naive) gave a hoot about the environment they would have outlined plans to reduce the emissions of animal agriculture (30%) and concrete (8%) rather than picking the soft target of the motorist for whom it is impossible to get to work to pay for the farmers handouts and all the other taxes that they love to waste in our name.”

    The farmer’s handouts come from Brussels, not either of our paychecks*. I’m not sure about your figures re greenhouse emissions, but I don’t doubt that animal methane makes a major contributor. That being said that will almost certainly decline as livestock numbers drop over the next few years. I’m a motorist myself, and I wouldn’t see myself as a soft target. I chose that 1.8 litre Ford Focus over the 1.1 litre Micra for a reason. John Gormally’s actions won’t change my mind either. I’m big enough to take the hit, as is anyone driving a 4×4 in Sandycove.

    “These same people that eat organic food are coked out of their bins at the weekends and are the worst at paying their bills. If you ask any milkman who has a milk round in a working class area and a middle class area the main differing factor is that the working class pay their bills. The middle class for all their bullshit about equality, yoga, organic carrots and pontificating about recycling are most hypocritical when it really comes down to brass tacks. They will brazen it out rather than pay the man what he is owed. The list of excuses is almost endless.”

    I’m going to have to call for more substantive evidence for this? Would you have been as free and easy with your anecdotal evidence if your milkman acquaintance had been talking about Nigerian asylum seekers, Roma, or Travellers?

    “The middle class take a middle of the road safe version of what they think is Asian rather than what is actually Asian. Nobody wants, for instance, to take on the Chinese attitude to debt (have none) and personal responsibility ( you control your own fate) but prefer to keep the notion that things that go wrong are the fault of someone out there and no debt is too much debt.”

    You’re entitled to your opinion. But is the implication that the young Chinese we get served by in Centra and Spar incurred no debt to get to Westmoreland St. from Beijing? What about the Chinese students in our tertiary (and above) education system?

    “They spent 400 years in the Vatican and 30 years in Disneyland. The 400 years in the Vatican has left them with a culture of not questioning their leaders and a general ignorance of the bigger picture. The parallels with Ireland are startling. Give me what I want and don’t tell me where it came from. There are no consequences for my actions. Milk come from the fridge and that’s all I want to know.”

    This country, for all it’s faults and failings, is NOT comparable to the Philipines. I work with Filipinos, and they assure me this is the case. For what it’s worth, I also know where milk comes from, I’ve extracted personally in my younger days.

    “These same people that embrace Chinese culture I wonder do they want to abandon too the Western principle of the Good Samaritan and help people on the street in difficulty. This is an alien concept to the Chinese who will walk around a slumped body on the street instead of offering assistance. The Chinese are streetwise, can be cold and don’t suffer fools. We are slow witted and heavy footed compared to them and all the mandarin classes and organic sushi in the world won’t make a jot of difference. The Chinese will have us for breakfast organic or not, with or without milk.”

    I’m fascinated that you’ve used oriental concepts of government and cuisine to illustrate western decadence. Your contrast between our slow witted selves and the superhuman Chinese reminds me of a story. A Japanese luminary, back when people talked about Japan in the same way they talk about China now, caused a diplomatic stir, confidently predicting that America’s indolent and none to bright workforce would be the death of the place. The best the US could hope for was to be Japan’s sub contractor, he sai. One of the more thoughtful members of the US congress opined that instead of getting angry, America should get even. Send them a postere of a mushroom cloud with the caption “Made by Lazy American Workers; Tested in Japan”.

    “Ireland as I have said before pays lip service to human rights but it has in the past imprisoned and executed people that society did not want. These being the people committed to mental institutions over land and the not-to-be-discussed forced exile of half a million Irish people to Britain and America when the Catholic Taliban took over after independence. We seem to still be in the thrall of them when many of them should have been shot as traitors. ”

    I’m a little confused. Is this a condemnation of successive Irish governments economic and mental health policies, or an endorsment of Chinese judicial policy i.e. shooting people?

    “We have weak opposition and practically one party government from the Foundation of the State. The press here can say jack shit about anything and this can be seen in the weak output of the media. They will be sued if they say anything. Our libel laws are crazy and it is still illegal to directly criticize a minister.”

    I agree with substantively with everything you said except the second part of your last sentence. Unless Eddie Hobbs was carted off to Wheatfield for “Rip Off Republic” and I didn’t notice (he said not so nice things about Martin Cullen and John O’Donoghue).

    A general observation: Things were bad in this country in times gone past, worse than a Pope’s child like myself (a lot of my classmates and friends were christened John Paul and Karl) could ever imagine. In terms of the economy, opportunity, and freedom of expression, no one in their mind (and not a lot out of it) could defend the general way of doing things in De Valera’s or Cosgrave’s Ireland. But let’s try and see these things in context. This state is one of very few in Europe that can claim an unbroken democratic lineage in the past century. Much maligned as DeValera’s 1938 constitution is, it gave formal recognition to Judaism at the same time as the German’s were passing the Nuremberg Laws. This state gave full voting rights to women 7 years before the UK, and half a century before Switzerland. I’m not presenting this state as the ideal embodiment of what a democracy is, was and should be. But then I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that ever has, which is the problem with democratic principles. But as Winston Churchill observed it’s a better way of doing things than any of the alternatives.

