December 2, 2009

We need to tap talent like John Gray in floods crisis

Posted in Ireland · 231 comments ·
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Have you ever bothered to look at the statues on O’Connell Street? There are the obvious ones of Larkin, O’Connell and, of course, Parnell, but there is also one statue of a character called John Gray. Leopold Bloom in ‘Ulysses’ walked past the statue of John Gray and was equally flummoxed, asking who was yer man? It is interesting that Bloom — a man obsessed throughout ‘Ulysses’ by water — could have been so ignorant about the man who made Dublin’s taps gush with fresh pressurised water.

Looking around at the devastation of the floods all over the country, I thought of John Gray and whether we had a politician of the stature of Gray now. Who was this redoubtable character who has been lost to history? And why would he have anything to do with the predicament we find ourselves in now?

John Gray was a Protestant nationalist, founder of the precursor of the Irish Independent — the ‘Freeman’s Journal’ — a surgeon and a MP, first for the Liberal Party and then the Home Rule party. He was a keen supporter of Daniel O’Connell — in fact, he was the man who raised the money for O’Connell’s statue on O’Connell Street.

But what makes Gray stand out was his determination to rid Dublin of the filthy sanitation that had afflicted the city’s poor for generations. Dublin’s ghettos, swelled by migrants fleeing the famine in the west and south, suffered recurring bouts of cholera and typhus. In response to one of these disasters, Gray, at that stage head of Dublin Corporation as well as the Surgeon General, decided enough was enough. He reacted to these natural disasters by taking on Ireland’s commercial vested interests and creating the best urban water and sanitation system in Europe.

He saw opportunity in disaster; when others panicked, he saw what to do. He embarked on a huge public infrastructure project — the Vartry Reservoir scheme in Wicklow.

Now, just think about our floods and the opportunity they offer. The floods give us a chance to build a public works scheme that ensures these floods never happen again. Gray saw the cholera outbreaks in Dublin as an opportunity to make the city permanently better and we should do the same by building the best flood-prevention system in the world, in the knowledge that climate change will make what happened in the past few weeks a regular occurrence.

Until Gray’s initiative, Dublin’s water was taken from the canals and controlled by the canal companies as well as by some of the rail companies, who owned parts of the canals. Obviously the canal water wasn’t fit for human consumption and was making matters worse for the unfortunates who drank it. In addition, without a highly pressurised water system, firefighting in Dublin was a rudimentary business. Gray sought to change all that, to break the control of the canal and railway companies and create a modern water system. He forced the parliament in London to finance his scheme in the face of opposition from the vested interests.

The scheme included the construction of a large reservoir in the Wicklow Mountains, 520ft above the highest point in Dublin city. The water was then transported to the city through a two-and-a-half-mile tunnel cut 160ft below ground level (a considerable feat in 1860s Ireland). The tunnel is still used to this day. At the end of the tunnel there begins 17-mile-long mains to Stillorgan from where it was distributed throughout the city.

Other than the obvious health benefits provided by the Vartry scheme (which were huge), it brought an end to the fear of fire that had stalked the city for generations.

Fearing the age-old Irish weakness for land speculation ahead of a political rezoning, Gray bought up all the land around the reservoir in Roundwood and sold it back to Dublin Corporation for the same price after Parliament had decided to go with the idea. (Compare this politician’s approach to land speculation with some of his modern counterparts!)

Now let’s consider the opportunity the flooding tragedy presents. We need a new flooding system. This will involve flood gates, flood banks, canals, sluices — in other words, a grand public-works scheme, some of which will be labour intensive as it will involve thousands of lads digging ditches.

But who has an interest, in these straitened times, in financing such a public-works scheme? Well, the obvious place to start is our insurance companies. Insurance companies hate natural disasters, as they have to pay out hugely. This upsets their nice actuarial models about how much cash they are likely to pay out over the course of their policies. Insurance companies are highly liquid. They take your money today and only have to pay out in the event of a claim. Thus they are cash rich. They normally invest this cash in stocks, bonds and property, or some combination of the three. They don’t like floods as it means they have to liquidate their investments to cover the flood claims, so they would prefer to have a proper flood-prevention system.

The State obviously needs to provide a flood-prevention system to the citizen to prevent the horrible devastation we saw in the past few weeks. Finally, given huge unemployment, we could do with providing jobs to guys laid off from the sites of large construction projects that will give them hope and give us better infrastructure. This is precisely what the Americans did in the Depression, starting with the Hoover Dam project.

But these days, the big question is ‘who will finance it?’ With Ireland in cutback mode, anyone suggesting large civic public infrastructure works is regarded as being slightly off the wall — as the mantra is that we have no money. In fact, we have money and loads of it. It’s just a matter of looking for it.

According to the Irish Insurance Federation, insurance companies have €73bn in assets. That is money we have paid to the insurance companies, which is now invested in financial assets. This is a huge amount and is directly related to them being granted a licence to provide insurance to us.

Given that they would like to have no freak weather mishaps over the next 30 years to avoid having to pay out huge amounts, the State should suggest that the insurance companies of Ireland finance the civic project that is a national flooding infrastructure. If they don’t play ball, maybe they should be compelled as a quid pro quo of doing business here that they have to spend some of their Irish surplus on Irish government recovery bonds.

Surely that is a better policy for the Irish State than allowing — in the middle of a credit crunch — billions of euros of Irish insurance premiums to be invested in foreign stock markets by insurance companies who operate here under government licence?

The floods are an opportunity to change. We have the money, the manpower and the ability — all we need is John Gray-style politicians who can see that politics, like economics, is the art of the possible.


  1. On the one hand your concept is important, but you advocate freedom of the markets and let the banks bond holders deal with the risk they took, yet you suggest that we compel the insurance companies to spend on infrastructure that they will not get any return from, now or in the future. Where is the investment return?

    These companies thrive on risk and if they remove, or at least reduce the risk by building the flood infrastructure, why would future householders pay a premium for flood risk if there is none there?

    • Philip

      Insurance companies hate risk and prefer selling insurance to people who have no risk – money for nothing…even if the premiums are small. Right now, no one can be insured. Risk is too high. I think there is a real business case for the Insurance companies plus getting a right to own the market in flood management.

    • roc

      With regard this so called freedom of the markets, one might recall this… “During boom periods, ludicrously exaggerated opinions develop about the power of open market operations over business situations. On the other side, during the bust, the exact opposite opinion takes hold.” (From Schumpeter’s essay ‘The decade of the twenties’ ).

      Anyway, I don’t reckon a bit of heavy Keynesian spending would go amiss. But with the caveat that debt is properly cleared at the same time… Very important. We will stay in a state of recession and depression until this job is done.

      So, why not COMPEL insurance companies legislatively to spend their money in this way. – They’ve done very well out of us… People might find it interesting to look at the preserved government flyer up in Johnnie Foxes pub, calling on people to do their patriotic duty and use the newly set up Irish insurance company instead of the English companies that were in the market at the time. It’s in the little alcove section when you turn left inside the pub, where the old Enfield motorbike is.

      • coldblow

        Re second para, I agree with you roc, and Thomas Fergus says something similar further down I think. I can’t see how destroying the economy in order to balance the books is going to work. Michael Taft demonstrated that the % improvement in the deficit for each €1bn cut is tiny. Even David Cameron and his fellow Old Etonians are a little bit more circumspect than that. And we are the only Western European state following this path. But then our situation is different from theirs, for one thing we are Third World. And as has been argued on IrishEconomy respected economists from abroad who have expressed their surprise at Irish policies to ‘tackle’ the crisis don’t understand local conditions. But then again that line of argument is used to excuse other nonsense, eg the appointment of insiders to head our banks. So I am with Taft unless anyone can convince me otherwise.

  2. gadfly55

    Neither a climatologist nor engineer you be. Lads in ditches, what, is this China in the 50′s? Let the river find its course, and let people retreat from their unsustainable locations.

    • Philip

      We need a strategy. Some infrastructure will always be needed. Look at the Dutch. And they’ll change their strategy where holding back the sea is concerned. Not saying we should be stupid with rivers and pretending they are not there. But a good solution works with rivers rather than running away from them.

  3. Deco

    David.

    This is an excellent article. Unfortunately for Ireland is three decades too late. But despite this, this is the first time I ever heard of John Gray. Unfortunately we do not have anybody even remotely as useful to the people, in the Dail. And if we had, we can presume that the media would be under pressure to undermine such an individual in case of the threat opposed to “our advertising sponsors”.

    And yet I am hopeful in the sense that the internet might get beyond all of that institutional power broking and public opinion control.

    This flooding is not new. It happened in Nov 2000. At that time there was serious flooding in the area convering Fingal, North Dublin, SE Meath, NE Kildare. And yet nobody seems to have noticed that this has been fixed. The Tolka basin drainage issue got as far inland as Dunshaughlin. End result no flooding this time around. And nobody seems to have noticed that local authorities in Meath, Kildare and Dublin got their acts together. But this time we should actually recognise some local authorities who prevented a second occurrence.

    I think we can expect Clonmel Corp and Tipperary South to get their act sorted also. They are only 35% through on the plan for Clonmel.

    The most powerful insurance company in Ireland seems more interested in sticking money into duplicate sports stadia than in flood control. Again the superficial seems to be of greater concern than the practical. This will have to go. This idea of hob-nobbing with the big nobs needs to be questioned – but instead the media bows to it. Bear in mind that there is a crossover between banking and insurance sectors. So here we go again – back to the bankers. I don’t expect national priorities or the common interest to predominate on anything where the Irish bankers are deciding matters. It has not happened so far. And it will not happen in future. Even if the state suggested the scheme you can bet that the bigger companies would be trying to shove the bill on the smaller companies so as to undermine them competitively.

    In fact what we are now seeing is insurance companies deciding that they will not insure people living in exposed areas. It is back to Churchill’s statement about bankers and umbrellas again.

    Any project on the Shannon would be an enormous project. It would involve seven local authorities at least. But it would not be impossible. It is all lowland. There are issues about a high water table. But diggers, bulldozers, tractors, and excavators will do the work. There will be no tunnelling. And we have the machinery and the skilled labour required to solve this problem, both idle, at the moment. We might even be able to construct a second Ardnacrusha at the upper part of the Shannon which could also serve useful for water control. But this time in the interests of competition it should be owned by the local authorities and an outside provider like Eirtricity.

    I do not expect the Greens to be any use in this sort of area. The GP want to return the countryside to some sort of medieval era thempark with bushes everywhere and no food. This is their key ideological stance. It is utter stupidity. There is bound to be an otter or a badger somewhere who will have their habitant disturbed (unless they are already drowned). And that is much worse than having half Athlone under water. The GP don’t get any votes there anyway – so it is not on the map. Interestingly enough apart from a three stop tour of the Lee Valley, Gormless was nowhere else to be seen. He stayed two hours in the second city, and then moved on. Then he went on a Publicity drive on RTE (answerable to GP Minister Whine) and spun his PR stunt for all that is was worth.

