September 5, 2011

‘Mancession’ the enduring legacy of the downturn

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 229 comments ·

The construction boom masked the longer-term transformational changes that are going on in Ireland, and all western economies

An Israeli friend of mine who advised one of the most embattled Israeli administrations of recent years told me that the key with any crisis was to get through the first two days.

Then the problem you thought was insurmountable would be superseded and eclipsed by the next one.

This two-day rule allowed that particular government to stay in power – reasonably successfully – for a full term, despite a multitude of crises.

Irrespective of whether you are in politics or business, in a crisis, time horizons shorten dramatically. It is a case of just getting through one panic to be able to meet the next challenge. But if our time horizons shorten dramatically, how do we see the big picture? If we are all focused on the next crater in the road, who is keeping an eye on where we are actually going?

Sometimes listening to the debate in Ireland and watching the constant firefighting, it is hard not to get the sense that few are focusing on what type of country we are going to be in a few years time. What are the consequences of the Great Irish Depression and what legacy will we be dealing with?

At the height of the boom, in 2004, the character Breakfast Roll Man came tome as I was having a coffee, looking out the window and watching the world going by the Spar in Inchicore. He was a loveable lad, working on the sites, making good money and spending it. He wasn’t the most academic as he pulled on his Johnny Blue and flirted with the Lithuanian check-out girl. He was an Irish male, in a job, with a future and he was having fun. But most crucially, he was looking forward to a future which could be planned. He had prospects and thus self-respect. More to the point, he didn’t have a short-time horizon; he was making plans for the next few years.

Now he and hundreds of thousands of Irish lads like him are among the major victims of the recession. And, if trends in other countries are anything to go by, the long-term legacy of the recession will be felt permanently in this class – young men without educational qualifications. We are having a ‘mancession’ in Ireland. A ‘mancession’ is a recession which affects young men disproportionately.

Looking at the live register figures published last Thursday by the CSO, this idea — the mancession — is borne out by the numbers. It is not that women are not losing their jobs, but that there are simply so many more men idle. We know that there are many reasons for this, but it is clear that the Mancession is one of the enduring legacies of the slump. There are 296,000 men on the dole as opposed to 172,000women, and the biggest increase in unemployment has come among men. When you examine the figure for long-term unemployed, an even more dramatic picture is painted.

According to the CSO: ‘‘The number of long-term claimants on the live register in August 2011 was 191,578.The number of male long-term claimants increased by 30,488 (up 28.3 per cent) in the year to August 2011.”

The gradual erosion of the economic strength of this less-educated group of young men has been going on in the western world for some time now. The building boom in Ireland masked this because the Breakfast Roll Men were gainfully employed on the sites.

In fact, just as the housing boom made the broad middle class in Ireland feel richer than they were, the construction bonanza made Breakfast Roll Man feel more secure than he actually was. By giving relatively well-paid work to so many young lads, the construction boom masked the longer-term transformational changes that are going on in Ireland, and all western economies.

The construction boom offset the reduction in manual manufacturing jobs where these men would, in the past, have found work. So for a decade or so, the boom on building sites obscured the employment implication for young men of fundamental changes in manufacturing.

Therefore, one way of looking at it is that the housing boom minimised the ‘penalty’ for not going on to more education and getting more training. Now it has been cruelly exposed.

Over the past three decades, the major change is the gradual fall in the average wage of the manual working man. In the US, the average wage for working men is, in real terms, now 32 per cent lower than it was in 1973.

If you look at the sectors worldwide that are now growing, they value the analytical mind where a premium is put on creative people who can work in teams. This appears to be favouring women, and we can see these developments in the service sector in Ireland, and the growing feminisation of professions such as law and medicine.

Another significant development is in education where, in Ireland, girls on average do much better than boys in their Leaving Cert and subsequently in college. A lecturer friend of mine from one of the big universities is amazed at the quality of the girls in his course and underwhelmed by the young men. This observation is again seen in the different grades achieved by men and women graduates.

Needless to say, there are many thousands of brilliant young men working and doing well in Ireland. However, the big trends regarding male opportunity are significant and, if not addressed, will have enormous consequences for society. If the mancession is allowed to take its course, the political implications of having hundreds of thousands of idle, bored and ultimately angry young men are all too obvious.

Ireland’s mancession is real. You can see it on street corners. You can see it in country towns as well as big cities, and it is not just economic. It is social, emotional and psychological too.

Just ask any parent with an unemployed son hanging around the house. At the moment, the government is firefighting the latest crisis and this gives no one the opportunity to see how the recession is actually affecting the fabric of our country.

As they say in football, the real general is the midfielder who is keeping his head when everyone around him is losing theirs. Is there such a person among our ruling and political class who will put the long-term interest of our people above everything else? At the moment, we are turning the country into a large debt-servicing agency, choosing debt servitude over economic vibrancy.

This won’t cut dole queues; it will protect those who already have wealth at the expense of those who don’t even have a wage. As male unemployment rises and rises, how long do you think these young lads will loaf around aimlessly before they realise that there is more to life than daytime TV, a few cans and Call Of Duty? How long will it be until they get really pissed off? And what then?

  1. Lius

    Sounds like you are talking about the onset of civil unrest.

    It did not happen in the 80′s, the young men just left Ireland.

  2. paddyjones

    Young men will just leave Ireland , the only problem is that most only speak english, Germany is crying out for young employable men so is Austria.
    My advice to young men is to learn another language never mind FAS courses that teach you to weld.
    If they havent got their own families and a mortgage then emmigration is a good option , it worked for me , it was a positive thing , its been going on for years .

    • Irish PI

      This has been the most astute article that David has written in a long time..
      Got to disagree with you PaddyJ. I am half German ,speak the lingo like a native.Have a German family of relatives over there,and I still cant get any employment.I have diplomas and degrees and certs coming out my backside and they answer is still a resounding NEIN DANKE[No thanks].I have just come back from a week of being over there looking for work,and the situation is not any better over there either.
      Why??Simply put our FAS course certs are laughed at compared to a apprenticeship of German standards.
      I did a welding course with FAS here in the Celtic Tiger and even then FAS was mucking around,claiming they could teach and award UK city and guilds standard diplomas.Which was utter lies!!UK C&G even found then FAS to be substandard.I could and can weld,but have no cert to prove that I can.