  24. B

    Re: Callan

    1. DeValera could not find his arse with both hands. He needed the farmers to hang onto power. He was British so much he cut his (substantial) nose off to spite his face.

    2. “Dairy production and mass production of goods that are made cheaper elsewhere is nonsense in Ireland.” Poland is far better to mass production. There is a reason it was used a battlefield so often. Wide and flat. Just what tractors and farmers like.

    3. “Ireland as an island nation is unique in the fact that most people won’t eat seafood” 100% of our Islands borders is water. What is in the water? Fish or cows?

    4. NZ is literally drowning in sheep shit. As are parts of Ireland.

    5. Farmers have sheep because its more fun than going on the dole.

    6. I have yet to see anything resembling “Farmer Economics” If this is the economics of ripping up the countryside, make food that is government sponsored and marketed and depending on handouts from the EU then thats it.

    7. We get Sardines from the Maldives.

    8. We can get milk cheaper from abroad. If it can go in a refrigerated container we can get it in and it can be cheaper if the quantites are right. We already do it with bananas. Its not difficult to cold chain anything from anywhere to anywhere else. I know because I do it week in and week out.

    9. Farmers get excited about everything. Mostly though, about money.

    10. Shipping milk from abroad is not done because we have too much of the white water here. We would get more calcium from eating plaster of paris.

    11. “Seafood, as a resource and the basis for a strong, sustainable economy, is simply a non starter.”
    If nothing else a diet with seafood would cut depression and make our hair shiny. A healthy economy is not all about mass production of goods. Being healthy would cut the dependance on the HSE and we would be less manic and less prone to drink and drugs. We are not carnivores and we don’t need the amount of proiten that we are peddled.

    12. With the decline of farming we will get around faster. Less battered old red Izuzu troopers pulling one calf in an unlit and banjaxed trailer at 4kph on the N7. This is hardly the engine of a dynamic economy. It will at least make my life easier.

    13. “That being said that will almost certainly decline as livestock numbers drop over the next few years.” Drop where and when? If anything the numbers will rise with the population of humans.

    14. Motorists are a soft target. They have no lobby groups with any clout. The only time the government listen to the AA is when they are changing a wheel on their Mercedes. Don’t even get me started on the Toyota Prius (Pious). They have an effective life of 11 years, drive them hard and the MPG difference is negligble, they are heavy, the batteries can’t be recycled. I have a 16 year old turbodiesel that still gets 50mpg and this is 6 years after a Prius would have been scrapped. If the motorist had a lobby there would be no tollbridge on the M50. We are divided and weak.

    15. Milk payers – had a family member who was CFO of a large dairy. Northside milkmen got paid. Southside had to knock on doors….and then knock again…and then eventually get paid.

    16. Try getting paid in the holistic, organic, touchy feely world. Most of them jumped from high windows of large companies and are confused as to what a business is and paying suppliers. They want to be treated as consumers with more rights than Superman and as a business when they are behind the counter. Most of them only jumped into the business when they noticed the grim reaper or age creeping up with them.

    17. I am not free and easy about anything. You proved yourself to be by bring in some hoary old chestnuts. Nigerians are not all asylum seekers and I am not sure what you are getting at with throwing Romas and Travellers in with the middle class? I mean what are you saying here? I am racist against tightwad middle class milk drinkers? Man, that was a weak point!

    17. The Chinese we see here in Centra and Spar are in Centra and Spar to pay for their educations. They have got a start from their parents to get here but once here they survive or go home. They are bred to survive though. I know enough Chinese people to know that money and looking after yourself are pretty well ingrained and they have no problem putting in the work now for reward later. How many pissed up Chinese do you see ever? They work (study and work) and sleep and are here to do just that. To make a better life. As I said one of our businesses is Chinese run.

    18. Filipinos can be naive. I say this with the greatest respect. I have been to the Philippines and am going again soon and the ordinary Pinoy worships the Church, hates GMA and just works abroad because there is nothing for them at home. They have Catholic values of piety to those above and the belief in the notion that confession wipes clean whatever happened in the past. The notion of personal responsibly is collectively absent and superstition is rampant. I am not judging but observing. I have many Pinoy friends from all walks of life. I still cannot figure out why they all still worship Marcos. I mean you can’t even mention his name in Manila and the shoe queen is still very powerful. Marcos=Haughey.

    19. Ireland from 1975-1992 = Philippines now. High emigration, Catholic religion and rampant corruption.

    20. The Chinese are not superhuman. There are just shitloads of them and they are self organised. have you not heard of the Bamboo network?

    21. “I’m a little confused. Is this a condemnation of successive Irish governments economic and mental health policies, or an endorsment of Chinese judicial policy i.e. shooting people?”
    No confusion. I don’t condone shooting anyone. I am merely pointing out that there is no point pointing out the splinter in your neighbours eye when there is a plank in yours. We have not acknowledged nor purged our own demons but it is fashionable to point at China. By all means do but we ignored the rampant abuse here and swept it under the carpet.

    Human rights start at home. Once we get our own house in order we can point fingers without fear of hypocrisy.

    22. “it is still illegal to directly criticize a minister.” It is. This is why you see journalists interviewing each other on TV. This is to get around the law. You can say “What the minister said, I think is stupid” but you cannot say directly “The minister is stupid, this what they said” You need to deflect it and “allege”.