    David you idea is noble and inspiring. But as you seem to comment – the political establishment are not up to the job. Maybe remembering John Gray might give them the shove that they need.

    • Dilly

      N Kildare got its flood relief, but only after pressure from the Labour party was put on FF, who kept delaying the funding (maybe because their mates were not in line to profit from it). The flood relief here in KE worked !, even if it was delayed by ten years. On another topic, my Mother was ill during the week, and would have died, if it had not been for Roscommon hospital close by. I believe that Harney wants to have it shutdown.

      • Deco

        { The flood relief here in KE worked }
        It worked in Leixlip/Maynooth/Kilcock. I try not to analyze this as an endorsement of any one faction. The solution in the Tolka catchment area came about because it went through the Taoiseach’s constituency. Great news for everybody in the Tolka valley. Bad news elsewhere – because everybody else got shoved down the list. I would not credit politicians of any persuasion with the solution. It seems rather that in some areas there were powerful politicians who had access to central funding. Geography seems to be more of a determinant than anything else.

        I am not of the view that we get anywhere in our analysis by endorsing any political ideology. Especially if the political ideology is really a smokescreen for something more sinister. And that goes for both sides. Harney is not up to the job. It is simple as that. She has no idea of what she is doing. Ideologically she makes all sorts of promises. And then she implements a bureacratic scheme that is institutionally the opposite of what she promises. There are too many inherent contradictions. The HSE under Harney is bureacratic and excessive. It is an insiders paradise, and a leech on the entire economy because it is highly inefficient at doing it’s job. So I am actually inclined to think that Harney is not as ideologically driven as she would have us believe. Really it is all about getting corporate donations, buying advertising power in the media and then using that to buy votes. If she had no ideology, she would still be insufficient for the job.

        • Deco

          Of course Maynooth/Leixlip are in the Middle Liffey/Rye Valley. Again it must have been embarrassing to Intel and HP to have such a farce nearby.

          There is one thing I have learnt and that is that if the IDA want something dobe the politicians cut out their usual nonsense fairly fast. Perhaps it is because they are all canvassing trying to get IDA linked investments in their constituencies.

          I remember Cowen making a threat to the voters of Kildare North a few years ago – that they would be the only constituency in the country without an FF TD – and that they would suffer. And the voters went ahead and snubbed his warning anyway. At the time there were Independents in the Dail and they were local ‘fixers’ for a list of constituencies at the periphery of the country. The voters of Kildare joined in. And it was probably a good idea because they got what they wanted.

      • wills

        Dilly, wishing the best for your mum and that she’s ok.

  4. Deco

    I thnk that allocating money from the National Pension Reserve in better flood control, and better water control, are far better investments than sticking the money into Anglo Irish Bank or the other useless banks.

  5. Deco

    No wonder we never heard of John Gray. He cut out the gombeen/ri -off merchants. That is a terrible example to set. Our Tammany Hall politicos don’t like that sort of public service.

  6. SLICKMICK

    THE MORE CASH THAT THE iNSURANCE INDUSTRY HAS TO COUGH UP MEANS HIGHER PREMIA IN THE FUTURE.

  7. MK1

    Hi again David,

    The problem with the insurance companies is that it is not in their interest really to prevent ALL risk. An ultimate example to prove the point is that if cars were banned tomorrow there would be no need for car insurance, etc.

    There is no financial incentive to prevent ‘random risk’ either. All insurers need to do is adjust their models on what they pay out and what can be claimed and what areas can get insurance, etc, adjust premiums, etc, and their problem is solved. They do not need to divert one drop of rainwater. All they need to do is adjust some figures in a spreadsheet. They already have it done too.

    The responsibility for flood protection lies with the government, local authorities, planners, etc. And the public have some self responsibility too and should educate themselves. People build houses in Florida and Bangladesh on stilts for a reason! I do not blame the public though just to be clear, not at all.

    The Government could offer a ‘recovery bond’ investment option paying a good interest rate and investors would invest if the coupon is worthwhile and if they believe the government could pay back, etc

    The money could be used for whatever but the best use would be in long-term job creation schemes. Its not clear if flood defences would be the best use of all of that money, but some could certainly be used.

    Meanwhile insurance companies money (like any capital) will go to places where it can get good returns and will spread its options over investment classes and risk.

    At least you are coming up with an idea ….. keep the thinking hat on.

    I know not many people put much credence into my idea of having an Oktoberfest in Ireland every single month, but we have the capability and it IS what we are good at. So why not?

    Or are we saying there is no craic in Ireland anymore? Surely your time on The Panel has shown you perhaps that entertainment is a viable economic industry …..

    MK1

    • Philip

      There’ll be no incentive to do anything in this country if we do not do something. All in all, our storm damage risks are relatively small compared to other nations. What is happening here is that we are becoming un-insurable because we cannot afford it.

  8. Philip

    8000 Soldiers all sitting in barracks….what are they doing?

  9. Grays Anatomy :
    I know Water is soft but David is right it is a mechanism to get soft money that is conditional to the Insurance Operating Licence and create lots of employment .Some Toll Bridge mechanism could be used by the Insurance companies to defray their start up costs for infrastructure.
    I must walk longer along O’ Connell Street the next time and every other O’ Connell St in the country to find other ‘John Grays’

  10. John Q. Public

    What about the idiot planners who allowed lands prone to flooding anyway be zoned for residential development? There still is plenty of land perfectly suitable for houses to be built upon, why did we not use it in the boom instead? Why do we all act so surprised when disasters like this happen? We are like the idiots who build houses beside a volcano and then act surprised when they find lava in the livingroom!
    We don’t need intellectuals and scientists to solve this problem, a pass level junior cert geography student could work this out: live somewhere else, preferably above sea-level not near a river. Did anybody see ‘the frontline’ on Monday? Silt is building up in certain rivers and its our fault so the excess water volume has to go somewhere else (basic junior cert stuff, Phd not required). Proper planning from the beginning and we would not be having this conversation.

    • Deco

      What about the idiot planners who allowed lands prone to flooding anyway be zoned for residential development?

      Good question. Maybe we should have a website “rate my local planning official dot com” or “rate my local councillor dot com”
      And list their “acheivements”.

      It would be a case of transparency in action.

      Another option for getting some transparency would be if we see civil law suits. There must be people in Carrick-on-Shannon wondering if this would be a viable option. And we have plenty of unecessary legal professionals twiddling their thumbs with nothing better to do !!

    • Yes , but our WONDERFUL GREEN Party Mr Gormeless & Co. are ‘protecting the wonderful butter cups that grow beside these banks ,….and we can’t be throwing silt on these flowers ,…Can We ?

  11. BurrenRocks

    New thinking will need a new incentive model – and marketing. What would one call an alternative illegal tender?

    http://transitionculture.org/2009/11/22/a-local-currency-pilgrimage-to-worgl/

  12. Alan42

    I used to think that I was the only person in Dublin who knew who John Gray was .

  13. ThomasFergus

    Once again, David, you are calling for massive State investment in public infrastructure projects both to create a legacy of public wealth, and more importanltly in the short term, to kick start the economy. Your “off the wall” and “mantra” comment also show that you disagree vehemently with the conventional wisdom, preferring a Keynsian attempt to reflate the economy (and for the 1st time in our history we have a hard currency to do just this) to the current McCarthyite ideology of deflation. Among the general class of Talking Heads in Irish economics and politics, from Stephen Collins to Eddie Hobbs George Lee to Jim Power to Colm McCarthy, you are now clearly off the spectrum. But you are going very much in the right direction while they betray an utter poverty of ideas.

    Isn’t it a shame the Labour Party don’t embrace your public investment and resource tapping philosophy? If they rebranded themselves as European Social Democrats – attracting more thinkers and egalitarian business people and fewer union heads (union members vote FF anyway) would you consider joining this party? Let FF and FG run the country into the ground collectively after the (surely) forthcoming general election, and allow Labour to espouse the real alternative.

    You should talk to the Labour leadership; there are many eejits in the party but Gilmore, Burton, Alex White and a few others have some great ideas. We desperately need an alternative to this choking consensus, and your weekly articles scream out that alternative.

    • ThomasFergus

      Yourself and Fintan O’Toole are the only two commentators whose articles are unmissable reads these past few years. Time to cross the rubicon and enter the murky world of politics.

    • Deco

      ThomasFergus
      Every article from Tintan O’Foole follows the same template.

      Start with a series of facts that enrage us. Express loads of outrage. Examine in detail the small players. Analyze their motives.

      Connect it to members of political parties who Tintan does not like.
      And sneak in some sort of endorsment for the ILP at the end.

      My biggest doubt about Tintan concerns the essential bias in his articles. He never offers any harsh criticism of his favourite political players in the ILP.

      Apart from that Tintan wrote an article in the IT calling on Pat Rabbitte to abandon his election promise and go into coalition under Ahern after the last election. It is in black and white in the IT.
      Rabbitte knew enough about Ahern to decide that opposition was more honourable than support for the ditherer.

      Apart from that the real Plan B version of FF in Irish politics is the ILP, not FG. Just watch the union bosses cosy up to FF and you will see why.

      If David led his a Reform Party around Senator Shane Ross, that would be a real alternative. We need something completely new and as far removed as possible from the failed pretenders and opportunists in Kildare Street.

      • ThomasFergus

        First up Deco, the guy’s name is Fintan O’Toole. Playing the man and not the ball takes alot of credibility from your argument; redolent as it is of US republican smear.

        Second, I’m sure O’Toole did call for a coalition with FF, if only so that the privatisation agenda under FF/Harney in the hospitals could be derailed. We are fast heading down the tracks of gargantuan state subsidies for private medicine, insurance company bureaucracy that makes the old health boards look like models of efficiency, and massive apartheid in our health system (that part is already here). This hardly meant that O’Toole would have been delighted with a coaltion of FF/Lab, just the least worst outcome in the circumstances. And it was not rejected by Rabbitte; rather, Bertie despises Rabbitte and went out of his way to humiliate him. And he succeeded. Yet another victory to Bertie, for whom every success in life is personal, and nothing at all political.

        Third, O’Toole offers plenty of harsh criticisim of typical left leaning concerns, such as his outright refusal to support the INTO’s industrial action for pay increases in 2002. More importanly, he has often bemoaned the weakness in Labour to be the makeweight “in the national interest”, as this article from last May shows.

        http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0512/1224246322181.html

        Finally, Shane Ross is interesting I grant you, but his utter silence on nepotism and the O’Reilly clan at INM compromises him and his presence in that most corrupt of rubber stampting talking shops, the Seanad, is a joke.

        The point still stands. An FF/FG coalition with Labour as the leading opposition party would be the first step in forcing this country to grow and vote on ideology, not tribe. It would also allow Labour to espouse the sort of Keynsian economics that David has been calling for for quite some time now.