      Compared to a German apprenticeship for just about anything which takes on average five years and is properly tested and examined.Which do you think a German employer will take??

      Sure breakfast roll man will do fine for the shifting and dragging and building of whatever in Germany.But he still has to compete against Pawel,Ivan and Janowish,who consider Germany their turf,work for less than Paddy will ever dream of getting out of bed for,and will do it quicker and with less hassle.Not to mind Heinz and Gunther are looking for jobs too ,anything apart from the one euro jobs.They are getting narky too about not having work in their own country and have a ligitimate gripe about forieginers taking their jobs.
      Fact is;emigration is NOT an answer anymore.People, bar us Irish, are starting to look after their own again,be it in the Uk or Germany. This grand EU meFederal state is starting to crumble.No one might have got this news ,but in the Frankfurter Allgemine newspaper this last Sunday.The headlines are that the Bundestag is seriously NOT considering a second Greek bailout,as the whole Greek ecnomy is now a terminal basket case,which is costing too much..How longer wil it be that they look at us the same way??

      Yes ,eventually we will have riots and civil unrest here on the streets and alot sooner than we think.
      .It will be proably the best thing that will have happened to and in ireland since 1916.Every country has had growing pains in its childhood.We put them off till we were teens.They wil hurt alot more now!

      • CitizenWhy

        Years and years ago my uncle did his engineering earning through an apprenticeship in Germany (he spoke German, if course). He was real problem solver and worked on the development of the Shannon scheme electricity project. At that time engineering was learned primarily through apprenticeship in the USA as well. New York State still allows you to become a lawyer through apprenticeship and passing the Bar Exam.

        There definitely is a need to have real apprenticeships stand as equal to, or better than, a degree.

    • cutehoor

      Really import comment IMHO.
      A lot of folks should do a crash course German.
      Used to sell loads of stuff to Irish architects Engineers, construction during the boom.
      Now its to German speaking countries.
      Munich is only a short hop away on a cheap flight.

  3. adamabyss


  4. Dorothy Jones

    Not with you on two points here David:
    1. Performances of students in large universities are not differentiated by gender in my experience.
    2. One doesn’t notice groups of unemployed males gathering on street corners. Their misery [and mind you, that of their female counterparts by the way] is played out in their homes. The desperation and unrelenting stress, destroying hope, more often goes unnoticed.

    • Ruairí

      Hi Dorothy,

      can’t agree with you there at all on point 2. Sure, the desperation is played out in homes.

      But anyone who has driven through rural town they know well can tell you that there are scores of young men generally around that were not beforehand. re they hanging around on street corners? Ok, not always, but they are at alarmingly high levels in shopping centres, on streets etc. Will they all emigrate? Many will. But it would not take much for civil unrest to occur. a hard winter, an oil shock caused by USA’s geopolitical meddling and off we’d go….

      Its saddening, after all of the talk of Ireland Inc (rather than a society), it appears @finegael and @labour are no better equipped to drive resource-based strategy.

      • molly66

        do you think this government will see out there term i sure don’t ,i feel there will be a major turn against this government after xmas.when we see unfairness against the working man and the dole queue getting longer,as a friend of mine said try to save 20 grand over 4\5 years and see how far you get .if you we have no xtra cash now how can we share more of the so called unfair pain to wife thinks we are stuck with this government for the full term do you ? i don’t.

        • Harper66

          Hi Molly,

          I think the budget will bring massive pressure on the Government. The weaknesses are already there (TDs refusing to back Gov on the Hospitals issue a few months back) and I can’t see them lasting.

          I see Gilmore has made the papers twice today

          1 – Calling for more cuts in social welfare

          2 – Refused to condemn the pay and conditions of senior civil servants

          Gilmore would be well served to remember what side his bread is buttered on because I know for the sure the labour TDs watching their seats will be….

          • molly66

            well where do i start this goverment is asleep or in a coma things are getting worse every week and the hundred days of hitting the ground running is a joke.we want to why would anybody in his right mind would employ a man when you add up all the costs to keep a firm legal.the prices that most services firms are getting is only barley cost can not pay holiday pay -bank holiday-sick pay or redundancy pay on the prices that are been worked since 2008.the same woman that wants a job done in her house for half nothing-cannot complain when her son is let go and the firm can not pay the money due in redundancy payments.!the next time you are walking your dog have a look at the cars in the driveways-if you see 2010d/2011d cars you can be sure there is a retired civil servant or a government worker in that house. if you where to add up all the money payed in income tax in any medium size housing estate for one year ,you would probably only pay the pension for one high ranking politician.someone should do a calculation for their estate and rename it after the retired local politician(because they are paying his pension) i have a friend who could take on two people tomorrow but because he was so stung by keeping on two employes and only getting the bare cost of the work-that he lost any money saved durning the past 20 years in paying them ,when he should have let them go as soon as the slump came and then had to burrow to pay there does not take a genius to see that paying and molly codding of some workers has to stop if we want to get this country back on its feet.

    • Juanjo R

      If you are talking about architecture in UCD Dorothy its a rather small ( and elitist ) corner of a big university.

      I mean how many of your students there ever had a strong Dublin accent or came from the likes of Ballyer, Talla’ or Finglas?

      One in a hundred maybe? If that?

  5. malone

    Good article David

    Another question we should be asking ourselves is why the grades in schol of the young lads are going down ?
    Why on average are the girls doing better than the boys ? , What advantage do girls have over boys ? What is it about the eduation system that the bad grades are got in the subjects of mathematics and science. ? What it is about our aduation system that cannot eduacate young people in basic mathematics or science ?
    Has the internet anything to do with it , Has it to do with the instant gratification ” I want it now ” culture
    Has it to do with the lazyiness and that seems to be creeping into Irish society ?

