October 7, 2009

It's time for Greens to think outside the bubble

Posted in Ireland · 244 comments ·
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Over the past decade, it was only a matter of a few minutes following the final score before my phone rang. If the victory was particularly impressive, it was a call. If it was a less impressive victory, it was a text. The text read something like “Ye Leinster Langer”! Deductive reasoning told me Munster had won and my cousins in Cork were just reminding their Jackeen relation of this fact. If you are a Dub with Cork cousins, this ritual has been a regular part of the Irish sporting calendar. I’ve had to bear it stoically for some years.

So, the other night when I headed up to watch the game with a friend from Clare — another Munster die-hard — I half expected the same rush of texts and calls at the end of the 80. But they never came. Watching the contortions on my friend’s face, it became obvious that there is something different about Munster fans.

When their team is getting hammered, they can’t believe it. The facial expression changes from disbelief to outrage and indignation.

It struck me that I’d seen this face before. Where was it? I racked my brains as I went up to the bar, just after Shane Horgan had accepted a gift in the middle of the park and raced off under the posts. It was getting embarrassing. My phone was conspicuous by its silence.

Then it came to me. That’s where I had seen it before. The contorted, disbelieving face of the defeated Munster fan was the same face that our governing politicians pull when they are queried about the economy, the Budget or NAMA. It is the face of people who have been living in a bubble for the past few years. The thing about living in a bubble is that you tend to hang out with other people who live in the same bubble so every conversation reinforces the myth of the bubble. This “echo chamber” as the Yanks call it, makes people in the bubble unable to accept any deviation from the creed.

The same bubble thinking, which has made the comedown for the Munster fans so dreadfully sharp, can be seen in many of our senior mandarins. The senior civil servants who run the country and lease it out to the politicians, also get “Munster face” when challenged. These are the guys who come up with policies like NAMA or the one that says there is no alternative to slashing spending.

Down the years, in our various scandals — whether over health or the welfare of children from industrialised schools — they were also the ones who tended to move to limit the damage to the institutions rather than the damage to the individual.

It is the same mentality that overlooked the DIRT scandal and the one that turned a blind eye to the shenanigans at Anglo when it put the parachute for Sean Quinn together and didn’t inform ordinary shareholders. Bubble thinking also characterised the Department of Finance mandarins when they did nothing to rein in the boom and then couldn’t think of anything better to do in the downturn than to cut everything and make the paralysis of consumer demand more, not less, rigid.

For cabinet members, bubble thinking is what makes them defend John O’Donoghue’s expense account, when they should just say this is nonsense and excessive and detrimental to the reputation of the country and the Dail.

They have been in the bubble so long that they can’t see that there is anything they can do which might, while not technically illegal, be reprehensible. Because of the bubble they can’t see the difference between right and wrong, so they cling on, in denial.

After a while those outside the bubble can see the weakness so clearly, yet those inside the bubble remain blind.

Bubble thinking is a form of group therapy and the best way to keep bubble thinking alive and kicking is to make sure that everyone involved has a vested interest in the bubble continuing to inflate.

So, during the property bubble years, those inside the bubble who had just bought property had a huge interest in keeping the whole thing inflated. And this is why when the bubble burst, it came as such a shock to everyone and yet now, with the passing of time, many thousands are asking themselves: “Why the hell did I do that?” or “Why couldn’t I see then what is clear now?”

For fans of all sport, the bubble becomes self-reinforcing. We get carried away by the great moments when the odds are overthrown and our side begins to emerge. We then let the mania of a few victories take over and we start to believe our own propaganda.

Others study our mistakes, our weak spots, players get older and a bit slower and then all these little things which on their own can be fought and dealt with, come together with cataclysmic results.

The denial phase, after a crushing defeat, gives way to depression but in the depression and the slide come the fruits of the next renaissance. Hopefully, Munster will recover from this and rebuild.

The great managers and politicians are those who can see beyond the bubble and do the right thing using a combination of clear analysis, questioning, judgment and experience. This weekend the Green Party has an opportunity to step out of the bubble and see NAMA for what it is. It is an extension of bubble thinking.

Rather than learn from the mistakes of the past and say never again, the Greens have been duped into bubble thinking by the mandarins, a thinking which says that the solution to our uncompetitive economy is more bank lending, more money going back into land and a higher tax burden on people for useless land that we are now supposed to want to buy with money we don’t have.

Let’s hope that this weekend, the Green management listens to the Green players.

Because, as in sport, the players on the ground know what went wrong on the pitch. I’m sure around Thomond Park there is some serious talking going on with players giving their opinions and solutions. Only the most arrogant management would not listen to them.

By the way, I never did text the cousins on Saturday. Leinster Langers don’t behave like that!


  1. I’ve a big Munster face on me :-( but seriously this goes to the heart of our (citizens’) responsibility too. We ask ourselves “who’s the best person to represent me” at the expense of the more crucial “what’s the process that breeds good government”.

  2. AndrewGMooney

    Very good David. Prompted this ‘mental jazz extemporisation on a bubble theme’:

    Picture the scene. Ireland is covered in a giant perspex cover, as a financial jacuzzi wherein the bloated bodies of the body politic recline blathering in indolent unconcern. There are bubbles everywhere, including some sulphurous ones emerging from the nether orifices! Everyone is talking out of their hat, their gob and their ass. The soundtrack is a classic Pink Floyd track. But look closely and see those strange cannisters next to the pool. Hmmn. That’s unusual. What could it be? ….aaargh, yes! They picked this habit up whilst clubbing with their new found friends in Berlin, where they learned to enjoy this ‘credit crack cocaine laughing gas craic’:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/laughing-gas-the-legal-drug-sweeping-clubland-that-is-making-regulators-frown-522919.html

    “money! it’s a gas, grab that cash with both hands and make a stash!”

    But suddenly the music cuts out, the pump fails and the bubbles in the jacuzzi are flat. No one can quite believe it. They try to generate more bubbles by frantically splashing their hands and feet as if all it takes to restart the bubble machine is desperation and wishful thinking. Suddenly a very stern German woman arrives and starts ranting: “everybody get out of ze pool! arbeit! arbeit! Das Bubble ist kaput. Arbeit! Kaput! Now you must pay for ze bubble pool. Is Law of Physics? Maths? Ja?”

    Everyone is confused as she was their main man, their dealer. But now the party’s over and ‘Angie babe’ wants the tab settled. And here’s the ‘money quote’ to end this riff:

    ‘Back to this month’s topic – in the financial press, there has been no shortage of attempts to apportion blame for the credit crisis. Disregarding the more obvious finger-pointing (it is the banks, stupid!), there seems to be a growing acknowledgement that large imbalances in the global economy are to blame for the current mess.
    Put differently, a large number of countries – mainly Anglo-Saxon in origin but also the majority of our Eastern European friends – became credit junkies and spent beyond their means, year-in year-out. Conversely countries with large current account surpluses (e.g. China, Japan and Germany) were only too happy to deliver the drug to the intoxicated.
    It is therefore too simplistic to suggest that only the deficit countries are to blame. The suppliers of credit must accept that they carry no small part of the responsibility, just like the drug dealers do when supplying junkies. In the past, I have been critical of Ms. Merkel of Germany when she stated publicly that Germany should continue to do what Germany does best, and that is to export goods of high quality. The obvious point here is that if Germany pursues such a strategy, the world will be no more balanced ten years from now than it is today, and a crisis similar to the one we have just been through could happen again.
    It should therefore be obvious that not only should the deficit nations become more disciplined (i.e. save more and spend less), but the large surplus nations should actually put measures in place to ensure that their citizens save less and spend more. In practice, however, that is easier said than done. Demographic forces have a much bigger say on spending and savings patterns than generally acknowledged. ‘

    http://www.investorsinsight.com/blogs/john_mauldins_outside_the_box/archive/2009/10/05/a-country-for-old-men-and-a-bit-of-samba.aspx

    It’s the banks, stupid! As my dad used to say:
    “are ye as green as ye r cabbage looking?”

  3. Garry

    A very good article…. explains a lot….I’ve wondered myself as to how people in charge are acting the way they are…. It cant all be corruption or extreme stupidity….

    They have came to believe in the Celtic Tiger economic model… Not the export drive early Celtic Tiger, but the property renting later version. When the powers that be talk about the Celtic Tiger, they are only talking about revenues from stamp duty, VAT from house building….

    They actually believe
    1) this was a perfect system…
    2) That it was only stopped because the Lehman Brothers bank failed in the US, and that screwed up global credit which toppled Anglo etc….
    3) They truly believe that if the global crisis hadn’t happened, or if McDowell hadn’t opened his big mouth on stamp duty, a flat would cost 1M, we would be renting them to each other and we would all be multi-millionaires….
    4) The fix is to get back to 2005, somehow get the people borrowing like fuck again to buy that dream Section 23 in Leitrim.