        • Deco

          ThomasFergus.

          When Fintan O’Toole stops putting the cart before the horse, I will stop calling him Tintan O’Fool. Though others in radio skit shows will probably continue. FOT pretends to be honest. Therefore I will call him Tintan O’Fool.(Just like I call Ahern Ditherer, Cowen Biffo, etc..). My doubts about Fintan stem from the fact that he tends to march the troops up the hill, and then march them back down again. It sounds like as if he will do something, and then nothing happens, except some effort to subtley support a certain ideological position, and a certain political party. Really FOT could do a lot better.

          2. FOT did call for the ILP to support Ditherer as Taoiseach. This was worse than Spring supporting Reynolds. Because Reynolds was an honourable man compared to Ditherer. The only thing worse was the GP who actually voted Ahern into power. Or the PDs who did it three times. I think that ToF was dishonest and disingenious to tell Rabbitte what to do – considering that a substantial proportion of the electorate had already told Rabitte to form an alternative to Ahern. Ahern was very happy to be in coaltion with the ILP in the mid 1990s. In fact Ahern did deals with just about anyone who would keep him and his mates in power.
          Rabbitte deserved credit for continually trying to point the finger at Ahern while the gardai, and the various arms of enforcement looked the other way.

          3. I read that article earlier this year – and thought to myself this is a load of pretenscious nonsense. O’Toole bemoaning the ILP for not putting aside the national interest is pure spin. We are talking about a collection of politicians – some of whom were unable to indicate if they were in favour of politicians pay were to be cut, until their leader out of embarrassment gave them the party line. They are well able to put the national interest aside. “Know me for my actions, trust not for my words” goes the maxim. Same goes here. TOF criticising the ILP for being too nice. This is a PR stunt. He could have been more honest and advised them to get rid of the the dinosaurs on the front bench. Especially the ones who were ministers with FF in the 1990s. But that is never going to happen. The real deficiency with Labour is that they cannot provide sufficient justification for the electorate to want to see them govern the country.

          4. You are correct – Senator Shane Ross does not crituque the power of Sir Anthony O’Reilly, or the role of his papers in keeping Ditherer in power. Matt Cooper does sometimes. However to the good Senators credit he has continually undermined the dangerous networks in control of corporate Ireland – what he calls “the incestuous culture of the largest Irish companies”. He has continually spilled the beans on the way the ISEQ listed companies are run. And he has exposed nepotism in the Irish semi-state sector.
          In the light of the fact that nobody else will do this, Senator Ross is to be commended. Senator Ross is not trying to sell an agenda – he just spills the beans and lets the people do the figuring out bit for themselves. It is not Senator Ross’s fault that the Senate is full of rehabilitated rejects from the general elections trying to get back into circulation. Senator Ross is proof that the university electorate should be expanded to include Institutes of Technology, and DCU/UL.

          I cannot see FF and FG assisting each other. It is not about the civil war. There is something else much deeper than that-at the level of the self concept.

          Ahern and Cowen practiced pro-cyclical Keynesian stimulus plans during the boom. (This was exactly the time when they should have been reducing spending to cool inflationary pressures). In the history of the state FF were the party of Keynesianism funnily enough. Was not Ahern the Great Socialist Leader ? Did he not want a great monument to his vision, in concrete in Abbotstown. Did Ahern not promise all sorts of promises along the lines of “a chicken in every pot” ? Did he not create the many quangos to plan for every aspect of the economy and the social life of the people ? We have had ten years of Ahernian Keynesianism. And it has been a complete disaster. You are saying it is not the idea that failed but the practitioner. That would be a reasonable point.

          There is nothing stopping Eamonn Gilmore in writing up an economic policy based on Keynes’s writings. He should not have to wait for the demise of FF to be complete for it to happen. No excuses. If he really wants a Keynesian stimulus plan then let him present it. And when he does he should be warned that all sorts of corrupt elements in Irish society will be queueing up to get the tenders. And apart from anything else “where are we going to get the money ? ” Who will lend to this corrupt policy. Before we get to the point of being in a position to borrow like the Germans, we need to get like the Germans in reforming and clamping down on the corrpution, the market rigging and the waste. The phrase is often repeated on this site “lance the boil”.

          And besides, do you really want Labour to be leading a government from the left with such disruptive elements, and possibly incompatible elements as SF, The Socialist Party, and People before Profit ?? This Grand Plan of the Left which will give Ireland two straight ideolgical blocs might end up in bickering and squabbling – like has occurred in France, Germany, Italy etc. And you might end up with needing the GP – and as we now know the GP have decided in their wisdom that the banks are more important that the industrial wealth creating base. Try and tell that to the factory workers comrade. Oh, yeah and officially the GP are also socialists. Yes the divide between the ‘official’ position and the ‘real’ position is wide. The GP are Gordon Brown socialists – “socialism for the rich and capitalist competition for the poor”. But you at least are above this hypocrisy.

          We do not need Keynesian stimulus plans per se. We need intelligent public infrastructure planning, and intelligent transparent and fair funding. On the continent both right and left aim do this. Something that will increase the productive capacity of our society. Basically, as an economy we need to create a lot of wealth to pay off all the bills. Or else default on parts of the bill. And NAMA has backed us into a corner that we cannot default on the bills of the private sector. In my mind we should allow private sector failure to happen. But we have lost that debate.
          There is an inadequate debate about infrastructure planning, and how it will increase national productivity. If we do that intelligently, we will get out of the crisis. We should be imitatin the South Koreans not the British !!

          • ThomasFergus

            Deco:
            In the words of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail: “All right, we’ll call it a draw!”

            A lot of good points, esp re Shane Ross, but I still think a grand coalition of FF-FG following an immediate general election would be the best thing for this country. It’s not ideal, but there are no ideals in Irish politics, as you have so eloquently pointed out. However, if FG and Labour go into coalition following an election, then FF will oppose their every policy tooth and nail on populist grounds, will do their damnedest to paralyse govt through shrill populism and will get back into office 5 years later. This has been the way since the foundation of the State, or at least since FF took the oath in 1926 (Dev’s mental reservation).

            An FG-FF grand coaltion with the left in Opposition would be a radical shift by the standards of Irish politics, even if a right-left divide is just the norm in every other country in Europe. But that’s all I’m looking for. Normality.

      • I concur , but why do you give Fintan a ‘T’ , or is it his speech impediment you are slagging ?. I thought first the ILP stood for , Irish Liberation Party !

  14. Protestant Ideology :
    Independence of thinking and originality of ideas and a sense of bloody mindness have always formed the idea of being free and protestant and maybe if we change our minds and act responsible for our actions we could change everything around us .

    • coldblow

      Not trying to argue here John but there’s also legalism, sacrosanct-ness of propery (get off my land) and predestination (we can prove we’re holier because we’re richer) in the stereotype. I ‘did a job’ on Weber in my first year at uni. and my tutor must have agreed because he gave me 90% or something.

      I think capitalist ideology is more accurate, in the sense of the gradual evolution of liberal institutions over the centuries as happened in our primaeval western European forests. Being colonized isn’t very helpful in getting there. (Referring to an earlier remark by Colin in Exile, the Indians have no problem buying gold but are reluctant to feed their own people – I don’t think their Hinduism is relevant here but the last 2 centuries of their history.)

    • Colin_in_exile

      John,

      It sounds very much like the Me Fein Ideology. Didn’t David flag this in “The Pope’s Children” when he coined the phrase the Protestant Catholics?

      I believe being a free thinker has nothing to do with what Religion you were born into, more to do with a good moral grounding and a sense of fair play.

    • Deco

      There is also the idea of expecting total probity of people holding public office.

      And being honest in one’s dealings with one’s neighbours.

    • Yes , John back to our BASIC ( Knowledge that led to lap tops ) .
      Lets change our ‘Religion’ and Protest and put in CLEVER Community Leaders who will leave , if they do not bring to LIFE , the plans we can set out for our future culture and clans ?
      We don’t need that Old Aussie’s 75 stations plus of repeated garbage , when we Know How do do .
      The Right Think , for our fellow Men ,..moon has to be shifted now , One Thinks !

  15. coldblow : you have a good point and I have a good idea its a question of mix & match and make up a better idea .

  16. coldblow

    I don’t think we need our politicians to be engineers or weathermen but to properly address these problems. Anyway Cowan wouldn’t be very good at the latter as I remember him saying last week that it was going to get a lot worse before it got better.

    This was after seeing my parents’ end of terrace house (100 years old next year) on the east bank of Athlone centre shot on last week’s 6 o’c news on RTE. It seemed to be bobbing up and down in the middle of the Shannon and was obviously the prime target for the next deluge, and look there’s mum in a blue cardigan. Give us a wave! When I saw that I regretted ringing her 2 days earlier to inform her that from the evidence in my neck of the woods this was just the usual RTE Weather BS to cover their own a$ses, having by now lost count of football training abandoned on the strength of their scaremongering. However, thank God the Taoiseach (and all the neighbours) was proved wrong – again. RTE of course were also wrong in their assumptions (again) here having lost the run of themselves by reporting falsely that 6 houses had already been evacuated there.

    Actually the neighbours, the Army and even the local politicos were great. They came round one day and insisted they take 9 bottles of water, 5 tins of dog food, 2 toilet rolls, a jar of blackcurrant jam and a packet of Cheerios. There’s no dog there and the water in the house is ok but it’s the thought that counts.

    By the way did anyone get the example of direct action on Mon’s Frontline? There was a shopkeeper from Ballinasloe (?) who said he blocked the main road with his own van to through traffic which had included heavy lorries flooding out the houses every time they passed by.

    About the same time last week (I must have been on strike that day)my ears pricked up when I heard that a delegation of local county councillors had met with the ESB about water emissions from Parteen Weir in Clare and that the ESB were ‘monitoring’ the situation throughout the Shannon. I am probably being unfair but my first thought, once I’d got over the shock in hearing that the ESB were involved, was who was going to get screwed? Pat Kenny later interviewed an ESB spokesman on the radio (I must hav been on strike that day) who studiously avoided saying anything. Was it a choice between flooding upstream and downstream from the weir? We are carefully following our complex technical procedures and constantly monitoring the situation blah blah. Now we hear that levels in Lough Ree and other lakes have been kept artificially high by the ESB since about 1971. Hmmmmm.

    • Colin_in_exile

      RTE reporters do not report the news(unbiased facts), they report stories(mostly inaccurate) which fits their agenda.