    This year we saw for the first time the ” Arab Spring” where the people all over the Arab world are fed up with the status quo and want democracy and a fairer distribution of wealth . This even has spread to Israel and maybe what we see now is only the beginning. Is it possible that the Arab spring could also spread to the ” periperhal EU nations ” Greece , Spain ; Ireland , Portugal where people say thats enough , its time to oust the system and get rid of the EU ?
    How long ? Is it just like the euro , Just a matter of time ?

  6. malone

    Sorry , typing error above ,
    Should read
    What is it about our education system that cannot….

  7. Great article. Add to the unemployment figures the quota masked of young men who’ve already emigrated, not just from the construction sector, but across the board, every sector in Ireland, PhD’s down.

    Also those working as interns in Fas related courses.

    Might be a useful academic exercise to visit all the local teams in Kilkenny and see the prospects the players have, or how many already gone.

    We badly need stimulus spending, not spending on warfare that got US going after the Great Depression, but spending on infrastructure.

    We also need to leave the life sapping EMU and to use some of our remaining savings to stand on our own two feet, while we have them.

    Otherwise, the EMU, after taking our money, betrothing us with economic detroitification and devastation, will then take our current FDI to Paris and Frankfurt along with whatever multinational footprint remains, at that stage.

    • ref to warfare above refers to stimulus spending that arguably kick started the US economy after and during WW 11.

    • Realist

      “We badly need stimulus spending”

      Who is to finance such stimulus ?
      Who can rightly decide what to spent stimulus on ?
      Is it not only people themselves to decide what to do with their own money ?
      If we are to take more taxes onboard and then expect the government to smartly invest it, similarly what they did with FAS, then NO.
      Anyway, the government cannot fix this, it is the money in our pocket and what we want with it that will fix it.
      So, cut governemnt spending and taxes and give money back to the use we all want and need, being the education too (or at least to buy a kindle and a few books).

      “warfare that got US going after the Great Depression, but spending on infrastructure”

      Warfare spending is not bringing economy going really, it is a fallacy. Bastiat – That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, in other words like what happen with construction business in Ireland, resources are moved to the wrong use, or overuse in one sector of economy, while the other sector suffered.
      This is why we have so many people lurking to work in building industry while such came to a stall due to the wrongdoing. Other sectors get reduced to nothing due to it, while in other case they will probably be the driver for the economy.

      • @Realist,

        Its a simple Keynesian concept called fiscal rectitude. It goes like this, during the boom, you put the brakes on by way of taxes, you don’t go mad on construction building roads to everywhere and nowhere paying farmers and construction workers and developers top money for everything and busting your economy in the process!

        During recession as of now, you build your houses with stimulus spending, you build your metros using cheaper labour costs and getting people back to work when employment dips…it isn’t rocket science

        Obama has announced a similar stimulus programme for the US, where’s ours?

        Where’s the FG gombeen jobs they promised?

        • Realist

          Keynesians brought us to this mess as they always favour more spending.
          They say the stimulus needs to be huge to get over this crisis, like printing money and stimuluses did not brought us here.
          I assume you do not believe Ireland needs more debt or more taxes to do so, like government has a magic wand and knows where to spend money :)

          Obama’s stimulus plan is failure so I am happy Ireland did not do the same:

          In short this was promissed:
          1. 5 million jobs created,
          2. Unemployment won’t rise above 8 percent,
          3. Immediate tax relief to 95 percent of American workers,
          4. Ignite business and consumer spending,
          5. Strengthen the economy for years to come, and lastly
          6. Unprecedented accountability and transparency.
          You judge for yourself was this really realized. You can read it in the article anyway.

          Sometimes Irish politicians slowness made us better than the rest of the world :)
          I do not want them to do anything, rather downsize itself and reduce taxes and so on (but that is hard to expect in today’s keynesian world).
          but I cannot see how government can give up control, except if forced to sell public assets and privatize something big, like healthcare and welfare, but that will be too much to expect at this stage :)

  8. Colin

    To answer your question David, nothing is gonna happen, there’ll be no riots nor marches by young angry unemployed men. What’s gonna happen if they did organise themselves? Nothing! No one cares about them. Society was given them the two fingers. Young women don’t need them, they have sex toys and sperm banks to meet their needs.

    These men never asked to be born, none of us did, but many of them are deciding to end their lives now because they feel useless. You’ll see more turning to petty crime because they’ve nothing to lose and everything to blame. They’ll go to prison for stealing cigarettes from a shop, but our White Collar friends like Drumm and Fitzpatrick remain untouchable.

    As for paddyjones’ earlier comment, well paddyjones, maybe you’ll start up an international recruitment company based in Ireland which specialises in finding work for these young men abroad (God knows where?) and sure you’ll make a fortune as you seem to know where all these job positions are going unfilled?

    • Dorothy Jones

      The excerpts in the IT [Sat, today] outlining in detail the carry-on of the two despicable creatures you mention is sickening, notwithstanding that in general, events are now widely known.
      The disparity in the treatment of persons who break the law is beyond belief. Borrowing at an immense scale seems to go unpunished….’fabulous wealth renders due diligence unnecessary,….
      On the emigration front, I like your comment!!! For those who speak German or would like to try to work there, is a website on which a plethora of various jobs are advertised. Unfortunately emigration is not an option for everyone.

  9. Praetorian

    Have to agree with the sentiment in some of the posts. It would seem there will be neither bold initiatives from government nor reaction from the unemployed/the poor/the disadvantaged.

    It all bizarrely seems to roll on and on with little or no point to any of it, Ireland doesn’t even seem like very much of a country, just a collection of individuals, some doing well, the vast majority doing poorly. It is very odd.