    So they are behaving irrationally and …. burning money at the altar of Anglo, and expecting new tax receipts from mad house buyers who will buy up more property to rent….like true believers they think this is an inevitable consequence… same as if they went swimming they would get wet…

    The problem is…its not a computer game, we cant just hit reload and go again…. we all have memories….the debts from the last game are hanging over us… And while those who have made it are believers, the country is filled with victims who have seen it was a scam… suppliers owed money, people in negative equity, tradesmen with equipment repossessed… There is nothing like the zeal of a recent convert or the fury of people scorned…

    The leaders belief is almost religious… it is based on blind faith and group behaviour, with believers convincing each other they are right…its self re-inforcing….. we hear “its the only game in town”…The most worrying one Ive heard is “NAMA needs property prices to rise 10% in 10 years, if that cant happen we will have bigger problems.”

    The religious parallels are striking again… there is no limits at which the believers will stop, no price too great….they will gamble everything as “it must work”… if its not working its because we dont believe enough….

    But all religions that last are careful to promise reward in the next life… Which makes for interesting times ahead.

    Of course, those of us who aren’t true believers need to avoid group think and subject our own beliefs to rigorous analysis.

  4. henryw

    An excellent piece of work. You have hit the nail on the head. I’m wondering this morning whether in failing to put his hands up to the mistake he made in praising Mr. Molloy, the mistake he made in not getting together with other party leaders to unanimously ask John O’Donoghue to resign, and the mistake in not asking Ms Coughlan to resign for her disgraceful handling of FAS, Mr. Cowen hasn’t sealed his own fate. There is an incredible lack of leadership which must now be called to account by his party.

  5. my compliments to david’s article and all the above bloggers – well done

  6. MK1

    Hi David,

    I wouldnt go too far down the line of the Munster rugby analogy due to “analogy breakdown”.

    What is clear is that ‘bubble think’ is group-think. However, we also create systems and embed “culture” (the way of doing things) in our society and its workings and management, such as in politics, our ‘mandarins’, processes, etc. The Irish way as it were.

    You ask the Green Party ‘grass roots’ to think outside the box. However, the Green Party is stuck between a rock and a hard place, of their own making.

    They have gone ‘to bed with the devil’ and are suffering the consequences, the chlamydia as it were. Their core support has been damaged as exemplified in the local elections and if an election is held now, they may get a severe whipping in the polls.

    “Turkeys do not vote for Xmas” as the saying goes, so there will be many Greens on the ground that will NOT want to decimate their party. Thus tactical voting rather than fundamentals.

    Also, the way the NAMA question has been framed, they only need 34% to agree to it to pass. Thats a sneaky one.

    The Green party is in a bit of upheavel. Members have left and are leaving, new ones are joining, but unlike FF which has a core vote of 20% perhaps where families have ‘always voted’ for them (FG have likewise, Labour too), the Green Party dont have that “pedigree” (sic). They are PD-like and liable to implode based on any wrong moves they make.

    Some people say that the voters will be waiting for them in the long grass as they have to go before the people at some point. I would hazard a guess that they dont want to do that now.

    MK1

  7. Is there an anology between ‘thinking within the bubble ‘and ‘cute hoorism’? And Kerry pillars of society living within D4?
    Also are there any kind of bubbles between ferris , healy rae and o’ donoughue?

  8. Deco

    David – your assumption that the GP bosses will listen to the GP activists is bordering on the naive. The GP bosses are keeping the GP activists satisfied, the same way that the PD bosses, and the ILP bosses did it before them. By putting their mates in state jobs. The GP have spent a lot of time during their spell so far in government, looking into the public sector, trying to recruit members, trying to stick their own activists in quangos, etc….

    Apart from that, from listening to the GP main economic architect, Boyle, I am convinced that the Greens are a collection of economic fruitcakes. Even worse than the PDs.

    At this stage the Greens know that there is now way on this earth that FG or FG/ILP will want them in government or even need them. Therefore they will stick this one out for the current deal. The last thing they want is an election.

    David – I agree with you that NAMA is an extension of bubble thinking. It is part of the denial of reality mentality in both D2, and D4.

  9. gibbonm

    Looks like it is up to the greens to decide the fate of the country. watching Front line with pat kenny, they seem to be divided, for some it is all about NAMA for others it is animal rights, planning, and local government. It will be a very intersting weekend weekend. for whats it is worth i think there will be an election soon, either the greens will pull out or the next budget will cause it. Hopefully this start a cleansing process for the country, a new government with a new mandate, and hopefully the banking system will be sorted out in a manner that is fair. but it needs to happen fast, it has been drawn out for far too long.

    • Garry

      yep, the whole thing has is laced with irony…

      The class of people who choppered around and ran rings around the environmental lobby and planners, now need these people to bail them out at the expense of those who practiced sustainable development.

      The party preaching long term sustainability has to decide whether to take a short term action or be brave and take their long term future and the countries long term future into account.

      It will be interesting to see what happens.

  10. Alan42

    Who knows with Gormley ? He can back flip from his planet Bertie speech to actually moving lock stock and barrel to Planet Bertie . Ryan is becoming more FF by the minute .
    This is Ireland and therefore normal rules of logical government thinking do not apply .
    FF may be economic muppets but one thing they are really very good at is spin . The Green leadership will reveal a new amendent to NAMA . It will have been negotiated at late night meetings with the Green leadership and the top brass of FF . Cowen will give some media interview where he will be let it be known that Gormley hauled him over the coals and they had to make lots of concessions .
    Do not underestimate the power of a carbon tax and a box set of Grateful Dead albums either .
    You have to go into the heart of the Green movement to understand their thinking . In Victoria Australia where I now live we burn brown coal . It is the diriest nastiest fossel fuel that you can find and we power the whole state with it . However the Greens are dead against wind turbines as it will endanger some rare bird . They are therefore caught in a bind . Brown coal bad and wind terbines also bad .
    What do the Aussie Greens and the Irish Greens have in common ? I hear you ask . Well they all like to meet up . Maybe not so much with the Aussie Greens but they hero worship the European Greens with rock star status reserved for the German Greens .
    Don’t underestimate it . They have already crossed hundreds of rubicons to enter government with FF. FF are the builders party . They would allow a developer to build a block of apartments on a childrens hospital with the children still in it without a seond thought .There are estates all over the country with no infastructure . forget rare birds , there is not even roads , schools and hospitals within reach of these ghost estates and yet the Greens are playing along . The Greens and FF in government together is against the laws of nature . It should be as about likely as Tony Benn and Milton Friedman agreeing on economic policy .
    If they can deliver a carbon tax they can then rock up to some Green convention in the German countryside in an solar powered train and hold their heads up high .
    I am sorry for being so cynical and negitive and I really hope that I am wrong .

    • zeleneye

      Thanks for the article David.

      As for you, Alan 42, I would think you are wrong on a number of things. Not least your claim that the Australian Greens are against wind power – http://greens.org.au/node/764
      Contrary to your misleading post, one of their priorities is now new coal build.

      The Greens in Tanzania opposed a windfarm because the way it had been planned would have devastated the local ecosystem but that does not equate with the Australian Greens being against wind power.

      If you actually live in Australia, you are either being very misleading or need to do you homework.

  11. Dilly

    I would be interested to see how many newspapers reported the interview with economist Joseph Stiglitz on RTE regarding NAMA. I would say very few, as he called it like it is, completely CRIMINAL !. This story will be swept under the carpet. I think RTE may have been shocked too, I am sure they did not expect him to be so honest. Honesty is a rare commodity in Ireland.

    I fear that the Green Party will not come out of the bubble, instead, they will follow the old Irish political rules of, self first, party second, country last. Which basically means they will keep supporting Fianna Fail for their own gain, and the rest of the nation can go to hell. That is the way it has been done down the years, so i cannot see them doing any different, monkey see monkey do tribal politics.

  12. VincentH

    The greens and a bubble, hmmmm. Given that they came out of one bubble to enter the FF one, the only way I can see them coming out is if there is another bubble they can enter.

  13. We just have to let the Greens know that their jobs are on the line if the stay in with FF. Use the same fear tactics on them they used on the general public in the Lisbon Treaty campaign.

  14. adamabyss

    subscribe.