    • ColdBlow , so Your One Person who I now know was flooded. yet I would not blame the ESB ,,,this Time the weather was well Heavy and you have no choice about flooding up stream as We are tidal and this too would flow back down and run over the dam any way , or Burst around it.
      I was admiring the white van man even before he had got to the direct action and I say ..FAIR pLAY TO THE MAN ,
      So more of us have to stand up and take this Direct Action , as our Over Paid and Lazy Law Enforcers of Our State , prefer now days to turn a blind eye on ,..well a Lot of Issues of Policing .
      And I’m sick of it. And now have a Campaign going in New Ross Wexford to start ( On A5′s ) showing , the Real Paddy Irish man and Woman what , they have left their Children’s , Childer’s Future ….
      Jailing is too good for some of them and LOOK at TV 3 , short of a few Euro because of not getting a cut of the Tax Take….Have Had to put on Old Bertie Boy , telling us on this wet rock,…..How Hard it was for Him ( really) …..Jesus or Allah or somone PLEASE give be a break and tell me it is simply due to been off Alcohol for 2 years this October past …. As Someone Else Must also see what I am seeing ,…it’s becoming ..Unbelievable…..No Child alive can ‘unnderstand’ what a Billion Zero’s or ‘E’ uro’s Really Is ?

  17. coldblow

    Now I’ve started I won’t shut up. Might as well hang for a sheep as a lamb.

    @ Tim

    I’m also reading DMcW’s book. The otherwise excellent Gen. Game seemed to share the standard left-liberal POV but was otherwise non-judgmental, although this POV probably sees itself as non-judgmental in the same way that somebody with RP thinks he doesn’t have an accent. So you had the ‘idealistic’ baby-boomers getting rich through no fault of their own the way some historians (I was taught by one at college) argue that the British just sleep-walked into empire, acquiring it in a fit of absent-mindedness. I’m only half-way through Follow the Money but there’s a much harder edge. In fact the chapter I read last night piles one (substantiated) accusation on top of another (political corruption). An earlier bit about the German bank Depfa operating out of the IFSC stretches credibility it is so appalling.

    The evidence is piled to the ceiling by now. So how will the general public react? They’ve had time to get over Thierry-Gate (or Ireland’s equivalent extravert outpouring to the demise of Diana Spencer). The only people I knew who seemed to think something odd was happening over these past years were a retired Dublin fireman suffering from depression and a Gaeilgeoir from Offaly who thought he was being followed by MI5 and who used to hang around the offices of Bord na Gaeilge interfering with their pigeon holes until they banned him.

    By the way, Tim, I don’t share your enthusiasm for that review of Tin Tin’s book. He must have been reading a different J.J. Lee to me – Lee clearly states that the Church overall was one of the few embodiments of what he terms the ‘performance ethic’ in the country. Deco’s Micra-driving nun running the health service springs to mind!

    Sorry, haven’t got round to the article yet. Let’s see: recovery bonds, public infrastructure works, controls on the insce. industry, hope, leadership, common goal etc – sounds about right.

  18. New Ideas Emporium – St. Patrick was a Protestant and gave us the initiative to become a nation .It was hundreds of years later that his/our Celtic Church was disenfranchised to Rome Rule .Perhaps we should re-established a New Church of Ideas that will work this time and We RULE this time.

  19. wills

    David.

    Floods, schmuds, who gives a flying fish.

    Floods have been with us since NOah.

    The meeja hype over rainfall is NUTS.

    If you build in a floodplain guess what your house is going too get flooded buster.

    If you leave silt bulid up over decades well guess what your gonna have rivers bursting banks.

    And, if the rain gonna fall, heavy. you gonna get flooding,..

    and if your house floods you throw out the stuff call your insurance and go buy your new sofa.

    A new sofa!!!!!!!

    Regarding old aged folk well this is unfortunate for them and life is not fair and the army ought to be there for them till they are all fixed up and back to normal.

    The meeja by the way, RTE, gave a bunches of coverage too insurance claims and the like and it s numbers etc and one really is in a state of wanto too do a wiley keyote on their news room.

    Scraps of coverage for the floods and bunches of coverage for the insurance claims.

    Meanwhile the murphy report is left too the side under reported in a zombie like fashion. Yet when going over the insurance numbers for the flood the pundits are all on the story with the intel. Shameful.

    David the fourth last paragraph jumps out at me. 73 Billion in assets. The insurance industry is a POnzi SCAM. THese scam merchants are in the business of destroying risk taking so they get to keep the cash. Our culture is a culture of non risk. There was a time in the past when risk was part and parcel of everyday life and now society is wrapped up in comfy womfy blanket and any hint of risk taking is shunned and casted out.

    This is a malaise which is nirvana for POnzi scams. POnzi scammers just love a risk free living. And the society we have today is a society which functions on a value system made up of non risk.

    Non risk is FATAL. It kills stone dead innovation and more importantly, creativity. The insurance industry to day is all about killing risk and enrichment enrichment and enrichment by sitting at a computer screen and stashing the cash the sheeple pay in too them in order to finance an industry out too wipe out risk and creativity.

    Brilliant theme raised in the article David.

    Insurance is like a slow death on the free market economy.

    The securitization POnzi scam which unleashed a credit bubble and sucked us all into a property POnzi bubble economy and spat us all back out again happened thanks too insurance, CDS is insurance.

    Chr1st compel insurance.
    Chr!st compel insurance.
    Christ compel insurance.

  20. Tim

    Folks, like coldblow above, I confess I have not read this article yet, but I wanted to give you this link, which I know you will be interested in; The Site is called “Ireland After NAMA”:

    http://irelandafternama.wordpress.com/category/book-reviews/

  21. rading in todays paper here in Gran Canaria, that
    Michael OLeary CEO of Ryanair has just been awarded one of three “Excellence in Tourism 2009″ citations by the Tourism Advisory Council of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands)
    for his dedication and commitment to the tourist sector here in the Islands, and throughout Spain. He has committed to bringing 4 million new tourists to Spain next year with ultra low fares from every European country. Meanwhile Ireland has imposed a 10 Euro tax on all flights in and out of Ireland,and many of the empty hotels and waterlogged golf courses there are in receivership. What a government.!
    They are still busy placating David Begg and SIPTU and their civil servants and wondering where to raise the Revenue to pay their wages!!
    Maybe another 10 Euros budget hike in the air fares stealth tax?

    RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary has rubbished former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as a “feckless ditherer” who presided over the Celtic Tiger economy — the benefits of which have all been “pissed away” — and he called for the Seanad to be shut down and all senators sacked:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9eE37VHZvA&feature=player_embedded

    • Deco

      €10 per flight. The last time I choose a flight out of the country it was something like €50 each way. Anyway-it was nothing small.

      Fair play to the residents of the Canaries – they have elected politicians who have a higher level of functioning intelligence.

      In life you might not always get what you want, you you should expect to get whatever your behaviour, thinking and moral discipline deserves !!!

  22. Garry

    A very interesting article. I had came to the conclusion that the world had gone mad, but now I know I’m wrong. The world has been mad for hundreds of years.

    I know nothing about John Gray but he seems to have been that rare combination, a decent man with an ability to get things done…

    From this, it could well be argued he did more for the average Dub than all the patriots and socialist ‘legends’ who have boozers named after them.

    Back to today; the socialists are arguing for continued impoverishment of the nation to pay bloated public sector salaries and pensions… They have no concern for the average worker, the average citizen. its Animal Farm, but with the bearded pigs on two legs running the show.

    I thought the world had gone mad because most self employed people I know who are still in business are decent people who actually have a sense of fairness. And are getting by in a large part because this is recognized by their customers and employees. We don’t have the resources or probably the ability John Gray had though, he seems to have been a man of considerable means and obvious talent to get this pushed through.

    And its a sign of how crazy the world has become that a self employed economist is the one trying to come up with examples or ideas of what the country should be doing. And identifying that giving people work and hope is what matters. How many economists are being paid by the state? And what exactly are they doing?

    Our left and right are completely screwed up in this country.
    On the left we have calls for tax everyone to pay for existing public services, or means test everyone so the wealthy pay for everything but those who deserve it get it free.. The dumb fucks don’t realize that means testing is adding cost, promotes corruption, and also destroys the systems for the poor. Because as sure as day follows night, the wealthy no longer have a stake in the means tested system and will undermine it at every turn. A little bit of business sense like a small charge for everyone to make sure nobody abuses the system, but even wealthy people get to enjoy the benefits of their taxes would make it work much better.
    On the right we have scumbags criminals dumping debt onto the taxpayer.
    The right and left are not at war with each other in Ireland; not yet anyways; so far there has been enough money for both of them to loot. How long will that last?

    I suspect that whatever fix comes it wont be from either of those groups. But keep up the good work David!

    • A Self Employed Economist , I think at least us writers here have ideas to run beside The Red Head Mc Williams,..but has he sold out to the state by doing the Panel, and been now frozen out by thiose who sit beside him ?…..strange Days Indeed , and Mr Tayto’s story is up to Number 3 in the book charts ….. what can this tell you about mother Ireland today ?

  23. Colin_in_exile

    “He forced the parliament in London to finance his scheme in the face of opposition from the vested interests.” – maybe handing over more power to Brussells is not such a bad thing afterall.
    Here is a public works scheme which would be a worthy way to spend money, and give people work, and give the country flood defences as well as safe guarded potable water supply for Dublin to supplement its reservoirs in times of drought.

    http://www.watersupplyproject-dublinregion.ie/index.php?page=shannon-options-under-consideration

  24. Malcolm McClure

    David: Where have you been all week? Up to your oxters in flood waters? Obviously you missed the Climategate gig held here and in blogs all over the world. “we should do the same by building the best flood-prevention system in the world, in the knowledge that climate change will make what happened in the past few weeks a regular occurrence.” Really? That’s so Last year.

    Weather extremes are always happening somewhere, so it is folly to say that we must build to resist whatever happens with rain, wind or snow. The floods are merely a symptom of how little we understand the weather.

    Our resources are limited, so those who ignore what old people tell about previous floods must live with the consequences if they end up below water. The US spent billions building flood defenses around the big easy. Then Katrina came and left the city below the water again.
    If we must live on flood plains then it would be cheaper to build the houses on stilts than dyke out the rivers then pump out the rainwater that falls within. Cars could be parked underneath and kids play there on normal rainy days. It’s a no-brainer solution but way beyond the mental capacity of our planners.

  25. Tim

    Folks, having read it now, this article is really about what we have been calling for: an economic stimulus that will provide jobs, infrastructure and demand input from big-business.

    Makes a change from current govt policy of cut-the-kids, cut-the-afflicted, blame the public servants and give billions to the private sector banks!

    If only BL would listen to DMcW instead of Alan Ahearne.

    (..and, tirnanog33, there is no public or civil servant that I know who feels “placated” by what govt is doing to them – although they are using the media to convince you of that.)

    • ThomasFergus

      Amen brother.

    • Deco

      If Lenihan put David in as advisor instead of Alan Ahearne, the banks would want him removed immediately.

      I mean, What is the point in being a powerful well connected banker when you can’t tell an elected representative how to run public policy ? That smells too much of democracy to be tolerated !!

      • Tim

        Deco, this appears to suggest that you may be, finally, coming towards my position of doubting Alan Ahearne’s role.