  10. Incident

    When my frustration sets in and believe me it is happening quite regularly these days, I always like to replay the Nigel Farage “rant” as it was deemed then (2010). I am no eurosceptic but I’m heading that direction. Farage of UKIP was and still is lampooned and marginalised by “mainstream” thinkers, commentators and the media in general. He has actually been deemed insane by certain elements of our community. Whatever your views, political, economic or otherwise just listen to this and how it is even more rapplicable to our current sorry state.

  11. CitizenWhy

    It is often said that the cultures of England and Ireland teach people to think of themselves as losers. The Celtic Tiger was just an interruption in this way of thinking. The habit of begrudgery is related to the self-image of loser.

    Thinking of oneself as a loser also happens in the USA, where we live by the half reality/half myth of meritocracy.

    If you fail, or become unemployed, you can easily see yourself as a loser and dwell on all the bad decisions you made or all the “breaks” you never got. You withdraw. You do not organize.

    You see only your story, not the big story. The big story is beautifully outlined, with great evidence, in the book below. What it demonstrates is now true of Europe, since US finance capitalism has been determined to turn all the social democratic countries into narrow republics ruled by a business oligarchy that guarantees prosperity for the business elite, professional classes, some of the artistic class, and some skilled workers. But the idea of a large expanding, ever more prosperous middle class is abandoned and those left behind, whom everyone sees as losers, are left to fend for themselves.

    The book is, “Winner Take All: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and turned its Back on the Middle Class.”

    Look up the book on (USA) and you can read some excellent comments on this book.

    • Praetorian

      Arthur Miller highlighted some of what your interesting comment points to in ‘Death of a Salesman’, the principal character creates a huge story of success (in order to be accepted and not have a sense of failure), always found it an interesting take, there were those who challenged the cosy consensus, and thankfully each generation throws them up.

      But you are right, people can often find themselves in a bad place when they think their life has no value or they can’t point to ‘huge success’ or worse yet they see themselves as failures, indebted, unemployed, seeing the game as up, they lose sight that life has value and that we play a part in the fabric that makes up the world, makes up life, people can lose sight of the little things or the essential gesture which is where true value can be found, I also think there is a role for spirituality, a place which helps people come to know themselves and better equip them to weather the storms.

      Thankfully a lot of the Americans I came into contact with were happy with their station in life and didn’t buy into the ruthless careerism that is pumped out 24-7 on the TV, we are not all Buffets or Trumps, Sugars or Cullens and that doesn’t mean that our roles in life are any less, if anything we have the potential to be more to more people.

      • CitizenWhy

        I agree with your comments, especially on spirituality. Unfortunately I have met many religious people who seemed to lack any real faith. On the other hand I have been immensely impressed by the power of spirituality in some lives (religious and secular).

        I too have known many people who do not buy into the need for excessive success and “advancement.” Family and community are more important to them. But they are in danger in America’s meritocracy.

      • Willie Loman is a very memorable character.
        Another play that sticks in the mind is The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill because it warns about pipe dreams and relying on false promises and self delusion

        People do end up in a bad place because they are measuring their worth in comparison to others in a society fed on false gods and false values

        When you stop being influenced by these external factors and concentrate on the small stuff in your life you become more secure and don’t feel like such a failure

        You have to seek out and find this peace for yourself and very often it comes after a period of struggle and pain

        Eventually you might discover that being unemployed is nothing to be ashamed of and that it is possible to be unemployed and still have a sense of self respect and self worth

        Life it is not all doom and gloom as this article is trying to portray. I refuse to believe it because I have lived what I have been described in this post and know that having a job is not the be all and end all. Life goes on and it can be a happy life if you don’t become a prisoner to the conditioned thinking spewed out on television and in the media

        The answers are inside and staring us right in the face

  12. gizzy

    I spend a lot of time with young men and boys in a role as a sports coach. I also have a son and daughter who are finished school and two young lads in primary so I feel I have a broad perspective. Our education system and way of teaching is gearded towards the feamle student. My two younger sons will be at secondary schools before they see a male tecaher. The female teachers are young women and mothers who can empathise a lot more with girls than boys. They teach in sit down and be quiet style with teaching based on memorising as opposed to activity. This style is more suited to girls than boys. Boys are rough and tumble with less of a sit down and be quiet span of attention and this is from early life.I went to a school mass and the girls did the readings. My nine year old got a black mark for running in PE ( I thought that was the point of pe) something which they get for forty minutes a week.Could you imagine the outcry if a primary school had all male teachers. Boys need male role models they need active learning they need sport. Boys learn best by guided discovery, perform a task and answer questions relevant to the task. Girls too are suffering in other ways from the system with young females not participating in any sport, teenage obesity or smoking to keep slim. But the way of learning in Irish schools suits them better from a purely academic achievement viewpoint. The system needs a complete overall

    • adamabyss

      Very enlightening, thanks.

    • Nicklaus

      Young men in Ireland have a struggle finding suitable role models to look up to. Many have no fathers, or else their fathers are unemployed for many years. This problem has been going on for at least three generations now. I work in education and it is essentially a female occupation, as it has child-friendly working arrangements. One can’t state this publicly, as you would be deemed sexist. At present, our young men are floundering – the uneducated ones are a ‘time-bomb’ waiting th explode. The ones educated to Leaving Cert standard are doing College courses that are totally unsuited to them and will eventually drop out and emigrate (if they’re lucky). Our leaders still believe the nonsense that we are a ‘nation of saints and scolars’.

    • CitizenWhy

      In my Catholic grade school in the Bronx we would do physical exercises every half hour or so. We would also march around the room when doing drills and there were constant learning contests. We were all boys.

      We had to learn certain things within a week. Those who learned early on tutored other students or were sent on errands outside the school.

      After each lesson we had to write a paragraph on what we learned. The teacher reviewed a few of these notes by the smart kids, corrected if necessary, and then had the smart kids review the notes of the other students. We ended up literally “on the same page.” Being Christians, bullying was not allowed and contempt for any who were not as smart as we were was not allowed.