  15. Alan42

    Bubble thinking ? I completly agree and totallay disagree at the same time .
    In Ireland I used to think that I was the only person in the country who had not won the lotto .
    In 2000 I was in Heathrow airport in a cafe . I overheard ( ok I was earwigging ) these two English businessmen discussing the world of business and the conversation turned to Ireland . It went something like . ‘ Have you seen the price of houses in Ireland ? ‘ ‘ Yeah I was there 2 weeks ago , its mental , people queuing outside houses for sale , sealed bids , the works ‘ ‘ Sealed bids , ah remember London in he 80′s ? ‘ Yeah it will end badly ‘ ‘ Celtic tiger , maybe somebody should explain to them about the Asian Tigers ‘ I was really struck by that conversation .
    Sometime in 2002 or 03 ( I am not sure ) I was watching David interviewing Bertie on TV3 . I remember almost nothing from that interview except that David was asking tough questions and Bertie was Bertie . What I noticed about it was that Bertie would not look David in the eye . Mr Masterspin is asked some hard questions on economics and will not look the interviewer in the eye ? Somethiing is not right here .
    Around the time of the SSAI ‘s some economist or finance person was asked about it on some TV money programme . The guy looked like a total geek who enjoyed Saturday nights in looking over spreadsheets . he said ” well we have looked at it from angles and can see no catch . Its free money from the government and while there is no such thing as free money in this case its seems to be the case , so I would advice that you open an account ” The guy looked totally unsure of himself , like he was being set up or had missed some big catch in the scheme and everybody was going to start laughing at him at any moment . They are at least 3 warnings that I picked up during that time and thats just off the top of my head .
    What about warnings from international economic groups which were rebuffed with ‘ you are not factoring in Irishness ‘ What did that mean ? We are economic wonders because we like
    potatoes ?
    Finally the classic in my book ‘affordable housing ‘ as opposed to what ? , unaffordable housing ??? That term should have been flashing in bright red neon it was so blatant .
    JOD is not an example of bubble thinking or spending . It has always been like that . He did nothing wrong and was within the limits . There are no limits , they are unvouched expenses . Don’t listen to the opposition with their talk of ‘ respect for the office ‘ , thats nonsense . Respect is earned it should never be given automatically . The opposition only moved because they were shamed into it by the media . They don’t want expenses reformed anymore than JOD did .
    Maybe Ireland is part of some secret one world government experiment called ‘ How much scandal and abuse can one country withstand before it implodes ? ‘

    • Alan42

      I really have to do something about my spelling and grammer , sorry .

      • Tim

        Alan42, not at all, Alan; the content in your posts is valuable; and we can all decipher typos and spelling. I have so many typos, it was a bit embarassing, at the start (and actually prevented me from posting for a long time, while I, in fear of posting, jus “read” this site.). Then, I finally said “to hell with it”, and posted anyway. I try to get the spelling and grammar right (as an English teacher, I should), but we must forgive ourselves some minor errors, as long as our posts are legible and intelligeable.

        Let’s keep at it!

  16. Malcolm McClure

    David said “The thing about living in a bubble is that you tend to hang out with other people who live in the same bubble so every conversation reinforces the myth of the bubble. This “echo chamber” as the Yanks call it, makes people in the bubble unable to accept any deviation from the creed.”
    You are referring to politicians here, but according to Wikipedia ‘Echo chamber (Media)’ it is the media, not the politicians who live in the echo chamber. ‘The overall effect often is to legitimize false claims in the public eye, through sheer volume of reporting and media references, even if the majority of these reports acknowledge the original factual inaccuracy of the story.’
    This is remarkably similar to the Lenin saying I quoted a few days ago “A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth”.

    All the media jumped on the O’Donaghue expenses bandwagon and missed the point your colleague Senator Eoghan Harris picked up, that the effect of dismissing the Ceann Comhairle was to divert attention from the question of why the TDs are not volunteering to take a massive pay cut and put their whole house in order. Cowan came back with some watery proposals this afternoon but that entire issue need to be addressed and put to bed BEFORE the budget.

    Anyway, nobody has asked the question “If the Ceann Comhairle is not to be entitled to travel First Class, who then in Ireland should be so entitled.?”

    • Tim

      Malcolm McClure, of course, you are absolutely correct here in saying that the media exists in an echo-chamber. Indeed, without the medium through which we communicate here (the web), we would be totally lost. So many free, varying and open blogs, communities, networks and fora that are uncontrollable and unapologetic and truly independent of the elite, may be our salvation. (Indeed, it was a Cork-bases blog-journalist that paid for the FOI application on JO’D's expenses and broke the story first.).

      As I have said before, most of the “big-boys” are not computer-literate: they hired people who are capable to do that work for them. We are using the power of IT connectivity against them, right now, to work against them by spreading information, discussing issues that they would rather we did not discuss.

      As for Gilmore “bursting the bubble” on JO’D and in reference to your postion two articles back (which I finally found and read today), I think Gilmore realised that he needed to “hedge his bets” too; Like all the other party leaders and TDs (except for Sinn Fein), he kept his head low on the issue for a long time, lest JO’D's case would lead to an investigation of all of their expenses. I think that he realised the looming possibility of a general election and sought the cache of being “the one who brought the Ceann Comhairle down” – a cache that will, surely be useful on the general election campaign-trail.

      Similarly, the Greens, given their long-awaited qualification for pensions after two-and-a-half years may realise that, electorally, their best way of avoiding oblivion in the next election may be to cause it now, by “saving us from NAMA and bringing-down Fianna Fail”; Now, there’s a campaign-trail slogan to save anyone!

      On the other matters you raised, about my “self-interest”, I am unsure how to respond; perhaps this is also “bubble-thinking”, but I do not believe that the teaching part of my work has much to do with “self-interest”: The money is rubbish, compared to other post-graduate-level-entry occupations, the work consuming, yet fulfilling. My trade-union activism is for the sake of education in general, which I consider a priority that is second only to life/health; it is for everyone – not “self-interest”. (unless, of course, the fulfillment of doing something good and right can be considered as”self-interest”? In which case, I am guilty as charged).

      On the Trade Union subs and how they are spent: that is no business of “the Taxpayer”, as you imply. Trade unions are Private Sector employers. Members of a group of workers come together, decide to pay into a “kitty” to fund their representatives and hire some officers, elect others and pay salaries, perks and expenses. Nothing to do with the taxpayers, except the tax-paying workers involved.

      However, I can answer one of your questions (have I ever seen my Trade Union’s accounts?) with a simple”Yes”. I see the full accounts every year at the annual convention. As an automatic delegate, by dint of election to the Central Executive of the ASTI, I am given a copy of the accounts and I make that available to all members, in every school in the area I represent. All members are free to examine, inspect and question the accounts. I cannot speak for other unions, but that is what mine does. The accounts are not “private and confidential”, or anything like that, so, if you really would like to peruse them, I would be happy to oblige. Again, nothing to hide, here.

      I am unsure if this answers all your questions, but come back if I have left anything out.

      • Malcolm McClure

        Tim: Thank you for providing that insight into several areas I have no experience of except through reading media that is biased one way or the other. As someone said at Hook’s Tipperary symposium yesterday, (excellent broadcast this afternoon: try to catch a podcast), interviewers should seek the truth which usually lies somewhere between one party line and the opposite. I am finding from your posts that you are striving for that level of honesty.
        I am curious about the actual and potential role of Labour and the unions in Irish politics as I have seen several FF and FG players perform on platforms and am not much impressed with content although delivery was smooth as expected, Kenny and Lee were disappointments as were Mansergh and Coghlan. Lenihan was OK. I found Alan Dukes straightforward and convincing. I wasn’t convinced by David Begg.
        SIPTU and Impact have a strike war chest of €50 millions so there will be a lot of disruption this winter of discontent if they don’t get their way. O’Connor is smart and rational.
        I suppose SIPTU has a war chest too. If the politicos agreed to 10% cut, what level of pay cut for teachers would be just low enough that you would not support strike action?
        Fitzgerald was saying this afternoon that of the four billions of cuts needed, 1.5 will be public sector cuts and 2.5 from tax increases, including a new property tax.

        • Tim

          Malcolm McClure, the simple answer on pay-cuts for teachers is: None.

          Now, we know that our situation in Ireland is not just precarious, it is DIRE.

          However, even Garrett Fitzgurgle said on the radio, with George Hook this evening, that you should never cut education, because you are, then, cutting the future – and you should never cut your future. Garrett even said that, when he was Taoiseach, in the ’80s, at a time when we had nothing and were cutting everything, he never cut education (now, ask anybody who was teaching, or in school at the time, and they will tell you that he was lying. His Minister for Education, Gemma Hussey, is vying with Woods and Dempsey as the most unpopular Education ministers in the history of the state.)

          So, Garrett’s duplicity and re-writing of history aside, we MUST not cut education. What is education, without the teachers? That is the problem, of course: you cannot have real education of the young without “guides” that you have to pay.

          The “free baby-sitting” element aside, (that most working parents need, know about, but will never admit.), the fact is that, though the Constitution says that the Parents are the primary educators of the children of the Nation, most parents are not “up-to-the-job”.

          So, people like me are, unfortunately, a requirement.

          How should these “required” people be paid?

          Let me ask this: Since the people who teach your children are, already, low-paid (starting teacher’s salary is below the average industrial wage) and have been hit by the 7.5% pension-levy cut in their income, plus the 2% tax levy, and my personal teaching income is €500 per month less than it was last October, how much more do you think we can give?