    23. I am slightly older than you. Younger than Mackers and older than you. Things weren’t “bad”, they were absolutely shite. They were self inflicted wounds based on moronic ideologies that tried to pretend that a) the outside world didn’t exist and b) if you prayed and hoped enough God would look favouribly on you and move the goalposts in a direction you wanted them to go to.

    24. The constitution was written in 1937 by Dev and edited heavily by Archbishop McQuaid and Ok’d by the Vatican via the Papal Nuncio. The constitution was a Church document in all but name. Hardly the basis of an independent democracy.

    25. If we were ever a democracy we were for only 3 years from 1948 to 1951. The complete abdication of responsibility to the Church (McQuaid again) during the Mother and Child scandal of 1951 put paid to any democracy. Noel Browne got steamrolled by the unelected power of a country priest. The government rolled over to the Church and we got the seeds of the disaster that is now called the HSE. We allowed religion and superstition into areas that they are not welcome.

    26. Dev wouldn’t take any Jewish refugees. The Catholic Church were worried that the flock would be polluted by non believers. McQuaid wasn’t having anyone that wasn’t part of the One True Church. Dev recognised jews like most people here recognise Travellers. By crossing the road and hoping they will go away.

    27. McQuaid is also a large part of the reason why the North was so polarised. He was a Catholic Paisley if ever such a creature could begot.

    28. A further example of un-democracy at work was the 1960 Water act that let fascism in by the back door. It was cleverly written to work around human rights and cynically works around the Declaration of Helsinki. To this day we have lost our human rights because of this act. Water has more rights than Irish citizens. Belief in something to be true is more important here than pesky things like facts and science.

    29. We are as democratic as Singapore. Democratic in name. Do what i say not what I do. The chairs may move but we have effectivly been run by one party from day 1. A government consisting of the opposition rarely runs its course and never a 10-15 year straight run. Even North Korea calls itself Democratic.

    30. A democratic country would be able to remove corrupt politicans and also it would not be insulted by the prime minister by being made repeat a referendum because we gave the wrong answer.

    31. A democratic country would be able to make decisions via the people rather than the way it is here now. We only see the Government on TV or when they want something. Once elected we can all F off until they call on us “to do our duty” again.

    Is it any wonder most sane people ignore them and prefer the cartoon cutout bbbbBertie on Today FM?

  25. Donal

    B,

    one thing you have forgotten or over looked is that there are plenty of things going in the Phillipines, but its the chinese who control 75% of the wealth in that nation whilst the native population of about 97% own less than a quarter of their wealth.

    The chinese are the most hated people there because they live in villas and Mansions whilst the rest of the population live in slums – and have to go to the local dump to collect either their next meal or items that can be used. They are exactly what the chinese were like during the Japanese Occupation of Shanghai and eastern china for most of the early 20th centuary.

    McQuaid wasn’t a bigot, he never denounced Protestantism but wanted ireland to remain a Catholic Country probably because we were forced for hundreds of years to go underground for our beliefs.

    De valera wouldn’t take refuggees because we were neutral in World War II, and let’s be honest… we kicked the jews out of this country in the early twenties because they profitted under the penal laws in the 1800′s whilst we remained illiterate and poor. You ask any Irish man what they generally think of jews (It is often very negative – most of the people where I lived in the UK were Jewish! I’m completely neutral by the way!) and you’ll find we’ve never had a great relationship overall with them. I doubt many people here would have welcomed them anyway since the history wasn’t so long ago.

    If De Valera was around today he would boot that Fecker Ahern out and that Gobdaw Haughey! He said in the fifties that he didn’t like Haughey from the start as he would ruin the reputation of the party….. suprise, suprise he did and every other guy who held the position after him even from Fine Gael.

    If I was Collins and survived the civil war, I would boot out John Bruton and Garrett Fitzgerald because they only weakened our position as a national identity and setback the peace process nearly 5 years!

    Ahern is also responsible for giving up our claim to the North – which by a god given right is ours and the misguided loyalists who are really Irish people like us

  26. SpinstaSista

    B

    Does B stand for bitter by any chance? You seem to hate Ireland and everything we stand for. David will probably cane me for saying this, but if your anti-Irish feelings are so strong and you’re an Irish citizen why don’t you renounce your Irish citizenship for citizenship of some other country? You have said that the Chinese work well as a group and that means that they don’t go around running other Chinese people down. If they did the whole system would fall apart.

    Stop running Ireland and Irish people down. We fought for hundreds of years to be a nation. Dev wasn’t perfect, but neither was Mao Zedong, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton or any other internationally acclaimed leader.

  27. Criostor

    John,

    how about this suggestion for dealing with Corrupt politicians? The Nursing home scandal was something the didn’t deal with.

    Why not put Bertie Ahern when he is very old and indicted for corruption years later and have him institutionalised in a rundown home closed for at least 10 years…….

    have him as the only resident who isn’t allowed any contact with the outside world and he has to collect his sole meal a day through a door at the front? This place of course would have no heating, rickety stairs andf and stair master that’s long past its service?

  28. B

    SpinstaSista.