      Tests were first given as “diagnostic, to see if we were ready to be tested. If not, what we were suppose to have learned would be re-taught.

      We reviewed and corrected each other’s writing, before or after the teacher had graded/commented on it.

      The neighborhood was completely working class.

      For a few years I used many of the same techniques in an elite private school and a school for working class drop-outs. The methods worked with both. In brief, I was a learning coach, not a traditional overly verbal teacher. The students did enjoy my lectures (yes, some were scheduled) and I would involve them as I went along not by asking, “Any questions?” but by asking “Paul, why don’t you summarize what we just learned, and then I’m going to ask a few people for their thoughts. Of course if you have questions you can ask them.”

      I often had students work together in teams of 3-4, often in preparation for a quick competition.

      As that marvelous English woman Barbara Woodhouse used to say, “You must be fair, firm and fun.”

      • adamabyss

        Sounds idyllic.

        • CitizenWhy

          Graduates of that school look back on it with great fondness. It is now in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, and has decoupled itself from diocesan control, operating as an independent charter school that is able to do its own fund-raising. This decoupling is a trend among inner-city Catholic schools threatened with closure by the diocese. The leading contributors (very large) have been Oprah Winfrey (impressed with the learning it fosters, she even visited) and a Hispanic alumnus who is now a prominent surgeon.

          • Praetorian

            Co-operation in sport rather than aggressive competition is something that is crucial but seems to have been totally lost. Very selfish culture which clearly expresses itself in sports.

    • Good post. Very interesting

    • coldblow

      My son is 10 and it’s true that (as in my own youth) the girls get preferential treatment. For example, there’s a girl in his class who enjoys telling tales and generally stirring it. If any of the lads retaliate they get a telling off but she (apparently) doesn’t. He loves his school and his teachers but I make a point of reminding him at regular intervals not to take it seriously – it’s just a game (he taught himself to read when he was little from Simpsons mags and the football results n the Sunday paper). I wnet to watch him take part in a GAA tournament on Sunday and was amazed to see the level of skill, commitment and sheer heart in the team (although he was on the subs bench a good bit of the time): they got to the final and let in 5 goals in the first 4 minutes againts an older team but still made a comeback with a few of their own. It was never like this when I was that age. This is what it’s about – sitting around n a classroom colouring in pictures is not.

  13. @Incident

    “Euro is lost”…collection included of ‘trapped in an economic prison” Nigel Farage collection also included..
    NB Croatia and The Cuna and international bankers.

    EU fails Ireland with impailment on the euro:

    • NB if you have a couple of hours, best documentary 2010, also by Bill Still

      Interest Bearing Debt…..

      • george

        Colm my comment bellow was originally intended as an answer to your very interesting reply, to my previous comment in “Government is fighting the wrong war and still losing”. We’ll watch tonight probably another depressing scandal. God help the poor suffering souls, because many of our well-paid experts (pillars of society) are very unreliable, be in politics, education or health.

        • Appears we are leaderless and rudderless and unfortunately, as MK strikingly noted, we are at the “mercy of strangers”.

          If you need inspiration, look to Tom Crean on Elephant Island:)

  14. george

    Personally I don’t think that debt forgiveness on its own can dig us out of this hole because Ireland Inc. is ridiculously expensive to run and despite the fact that we proclaim to the World to be open, nobody wants to do business with us. Except most of the multinationals that gets taxpayers money or concessions to establish here.

    We not only have “ghost housing estates”, but soon after the next budget as proposed by this unimaginative and subservient Government, giving everything to the Banks and the Bondholders in a silver tray, we’ll be a Ghost State begging to the International Market for clemency.

    I wonder if there is an Economist out there, that could prove with certain degree of mathematical accuracy, that if first we have a general debt forgiveness for the Irish borrowers, followed by a reduction in Salaries in the Public Sector, and a reduction of debt with Bondholders. And a reduction of professional fees in the Private Sector, a reduction in commercial rates from the County Councils, and other elementary tax and economic adjustments to incentive the Economy, with the aim of spreading wealth according to general needs and individual effort.

    And given the fact that after all this measures, the amount of money that we would need to run the Country would be far less, and the exchange of money generated by commerce would allow the State to collect more revenue as well.

    That this X amount o billions in savings to run the Country, plus the extra revenue. would go a long way at least, to finance the “general debt forgiveness skim”?

  15. CitizenWhy

    Below is an excellent description of the real problem, the big story. I agree with everything that is said, except the conclusion. I do not believe that Advanced capitalism (that is, finance capitalism) has run out of ways to preserve itself. I summarize why at the end.


    Charles Hugh Smith publishes Foreclosure Crisis Weekly, dedicated to documenting the often-amazing foreclosure crisis.

    “All attempts to reform the Status Quo of advanced finance-based Capitalism will fail, as its historically inevitable crisis is finally at hand.It is self-evident that conventional economics has failed, completely, utterly and totally. The two competing cargo cults of tax cuts/trickle-down and borrow-and-spend stimulus coupled with monetary manipulation have failed to restore advanced Capitalism’s vigor, not just in America, but everywhere.

    Conventional econometrics is clueless about the root causes of advanced finance-based Capitalism’s ills. To really understand what’s going on beneath the surface, we must return to “discredited” non-quant models of economics: for example, Marx’s critique of monopoly/cartel, finance-dominated advanced Capitalism. (“Capitalism” is capitalized here to distinguish it from “primitive capitalism.”)

    All those fancy equation-based econometrics that supposedly model human behavior have failed because they are fundamentally and purposefully superficial: they are incapable of understanding deeper dynamics that don’t fit the ruling political-economy conventions.

    Marx predicted a crisis of advanced Capitalism based on the rising imbalance of capital and labor in finance-dominated Capitalism. The basic Marxist context is history, not morality, and so the Marxist critique is light on blaming the rich for Capitalism’s core ills and heavy on the inevitability of larger historic forces.