          How effective can any operative be (private or public sector; but let’s focus on what you asked, a teacher), when they are pre-occupied by the fact that they cannot pay their rent or mortgage with the salary their work provides?

          You have to support your family; there is a threshold that cannot be crossed. It has been crossed in teaching salaries; that is why the profession has become feminised. Women work for lower pay because, generally, their male partners earn more. Fact. (unpallatable, though it may be).

          Should teachers/nurses/Gardai take a further reduction in pay? No.

          These are ESSENTIAL services. Banking (as currently constituted, is NOT “essential” and I seriously question Richard Bruton’n assertion that we must set up a National Recovery Bank; We already have one; An Post; so what’s Bruton on about? “Jobs for the Boys”? – No difference from Fianna Fail, then! There is my “Democratic-Defecite, again!)

          • Colin_in_exile

            Tim,

            “free baby-sitting”? Don’t do it so.

            You have to support your family? So how do those who recently became unemployed manage?

            Teaching salaries; that is why the profession has become feminised. More like the long holidays, short working week, weekends free, pensions and of course maternity leave (which would break a small company).

            Should teachers/nurses/Gardai take a further reduction in pay? Yes, along with Prison officers and the like. Gardai are often college drop outs who do a 2 year course in Templemore with no fees and even get paid for it.

            Set up a National Recovery Bank? Hardly a democratic defecit. Give the man a chance for God’s sake, you’re knocking him before an election is even called.

          • Tim

            Colin_in_exile, please quit taking everything I say as partisan politics and address the point: Why set up a new bank when we already have one with huge deposits, no loans, no debts and branches all over the country?

            Why are they ALL saying that we have no good banks?

          • Malcolm McClure

            Tim: No pay-cuts for frontline public service workers seems to be your response, from a reasonable person who is already doing another job, presumably to make ends meet. As the cost of living (apart from fixed-rate mortgages ) is going down, Lenihan is more likely to listen to McCarthy than to you. He just has to find a way to make Snip palatable.

            One possibility would be some kind of ‘ground rent’ in which the government purloins the footprint of all domestic dwellings and outbuildings, and charges, say €20 per annum for each square metre. Those who were unable to pay would find that their footprint had been sold on to an investor for, say 12 times annual rent. The investor would then have a senior claim on arrears and interest when the house was sold or through the courts after five years.

            This charge would be quick and easy to implement, as planning departments already have OSI aerial photos with every house in the country outlined. Those photos are available online and house areas could be scanned digitally. See:
            http://ims0.osiemaps.ie/website/publicviewer/main.aspx

          • Garry

            Then Malcolm, sit bank and watch Leinster House burn….

            I will gladly serve time to burn the bastards out who sell my property or rights on my property without my consent… There will be blood.

          • Tim , You are also living in a Bubble , of Course teachers/nurses/ gardai should have pay cuts . Why should we have some of the best paid public servants in Europe ?
            There is no reason as our public servants when in comes to standards are not at the top when it comes to productivity.
            You have been pulled in by the SPIN of ‘The Party’
            As your man Brian Lenihan said last night ,we should not be looking too much at these political expenses when we have the ‘Bigger’ picture to look at !
            WAKE UP Tim , . You are over paid.
            I have a friend here with eight years of university behind him in civil engineering and also in architecture and now as a single man he is taking home €293.00 a week ,….and he is surviving on this .
            Stating that a teacher starts on less than the industrial wage is just more spin.
            Our problem now with the Greens and F.F. is like David here and his addiction to money ( I thought I was watching a show on cocaine and not the corruption of power economics ) , they are on a elevated high , the free meals, the plane trips, the hotels, the radio stations and tv studios and newspapers that publish their photos.
            Cheap Credit ( thrust ) has our society warped . We need to be detoxed.
            While the Greens , I hope will listen to their grass roots and those that have come back from working in Europe

          • Malcolm McClure

            Garry: ….PERFECT….There speaks the voice of real Ireland. A reprise of Richard Harris in ‘The Field’.
            David is mistaken when he says we are addicted to money. (Brendan W: its not cocaine either.) We Irish are addicted to real estate. Nothing must compromise that obsession. It is a primal urge, far more deeply felt than hunger, or sex, or education or faith. Certainly, the notion of general public welfare comes far down the scale.
            With that priority we have got the government we richly deserve.

          • Garry

            Same as if Obama tried to disarm Texas, or Sarkozy tried to push the retirement age to 70.

            Thats the way it is Malcolm.

          • Malcolm McClure

            Garry: Well, let’s raise a statue to Bertie then. He was actually delivering what we all wanted. Who cares about debt? That’s somebody else’s problem.

          • paddythepig

            Tim,

            It’s sad to see our children’s future productivity being used to pay for the unrealistic staffing levels and salaries of today. They deserve better.

            Paddy

          • Garry

            I don’t follow you Malcolm.

            Debt and private property rights are separate.

            Debt, where possible, should remain with those that incurred it even if that means personal hardship. As a civilized society we should not let debtors starve or die on the streets, but they must not grow fat on bailouts.

            If the greater good is served by the public helping with some private debts, then this is tolerable, provided those who had the private debt emerge poorer than they were and ideally much poorer than the average citizen.
            For the public debt to be increased, again it must be increased only for the public good…. and not for the enrichment of those employed in public service… A simple way to validate this is ensure the public sector wages remain equal or lower than private sector.

            Public debt must not be added to for the enrichment of government cronys which is what is happening in NAMA.

            Property rights, Ive said enough…

          • Malcolm McClure

            Garry: I find your take on the property aspect very interesting and hope you will forgive my earlier sally into a bit of irony.

            About 50% of all Irish homes have no mortgage at all and perhaps you are numbered amongst the fortunates who have inherited real estate from an aged relative. It came clean as a whistle and its yours.
            It is fenced off from neighbours and has its own folio number in the Land registry so its officially yours.
            And its debt free.

            But is it?
            Your plot of the auld sod is the product of the labour and sweat of generations of Irish over thousands of years. When first settled it was tribal land, not personal property. It was converted into personal property hundreds of years ago, becoming Lotie for the urraghs, Glebe for church erenaghs, or Estates for alien landlords. So your title is already beginning to look rather suspect, since your land actually belonged to the entire tribe before it was purloined (ie stolen) by one or other of the previous title holders.
            Therefore, if the tribe wants it back, you haven’t a legal leg to stand on.

          • Garry

            No worries Malcolm, though there is a bit of truth in it. :)

            I haven’t anything, the farm is with the brother who worked it which is as it should be, I was fortunate to get a good education and have bought a little property.

            Theres the historical reasons you mention but also current reasons — I posted a couple of years ago that the end result from this property crash was going to be a new generation of landlords… corporates… I hadn’t seen NAMA coming but it fits…the new generation will be banks renting out country back to us after we have paid for their bailout….. Fair enough for those who borrowed, thats the downside…

            But we take a long term view and your suggestion on stealing rights to our land to pay for someone else is a declaration of war. Doest matter who it is….

            Which tribe are you talking about? the Lenihans, Aherns, Flynns etc. We fought better than them before.

          • Malcolm McClure

            Garry: We aren’t really so far off topic as David’s identity as a Leinster ‘Langer’ derives ultimately from the tribal coalition that controlled that province according to Ptolemy’s map: the Blanii centred on Eb-lana, the old name for Dublin.

            Tradition tells that thousands of years earlier Parthelon, the original settler in Ireland first set foot on Inis Saimer at Ballyshannon. Over the years he was followed to Ireland by the Fir Bolg, The Tuatha de Danann and the Milesians, all tribal societites. In the north of Ireland these metamorphosed through Ptolemy’s Venicnii, Robogdii, Erdinii and Voluntii into the O’Donnells, O’Neills, Maguires etc., who remained largely true to their tribal roots up to the murder of Shane O’Neill in 1567.

            We all carry the DNA of our tribal ancestors so we are ALL entitled to a share of their land.

          • Garry

            Yeah its right on topic….

            2 questions
            1/ Exactly where is the cutoff point to we are all entitled to a share of the land….. the Irish who have been here for generations, those who have left, the ‘new Irish’, why not the whole world sure aren’t we all Irish on Paddys day.

            2/ So you have got your share of the land and then as you have suggested promptly sold it on to ‘investors’ to collect money to pay for JOD’s expenses and the bills caused by Sean Dunnes missus picking the biggest numbers as his winning bids.. What happens next?

          • Malcolm McClure

            Garry: 1) In ‘Blood of the Isles’ p196, Bryan Sykes says 80% of all Irish Y-chromosomes are members of just one genetic clan, that of Oisin. This rises to 95% in Munster and 98% in Connaght. So we are all brothers under the skin. This suggests an international cut-off.