        Or, am I premature?

    • paddythepig

      Tim,

      Is 22 billion euro not enough of a stimulus package for one year?

      Paddy

      • Tim

        paddythepig, well (even if I agreed that it was a “stimulus”) clearly not; it has not worked.

        In fact, the govt cuts have made the defecit twice a bad, driving it from 6.5% to 12.5% by, among other things, removing the 6-fold multiplier-effect of consumer spending through pay-cuts, dithering and fear.

        €84 billion in private savings, according to Emmet Oliver. That’s some unspent stimulus, for you.

        • paddythepig

          Tim,

          If 22 billion of a stimulus hasn’t worked, that should tell you something. There’s only so many meals you can feed a corpse, before admitting something much more fundamental is wrong.

          The problem is structural. We don’t have enough people who invent, produce and export stuff. We have too many either doing nothing, or doing makey-up jobs for way too much money. Leave this imbalance in place, and no amount of stimulus will work.

          We need more inventors, innovators & exporters. It’s the only way.

          The 84 billion in savings are at the discretion of those who hold them ; they are entitled to hold onto them. But if they were to go on a spending spree, and demand their liability of the bank, do you think the Irish banks (and taxpayer by proxy) could honour them?

          This Taft chap is leading you up the garden path, all the way to a bounced paycheck.

          Paddy

          • Paddy , that’s a Great idea I am going to go and rent a field of an old Irish mr Holland and grow Grass and , export it to The Netherlands , as there it is used as just another trading revenue and there the trains, roads, health, social and leissure all work Correctly …Our third generation of Politics are over paid over weight and ignorant of any creative Idea’s .
            I agree , as in playing Poker , Twenty Billion ( How many Zero’s again , Uncle Brendan ? !! €/£/$ ) is enough to give these Selfish collective inner families of Old republican days …… Pure Bull Shit, it’s time Us Here Now , stood up and Began Taking these steps, why do we need more financing , We are all ready an Island with loads of construction gear Lying around not been used for two three years …So why Should ‘We’ pay again ?
            Floods , always Happen ..it’s life not always a nice bed of Roses..

  26. Tim, do you really believe you will all collect those big pensions in the coming decades.?
    Granted Cowan has put the 3 billion that would save the nation from civil strife into your pension fund when he could just leave the status quo in “makebelieve land” and take that 3 billion and use it now to pay your wages and stop crucifying helpless working class people in the private sector.!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zPT9IplkHE
    “Deco says
    What about the idiot planners who allowed lands prone to flooding anyway be zoned for residential development?”
    This could be the next “Deaf soldiers” bonanza, for unfortunates who bought on flood plains..

    • ThomasFergus

      I don’t know where you’re getting these figures from, but cowen just magicked up 11 billion for the banks that we’ll never see again. And he’s also about to put 54 billion into banks in an exchange for rather valueless half-developments and agri land….again we won’t see it again. Generations will pay for this folly.

    • Colin_in_exile

      Tirnanog,

      Tim doesn’t know it yet, but he’s gonna be teaching until he’s 70, although he may be given a choice to retire at 65 on a lower pension.

      Planners routinely opposed developments in unsuitable flood prone areas, alas it was corrupt politicians who had the power to rezone land for their pals who are to blame.

      • Tim

        Colin_in_exile I do happen to know that they are planning that for me – especially now, since the pension reserve fund has been raided, pilfered and handed to zombie-banks; in fact, if you check back to articles from, maybe, 2007, you will find that I quipped about how my colostomy-bag and my incontinence-trousers will be leaking down the school-corridor as I shuffle-along on my zimmer-frame, on my way to teach Shakespeare to the 3D class of 45 fifteen-year-olds in 2037 AD.

        But, just because I know what is planned, it does not mean that I have to roll-over and accept it without a fight.

        What’s wrong is wrong.

        Let’s keep at it!.

    • Tim

      tirnanog33 if you think that a pension of approx €35k pa before tax, after working, paying tax and prsi plus pension-contributions for 40 years is a “big pension”, then I am afraid that you have not bee following the news about bankers and senior civil servants and fat-cats in the private sector paying 13% tax.

      €35k is about all the average teacher/nurse/Garda/ ordinary public servant will get – and they contribute to their pensions.

      Also, if you still think, after seeing Michael Tafts figures on how cutting ordinary public servants’ pay has caused the defecit to grow, that cutting their pay will NOT harm the private sector workers’ job-prospects through lower “multiplier-effect-spending” in the real economy, I’m afraid that you may have missed something.

      This is a very delicate balancing-act; Biffo’s balance is way-off.

    • coldblow

      Tirnanog, speaking for myself the pension will surely be worth FA. I joined the PS late so I am actually buying back years of service so as to qualify for a full one. They stopped new entrants to this scheme some years ago. It is costing something like €250 per month, maybe more. On reflection, and I’m not going to get excited about it, it does not seem very wise so maybe I should opt out. So much for prudence.

      My ‘Rolls Royce’ pension will probably amount to a Matchbox RR at the end of the day – if any remain! (I’m not complaining, people only spent their money on beads and trinkets anyway – and it sure beats casual teaching or trying to flog Stubbs Gazette on commission only.)

      Re the private sector I just happened to notice a comment on Irisheconomy.ie arguing that it’s not the private sector per se that’s suffering. That those who haven’t lost their job or taken a pay cut aren’t somehow suffering by proxy on behalf of those who have.

    • LOL…..Yeah Could happen , we could also use our 8,000 lazy green brigade and tell them to shoot the ‘river dwellers’ …before they look for their pot of gold and ours back …..What ??????/

  27. Malcolm Mc Clure says:
    If we must live on flood plains then it would be cheaper to build the houses on stilts than dyke out the rivers then pump out the rainwater that falls within. Cars could be parked underneath and kids play there on normal rainy days. It’s a no-brainer solution but way beyond the mental capacity of our planners.
    Is this what you had in mind Malcolm:
    http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org/tescossolution.htm

    • Malcolm McClure

      Tirnanog: Great find. Thanks.

      • Tim

        Malcolm McClure, yes, it is an interesting site; but it is not a “Great find”.

        It is the site that tirnanog33 has linked to his/her own post-name (just click on the name) and has been so, nearly from day-one, if memory serves.

        Not a problem, of course; I have no objection to people promoting their favourite/own web-site as they contribute to debate here; “All’s fair…..” and all o’ that; but it is not a “find”.

  28. wills

    Tirnanog33 -

    If you are chasing another angle why not focus on the biggest news story of all time CLIMATEGATE.

    http://www.sott.net/articles/show/198169-Global-Warming-Fixing-the-Climate-Data-around-the-Policy-

    • wills

      this link provided explains carbon trading becoming a pot of gold even bigger than oil.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/29/carbon-trading-market-copenhagen-summit

    • liam

      Hmm. Maybe its because climate-gate is utter nonsense? Nobody sane is claiming that the Great Floods of 2009 are a direct result of human-induced climate change.

      Gross stupidity and a non-existent planning system allowing uncontrolled growth are more likely culprits. Or did Al Gore and Elvis personally seed clouds over Ireland? Great way to let FF off the hook.

      • wills

        Liam:
        The weather is in flux.

        The climate is in flux.

        Anthropogenic causes of this is bunkum.

        Climate change is a proxy for world government.

        I do not want a world government. It was not put to democratic vote. So, it is a tyranny.

        THat’s not daft, that is what is happening.

        Climate change is NORMAL.

        • liam

          “Climate change is NORMAL.”

          Again wills, I have never contradicted that assertion. You can shout at me all you want, I’m not impressed. You go ahead and believe what you want, that is your right.

    • I saw a programme on the BBC recently highlighting the disaster that global warming represents in South America for 40 million people dependent on water from the Andes and now the glaciers are almost gone..
      Its rather frightening really, “Apocalype Now “stuff:
      “This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      Not with a bang but a whimper. “

  29. bankstershill

    Davy boy.

    I like the spirit of this article, though as usual it falls short on detail. Seems to me that from the evidence of recent article themes that you have been reading up on the physical economic philosophy which made the US so prosperous in the past, namely the ‘American system of economy’, conceived and designed by Alexander Hamilton and promoted by the likes of Fredrick list, Henry Carey who was Lincolns economic adviser, William McKinley, FDR and JFK, and have moved away from that instrument of imperialism, namely the central bank monetarist clap trap you have been espousing for so long, and which created the financial crisis in the beginning. Although I don’t fault you on monetarism as it is what you were trained in and you probably didn’t know any different . Allow me to take the liberty to fill in the details which otherwise should have mentioned. Firstly it is true that the Irish west needs a serious upgrade its water management and sanitation systems. But why stop there, I presume you would also intend to kill three birds with the one stone and install hydro electric generators because that way you get more of return on the necessary investment in the form of energy, as well as increasing the productive potential of the surrounding farmland. Also you don’t ‘have lads digging ditches’, you use the greatest labour saving technology at your disposal,that way you increase the productive power of labor because remember you don’t create jobs for the sake of creating jobs, the ultimate goal is to improve the productive potential in the economy through infrastructure developments. As for financing take lessons from history. How did Lincoln finance the civil war? He had the US treasury directly utter the currency in the form of green backs and declared it to be legal tender which the US constitution allowed him to do. Although I’m not sure the Irish constitution has such a provision, i’m sure with the right political will in these times of crisis, the right legislation could be drawn up to produce the necessary amendments, to allow the state to set up what would basically amount to a national credit system with a new non convertible currency being issued from a new national bank, to circulate alongside the euro as a parallel currency in much the same way as the greenbacks circulated alongside private bank notes. Of course a national recovery bond would still have to be issued in order to raise the necessary Euros to pay for whatever capital would need to be imported, and granted the insurance company’s should be compelled to purchase such bonds under threat of losing their charter, although the world is awash with paper looking for good investments in public works which always at the end of the day produce a tangible asset, so I would not see any issue in selling the bonds.

    Signed
    a Patriot
    p.s
    Also David , one more thing
    Climate change is dead, haven’t you heard of climategate? Snap out of it, times they are a changin

      • bankstershill

        great link will.

        I’ve taken the liberty to extract a section. basically sums it up

        “… WE MUST NOT LET OUR RULERS LOAD US WITH PERPETUAL DEBT…If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds…our people…must come to labor 16 hours in the 24, give the earnings of 15 of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the 16th being insufficient to afford us bread,…We have no time to think, no means of calling the mis-managers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves, to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow sufferers.
        Our land holders, too…retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury,. . .THIS IS THE TENDENCY OF ALL HUMAN GOVERNMENTS.

        A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering…And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in it’s train, wretchedness and oppression.” –
        Thomas Jefferson

  30. Tim

    bankstershill, of course, we could always trade in zinc (if we re-opened the mines we closed prematurely).

    We have untold un-tapped-resources – including our “human-capital” (which we are diminishin, by cutting education).