    In other words, what’s wrong with advanced Capitalism cannot be fixed by taxing the super-wealthy at the same rate we self-employed pay (40% basic Federal rate), though that would certainly be a fair and just step in the right direction. Advanced Capitalism’s ills run much deeper than superficial “class warfare” models in which the “solution” is to redistribute wealth from the top down the pyramid.

    This redistributive “socialist” flavor of advanced Capitalism has bought time—the crisis of the 1930s was staved off for 70 years—but now redistribution as a saving strategy has reached its limits.

    The other political-economic strategy that has been used to stave off the crisis is consumer credit: as labor’s share of the economy shrank, the middle class workforce was given massive quantities of credit, based on their earnings and on the equity of the family home.

    The credit model of boosting consumption has also run its course, though the Keynesian cargo cult is still busily painting radio dials on rocks and hectoring the Economic Gods to unleash their magic “animal spirits.”

    The third strategy to stave off advanced Capitalism’s crisis was to greatly expand the workforce to compensate for labor’s dwindling share of the economy. Simply put, Mom, Aunty and Sis entered the workforce en masse in the 1970s, and their earning power boosted household income enough to maintain consumption.

    That gambit has run out of steam as the labor force is now shrinking for structural reasons. Though the system is eager to put Grandpa to work as a Wal-Mart greeter and Grandma to work as a retail clerk, the total number of jobs is declining, and so older workers are simply displacing younger workers. The gambit of expanding the workforce to keep finance-based Capitalism going has entered the final end-game. Moving the pawns of tax rates and fiscal stimulus around may be distracting, but neither will fix advanced finance-based Capitalism’s basic ills.

    The fourth and final strategy was to exploit speculation’s ability to create phantom wealth. By unleashing the dogs of speculation via a vast expansion of credit, leverage and proxies for actual capital, i.e. derivatives, advanced finance-based Capitalism enabled the expansion of serial speculative bubbles, each of whcih created the illusion of systemically rising wealth, and each of which led to a rise in consumption as the “winners” in the speculative game spent some of their gains.

    This strategy has also run its course, as the public at last grasps that bubbles must burst and the aftermath damages everyone, not just those who gambled and lost.

    Two other essential conditions have also peaked: cheap energy and globalization, which opened vast new markets for both cheap labor and new consumption. As inflation explodes in China and its speculative credit-based bubbles burst, and as oil exporters increasingly consume their resources domestically, those drivers are now reversing.

    Advanced Capitalism is broken for reasons conventional economics cannot dare recognize, because it would spell the end of its intellectual dominance and the end of the entire post-war political-economic paradigm that feeds it.

    Let’s look at some charts to see what conventional economists must deny to keep their jobs.

    Take a look at this chart. What reality does it reflect? A failure to cut taxes enough? A failure to print enough money or extend enough credit? No. What it reflects is labor’s dwindling share of the economy.

    The structural reality is that employment is declining: (chart)

    Meanwhile, after-tax corporate profits have steadily climbed to nearly 10% of the entire national income: (chart)

    Note the recent rise of finance-based profits: (chart)

    This chart leaves no doubt that the engines of the past 30 years “growth” and “prosperity” have been credit and credit-fueled speculation:

    If we look at disposable income, we find that direct government transfers have masked the systemic erosion of labor’s earnings and employment:

    By at least some measures, the top 1% are paying a greater share of total taxes than they were 20 years ago, which suggests that “tax the rich will solve everything” stopgaps have limited purchase on the deeper structural ills of advanced finance-based Capitalism.

    Marx identified two critical drivers of advanced Capitalism’s final crisis:

    1. Global Capital has the means and incentive to keep labor in surplus and capital scarce, which means that capital has pricing power and labor has none. The inevitable result of this is that wages, as measured in purchasing power, fall while the returns earned on capital rise.

    This establishes a self-reinforcing, inevitably destructive dynamic: once labor’s share of the national income falls below a critical threshold, labor can no longer consume enough or borrow enough to keep the economy afloat with its cash and credit-based consumption.

    We are at that point, but massive Federal borrowing and transfers are masking that reality for the time being.

    2. The dual forces of competition and technology inevitably drive down the labor component of all manufactured goods and technology-based services. Mechanization, robotics and software have lowered the labor component of everything from running shoes to computer chips from $20 per item to $2 per item, and that process cannot be reversed. While the wage paid to the workforce designing and manufacturing the products and providing the services may actually rise, the slice of revenues given over to all labor continues shrinking.

    This is what I have constantly referred to (using Jeremy Rifkin’s excellent phrase) as “the end of work.”

    Put another way: the return on capital invested in techology greatly exceeds the return on labor. Industries and enterprises which fail to leverage capital invested in technology that lowers the labor component of their good/service eventually undergo rapid and inevitable creative destruction.

    We are about to witness this creative destruction in the labor-heavy industries of government, education and healthcare.

    Marx’s genius was to recognize the historical inevitability of these internal forces within advanced Capitalism. He also recognized the inevitability of finance-capital’s dominance of industrial capital—something we have witnessed in full flower over the past 30 years.

    Finance capital now dominates not just industrial capital but the machinery of governance, rendering real reform impossible. Instead, the Status Quo delivers up simulacrum “reform” which change nothing but the packaging of the Central State/Cartel Capitalism’s exploitation and predation.

    Add all this up and you have to conclude the final crisis of finance-based advanced Capitalism is finally at hand. All the “fixes” that extended its run over the past 70 years have run their course. Life will go on, of course, after the Status Quo devolves, and in my view, ridding the globe of financial predation and parasitism will be a positive step forward.

    The real solution is to understand advanced finance-based global Capitalism will unravel as a result of the internal dynamics described above, and be replaced with an economic and political Localism that I describe in my new book An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times.I don’t claim these ideas are unique to me; many others have described the same dynamics and historical trends.”



    I do not believe that finance capitalism is in crisis. I believe it feels powerful enough to consolidate economically, culturally and politically.