    I am Irish and proud of it. I don’t “hate what we stand for” but I do not not for one second believe or condone Fianna Fail ideology that, instead of making us a confident new nation made us a backward, inward looking place and poor for fifty years longer than we needed to be. I won’t be giving up my citizenship anytime soon. Unless you want me to go for having an opinion.

    I will not renounce my citizenship for having views that are contrary to the Party Line. This is free speech and I am using it.

    I am not running anyone down I am merely saying that we need to grow up and possibly consider democracy and take control of our own destiny rather than old fashioned dewy eyed nationalistic rhetoric. Surely we are a strong enough nation to endure one citizen that thinks a lot if it is a crock of shit.

    We didn’t all fight to be free. During the rising the locals in Dublin, al ot of them grumbled about troublemakers. Dev wouldn’t have seen them when he was hiding out in Dublin 4 for most of it.

    I love the way that to prove one point the most radical of the rest are brought in. Mao murdered 70 million people and you will find it hard to find a Chinese to criticize him publicly, even now. Ask any Chinese about the three Ts Tibet, Taiwan and Tienanmen Square and you get the party line. We are not alone in being fed what we are wanted to believe.

    Donal

    Any villa living Filipinos I have met have all been native.

    The most hated person by a long stretch seems to be GMA and she again is a native.

    The rest of the Filipino population do not live in slums. Some have nice places, a lot if it is pretty basic but it is not 97% slum dwellers. OFW workers have nice places. They earn more than the people left behind and there is some resentment of ther properties.

    I haven’t seen a cadre of Chinese rich people in Manila. I know they are some of the wealthiest people in the country but to think there is a rich, ethnically different upper class is nonsense.

    Believe it or not they have electricity, McDonalds and Starbucks in Manila and it is an insult to say that they all eat from a dump.

    “McQuaid wasn’t a bigot, he never denounced Protestantism” He was and he did. Read his biography.

    “De valera wouldn’t take refuggees because we were neutral in World War II”. We denied WW2 was happening, we called it the Emergency. We did not take Jews in for the reason I outlined. I believe we admitted six of them. After being in Poland and Auschwitz-Birkenau this stance in my opinion was unforgivable.

    “and let’s be honest… we kicked the jews out of this country in the early twenties because they profitted under the penal laws in the 1800’s whilst we remained illiterate and poor.” So now its the JEWS fault. Was it kicked out in a please leave or a kick the door down way. What makes us any different to the British when, just after securing our freedom turned the guns on another ethnic group

    “If De Valera was around today he would boot that Fecker Ahern out and that Gobdaw Haughey! He said in the fifties that he didn’t like Haughey from the start as he would ruin the reputation of the party….. suprise, suprise he did and every other guy who held the position after him even from Fine Gael.” Dev started it. He bought the farming vote and set the precident. And if her were around today he would be at mass and back in the pocket of the Church. The unelected rulers of Ireland. We just replaced one foreign power with another.

    “If I was Collins and survived the civil war, I would boot out John Bruton and Garrett Fitzgerald because they only weakened our position as a national identity and setback the peace process nearly 5 years!” An opinion, but we wouldn’t have needed a peace process if McQuaid hadn’t been so anti-Protestant. And neither Bruton nor Fitzgerald are active in politics now. Fitzgerald was probably the most intelligent person to be Taoiseach. I am not saying I supported him but at least he knew more than dis and dat.

    ‘Ahern is also responsible for giving up our claim to the North – which by a god given right is ours and the misguided loyalists who are really Irish people like us” We voted for it. We had a choice. God gave nobody nothing, the Israelis claim to have a God given right and look at the mess they are in. I think we should send you up the North as a diplomat. You will get far. Are we so insecure so as not to be able to tolerate traditions or opinions contrary to our own.

  29. Ed

    “McQuaid wasn’t a bigot, he never denounced Protestantism but wanted ireland to remain a Catholic Country probably because we were forced for hundreds of years to go underground for our beliefs.”

    He certainly didn’t promote it – I seem to remember having to pray for their conversion.
    The hundreds of years thing is an exaggeration – the penal laws were enacted between 1695 – 1730 and remained in full force until the latter half the1700s and were then gradually relaxed until they were finally repealed in 1829 by the then Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington – they should never have be enacted in the first place, but they weren’t there for hundreds of years.
    The one blind spot that ultimately came back to haunt the authorities was the freedom to engage in business – this enabled Edmund Rice to fund the first Christian Brothers from his chandlery business in Waterford and the rest , as they say, is history.

  30. Criostor

    Ed, fact of the matter is that we were as catholics repressed for hundreds of years. Clarendon Street Church is a living example of proof to show that our faith was heavily restricted – The Church of Ireland for example only had 20-10% of the population or less back then but it was the official religion of this country ignoring the fact we outnumbered the Non-Catholics 4 or 9/1.

    B,

    I know very well that the phillipines have McDonalds and starbucks present there. it appears that the only Fillipinos are very fortunate ones but I can certainly say that there is an Minority Ethnic Upper-Class in there and they are Chinese or Spanish descendants.

    Just because you haven’t noticed any upper class chinese or spanish there, doesn’t mean that they are a work of fiction. I stand by my comments because the majority of People who Mannilla have very poor facilities and many do live below the poverty line. You however must have hung around in prosperous parts of the city, I doubt many of the inhabitants can all hang out in Starbucks drinking Latte’s.