            2) I didn’t suggest that the sale of ground rent cash flow would pay for JOD’s expenses and the bills caused by Sean Dunnes missus picking the biggest numbers as his winning bids.
            However it would contribute to the 4 billion annual shortfall in government expenditure. There is no reason why householders could not buy back their freehold at a discount.
            The proposal is a simple one-off solution to contribute to solving the immediate crisis.

  17. G

    Gormley did everything in his power through the local authorities to keep affordable housing prices up!

    It was and is a disgrace, a certain county council on affordable housing open evening were encouraging me to buy a apartment for 250,000 euro in Cobh, Cobh a place with a 40% higher cancer rates than any other part of the country. Imagine what that poorly built, two bedroom apartment junk house is worth now, that was my local government, with Gormley at its head, working for me!!!!

    They aren’t in a bubble, they are members of an elite inner circle – a circle with no morality, a circle that certainly doesn’t do the right thing by the people.

    This is a circle influenced by highly paid lobbyists, some of whom are former senior politicians or have political connections, lobbyist money and the promise of jobs in industry keep the circle firmly lubricated.

    And when the elite step out of government buildings they head to the corporate tent or reception, give speeches to the Chamber of Commerce (where they won’t be accosted and are cheered on after they’ve had a few too many), or any number of ‘federations’ where all hope (including those giving the speeches) they can make their money (at the expense of others), live comfortably and die before the mob or savage, mindless hordes (as Walter Lippmann once referred to the general populace) or the devil find out what they were up to.

    The Green’s doing the right thing is more of the fantasy thinking that seems to prevail, have people learned nothing from the last year, people at the top doing the right thing brings us back to Disneyland and the boom that never was!

    Plus David, I was neither a manager nor a politician and I saw the fraud being perpetrated on the Irish people with both eyes! Such vision isn’t reserved for the economic and political commissars of this country.

  18. Colin_in_exile

    I’m forever blowing bubbles,
    Pretty bubbles in the air.
    They fly so high, nearly reach the sky,
    And like my dreams they fade and die.
    Fortune’s always hiding,
    I’ve looked everywhere …
    I’m forever blowing bubbles,
    pretty bubbles in the air.

  19. Ruairi

    “It struck me that I’d seen this face before. Where was it? I racked my brains”

    Quite incidental to this discussion but reminds me that Dr Jerry Epstein has a technique for figuring out what someone’s facial expression means: – http://www.drjerryepstein.org/science.html. Maybe it’ll be a useful personal arsenal as the economy starts to unravel !!

  20. Tim

    Folks, Some links you may be interested in:

    First, The IT report on Stiglitz calling NAMA “Criminal”:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/1007/breaking45.htm

    Second, the Spanish economic cover-up, mentioned on this forum many times, particularly by Deco, I think:

    http://brontecapital.blogspot.com/2009/10/are-spanish-banks-hiding-their-losses.html

    And, finally, though it is too late for us, since “we” voted YES to Lisbon2, The European “Super-power” plan:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/6266147/EU-draws-up-plans-to-establish-itself-as-world-power.html

    Let’s keep at it!

  21. Tim

    Where is wills?

  22. Ruairi

    Hi Tim, always lurking, I am!

    “The great managers and politicians are those who can see beyond the bubble and do the right thing using a combination of clear analysis, questioning, judgment and experience.”

    David, I’d love you to apply some of the Art of War to the current debacle. It is CLEAR that in all crises there are opportunities. The question is though, for whom? It is obvious that NAMA is not for the great unwashed. It is obvious that the present Cabinet are more concerned with window-dressing than structural change. Fancy lightbulbs instead of real sustainable (internationally competitive + economically sustainable) living policy. Arguments over grave dancing instead of real leaders acting on behalf of the populace.
    NAMA is a great idea. Just not for the vast majority of us.

    Interesting article on potential Chinese usage of such strategic thinking to offset US military superiority to beat them economically. http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shadowlands/6583/project401.html

    It is crystal clear that we need to latch on to the new emerging middle class markets of India and China. The middle-class of USA and EU will have no money as interest rates rise and currencies are devalued purposely by our combined central banks!
    All that is happening with NAMA is that the clientelist structure that Deco speaks so much of, is protecting its interests within the overarching structure of a failing Western economy. Nothing to do with the real economy of import / export and national interests / trade agreements.
    Much of the Art of War is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle. That’s what our bank guarantee was. And we saw how much it needled Gordon Brown et al. But by not moving on from that beach-head, it became a stroke. And by adding NAMA, it became a sick joke. Against the Irish nation.

    • Colin_in_exile

      Josey,

      If you’re doing nothing wrong, then you’ve got nothing to hide and nothing to be afraid of.

      If the UK start sending a few million to gulags and die, then maybe it has, but from what I see everyday, the UK is heading towards a Caliphate.

  23. Colin_in_exile

    David,

    Needless to say, excellent article.

    “Let’s hope that this weekend, the Green management listens to the Green players.”
    Since its a preferendum, the management have no option but to listen to their players. I think the anti NAMA wing of the Greens will win the day, and we can then look forward to an upcoming general election where we can have our voices heard on all these goings on (NAMA in particular). I’d guess Green members have more integrity than other party members, even though I think they’re completely wrong on things like nuclear power and road infrastructure, so my gut feeling says they know a sinking ship when they see one, and will gladly take the first lifeboat they see available, and double their representation at next election, joining a FG-LAB-GREEN rainbow with a comfortable majority.

    I’d love to hear from any Green party members here, so welcome along and please give us an indication on the mood at grass roots.

  24. Colin_in_exile

    …..and finally, those who are looking for a laugh, here’s a quote from the chief bubble blower

    “He was a fine minister, a fine politician, a very hard-working person and I know that John O’Donoghue was one of those ministers who was reluctant to travel,”

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/1007/breaking80.htm

    • Ruairi

      Jesus, you’d swear he’d died !! Brian knows, as any Republican knows (he’s been to Bodenstown ya know), that dem there graves are not for doin jigs on. That’s what crossroads are for. Its in Dev’s constitution.
      JOD (reminds me of Superman II, hehe!, remember that scene with ZOD in the White House anyone?) used to spout on that there was only one police force down in the Kingdom. Too right. Pity he didn’t realise (as with the rest of his ilk) that there’s only one level of citizen before the law also. Of course that’s why we have so many whitecollar criminals in jail in Ireland. We are a very special people.

      • Ruairi , all you got to do is click on Colin_in_exile,…the quote was from Tim’s old hero , good old Bertie boy , the Dub who gave that qute Kerryman the number in the first place. And where did he give this quote ?,….Belfast at his book signing event . How many will be stupid enough to buy that book! . What we need now is another group of men like Dev and Collins to over throw the MaFFia we have presently

        • Ruairi

          Its a poor enough political landscape. I long for a 12 Apostles myself. But you’d be hard-set to find 12 TDs that fully ‘get’ the current mood of the people of Ireland and know where we need to go and how to get us there.
          we truly deserve as a society the current Dáil that we have. We did,after all, vote for them.
          After this budget, prepare to see both good and loonie alternatives emerge.

        • adamabyss

          BrendanW.
          You are right; the cocaine imagery was way over the top in David’s program. Added to this we had scenes of heroin preparation (the way they burn it on a spoon – what’s that called) directly before ‘Addicted to Money’ on a Primetime segment (if I recall correctly). And then the media has the guts to get on their high horse about the glamourization of drug use. Beggars belief.

        • adamabyss

          BrendanW.
          You are right; the cocaine imagery was way over the top in David’s program. Added to this we had scenes of heroin preparation (the way they burn it on a spoon – what’s that called?) directly before ‘Addicted to Money’ on a Primetime segment (if I recall correctly). And then the media has the guts to get on their high horse about the glamourization of drug use. Beggars belief.

      • MaxKeiser

        “To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, …and to assert the independence of my country ~these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland these were my means.””

        Wolfe Tone 1763 —1798

  25. Ruairi

    “In so far as one gets something, I think that is an expense” reputedly said by JOD. Hmmm, I think therefore I am.

    John.I.Am?

  26. This will give the greens the opportunity to move away from being seen as a one dimensional party, focused only on enviornmental issues.

    • Ruairi

      When the Greens negotiated the programme for government, their naivety (greed) was all too apparent. The ‘environmental’ issues that you observe are nothing more than EU-directed policies that FF would have engaged on anyway in order to avoid EU fines. The rest of the Greens’ activities are window dressing.
      What have they to show in the area of planning (loads of cooing noises being made by pat carey on the Week in Politics, but very little done).

      In regards to incinerators , John Gormley flip-flopped, re Tara they were a disgrace (let’s build a Mexico City size highway through our Celtic pyramids because our fellow cabinet members’ buddies built a shed load of houses the far side of it.

      As Malcolm says elsewhere, real estate obsessed. Even the Greens have allowed it to dilute their vision, and hence, impact.