    Economic Consolidation: Use globalization to accomplish a few key goals:

    A. Decouple businesses from allegiance to any one country, although the US remains a place to support because of its military might, which can be used when needed.

    B. Turn the US away form it attempts at social democracy and “return” it back into a narrow republic ruled by a corporate oligarchy, but with certain freedoms and privileges for those who can contribute to corporate success and profits. That is, make the narrow Republic also operate as a meritocracy, with talent rising up, sometimes to the top, and rewarded but with those left behind being left to fend for themselves. This can easily be done, as demonstrated by the status of Afro-Americans, the vast majority of its male youth poor, unemployed and unorganized (except to fight each other) but with its talent and its natural leaders assumed into the heaven of upper middle class privilege and corporate leadership.

    C. Spread the governance by business elites in narrow republics to all countries, including Europe and China. Destroy European Social Democracy.

    Cultural Consolidation:

    A. Reinforce belief in meritocracy. Encourage liberals to continue to be obsessed with getting their children into elite schools and colleges so they too can join Wall Street and the ranks of those who rule.

    B. Take advantage of the American cultural tendency to feel successful enough as long as you have someone below you whom you can despiise or pity with Christian charity, or both.

    C. Make the concept of federal taxes illegitimate.

    D. Destroy the belief that the federal government can solve problems.

    E. Advance the Confederate interpretation of the US Constitution – liberty meaning laissez-faire capitalism and the “right” of all “free” individuals to freely enter into contracts with other free individuals. That is, get rid of unions an make powerless workers have to negotiate (or submit to) on their own with powerful employers.

    F. Make it “prestigious” to be a conservative and confer this prestige on the children of workers who get a degree and a privileged job.

    G. Organize and finance a populist right wing propaganda groups, think tanks and right wing media.

    More, but let’s keep the list short.

    Political Consolidation:

    1. Make it impossible to run for President unless you have at least a billion dollars to spend, thus making you dependent on and beholden to corporate interests. Thus both Democrats and Republicans will be “business friendly,” as with Obama.

    2. Offer riches to members of Congress and let them sometimes pass “reform” legislation that is weak and will make no real difference. After all, they need liberal as well as conservative votes.

    India, Brazil and China demonstrate that you can render the poor and workers irrelevant to stable governance. You can have a narrow to fairly broad prosperous nation within a sea of those who are not prosperous. Globalization is a particularly effective way to spread this form of governance around the world.

    • Re your take A,B,C and Cultural Consolidation A,B,C,D,E, F

      Perhaps you would find it more favorable to live in North Korea where they already have your requirements above:)

      See earlier Bill Still links.

      • CitizenWhy

        You seem to think I endorse the triumph of Finance Capital. I deliberately left unsaid the obvious conclusion: finance capitalism is not going to destroy itself, and the only way to defeat it is real political organization based on combatting its evils and consolidating a workable social democracy ever on the alert not to fall prey to the bankers.

        • Surely the powers that be in the U.S are well on their way to these obvious objectives. I agree with you completely, once wealth went from being seen as the fruits of genuine exceptionalism in the U.S to an entitlement the only way to deliver the ever increasing returns was to take it from somewhere else not to create it fresh, thus the dismantling of manufacturing and the privitisation with public subsidization of essential services, Federal Govt spends more per american than any other developed country on healthcare yet 40 million cannot see a doctor the superficial incomes enjoyed from this charade are manifested across many other areas and it would seem that the U.S will need considerable structual changes to ever return the post world war 11 standard of living to the average american

    • adamabyss

      Well you if you can’t beat them, join them. Or step out of that life and do things a ‘third way’. Be brave and use your brains and wits to create a way of life for yourself, family and friends that does not adhere or pay homage to the current system. I have a plan for how I’m going to do that and everyone needs to devise one. An open mind with regard to obscure locations, different cultures and learning foreign languages are paramount. Intellectual laziness will not suffice. These matters will soon become a question of life or death. Would you rather be in the pub squandering your meagre income and watching football?

      • Best of luck, a positive of an ever smaller world is the expansion in opportunity for people with such ambitions

      • adamabyss

        Even just learning other dialects (which can often be impenetrable on first hearing) of your own mother tongue can have benefits beyond belief. It’s also extremely disrespectful to move to another country and to not make an effort with the local language and/or dialect, as well as savouring a new culture in all it’s splendour. The native people will love you for the effort you make and all sorts of doors are opened, both externally in terms of opportunities and in the recesses of your own mind.

    • dwalsh

      Great article; Charles Hugh Smith certainly sees a bigger picture than most. I will be exploring his site.

      I think you are spot-on as regards what financial capitalism is attempting globally. My post below highlights a small area of that — alienate different sectors of the workforce from each other and have them demand lower pay and conditions for all workers.

      Finally I also think “a workable social democracy ever on the alert not to fall prey to the bankers” would be preferable to the neo-feudalism financial capitalism intends.

      Great post.

      • CitizenWhy

        Sadly you are accurate about workers demanding lower wages and benefits for other workers. In Wisconsin, which saw huge demonstrations against union busting by the governor, some workers were counter-demonstrating, commenting that “I get low pay and no benefits so why should they get high pay and benefits.”

  16. conor_obrien

    “But most crucially, he was looking forward to a future which could be planned.”

    The people of modern Ireland, that includes you David, that planning is not what it used to be. Planning requires two things, certainties, choices and strategies/scenarios.

    Certainties are a crucial, and fast evaporating in the modern age. As the idiom goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. If you find yourself structuring your life around these two certainties then you might as well hang up your boots now and put yourself out of your misery…..or move to Switzerland.

    Therefore we prioritize Choice and strategies/scenarios. To begin with choice, there is no doubt that we are living in a choice-orientated society. Freedom to choose whether we have a cup o’barry’s tea or a mocha-latte-frappuccino is what we live for. As the variety of choices available to us is becoming more socially important, lifestyle has become a key feature of this variety of choices: the more ‘lifestyle’ we want, the more choice we have. On the other hand, we are obliged to have a ‘lifestyle’ in order to choose. It’s a double edged sword but this is the social fabric of the funny old world.