    I’ve read Amy Chua’s Book “World on Fire” she herself is a Chinese Filipino and had an Aunt who lived in Mannilla (She was murdered by her house Servant because that was the only work he could get and many others like him- He of course was never charged!)

    She State’s that what I have said is true “The Chinese make up only 2% of the population but along with the spanish minority of 1% own 75% of the wealth in the Phillipines. Making them powerful minorities”

    I recommend you read the book as it’s in the first chapter, in plain sight and very clear.

  31. Criostor

    B,

    I know very well that the phillipines have McDonalds and starbucks present there. it appears that the only Fillipinos you’ve met are very fortunate ones but I can certainly say that there is an Minority Ethnic Upper-Class in there and they are Chinese or Spanish descendants.

    Just because you haven’t noticed any upper class chinese or spanish there, doesn’t mean that they are a work of fiction. I stand by my comments because the majority of People who Mannilla have very poor facilities and many do live below the poverty line. You however must have hung around in prosperous parts of the city, I doubt many of the inhabitants can all hang out in Starbucks drinking Latte’s.

    I’ve read Amy Chua’s Book “World on Fire” she herself is a Chinese Filipino and had an Aunt who lived in Mannilla (She was murdered by her house Servant because that was the only work he could get and many others like him- He of course was never charged!)

    She State’s that what I have said is true “The Chinese make up only 2% of the population but along with the spanish minority of 1% own 75% of the wealth in the Phillipines. Making them powerful minorities”

    I recommend you read the book as it’s in the first chapter, in plain sight and very clear.

  32. Chip on shoulder

    B,

    Jews aren’t an ethnic group. They are a religious group ……

    How can Jews whom are black, mestizio, White, Arab even or chinese be part of the same ethnic group when they all loooking very different and speak different languages?

    How can you answer that question when they clearly dispersed and married into every other ethnic group?

  33. B

    Manila is spelt Manila not Mannilla. The city is actually four cities stuck together and is called Metro Manila. Makati is the more prosperous part. I stayed in the middle of Makati city in 2 star accomodation and hung out with my friends who live there.

    I recommend actually going to the country and actually meeting the people. The people I know from all classes in the Philippines are Filipinos. The vast majority of the upper middle classes are Filipino and of Filipino descent. Just take a stroll through the wealthy neighbourhoods of Makati and see.

    Thats if you actually get in by the guys with the machine guns at the gates.

    You haven’t been there, you just read the book.

    Chip on shoulder,
    Thanks for pointing out my semantic error regarding Semites. My bad. Maybe we should go back to the system the had in Germany and make them wear Juden on their arms. Tongue in cheek entirely. Then we can see the Jewish people and discriminate accordingly. Then we will go on and get everyone else to wear their religion/race on their person so that we can customise our prejudices accordingly. How PC we can make discrimination and racism. We could be multicultural and inclusive by including all stereotypes into how we interact with anyone who is not Irish.

    I got a lot of stick in school from people with “native” names and I know what prejudice is in regard ethnicity. My name can be percieved as British but we have traced our roots back 700 years on one side (all Irish) and about 200 (we didn’t dig too far) on the other side (all Irish again). The name was Anglicised sometime way back and nobody bothered to research and I was given a makey-up name as Gaeilge in school until we found out the real name. Half the people presenting onTG4 seem to share this surname. The prejudice was based on nothing and a perception that it was British. it was and is nothing of the sort. For some reason we are regarded as blow ins when we are as Irish as anyone else here.

    This attitude also led to a relation being kicked out of Ireland in the 20′s for having been in the British army. Based in the Curragh in Co. Kildare. He was told to ‘go back where he came from” He was a Nolan and he was back where he came from. Tipperary. He joined the army because he wanted to work with horses and there was nothing doing in Ireland. So he joined up and was sent to India. Prejudice is nothing new here in Ireland.

    Wow, now I think I am right-on enough to move back to the South Side. My entire point is that we need to base things on real life rather than mythical notions of what we think should happen. Instead of dealing with would haves and should haves we need to focus on what happened in the past, what is happening now and what will happen as a result of our actions in the future. We can argue about Semitics, semantics and race till the cows go home. All we are doing is rearranging our prejudices.

  34. B

    I will get the Amy Chua book and read it.

    I read John Charles McQuaid: Ruler of Catholic Ireland and have to conclude that he was a jumped up little dictator and had less to do with religion and all to do with seizing power. And we let him.

  35. Tommo

    and accomodation is spelt accommodation ;-)

  36. B

    True. I can’t spell as well as I like to.

  37. SpinstaSista

    B

    I’m not a supporter of FF either but why should we criticise Ireland and Irish people just because they are in power? Power corrupts whether you’re in Dublin or Beijing. Not everybody in Ireland agrees with Bertie, FF & the vegetables (Greens). Maybe the Irish appear to be slow witted and heavy footed because of the way Ireland is being managed at present. Take a look at how well generations of Irish people have done abroad – slow witted and heavy footed indeed!

  38. B

    Thats the point. They made it abroad.

  39. Callan

    “1. DeValera could not find his arse with both hands. He needed the farmers to hang onto power. He was British so much he cut his (substantial) nose off to spite his face.”

    De Valera was British?!