      If Eamonn Ryan was serious about a fair society, he would roll back some of our mineral rights legislation, bring in a task team from Norway, and get serious about Irish sovereign wealth rights and sustainable use of them. Under the current scenarios, gold, oil, minerals etc, the risk-taker takes all and Joe Soap gets the slag heaps.

      How come we can’t get the very best brains from Norway over here to advise us (our mineral declarations rules changed from 1970′s to 1990′s and as our rights reduced, finds increased!!) Wake up people.

      How come we can have PPPs on roads and infrastructure and not on sovereign mineral wealth? How very strange. The slide in legislation started with a Labour Minister, funnily enough. Then FF brought it to the nth degree, as only they can.

      There is no shortage of wealth, money or assets in this country. Just a shortage of guts, patriotism and common decency whereby only those who DESERVE great wealth (via great effort or innovation) actually get it. I’m socialistic but I do believe in a meritocracy and in risk-takers. Just not wealth takers / robbers / modern-day FF.

      The Green Party: – A lot of harm done, a tad more to do (until pensions are secured); if you don’t mind, Paddies.

      • Ruairi

        Are the Greens strategising for what happens in the upturn?

        Two major macroeconomic things will toss Ireland on the waves.
        1. The oil price will rocket. Its only been subdued by the western economic downturn. When it rockets, as it will inside 2 years, our deposits of oil and gas become VERY extractable.
        2. Interest rates will rocket off a vey low base. Free money (to banks) will become dearer and loaned money will become unrepayable in many instances. At the same time as currency has been devaluing. (I suppose this can float debts away too though?)

        What opportunities are we spotting in the current crisis? We’re still doing accounting exercises on our debts while the real world of sales /production will gobble us up when western recovery begins in earnest.

        ps I couldn’t believe that a man as readable as Richard Curran (if I remember correctly, sorry if it wasn’t you Richard) could spout on, last Autumn, how we were fortuitous that we were now in the same economic cycle as our Euro tarding partners. Purely because we were at the bottom of the nadir with them Richard. How long would that anomlay last? Not long !! And wait til Germany powers ahead. Then there will be many candles burned at the Dept of Finance.

      • Deco

        Ruairi – you are correct concerning mineral wealth. Ryan has proven to be a bit of a hypocrite – carrying posters concerning the Corrib field, and then getting responsibility for changing the legislation and sitting on his hands. I suppose you only get to find out what they are really like when they get into power. Same applied to the ILP, who signed up to all sorts of nonsense in the mid 90s, and then became socialists again after being shoved out of power.

        The GP defining moment came when in the aftermath of the Dell announcement, and Waterford Crystal collapsing, GP Finance rep Dan Boyle told the nation that the banks were more important than the factories. The GP don’t “get” wealth creation. The GP are living in a bubble concerning economics matters.

        And yes, you are correct – it has become all about pensions, access to the state, and following the PDs into the state infrastructure. The GP pledge on third level education fees is a true master stroke. This was legislation introduced by Niamh Breathnach – ILP Dun Laoighaire. All it was ever about was helping rich families. The previous grants scheme was shoving working class, lower middle class and rural kids through college. It actually became biased in favour of the lower rungs. And this in the context of control in Irish society is dangerous to the establishment.

        It was exactly the sort of thing a certain segment of the establishment was encoutering as severely disconcerting “how do you keep the rif-raf out of Trinners and Belfield ???” And besides working class kids tend to study stuff for which they are real jobs, while Ross and Lucinda get degrees in dead languages, and masters in minutae.

        So now the GP can go back to Third level colleges and continue the recruitment drive, getting willing fools to go out and knock on doors in two years time telling the rest of us what a great sod Gormless is, in preserving the establishment. And the establishment will give him more money also. After all the protection of privelege is what it is all about. And we even see GP sympathiser Fionan Sheehan in the Indo telling us that the GP are keeping FF in check.

        Well done Gormless – a master stroke – Gormless gets his pension, and young naive fools will be queueing up to be his foot soldiers in two years time.

        At this stage the GP are even more crooked and dangerous than FF. And that is saying something.

        It’s all about protection of the status quo in Irish society. The great collapse could have resulted in a massive social upheaval like in Iceland. But the ECB is there to prevent this happening in Ireland and in Spain. But in both countries, there will be no escaping the bills – these will be foisted on the toilers in society, will the priveleged insiders continue to laugh the whole event off.

  27. MK1

    Hi David,

    A suggestion for an article: How do we create jobs?

    Your ‘diaspora’ idea was an activity which aimed to create jobs, so well done on that.

    Lets look at our problems in order of scale and importance:

    1. Whats most needed? Jobs. Private sector jobs!

    2. Next: balance the government income v spending ‘conundrum’

    3. Repair our banks, and headaches from our property frenzy/credit bubble

    Now these are inter-related to some extent, of course. But the thing that drives our economy are jobs.

    One simple suggestion I have for our next budget is this. We are seen as a ‘haven’ for tax savings by multi-nationals. However, their savings are not tied to jobs and employment numbers. Couldnt we adjust our corporation tax so that MNC’s would pay 20% if they had less than 100 employees, 19% for 100-200 emps, 18% for 200-300 emps, etc, allte way to 12%. Indigeneous SME’s could be catered for by a smaller rate of taxed caled in for low profits and revenues even if they had less than 100 emps.

    I am sure that with an adjusted tax code, something akin to the above levels, employers could be encouraged to employ more people here.

    Its all about jobs, producing jobs, exporting jobs, not local service jobs, not solicitors, doctors, teachers, gardai, TD’s, shop keepers, etc, (all of which we need of course!) but REAL Ireland Teo jobs …….

    and that discussion has more priority than NAMA, than Public Sector borrowing and O’Donoghue and other TD/Senator/Councillors expenses!

    Lets get with the programme folks ….

    MK1

  28. Tim

    BrendanW, Ahhh, thanks for putting me straight about the productivity of teachers; and there I was, believing all those pesky OECD PISA reports that say teachers in Ireland deliver “the highest educational dividend” in the whole OECD area.

    Thanks for the correction.

    • Tim , my nephew in Germany started his English class in his school when he was 7 years old ,. How long are we gaining from Europe and can you tell me again what age we start teaching European languages in our schools ?.
      Like I said , WAKE UP

      • Tim

        BrendanW, I’m afraid I don’t know at what age they start foreign languages in schools here – I am not a primary sch teacher; I assume that it depends on resources, etc., as usual. Also, you are not comparing like with like:Germans have to learn English, since much of the business world operates through that language and it is therefore far more useful to German kids (many of whom I teach) than learning German would be to the Irish. Now, If we were to teach our kids the three Chinese dialects, I would see a use in that alright, but it is far too broad a discussion to have here.

        And please quit assuming that you are the only one of us that is “awake”. I am not asleep, BrendanW. Protecting and promoting the pay and conditions of my profession is what I was elected by my peers to do; protecting standards of education that are under constant attack by government and IBEC is what I elect to do.

    • liam

      Tim, its not a personal attack on you or your professionalism as a teacher, but these measurements depend entirely on the stick you use to do the measuring. I would not trust the OECD’s version of what constitutes a good education as far as I could throw those pointless reports.

      • Tim

        Liam, I know its not an attack from you; I also know that the stats get manipulated, but a clear pattern has emerged over the years that is clearly discernable: Irish kids do better in the tests (overall), when measured against the money the govts invest in them – hence “Educational Dividend”.

        At the moment, Slovenia is the only country that invests less than Ireland in its kids.

        • Tim

          … and “some” people here and in the elite want to reduce the spend further? Why? So can be totally at the bottom, even below Slovenia? Because we are in a recession? Cutting educational spend is the last thing that should be done. And before I get told to “wake-up” again, that the country is broke, etc. let me say this: We have many other countries in similar position, yet we invest less in our kids than those countries; When the country “was awash” with money (sickening phrase from Harney), we were STILL spending less than every country except Crete, for heaven’s sake!

          Can people, really, not see how twisted the priorities are in this?

        • Colin_in_exile

          Tim,

          Correct – Irish kids do better than other countries’ kids. Why? Because the parents and teachers tell the schoolkids that their future depends on getting a good education, so the child becomes motivated to do well at school, a sort of survival instinct is groomed, hoping to keep future poverty away. I don’t think kids in UK or elsewhere are given such a stark preview of the future. By the way, this motivational tool has been used in Irish schools since the eighties.

  29. Greetings everyone,

    I realize this is off topic, but it is important. To anyone who wishes to take the flu vaccine, please don’t. It contains mercury, cancer viruses and other toxins. This has been admitted by the UN. I want to see as many of my fellow people alive and not dead from eugenics.

    Please, don’t just label me as a nutter and look it up. Look up eugenics and its history and research the New World Order (NWO)

    Thanks for your time and be safe,

    Regards

    Sean
    ______________________
    WAKE UP so we have a fighting chance!!!!

    http://www.prisonplanet.com

  30. wills

    David.