    Look at:

    http://www.spiritofireland.ie

    With the required investment, that’s like having a future-proof-bottomless-well of oil or gas (that Burke DIDN’T give away to Shell!) on our turf; it’s un-tapped, renewable energy that we can use and sell.

    ALL the people of this country could be as comfortable as Arab Sheiks, but for the cronies who insist on hoarding the majority of the wealth for themselves, while keeping the majority of the people struggling to get by.

    • bankstershill

      Agreed Tim. Thanks for the link.

      The problem with Ireland is that the cronies don’t hate the former imperialism which ruled over us and them and which they’ve now sought to imitate , much the same way as the freed Roman slaves tried to then imitate their former masters. When there is an imperialist inside you trying to get out you’re no longer a patriot, and when you’re no longer a patriot, you’re useless.

    • liam

      Good point Tim, well made. Always worth bringing that one up again.

      If David is looking for a latter-day John Gray, he could do worse than check those guys out.

  31. Deco

    If we could try and frame debates on public policy on the basis of intelligence and acheiving noble and fairminded end results, instead of renewing the old ideological battles that would be progress.

  32. Tull McAdoo

    I suppose in the interest of fairness and completeness, it’s only fair that I include a link to the infamous “Trojan horse” that was introduced in the Finance Act 2000. You can read it for yourselves and I hope ye will finally understand how the Celtic Tiger became infected and finally crashed, just like computers do when infected by Trojans.
    I’m sorry if this link upsets those who like to think that all this bubble mania “just happened” and “we are where we are”.

    Look at it this way we were given a new Economic Computer, which was designed to run on Euros, life should have been good, stable etc. but McCreevey,Bertie and Harney just had to install their own software back in 2000. The virus known as “ the gombeen, croney, galway tent” Trojan Horse.

    The whole system has been infected by this Trojan, and jasus man is it proving expensive. Hurley and Neary a poor excuse for a firewall!!!.
    The DOF and Central Bank with their old British Empire operating system ( Sinclair c5) unstable, narrow routines, constantly defaulting back to what o’Toole calls the Ninteenth Centuary firmware. Unable to upgrade the bios, smart economy, you have to hand it to Cowen he does come out with some great one liners “smart economy” I’m sure himself and Mary busted their asses laughing at that auld bullshit when they got back home to Tullamore.

    http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2000/en/act/pub/0003/sec0052.html#parti-chapiv-sec52

  33. Tim

    Folks, how can this country, ever, hope to afford itself, when the govt., the media controllers, the media prsenters and almost everyone commenting on the media, earns more than 100k pa?

    All the people in charge are RICH.

    Will they, ever, tolerate discussion of “taxing the rich”?

    Apply the hermeneutic of suspicion to everything that you read and hear.

    Let’s keep at it!

  34. I believe John Gray was successful because he was bloody mindedness in what he wanted to do and did it. He was cultured in his ways in making this happen ,I dont think ‘we’ have that in our ways and our politics .Ours is more sheepish and insular and devious.That is what got us where we are now.It was meant to happen and whether any good comes out of it remains to be seen.

    What now worries me is the hidden agenda among the bearded fox’s in the trade unions and the future costs we will all have to pay as a result of their self centered ego .We have significant problems in our country that does not warrant our nation to be divided into who should have jobs and those who should not .These bearded foxes uphold jobs for trade union members at all costs and at the expense of the rest of the people on this island of Ireland and to the detriment of the country and nation.

    This is RACISM .

  35. On another disaster topic-How long will Aer Lingus last before Ryanair takes over the ruins?
    If the new Aer lingus CEO sold their slots in Heathrow the unions could keep the gravy train going for another 5 years..
    Heathrow has to be the worst airport in the world to fly in or out of anyhow.

  36. G

    insightful article, John Gray sounds like an inspiration, Joyce’s novel nicely brought in.

    A New Deal (relieft works) etc is needed, I visited the Hoover Dam, supplying water for the unsustainable Las Vegas and surrounding area (& the sight of terrible workers abuse as highlighted by very good documentary on the Discovery channel). The concept was an interesting one but we haven’t the political vision when Mary Hanafin is reported to be happy with social welfare numbers after they seem to have eased out.

    As Paul Krugman pointed out recently in New York Times, we need to get people back to work, that eases the burden in terms of social welfare payments, increases tax take and gives people back their dignity. Sourcing the money is the key, there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell that insurance companies will cough even a bob up, they take our money, are pissed off if we have an accident, reluctantly pay up (after trying to find every loop hole to get out of payment) and then quadruple insurance premiums – these guys have never heard of the ‘national interest’ only ‘self-interest’.

    John Gray, O’Connell, Larkin and Parnell all highlight the complete absence of similar leadership in modern Ireland, all of the above emerged during British occupation, a further failing of a State which is controlled by the old boys club?

    The following review nailed quite a few aspects of our Failed State:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/nov/28/ireland-fintan-otoole-book-review

    • G, that link to Fintan´s book review is hilarious.Article is splendid.
      I love this paragraph:
      “as Fintan O’Toole remarks in this superb polemic, “Ireland made Icarus look boringly stable.” It had moved from being the poster child of free-market globalisation to one of the great economic basket cases of modern history.

      All this has been accompanied by a culture of corruption so shameless and spectacular that it makes Dublin look like Kabul. The former prime minister Charles Haughey stole €250,000 from a fund set up to pay for a liver transplant for one of his closest friends. Last year, the chairman of Anglo Irish Bank resigned when it emerged that he had €84m in loans from his own bank, a sum concealed by an annual (apparently legal) cooking of the books. As O’Toole points out, bribery, tax evasion and false evidence under oath have not simply gone unpunished; the very idea of penalising the culprits is viewed by the governing elite as unsporting or even unpatriotic.”

      • G

        Two years ago I had the displeasure of listening to Tom Arnold (CEO of Concern) who earned around 150,000 per annum (judging by Annual report available on Concern website at the time) lecture the South African Ambassador on corruption in Africa etc……….

        Tom failed to mention the $25,000 per minute that leaves Africa to serve foreign debt in Western countries, failed to mention that there have never been so many NGOs in Africa yet it has never been more impoverished, nor did he mention the widescale corruption we now know is endemic in all our state and religious institutions.

        Maybe we should remove the log from our own eye and not the splinter from a historically enslaved and viciously exploited continent, indeed, anyone running a ‘charity’ making that kind of obscene salary disgusts me.

        O’Toole’s book has been well received and I look forward to reading it but it is time we put our house in order, that can only be achieved by a popular democratic movement and greater say by the people in decision making and appointments to boards and state agencies, a more lateral style democracy, because the top down style in Ireland has failed us utterly.

  37. Deco

    We need more streets named after John Gray. But we must make sure that they are properly planned streets.

    John Gray – the message of John Gray is very powerful, and completely relevant. Like Michael Davitt a patriot who had to be forgotten – and who also did solved a massive problem in a very simple and effective manner. Davitt was the first to institute what later became ‘organized labour’. Or Parnell and his speech advocating the Boycott mechanism.

    And it comes down to this.
    Do the right thing.
    Think through your objective.
    Do it in a transparent manner.
    Never ever, ever give in.
    Never ever, ever yield to the gombeen element.
    Be humble. Be fairminded. Be honest. Be direct. And never be directed to compromise from doing the right thing.

    Parnell. Davitt. John Gray. Our Patriot heroes and inspiration from a squalid age, where we were in serious trouble, and we survived. The troika of heroism in 19th century Ireland. We are grateful. And we shall be inspired.

    • G

      Davitt was one of the greatest men to ever emerge from Ireland, saw early on the need for international worker solidarity, suffered himself when he lost his arm in a woollen mill but used the opportunity to educate himself, there should be statues to him all over the country.

      He is up there with Wolfe Tone, Parnell, James Connolly and Roger Casement.

      Indeed, John Gray’s story highlights the critical role played by the Anglo-Irish/Protestant Irish class – remarkable contribution to Ireland’s economic & social development – something that does not often fit well with the so called ‘green history’.

      • Colin_in_exile

        G,

        I agree with your argument that Gray wasn’t “green” enough to have his achievements recognised nationally. I’d never heard of him in Primary School (which was dark green in colour – and we were told the Irish Flag was green, white and GOLD, not Orange), Secondary School (light green in colour) or University (colourless) (Civil & Environmental Engineering), so what does that say about ourselves?

        I argued here before that Civics classes should be given greater emphasis in schools, and treated like the other subjects in examinations.

        • ThomasFergus

          In France and Spain the State now has secondary school examinations in philosophy, which would cover both religion and civics classes that we all studied to no real purpose. The problem here is that catholic church in Ireland would rather shop a paedophile priest to the Gardai than surrender control over religious instruction, and the Murphy and Ryan reports show that they refuse to shop such characters.

          • Thomas , My Spanish Girlfriend Maria, is a Teacher in Spain teaching The Subject ( plural ) Philosophy , her problem was , with soo many play stations and technology the Spanish Youth ,..just wouldn’t listen to Her each day ! , This Year her Contract finished , and she lives with her parents and child , But Un Like our Man Tim here , Maria’s passion of life does not have today in Spain the Trappings built here for his ‘habit’ ! …Next season tune in it will be The mc Williams report or Woods, or Connors , or Cash , What we need is a Finish Line For a date of completed Actions…..No More Words.., We have to Start , making growing catching and production in General to , literally Stop the Country from sinking , or is it been sunk ?

  38. Original-Ed

    John Gray was a man of principle who understood the concept of joined up thinking, not like our present primitive bunch who are primarily interested in plunder.
    David, I read your book “Follow the Money” – you offer a very convincing argument for exiting the Euro.
    The Oligarch thing becomes very clear.
    I’m now of the opinion that we’re donkeys led by a bunch of chancers.

    • G

      @ David Mcwilliams – I have been very critical (rightly I think) of many of your positions and articles however last week, I spoke with a person I deeply respect and he thought your book a good read.

      I only hope you can moderate your pro-corporate views and see the ‘market’ for what it is and the implications of virtual transactions for those in developing countries.

      John Pilger – New Rulers of the World
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8firb73r67g

  39. Tim @ 18 – thanks I have only read it now. I can understand the need to meet between as many people as possible however I dont believe more will meet up only when and until those who have met are in a position to formulate their ideas first on paper as in a ‘white paper’. Then maybe matters might move forward for larger meetings .It only takes a few to have a consensus of ideas so why not do it now.All of you together are clever enough to do that .There is no risk doing that .
    Had I been lucky to have had the opportunity to ask David a question when he was in O’ Mahonys Limerick I would have asked him ‘when is he going to lead us to the promise land’. Maybe another time someone else might ask him that question.
    Encourage PO’M and I dont know what he refers that upset him what I may have said on line in the past.Perhaps a Blue Moon !

  40. wills

    Posters:

    CLIMATE CHANGE IS NORMAL.