    “2. “Dairy production and mass production of goods that are made cheaper elsewhere is nonsense in Ireland.” Poland is far better to mass production. There is a reason it was used a battlefield so often. Wide and flat. Just what tractors and farmers like.”

    What do you know of the current economic structure of Polish agriculture, as opposed to that country’s topography?

    “3. “Ireland as an island nation is unique in the fact that most people won’t eat seafood” 100% of our Islands borders is water. What is in the water? Fish or cows?”

    Fish, what’s your point?

    “4. NZ is literally drowning in sheep shit. As are parts of Ireland. ”

    Evidence?

    “8. We can get milk cheaper from abroad. If it can go in a refrigerated container we can get it in and it can be cheaper if the quantites are right. We already do it with bananas. Its not difficult to cold chain anything from anywhere to anywhere else. I know because I do it week in and week out.”

    So why aren’t we getting milk in cheaper from abroad?

    “10. Shipping milk from abroad is not done because we have too much of the white water here. We would get more calcium from eating plaster of paris.”

    O I see, it’s because we can’t actually import milk cheaper than we can produce it here. Can you cite any scientific studies to show that Irish milk is nutritionally deficient?

    “5. Farmers have sheep because its more fun than going on the dole.

    9. Farmers get excited about everything. Mostly though, about money.”

    I come from a farming background. My father continues to work the family farm while being full time self employed. I find your running theme that farmers are nothing more than greedy, welfare addicts ignorant and personally offensive.

    “If nothing else a diet with seafood would cut depression and make our hair shiny. A healthy economy is not all about mass production of goods. Being healthy would cut the dependance on the HSE and we would be less manic and less prone to drink and drugs. We are not carnivores and we don’t need the amount of proiten that we are peddled.”

    I eat a lot of fish myself. I don’t think it’s our most abundant natural resource, and it has been pointed out to me that it couldn’t form the basis of a dynamic local, never mind national, economy.

    “13. “That being said that will almost certainly decline as livestock numbers drop over the next few years.” Drop where and when? If anything the numbers will rise with the population of humans.”

    From Teagasc:
    http://www.teagasc.ie/research/economicsprogrammereview2003.htm

    “21. “I’m a little confused. Is this a condemnation of successive Irish governments economic and mental health policies, or an endorsment of Chinese judicial policy i.e. shooting people?”
    No confusion. I don’t condone shooting anyone. I am merely pointing out that there is no point pointing out the splinter in your neighbours eye when there is a plank in yours. We have not acknowledged nor purged our own demons but it is fashionable to point at China. By all means do but we ignored the rampant abuse here and swept it under the carpet. ”

    You said “These being the people committed to mental institutions over land and the not-to-be-discussed forced exile of half a million Irish people to Britain and America when the Catholic Taliban took over after independence. We seem to still be in the thrall of them when many of them should have been shot as traitors. ” How is this not condoning the use of firing squads in the judicial process?

    No one is denying that this country’s past is unblemished. I can’t think of anyone who seriously denies that institutional sexual abuse, or the Magdalen laundries, didn’t exist. But what you’re indulging in is moral relativism. In fact it’s a lot worse than that. By comparing the levels human rights abuses and misuse of government power in China to a speck of dust, and that in Ireland to a plank, the implication is that the situation in Ireland is worse.

    “22. “it is still illegal to directly criticize a minister.” It is. This is why you see journalists interviewing each other on TV. This is to get around the law. You can say “What the minister said, I think is stupid” but you cannot say directly “The minister is stupid, this what they said” You need to deflect it and “allege”.”

    It is illegal to libel anyone, including ministers. It is not illegal to criticize anyone. If, for instance, it was established fact that the minister X was caught drink driving, then you or I could freely state an opinion that minister X was stupid and irresponsible because they were caught drink driving. If on the other hand either of us were to state that minister X was stupid and irresponsible because they were having an affair with a 15 year old schoolgirl, without any corroborating evidence, then that is illegal. There’s a difference between smears and criticism.

    FWIW I think Jim McDaid was indeed stupid and irresponsible when he drove on the wrong lane of the Naas dual carriageway while drunk.

    “23. I am slightly older than you. Younger than Mackers and older than you. Things weren’t “bad”, they were absolutely shite. They were self inflicted wounds based on moronic ideologies that tried to pretend that a) the outside world didn’t exist and b) if you prayed and hoped enough God would look favouribly on you and move the goalposts in a direction you wanted them to go to. ”

    I don’t disagree in the slightest.

    “24. The constitution was written in 1937 by Dev and edited heavily by Archbishop McQuaid and Ok’d by the Vatican via the Papal Nuncio. The constitution was a Church document in all but name. Hardly the basis of an independent democracy.”

    The constitution was validated by the people by means of a referendum. I have never seen it suggested that the referendum was anything but fair and free. The great thing about the constitution is that it’s inherently correctable. The clause giving special recognition to the Catholic Church was removed in 1972. According to Talking History on Newstalk the only religious leader to bemoan this was the Chief Rabbi, since the same clause gave a formal recognition to Judaism. Likewise the prohibition on divorce was removed. Again this was done by referendum. Don’t forget that DeValera’s effort to expand his political power by replacing the PR electoral system was twice rejected. I think the constitution has proved to be a very sound basis to this democratic state of ours.