    ” … every conversation reinforces the ‘myth of the bubble’.” “..living in a bubble.” “..bubble thinking.”

    And then, “..because of the bubble they can’t see the difference between right and wrong.”

    and, “..then bubble bursts and there is shock.”

    And, “..learn from it , and never make the same mistakes again.” (i presume you mistakes are bubble mistakes),

    and, then,

    whammo,.. “..the greens have been duped into bubble thinking by the mandarins” and then you break it down what this bubble contagion is..

    you say, “…thinking bank lending is a solution to an uncompetitive economy, more money back into land, and a higher tax burden on people for useless land that we are now supposed to want too buy with money we don’t have’”.

    and ending the article with a sentiment of hope that the greens will see sense and see that NAMA is a bubble gadget to re-inflate a property bubble for the purpose of returning too the 2000 – 2007 POnzi property bubble type economy now disappearing over the POnzi Rep’s horizon.

    Ok. So, i reckon the main point of the article is the fact that our civil service is acting in a fashion that is highly irresponsible in a knowing way pushing for a bubble re inflating gadget to be pieced together and activated and installed into the economy which will go to work re inflating a property bubble and off the economy will go again, as it did between 2000 – 2007 and this is a bad idea.

    I’d agree with all of that.

    It does raise a fascinating question though.

    WHY is it that there is a conspiracy afoot to juggernaut NAMA through by the mandarians / gov / bankers / legal eagles / god know’s who else.

    Are you questioning the fact that Ireland is a functioning democracy?

    Are you coming around to the fact that Ireland is a centrally planned controlled economy run by a central banking oligarchy in liason with shadow elites, one of which being the mandarins, who are prepared too, do, whatever is necessary to achieve their goals at any expense to the ‘outsiders’ which generally is made up of the” workers”( and i mean people who do not expect money for nothing or are prepared to sell themselves to out or waiting to freeload at any giving opportunity) in all sectors of society and that the system we all live in is not a democracy as we have all been lead, ‘duped’,conditioned,mind programmed into believing but is in fact a neo feudal system where there is one law for one group and another law for the rest.

    A system where there are those who are laizy, greedy and mean and nasty and hate humanity and those of us who are trying to be good and do the right thing and those who are stuck in a time warp and sickened and repulsed and want too throw up anytime they see good in action.

    This is what the division is all about and its always never touched upon cos the one’s, the bubble thinkers the jailors lets call them from now on lethally use the threat of banishment from the money system if you don’t tow the line and blend in and march to the beat of their drum.

    ANd we all know who they are, and we all know whether which camp we are in. Let’s npt play pretend anymore. Time to call a spade a spade.

    NAMA is the jailors attempt to bury Ireland into TOTAL tyranny and at the greens shindig there will be the jailors and the flexrs (i call them that) battling it out. As it is here, and every where else,////

    As tim say’s , Lets Keep At It, the hour is upon us.

    I

  31. DH

    Other than Social Morality which went out the window when they teamed up with FF, what incentives do the Greeens have to pull out of power?

    They have FF by the (rugby) balls for the first time since coming to power. Now is probably their best chance to force some Green policies between here and the next election which could also help them gain public support.

    Staying put may leave a bad taste in the members mouths but If they pull out, they may never see government again for decades.

    If you were a power hungry political party faced with the same decision, what would you do?

    Labour and FG could extend a Green olive branch. If the Greens knew they would be part of a new government they would certainly have the incentive to pull out.

    If the Greens pull out, I will give them my vote in the next election.

  32. G

    Interestingly, when Fulgencio Batista, the brutal and vicious dictator of Cuba fled the country after the Revolutionary forces rolled into Havana, he loaded his plane with bars of gold and bags of cash, the amount is not clearly known but it was enormous sum, (his personal fortune of more than $300,000,000 amassed through graft and payoffs Critics accused Batista and his supporters of taking as much as $700 million U.S. dollars in fine art and cash with them as they fled into exile.)

    Not too dissimilar in style then to the golden handshakes that we have been witnessing with the banksters, politicosters over the last year, culminating most recently with that man who claimed back his £1 donation to UNICEF! Let his name live forever (for all the wrong reasons).
    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/ceann-comhairle-reclaimed-pound1-donation-to-charity-1905969.html

    Mafia the lot, when will the people act?

  33. Colin_in_exile

    Tim,

    Tim says Colin_in_exile, please quit taking everything I say as partisan politics and address the point: Why set up a new bank when we already have one with huge deposits, no loans, no debts and branches all over the country?

    I’m not a banker, so I don’t know how feasible it is to organise the post office into a fully commercial bank. I’d be glad to hear from people who know something about this. I wish it would be possible. I’m sure even Richard Bruton will remain open minded on the idea. I just get the impression from you that you can’t wait to start pointing the finger at FG-LAB.

    Why are they ALL saying that we have no good banks?
    Who is they? Can you write a letter to the IT explaining your idea? Start the debate.

    • Tim

      Colin_in_exile,

      “Why are they ALL saying that we have no good banks?
      Who is they? Can you write a letter to the IT explaining your idea? Start the debate.”

      “They” are: all the political parties, the media commentators, the media interviewers, the journalists, many contributors here and, even, DMcW has suggested “setting up a good bank”.

      I have written to the IT, Indo and Examiner many times; they will not publish my letters.

      Yet, I walked into my local post office yesterday and was able to use my ATM card from another bank, so An Post appears to have the infrastructure in place to operate effectively.

      Whatever it may lack, I’m sure, would not cost €54 billion!

      • Colin_in_exile

        Tim,

        Hard luck with the letter publishing efforts. Does Behan agree with you? If he does, maybe his would have a better chance at publication, using his Leinster house address.

        An Post – AIB…..I don’t know what the setup is contractually. An Post infrastructure for businesses is another kettle of fish from Joe Soap withdrawing a few quid in the post office. Like I said, I’d love to see your basic idea or a variation of it happen, …anything except NAMA really. I suppose its a case of “If there’s a will, there’s a way”.

    • Tim

      It is already a functioning bank; they even advertise it as “An Post Bank”.

      I just cannot figure out why it is being overlooked?

      • paddythepig

        Tim,

        PostBank is so functional that it’s backer Fortis bank only had to be bailed out to the tune of 11.2 billion by the Benelux governments.

        I read somewhere that An Post deposits were ultimately placed in AIB (I think) .. but I can’t locate the link, so cannot verify.

        Paddy

  34. G

    Instead of creating a toxic bank, why not create a good state bank, let the other banks worry about their debts with property developers, put 3-4 billion into the good bank and let it lend to small businesses in the real economy who actually employ people who make a valued contribution to the State, unlike stock brokers, hedge fund managers and property flippers who simply make money off other people’s misery!!

    As Stiglitz says, play by captialist rules, you f**k up, you go down!

  35. Tim

    Folks, you may be interested in this review of a new book on macroeconomics; it is being hailed as “Brilliant”:

    http://www.drb.ie/more_details/09-09-29/The_Genesis_of_Macroeconomics.aspx#

    • wills

      tim, the ‘ol chestnut utility, and ‘rational maximiser’ puts bubble thinking smack bang back into the realm of economics.

      At some point people just can’t retrieve any more satisfaction on their consumption. Yet, here we are in a society whereupon people continue too consume anyway despite running passing utility limit and they keep going and going and going and in the process pac manning up everything for themselves in anyway they can fathom until a catastrophe ends it.

      Meanwhile, down on planet earth in the real world another section of people try to live in accordance with rational maximising. And the two different cultures are in a fight for survival.

      So, NAMA becomes another game play on the hard working citizen who tries to keep lean and play fair and the fat hog jailers and freeloaders way passed utility limits seek vengeance. Seek out the next freeloading opportunity and the next and the next to put the kybosh on the flexrs making any headway forward in growing.

  36. MaxKeiser

    The Green Party will not pull out of Government, primarily because they are dreamers & they don’t live in the real world.

    We are all likely to learn how very destructive living with dreamers actually is.
    They are not the cuddly, dreamer, dozing under an apple tree, but rather the destroyers of lives, homes & business.

    The road to hell is paved with [their] good intentions.

    (Trying not to be too negative about it, but) rather to be realistic: if the proposal re bail out of those in Negative Equity were to happen, or if NAMA goes ahead; we would with out doubt see more & more of our best & brightest emigrating.

    The surest sign of a failed state.

    • wills

      Max, can i disagree here. The Green party are like any other party. Composed of a mixed bag and some.

      • MaxKeiser

        Yes Wills, but the underlying culture that motivates & unites (the Greens) is the culture of the dreamer.

        The Green Party are naive & financially illiterate ~ unforgivable flaws in these times.

        • Deco

          MaxKeiser – the GP don’t know enough about macroeconomics – but it would seem they know enough about finance to be able to plan their own safe retirement at the expense of everybody else.