    • wills

      and any climate change so called experts blame on man is a SCAM.

      • wills

        anyone seriously concerned about man made climate change must prove their assertions.

        And, so far, all that is proven is, the climate changes and man pumps gases into atmosphere and there maybe a chance that the gases add too the climate change.

        And if there is, it can only be but minimal compared to the effect the SUN has on the climate.

        And we get, apocalyptic alarms going off to put fear into people to pay carbon taxes.

        Fear is not the way too do policy.

        • G

          Check it out Will, I wonder what the girl who kept the world silent for 5 minutes makes of our planet today?

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0

          • wills

            G -

            I must be honest and post that this is, the girl, on the podium, espousing and pontificating on this subject is absurd realism.

            I don’t buy it.

            It is once again the coporate elites having it both ways and setting the agenda for the rest to follow.

            Climate change is a SCAM to set up a carbon tax and a carbon credti / derivatives market and as an excuse to usher in a world government.

            If anyone is serious about climate change and its reality then it should be discussed objectively in rational and intelligent debate and discovery of the facts and it is NOT happening that way.

            And anyone who declares that the climate change conference is healthy and democratic and open too all idea’s and viewpoints and the rest of it are been taken for mugs by the banking establishment.

            The banking establishment and the corporate elites and the super class who run the show are running this SCAM all the way too its real politic which is to provide a regulatory framework through which the elites can steal more freedoms and make more monies.

            Climate change is telly tubby fantasy and make’s me puke.

          • Ah , G….You should be asking who wrote her words , and has there been any Action since that ‘ Epic’ day

        • liam

          “..and there maybe a chance that the gases add too the climate change.”

          So maybe its not a global conspiracy amongst climate scientists after all?

          “And if there is, it can only be but minimal compared to the effect the SUN has on the climate.”

          That is an assertion that has no basis in observable fact, and considerable evidence to the contrary: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/solar.htm

          I’m curious. Clearly you have neither a technical or scientific background, so why are you postIng about this stuff on an economics blog? i know bugger all about economics, at least I did two years ago, so I came here. If you want to have a fight with people who actually know about this stuff, why post here? Its highly probable that there is not a single professional atmospheric scientist or climatologist here. So that chances that you are going to learn anything new here are pretty slim I’d say. Of course I assume that you are actually seeking a contradictory position for the purposes of learning.

          You can spam away to your hearts content and you won’t convince me in the slightest on the science as you have thus far offered nothing of value regarding the science of climate change Nothing personal, that’s simply my assessment of what I have seem so far.

          I appreciate that the politics of fear are unhelpful. In this case however, just conduct the following thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that not only is climate change real, the rate of change is unprecedented and dominated by human influence. In that scenario, what would the most responsible action to take? I don’t want an answer, i just want you to think about it.

          As you say, thats a ‘maybe’ so do you not think it might be important to attempt to put some numbers on this ‘maybe’? Since that is the primary purpose of climate change research, why oppose it so robustly? I know you don’t believe me when I say the science has not in any way been undermined by the shenanigans at UEA, but that is how it is.

          The risk with Copenhagen and its successors is that it will not do enough. We will end up with excuses to enhance the power and wealth generating ability of global corporates by failing to require them to provide genuine alternatives that are sustainable, and deal with the problem. This will happen because people have been manipulated to doubt climate change by default. The idea that there is any doubt about human origins of climate change is a nonsense perpetuated by those corporate interests. Scientists don’t have a decisive vote when it comes to electing leaders, its the public, who have been sold the lie the there is no problem, who do the voting, who have been rendered scientifically literate by years of de-emphasising the teaching of basic science and mathematics, and by the creation of the illusion that all you need is financial services, a buoyant housing market, sales and value-add services to create a sustainable economy.

          Time for some home truths. The top six most profitable companies in the world in 2008 were Oil and Gas companies. (In 2005 there were only five in the top ten but there were more banks and insurance companies back then, and Exxon and Shell were still the top two.)

          You are so worried about Global governance, and you are right to be but the thing is it won’t come from governments of the EU or the US, it is here, now, today, in the form of private wealth and any number of global corporates that want to continue selling us shite and telling us we like it, and who’s profiteering and dodgy business practices are protected (and in the case of the banks guaranteed) by states. Sowing the seeds of doubt amongst regular voters, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is their intention and their purpose is to maintain the status quo; to ensure that any concessions to public pressure result in useless gestures like the Irish Government ‘Carbon’ Tax, a tax directed at consumers. A tax that in no way compels energy providers to change their behaviour, thus will be utterly ineffective in either combating emissions or reducing Ireland’s dependence on imported, finite, and cost-volatile energy reserves.

          Sowing the seeds of doubt ensures the dominance of the corporates by robbing Governments of a mandate to do anything, whether its reforming their price gouging or controlling emissions. One can hardly get through a day without reading a story about how damaging climate change legislation will be for ‘business’, yet whenever its examined, the costs of doing nothing exceed the cost of taking corrective or mitigating action now. But as we know, short-term profiteering generally wins out, almost by default.

          When criticised, Governments always fall back on the line that change must be driven by ‘consumer’ demand. Last time I checked the constitution my relationship with the state was defined by my citizenship, not my consumption habits. As with the banks, states fail to protect their citizens, and even its own local businesses from the predatory corporations.

          So-called climate sceptics not only give genuine scientific sceptics a bad name, these idiots are actually doing more to undermine democracy than almost any other group. As Malcolm once said (and I’m am sure he will never forgive me for quoting him in this context) “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. The ‘good intentions’ of those out to expose the “lie” of climate change, as well as the usual collection of partisan hacks and hotheads, will ensure that state policy will be mandated by boards of directors in the interests of shareholders, not by government in the interests of the citizen.

          • wills

            LIam -

            Appreciate thoughtful post as is G’s.

            Climate change is normal.

            I agree that climate change’s.

            It changes in randomness and patterns all the time.

            Putting numbers on the climate and its changes is an indication that mankind has too much time on his hands.

            Anyone who is a proponent of getting busy fluttering around with carbon emissions on the basis that carbon emissions is altering the climate too a level that poses a danger to the planet is transferring onto the climate their own anxieties.

            The modern worlds anal fixation on putting numbers on everything reminds me of kubrick’s DR.strangelove and his fixation with compewteers.

            If there is climate change beyond safe measures happening then it is sown to the sun, the sun vs exhaust fumes, farts, airplanes, factories, i reckon the sun win’s out.

            Copenhagen get together is a SCAMARAMA bob geldof make your self feel better cos your guilty contingent will be busy’n themselves away like beavers while the superclass in the back are laughing their arses off at the mugs out front doing all the paper shuffling around.

            Most people are brainwashed into pro climate change and not the reverse.

            If anyone is truly concerned about their future then look to one’s own back yard first before enforcing fake green tyranny on the world.

          • liam

            All of what you say is nice in theory but ignores the extremely high probability that significant recent climate change is human induced.

      • G

        I can’t accept this, denying climate change is like denying the stars in the sky, we must change course or face oblivion as a race. The disinformation being spread regarding global warming is appalling.

        In any case, if corporations could think beyond the next buck they would see that there are revenues to be gained from new technologies, millions of jobs can be created, sustainable living will perserve the planet on which we all depend (including the android like corporates) for life.

        Don’t play Russian roulet with our survival, if you want to take a risk go bungee jumping!

        If you don’t believe me, consult the literature/research

        Professor Noam Chomsky stated in his most recent article:

        “And all these problems (economic turmoil, global conflict), challenging enough in themselves, are overshadowed by a critical global concern: the looming environmental crisis. Current warnings by the best-informed investigators rely on the British Stern report (http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hmtreasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/stern_review_report.cfm), which is very highly regarded by leading scientists and numerous Nobel laureates in economics. On this basis, some have concluded, realistically, that “2009 may well turn out to be the decisive year in the human relationship with our home planet.”

        In December, a conference in Copenhagen is “to sign a new global accord on global warming,” which will tell us “whether or not our political systems are up to the unprecedented challenge that climate change represents.” – quoting Bill McKibben, one of the most knowledgeable researchers. He is mildly hopeful, but that may be optimistic unless there are really large-scale public campaigns to overcome the insistence of the managers of the state-corporate sector on privileging short-term gain for the few over the hope that their grandchildren will have a decent future.

        At least some of the barriers are beginning to crumble, in part, because the business world perceives new opportunities for profit in alternative energy. Even the Wall Street Journal, one of the most stalwart deniers, has recently published a supplement with dire warnings about “climate disaster,” urging that none of the options being considered may be sufficient and that it may be necessary to undertake more radical measures of geoengineering, “cooling the planet” in some manner.

        Meanwhile, however, the energy industries are vigorously pursuing their own agenda. The picture might be much grimmer even than what the Stern report predicts. A group of MIT scientists have just released the results of what they describe as, “The most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century, [showing] that without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago — and could be even worse than that [because the model] does not fully incorporate other positive feedbacks that can occur, for example, if increased temperatures caused a large-scale melting of permafrost in arctic regions and subsequent release of large quantities of methane.” The leader of the project, a prominent earth scientist, says that, “There’s no way the world can or should take these risks,” and that, “The least-cost option to lower the risk is to start now and steadily transform the global energy system over the coming decades to low or zero greenhouse gas-emitting technologies.” There is little sign of that.

        While new technologies are essential, the problems go far beyond. It will be necessary to reverse the huge state-corporate social engineering projects of the post-World War II period, or at least severely ameliorate their harmful effects. These projects quite purposefully promoted an energy-wasting and environmentally destructive fossil fuel-based economy. The state-corporate programs, which included massive projects of suburbanization along with destruction and then gentrification of inner cities, began with a conspiracy by manufacturing and energy industries to buy up and destroy efficient electric public transportation systems in Los Angeles and dozens of other cities; they were convicted of criminal conspiracy and given a light tap on the wrist. The Federal government then joined in, relocating infrastructure and capital stock to suburban areas and creating the interstate highway system, under the usual pretext of “defense.” Railroads were displaced by government-subsidized motor and air transport.

        The public played almost no role, apart from choice within the narrowly structured framework of options designed by state-corporate managers. One result is atomization of society and entrapment of isolated individuals with self-destructive ambitions and crushing debt”.

        Full Article Available Here: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200910–.htm

        • wills

          G-

          In my view ‘sustainable living’ is the key point.

          And why ain’t these bozo’s in copenhagen busy with this. MONEY.

          Sustainable living is ANTI POnzi.

          Sustainable living HOLD’s the free market in place and keeps it’s virtues in place.

          CLIMATE CHANGE fake green tyranny brigade are not interested in sustainable living.

          LONG LIVE SUSTAINABLE LIVING

          DOWN WITH CLIMATE CHANGE SCAMMERS.

        • wills

          G -

          I would argue the biggest climate change deniers can be found in copenhagen come this time next week.

          Corporations are running the climate change agenda.

          The bankers are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of carbon credit markets.