    “25. If we were ever a democracy we were for only 3 years from 1948 to 1951. The complete abdication of responsibility to the Church (McQuaid again) during the Mother and Child scandal of 1951 put paid to any democracy. Noel Browne got steamrolled by the unelected power of a country priest. The government rolled over to the Church and we got the seeds of the disaster that is now called the HSE. We allowed religion and superstition into areas that they are not welcome. ”

    “25. If we were ever a democracy we were for only 3 years from 1948 to 1951. The complete abdication of responsibility to the Church (McQuaid again) during the Mother and Child scandal of 1951 put paid to any democracy. Noel Browne got steamrolled by the unelected power of a country priest. The government rolled over to the Church and we got the seeds of the disaster that is now called the HSE. We allowed religion and superstition into areas that they are not welcome. ”

    The IMO had a hand in it as well. I share your distaste with the role the Church played in political life here until recently. But as you know yourself this was a status quo people were generally happy with at the time. I don’t think this is compatible with democratic principles, but then no one anywhere has devised and implemented a foolproof democratic system.

    “27. McQuaid is also a large part of the reason why the North was so polarised. He was a Catholic Paisley if ever such a creature could begot.”

    Agreed.

    “28. A further example of un-democracy at work was the 1960 Water act that let fascism in by the back door. It was cleverly written to work around human rights and cynically works around the Declaration of Helsinki. To this day we have lost our human rights because of this act. Water has more rights than Irish citizens. Belief in something to be true is more important here than pesky things like facts and science. ”

    What were the provisions of the 1960 Water Act?

    “29. We are as democratic as Singapore. Democratic in name. Do what i say not what I do. The chairs may move but we have effectivly been run by one party from day 1. A government consisting of the opposition rarely runs its course and never a 10-15 year straight run. Even North Korea calls itself Democratic.”

    That doesn’t make us democratic in name only. Fianna Fail has enjoyed the primacy it has because it’s been very good at fighting and winning elections. Rightly or wrongly, they get people to vote for them. They haven’t been rigging elections a la North Korea.

    “30. A democratic country would be able to remove corrupt politicans and also it would not be insulted by the prime minister by being made repeat a referendum because we gave the wrong answer. ”

    Liam Lawlor got jail, don’t forget. Didn’t Ray Burke as well? I agree with you whole heartedly that the Nice referendum was an insult. It’s just that most other people who turned up to vote the second time around didn’t.

    “31. A democratic country would be able to make decisions via the people rather than the way it is here now. We only see the Government on TV or when they want something. Once elected we can all F off until they call on us “to do our duty” again. ”

    How would decisions be made via the people, in a manner better than is done now?

  40. Donal

    B,

    how about we take a look at places like the UK & France who adopted multiculturalism and attempted to be inclusive.

    Only to crap on the immigrants and treat them like dirt they always saw them as in the first place. The Irish in the UK have no representation at all (after God knows how many years!) and Irish events like Bloody Sunday, the partition of Ireland and other acts of oppression are censored from history books – that’ll explain why the english are so ignorant about this country.

    Of course this doomed to fail experiment has resulted in ghettos and disenfranchised minorities leading to segragation & ethnic segration.

    Brixton, Notting hill & Hackney are all rough places that are an example of how much multi-ethnic societies have failed( No matter how much investment you pour into social projects). This is a form of ethnic cleansing that has happened from immigration, this is the same in paris also with a return of the Banlieue riots after a 2 year absence.

    I won’t support anything that will betray foreign people into a false sence of hope of believing they are valued, when in the end it was all a work of deception for extra taxes & letting people be exploited doing jobs we are too lazy to do ourselves.

    I don’t want Ireland to be torn apart again or be like the mess that is the balkans.

  41. B

    1. meant to read HATED the British. My mistake. It was 4am.

  42. B

    Author: Callan
    Comment:
    1. Was a typing error.

    2. They like cabbage.

    3. go figure

    4. Animal waste fouls water courses. Sheep dip is also nasty stuff.

    8. Aldi and Lidl import from NI

    10. Howell MA. Factor analysis of international cancer mortality data and per capita food consumption. Br J Cancer 1974;29:328-36.

    Re farmers. If the CAP fits… I don’t know who you are so how am I offending you. I come from a background of food production. My heart bleeds for the poor downtrodden farmer.

    The sea surrounds Ireland and we don’t use it. There is more to it than just fish.

    13. The Earth is round. just because animal numbers decline in Ireland doesn’t mean they won’t rise elsewhere. It all contributes to the same atmospheric pollution. Unless we are still in a bubble?

    21. As the definition of a traitor is defined under the 1937 constitution Dev and McQuaid under their own definition betrayed their own people. The death penelty was last used in 1954 and only banned by the 21st amendment on March 27 2002.

    I am not saying what happened in Ireland was relative to China. I am saying that we have done little about it. War criminals from World War 2 are still persued across South America. We like to draw a line under it and do nothing about the abusers. The Church got State land for free (no tribunal) and abused at will and with the complicit collusion of the state. Minister Woods on his last day in office sealed the deal letting them get away with it and capping the amount and extent of retribution the citizens of the state were allowed to get against Church abuse. This is recent, this is now and in Ireland Denial is still a river in Egypt.

    22. It is illegal to directly criticize a minister. Ask any journalist.

    23. in 1984 it was impossible to sell 40 acres in the heart of South Dublin. You could not give it away.