          • MaxKeiser

            Dear Deco,

            The Green’s attitude to the Banks being more important than factories has clearly shocked you.

            I fear this is not the last Green inspired shock we are likely to suffer.

            Seeing a dreamer as an immense destructive force (because they live in a different world) rather than a harmless dreamer is truly shocking, in life, business & especially politics.

            PS as an aside:

            The morning after Bertie’s book launch Newstalk opened with “Brian Cowen was at the launch, sipping sparkling water” — I saw him on the news later that day at the launch) & the man looked seriously unwell.
            The implication on Newstalk was quite clear….

  37. Tim

    Folks, while the Greens are thinking outside the box, it seems David Drumm of ANGLO thought he was doing so, but got rumbled:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2009/1008/1224256167383.html

    He seemed surprised that his movements were being tracked;

    Could it be that we are witnessing a rare “flash” of true investigative journalism from the Irish Times?

    • Colin_in_exile

      The chattering classes must no longer be talking about property prices at their dinner porties, and hence demand something else in their favourite newspapers to discuss at their gotherings.

      • Deco

        I seen the same subject “David Drumm’s exile to New England” being covered in the slightly below chattering class newspaper, the Sindo. And that was over a month ago. So the IT is behind the schedule by over a month.

        I think Nick Webb brought it to our attention. But no FAS style journalism this time. Just a picture of a nice mansion in Conn, US and commentary that aludes to the fact that Drumm is pursuing a new life away from the people who pay taxes to clean up the mess he created.

        Now might be a suitable time to update the US-Irish extradition treaty, both ways on the pretext of further Madoff type incidents. The US authorities would gladly oblige – though I expect the nepotistic networks in D2/D4 to be dragging their feet on this one. Transparency and accountability are not concepts that they like.

  38. Tim

    Folks, I heard something very interesting tonight about the Green Convention on Saturday; it seems the leadership has put a “spin” on what is to be decided; something like a reversal or a double-negative (but correct me, if there are any greens here, please), like “Do you disagree with the Green Party not supporting NAMA”, or some confusing wording like that.

    A Mr Dohan, of the Green roots alluded to it very briefly on The Right Hook.

    Anyone have the exact quote, please?

  39. Tim

    T K Wittaker will be 93 years old on Dec 5th.

    Why has he not been asked anything until tonight, with Vincent Brown?

    We have always been told that he was some kind of DoF wizzard……..

    We need some wizzardry…..

    • Tim , if you were listening Vincent did ask him about NAMA and been a gentleman , now too old for a fight was polite and reserved commenting directly with his opinion , after all he did spend most of his life within and around ‘The Party’.

  40. Colin_in_exile

    All,

    Below are the Green Party’s Special Convention Timetable for Saturday 10/10/2009

    1330 Debate on Motion 1:
    “The Green Party / Comhaontas Glas will continue to participate in Government on the basis of the new Programme for Government presented to this meeting.”

    1545 Debate on Motion 2:
    “The Green Party/Comhaontas Glas rejects the National Asset Management Agency Bill 2009 and requires the Parliamentary Party to reject it in the Oireachtas.”

    http://www.greenparty.ie/en/news/events/green_party_comhaontas_glas_special_convention_10_october_2009

    • Tim

      Colin_in_exile, thanks for that.

      Do you know anything about “Mr Green No-to-Nama-Dohan”? (not even sure of how to spell his name).

      • Colin_in_exile

        No Tim, Never heard of him, I just watched the VB Wednesday night show online, VB made the Green supporting NAMA look like a tool.

        I think they’ll reject Motion 1, pass Motion 2 (its written in the negative tense), causing dail to be dissolved, causing elections to be called. I don’t think Greens will do as bad electorally as some are suggesting, afterall, they’re giving the people a chance to vote for NAMA, I’ll remember that in the polling booth.

  41. wills

    On NAMA. I’ve uncovered a chink in the NAMA masterplan.

    The clause in the European treaty prohibiting monetary financing is Article 101 of the Consolidated Treaty of European Union. This has two paragraphs and both read as follows:

    1. Overdraft facilities or any other types of credit facility with the ECB or with the central banks of the Member States in favour of community institutions or bodies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of member states shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the ECB or national central banks of debt instruments.

    2. Paragraph 1 shall not only apply to publicly owned credit institutions which, in the context of the supply of reserves by central banks, shall be given the same treatment by the national central banks and the ECB as private credit institutions.

    Ok. This means then that ANIB by statutory EU law cannot sell irish government bonds to the ECB.

    Why?

    Because, ANIB is state owned. And according to the two paragraphs above in Article 101, state owned banks cannot seek any type of credit facility with the ECB. So, ANIB are breaking the law selling 26 billion euro NAMA bonds to the ECB (if NAMA goes through).

  42. jim

    For those of ye bored with extracting fluff from yere navels here the DOF published accounts for 2008. http://finance.gov.ie/documents/publications/reports/2009/Financeacce.pdf

  43. jim

    Greens against NAMA with the included video of Peter Matthews, Banker and critic of present Gubberment proposals. http://greensagainstnama.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/gan-hears-from-peter-mathews/

    • Colin_in_exile

      Jim,

      Thanks, spotters badge for you.

      I’d like to see a debate between Peter Matthews and Brian Lenihan on tv soon.

  44. jim

    Seems like a bunch of our furry friend lovers (anti fur farming ye perverts ) have joined the Green Party over six months ago and now say they have some 100 votes up for grabs on Saturday , for Nama ,against Nama ,they dont care as long as they get Fur Farming Banned.

  45. jim

    In 48 hours the fate of Ireland will be decided by the Green Party.If Nama is approved then Cowen,Linehan et al will launch the “echo bubble” for thats what its called ,Google it . As the World Economy recovers,Irelands best and brightest will leave in droves.The aspirational “smart economy” will be still born as there will be nothing left behind to support it ,only old people,the very young,economic migrants,disillusioned Public Servants etc. crippled by a massive debt overhang. If the Greens pass Nama they will pass the Budget and the Government will limp onn ,rudderless ,clueless until the day of reckoning at the next Election………You know the British for all their might would never have gotten away with it, Irish People of Morals and fortitude would have stepped forward and drawn a line in the sand.Maybe thats the Ireland I romanticise about in this far away place.Most of My relations were wiped out around Rochfordbridge in 1798,some of the displaced ones in 1840′s,some in 1916.You see the truth is,what went to Australia,was all that was left .My Mother God rest Her use to quote J.M. Synge “their all gone now ,there is no more the Sea can do to Me” with a ruefull smile and a wink. I’m SO sorry its all come to this for ye. Maybe Ireland was just never meant to be.I’ll leave a candle in the window just in case,any of ye get lost around these parts. Goodnight and Goodbye Ireland. Sleep well. Jim.

    • Colin_in_exile

      Jim,

      Nice gesture.

      You’re right, if NAMA does go through, there is no hope for young people there, they’ll rightfully leave, and the place will go to pot. The sad thing is that we don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves. I’ll personally blame Lenihan for coming up with his awful NAMA plan.

      But Lenihan doesn’t care a fiddler’s fart about me, you see, I’m an outsider, I’m not a property owner, so Lenihan has nothing to offer me. He’s playing to the gallery of property owners, of which there is a lot in Ireland, they’re scared of house prices falling much much further, he’s telling them NAMA will prevent this, and many house owners find his words and style soothing.

      Ireland is a chronically sick patient who needs to swallow the bitter pill of allowing the property market to fall without any interference from Gubberment or anyone else. NAMA is the substitution of a lollipop for the bitter pill.

      • wills

        i don’t blame myself atall. It’s nothing to do with me if NAMA goes through. Its a criminal act and i will call it out as so too my grave.

        NAMA = CRIMINALITY

        signed

        wills.

      • Colin_in_exile

        “we don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves” – Ourselves meaning the Irish, i.e. it wasn’t a colonial power who has placed us up sh1ts creek without a paddle.

        Drumm, Seanie Fitz, Liam Carroll et al are Irish.

        Whether NAMA goes through or not, makes no difference in one sense, the country is still fcuked.

        “Ireland is a chronically sick patient” – unemployment up, tax rate increases/levies up, emmigration up, no sign of recovery

  46. Malcolm McClure

    Wonderful retort to Martin Cullen, who was wittering on yesterday about ‘the profession of politics’ and ‘we professional politicians’ …being beyond reproach, etc.:
    Someone texted Newstalk “Yeah, politics as as a profession is like prostitution as a profession …they get paid handsomely for screwing us”.

  47. Call of Duty to Furrylugs :

    Your Country Needs You

  48. Dilly

    The Greens will help pass NAMA, and we will have more generations of forgetten Irish, or as we used to call ourselvs back in the 80′s “rejected Irish”. The cycle just continues, and the politicians dont give a damn, they have their snouts in the trough. “Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow”.
    http://www.irlfunds.org/great_britain/campaign.asp

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