          Corporations are going to be the biggest beneficiaries of the new carbon credit economy.

          It never ceases to amaze me how brainwashed the population is on the climate change POnzi SCAM.

  41. Climate Change :
    Last night the Blue Moon passed .Did many on line notice body pressures not normal to other days ? Pains , aches , bladder, feeling crazy , more funerals etc . The Full Moon causes these .
    The Earth is a living organism and the heavenly movements do influence it too eg. full tide higher than normal.Since 2002 we have entered from the New Testament to The Age of Aquarius ( Air – element ) and the new climate changes have changed likewise.This is mainly what we are experiencing .Along with that comes :
    Internet, Mobile Phones, Stubberness, more Secrecy, Revelations , Networking, Social Changes World Wide, Greater Intelligence , More Diplomacy , phychological analysis of people ,a more dispersed world order as opposed to close intimate one , more systematic order of doing things etc
    Humans can only cause so much climate of living conditions but not Climate Change as we seem to perceive those words to mean.Climate is influenced chiefly by Planatary Movements in the Heavens .

  42. Irish Floods :
    The Rain did not cause the floods in Ireland. It was caused by Air Movements and Wind as in ‘ the whistle of the rain’!

  43. John Q. Public

    John, do you really believe the crap you talk? Watch this instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw

  44. Philip

    Good weather suitable for farming and allowing societies to grow is only a recent phenomenon. Before 5000 years ago, there is much evidence to suggest that farming was nigh on impossible. And it may be that this unstable weather is back again.

    I would ask people to read diaries of a 100 years ago and more. Very clear that weather was very fitful as it is now.

    Do not get me wrong, I believe in green technologies as cheaper self made energy sources. Indeed anything that promotes self reliance is to be lauded and this for me is where this whole Climate nonsense starts to become unstuck because it is about meddlesome control. Little green hitlers sprouting out all over the place…if it is not health and safety and the need to do extensive feasibility studies before scratching asses and doing anything substantive. This for me is the Key Message of Mr Grey.

    • Tim

      Philip, well-said.

      A big part of the problem with the climate-debate is the title of DMcW’s book, “Follow the Money”.

      people on both sides are motivated by money in one way or another: trying to secure it for research-funds, or trying to stop wasting it on research-funds; trying to charge taxes, based upon the research, or avoid paying tax based upon the findings that emerged as a result of the research-funding!

      For me, this is really about sustainable-self-sufficiency: generate as much passive-energy for myself and my family as possible, so that I will not be dependent in any way on non-renewable energy resources to survive.

      However, if we all use solar power to heat our water, Photo-voltaic panels to produce electricity and harvest rainwater for most of our needs, the Government cannot collect charges or VAT on these and big Corporations, such as the ESB, cannot make any profit.

      So, they do not want people to do what I am doing – It makes them no MONEY.

      Let’s keep at it!

      • liam

        Yes, follow the money indeed and “keep at it” I will.

        Ask yourself the simple question: Who has the most to lose from emissions control?

        The top oil and gas operations companies, the automotive industry, WalMart, Tesco and the banks make orders of magnitude more more profit in a year than gets spent on climate research. In 2005 approximately $2B was spent globally on climate and related research. The profits of the global top 10 most profitable companies was about $154B. Half of those companies were Oil and Gas. The others were banking (2), Insurance (1), Pharma (1) and GE, who defy categorisation.

        Fast forward to 2009 (April): the top ten companies made a $231B total profit between them, the TOP SIX of which are oil and gas companies. The remaining four are GE, MS, Toyota and Nestle.
        Climate research funding declined in real terms in the period form 2005 to 2008, and most of the additional funding within the $18B research stimulus that Obama announced which finds it way in to environmental research will be directed at energy rather than climate research.

  45. ThomasFergus

    Here is an absolutely outstanding review of Fintan O’Toole’s Ship of Fools in Irish Left Review, far superior to the still excellent Terry Eagleton’s review above. Even Deco’s gonna enjoy this one!

    http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/12/01/book-review-ship-fools-fintan-otoole/

    • Tim

      ThomasFergus, you are right, of course; just a little late ;-)

      (see my post of this on the last article).

      Dermot is very good.

  46. wills

    The ‘great ditherer’ is re inventing his dithering on TV 3 and by jaysus the lad from drum con dra will will will ma ma make a gr gr gr great president for us all and lead us into bertieland.

  47. Tim

    paddythepig,
    “We need more inventors, innovators & exporters. It’s the only way.”

    Not that simple: You are right about the fact that we need more innovators, etc. But that is not it.

    We have plenty of them, but they cannot get any seed-capital because of what the banks/elite did. (I have a client with a patented, prototyped, tooled product that cannot be rolled-out due to the complete absence of credit)

    What is needed, Paddy, is more input from the wealthy.

    We have to tax the people who earn €250k+ more than 23%.

    We have to tax the people who earn more than €500k + more than 13%.

    Why, oh why, even THAT disparity, I ask you?

    We must stop taxing the sheeple to death, while facilitating these people in their quest for the highest figure on the bank-book.

    • wills

      Feudalism tim.

      Sharecropping. The rich HATE the non – rich. They see the non rich as contagion.

      The Irish rich are supremacists.

      • wills

        The RICH run the corrupt system and yearn for complete control.

        Full command and control over the ‘free market’ where it is offered unto high to them by the serfdom.

        They must secure it through a communal act of succumbing by the serfdom through a blindness of awareness.

        The climate change SCAM is a classic example on how they control and manipulate the sheeple.

        It’s all about problem / reaction / solution and it works.

        The rich will cause wars too stay rich and poison the food supply with GM and the water with chemicals too dumb down any resistance too their dominion over the economic markets and it’s bounty.

        Control the peoples through beaten them down with fear, worry, climate fear, fear paying mortgage, getting health service, violence on the streets in the community, child abuse in the schools, all group control and corporate fascism.

  48. wills

    Australia voted down carbon law’s. Thank God.

    Climategate is getting through despite the orwellian news blackouts and fanatical climate changers world wide.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/81167112-df07-11de-be8e-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

  49. Malcolm McClure

    Returning to DMcW’s current topic of flood defenses, and the associated insurance costs got me thinking further about the houses on stilts suggestion.
    We live in a chronically wet country where many older houses have damp foundations, drafty windows and water running down the walls.
    After a brief love affair with traditional thatched cottages, educated women soon realized that they were no place to raise a family in this day and age.
    Then along came that marvellous compendium ‘Bungalow Bliss’ that transformed the face of Ireland. Drive along any road and you can have fun with ‘thats p.57′ or “Oh look, it’s a mirror image of p.32.’
    Joking apart, that book performed a useful service, supported by the new building codes that guaranteed standards, and government policies that encouraged the demolition of the decrepid old farm homesteads. In a short time Ireland was transformed, often to the horror of the planning authorities who preferred cottages with a traditional gabled profile, sans dormers. Villas and haciendas proliferated, inspired by cheap flights to Benidorm but anything adventurously modern in the Scandanavian or Californian style was actively discouraged.
    In Ireland we need to look, not towards the hot or cold climates, but to the monsoon climates for inspiration; to Papua new Guinea and the Mekong Delta where stilt houses are a commonplace. http://www.terragalleria.com/pictures-subjects/stilt-houses/
    They were also a feature of early Iron Age lake-side dwellings in the Alpine Celtic lands.
    If well designed, they could be an interesting addition to our domestic architectural repertoire and any additional cost would be covered by sharply reduced insurance costs, as they would be flood, vermin and reasonably burglar proof.
    Any budding architects willing to produce ‘Stilthouse Suggestions’?

    • liam

      My understanding is that houses on stilts evolved from grain stores used in monsoon regions which suffer from both heavy precipitation as well as elevated temperatures and humidity. But its certainly worth thinking about innovations like this that Ireland might adapt to our own particular circumstances. Also, we could avoid building in flood plains in the first place, maybe use passive solar GSHP’s, bring in passivehaus standards etc.

      You’ve hit on a major problem though, which is a lack of innovation in design, both from an aesthetic and functional point of view.

      A barrier to this appears to be the supply chain. Its an industrial supply chain of parts, components etc which have been optimised for a fairly limited range of designs. The problem as I remember is even worse in the UK where there are endless developments of brand-new old Georgian style townhouses and fake barn conversions conjured out of nothing. Ten years of stuff like Grand Designs and still all there is to chose from are collections of little boxes inside a bigger box, surrounded by identical big boxes, down the road from a couple of huge boxes containing a Tesco and a Woodies DIY.

      • wills

        Liam:

        The OIL companies own and control the next ‘green’ technologies.

        THey also control massive stake ownership in hedge funds which will run and control the carbon credit markets.

        Gore is on the run in copenhagen, cancelling his ego wank lecture.

  50. David , excuse me for not popping here till this hour , but been busy setting up baloons with lights for night time golf game in , well out side Tierra del Fuego and hoping to flog a few houses built grouped around it.
    I also will Repy to the mail you sent to my Company Email of two years ago the machine that’s on has till yesterday been with my German it guy who lives here and has now settled into ‘Orish’ ways !.
    But John Gray ?….The Christian Brother’s sponsored my schooling and unless I was mitching , I can’t remember seeing him in my History of This great Country Eire , and I took the Honors state papers too !….
    Suzie my old Surinam girl friend who I met in Amsterdam ( ah many ,,many well two decades back ) said to me ‘Let’s go Dutch’ , I laughed as in our Irish ‘slang’ this was what we meant by splitting the bill with a young one ( girl) if we thought we wouldn’t be getting a ride off her afterwards ….But no this is How The People of Holland , the Netherlands ( not much bigger than Munster actually ! ) do their business , like why are our Euro controlled politicans not copying the dutch instead of seizing it ?….when they Could be colecting a revenue tax from it.
    John Gray is dead so no point in even trying to bring him back.
    if FOLK listened , things will be O.K. €29.99 one way to Holland now, come back in two Years when Michael (ryanair) O Leary retires and comes to our state and country’s aid when he resides full time in Mullignar ..ah The Good Times will soon be back….
    I bye the way will not be paying €16.99 for the fourth book or any others and now days even buy my Crisps off the Germans who brought us Aldi ……
    Now with jet lag I have five hours before my next meeting in the morning ( afternoon in Eire ) .and the Sun Is Shining where I am ,..this is the world , things happen !.
    we don’t need to see lads digging ditches , when we have industrial machine and robots built to do such engineering and less cost revenue to produced these tunnels for the waters to flow.
    Go Down to Kilkenny City there it did not flood this time either due to the instaliation of an over budget behind time nature destorying fish killing water prevention barrier system and for what Protect the Old Medival economic capital at the expense of her feeding town down the stream , called Thomas Town ?….
    David , why not get your last Panel Gig Broadcast Live…….Then You can Give us a ‘Network’ speech and we’ll then join behind you when you come out from these old masons and there editing ways ?…

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