    “24. The people were cowed by the Church. The constitution was written for the wishes of a foreign power. The Vatican. I agree it is a starting point.

    25. Why have a government at all if they roll over at the first controversy? What did they fight for at all when they replaced one foreign influence/power with another?
    25. I agree the people were complicit but they were led. I also have to concede it is what they voted for.

    “27. McQuaid is also a large part of the reason why the North was so polarised. He was a Catholic Paisley if ever such a creature could begot.”

    Agreed.

    28. That the water be added to with “fluoride in any form” I won’t bore you with details and it is a whole different argument but I believe that in the next 5-10 years it will be exposed for what it is (waste disposal) and we will have much hand wringing and finger pointing. We had no fertiliser industtry, 1960 water act, suddenly fertiliser industry with indemnity from prosecution for waste disposal in the water supply.

    29. Singapore doesn’t rig elections. it hobbles the opposition.

    30. We didn’t jail CJ and welcome back the lady from the bank!

    31. I don’t know. I am not a politician. I rant.

  43. B

    Ireland won’t be torn apart like the Balkans. We have already had our ethnic wars and I don’t think we will have the Sikhs of Co. Clare fighting over the mountains the Brazilians of Galway.

    Also McQuaid is dead and the reasons for ethnic conflict are not here now. I really believe he inflamed the Northern situation.

    I do however take exception to filipino women being stoned in a county town in Ireland from cars. This happens. They won’t go out walking at night. Also when they have a get together they have to face taunts from local youths saying “only two cars per house here” while swigging cider down a lane way. I was there for that one and I could nothing. The guards won’t help and what use would I be with a breadknife stuck in me for my troubles.

    This is a big town and a town supposedly proud of its self.

  44. Ed

    “Not everybody in Ireland agrees with Bertie, FF & the vegetables (Greens).”The majority does – that’s they’ve been in power so long. Look at their swagger, they know that they’re untouchable – tribunals are just a little entertainment for the faithful. They’ve perfected the art of parallelism, do something for the country and simultaneously do something for yourself – the good equates against the bad and the result is neutral – it works every time and you must admit that in a perverse way, its brilliant.

  45. B. Ahem

    Random replies to random posters:

    1:The Chinese may have us for breakfast but we all agreed to have a Chinese for lunch.

    2: If it wasn’t for the Jews, we wouldn’t have had Jesus (or McQuaid).

    3: No, Dev wasn’t British, but he had some Cuban blood. A Catholic Castro if ever there was one.

    4: Groups claiming Chinese ancestry are pretty successful all over Asia – can we have one too?

    5: Notting Hill has really gone down the tubes since they made that film.

    6: Koreans eat a lot of fish and they’re the slimmest nation in the OECD.

    7: Sheep dip is nasty stuff. Ask any sheep.

    27: A lot of people walked around my slumped body last night and I’m not Chinese.

    96: Pass me another beer, will you dear. You know I’m lactose-intolerant.

  46. Donal

    B,

    look at what happened to Sri Lanka when they got independence and the Tamils whom were planted there by the british a century earlier. The Sinhalese whom are the native population and have had a culture of its own for thousands of years were left with another ethnic group to deal with of indian origin, the tamils (were given all the best jobs in the government and civil service) had a completely different culture and never integrated properly with the Sinhala – then in 1983 after further deteriorating relations they started killing each other.

    Another example is Rwanda & Burundi 1994 and the congo whom the belgians favoured the Tutsi’s over the Hutus. Tutsi’s were given all the best jobs and education whilst the majority Hutu population were seen as nothing more than manual labour without the capacity to think.

    Fiji & Guyana are also places that imported workers from elsewhere and they have very community bad relations between Indians & Natives. In the late 90′s or early 2000 the military took over in Fiji, and in case I forget there is Uganda whom expelled the Asians in the 70′s because they were a very wealthy minority.

    These are all places that are or were multi-ethnic and had been segragated within there own communities, they had ethnic enclaves of there own. You can now look at Bradford or Leicester or many other “Proud to be Multi-Cultural” towns and cities in the UK, I wouldn’t be able to walk around those places on my own because I’m Caucasian.

    I think there is a pattern there but I can’t quite figure it out.

    Have ethnic enclaves started surfacing in Ireland? I would say yes

    Will social problems erupt between the Native Irish & the new arrivals? Yes, and I hope it won’t get out of control but the sad fact is it will

  47. Criostor

    I would say that De Valera was a celt, they existed in Spain around time of the romans so he should be classed as Irish like us.

  48. Philip

    Lads!

    Stop acting like Irishmen – forever arguing and being so interesting. No wonder we can’t get ourselves together. No other nation can match us for our blather. With so many strong opinions, the notion of Ireland as a nation state is a nonsense. No wonder we are easily ruled but cannot rule.

    In China, this kind of nonsense would never prevail. A huge country with one read language for millennia merely demonstrates this. They have come of age and I figure we’ll be looking for a job from them pretty soon. Stay humourous guys…The Chinese appreciate it…I suspect our lack of values as a people will allow us adapt and survive as usual. Forget about Ireland as a nation…that was always on the basis of “if no one minds”. Come the food shortages, I figure, we will again have little say about where a Chinese Food Corp will dip their roots.

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