    Finally, most importantly creating strategies and scenarios is the most important aspect of planning today, whether its your life or it is the future of the country. Establishing strategic goals, anticipations, alternative futures all feed into the idea of making ‘strategic choice’. For all those people who are packing there bags to emigrate to Australia, it is always their strategic decision making ability that has led them to making that decision.

    To think that an Irish person can plan their lives like what was done in the past I think is absurd. The ‘mancession’ is giving the ‘fir na hÉireann’ and their families and partners a harsh lesson is those unprepated for this reality. Planning deals with ‘futures’ and not facts. The inherited colonial ‘linear-thought’ planning process has become redundant in the network society of the 21st century and must be replaced by networked thought. This philosophy of the Irish Diaspora must exist within each one of us!

  17. joe sod

    first of all i think the big disparity between male and female unemployment is an irish phenomenon, in britain the big rises have been in female unemployment, another factor in ireland is the huge increase in public sector employment during which is predominantly female, and this is protected under the croke park agreement, but the country is still borrowing huge sums to pay the wages of these workers,

    • CitizenWhy

      Some of the male unemployment must be due to the collapse of the building industry.

    • CitizenWhy

      Male unemployment is also a big phenomenon in the US, especially among Afro-Americans, who make a large percentage of the unemployed. It is also clear that middle aged white males who have been laid off will never work again, unless they can successfully compete against young men for demanding minimum wage jobs.

      • joe sod

        i accept the general argument in the article but i think the big differential between male and female unemployment is an irish phenomenon, there may be a bigger underlying trend in western countries in general but i dont think this explains the irish figures, During the boom males gravitated towards the construction sector and females to the public sevice, jobs in the public sector are protected under the croke park agreement, however alot of these jobs are clerical and in the private sector have been replaced by technology. You never hear of ads looking for clerical officers in the private sector yet this is a huge area in the public service which is predominantly female and protected. Other manufacturing industries which normally employ low skilled male workers were allowed to go during the boom, this was also an irish phenomenon, this did not happen in britain where there is still a large manufacturing sector. Statistics can distort things sometimes also, there may be much bigger male unemployment than female but there is also a bigger male employment rate than female

  18. rebean

    Yes The time is right for social unrest. Its time we had a real left wing party in the country. A party that will tackle the massive pay of senior civil servants and cosy university lecturers.A party that will allow people to work for their welfare, regardless whether they were self employed. A party that will insist on no price hikes on electricity to pay for massive salaries in ESB.A party that will disband the croke park agreement and reduce the high salaries and increase those on lower salaries.WE have too many fat cats and it cannot continue. A real left wing socialist party not like the present bunch of so called lefties that are about as left of centre as the British Conservative party

    • The paradox is that the former “left” wing were primarily responsible for the excessive unsustainable public salaries. Unions in Ireland are absurd in that their members rival the worst of corporate excess with excessive salaries and cronyism. Human nature will always seek to put itself over a sense of the common good at least in the majority of people, that is why systemically any enlightened political system must factor in the inevitability of such behaviour.

    • Colin

      If there were no riots in the 1840s when over 1 million died and another 1.5 million emigrated due to famine, what makes you believe we’ll have social unrest coinciding at a time when there’s an obesity pandemic?

  19. Deco

    I am really baffled at how this problem of high male unemployment is going to get played out.

    One thing however is certain.

    The solution is not more “beer and circuses”. But this is exactly what the message maker centres acting on behalf of our corporate sponsors are telling us.

    It can be all be solve by changing to the sports channel and watching yet another Premier League game.

    The biggest problem faced in this regard, is that fact that the media has very successfully conditioned male behaviour. Be happy, wear the sports jersey.

    It is all a load of claptrap. But for the moment it is working. The economy might not be working. But Beer and Circuses is dumbing down the male part of the population that is usually the source of discomfort for the establishment.

    First we make you stupid, then we outsource your job.

    • CitizenWhy

      The revolution in Egypt was organized by women, mothers who were tired of seeing their children in semi-starvation and with no prospects for well paying jobs. They went through the streets with loud speakers daring the men not to be cowards and to join them in the square. Young unemployed men responded first, prodded by their mothers. Then others joined in. The revolution in Western commentary was normally ascribed to abstractions. Typical blah blah ignoring the role of the women and the starvation that drove them.

      Will this happen in the west? Not likely. To preserve privilege and predatory wealth it is not necessary to starve the unemployed or the poor.

      I just wanted to give the Egyptian women their due.

      • coldblow


        I enjoy your posts but I do wonder about this one. Was that really the case? How would it have been if the men ran onto the streets and taunted their mothers for cowardice? In Céline’s classic (Journey to the End of the Night) there’s an amusing bit about the beautiful dedicated French nurses during WW1 (and their dashing adored doctor). They were patriotic and spared no attention or kindness in getting the wounded soldiers back onto their feet so they could go back to the front and die gloriously for the Fatherland.

        I also wonder about what will happen in Egypt. I had heard that the elite amounted to 10% of the population. That’s a big proportion and surely means only cosmetic changes, rather like Rep of Ireland.

    • adamabyss

      I think they were dumb in the first place Deco. Anyone who falls for that ‘claptrap’ deserves what they get in the first place. They are simply not capable of independent thought.

      • Deco

        You are correct. Too lazy to think, brings consequences. And it is right that it should.

        • Roger Ailes the head of fox news said when he was a media adviser to Nixon that the people are lazy they don;t like to think for themselves and the beauty of television is that it is done for them , this mentaility is clearly the basis of fox news which is a great lighting rod of ignorance and arrogance (oft combined as they are) in the U.S. I still believe that independence of thought in Ireland is better than in the U.S but our education system as it is does not encourage such behaviour, Maybe the cynical view is correct that if you aren’t tuned in enough to see the nonsense you deserve it but surely not

    • Colin

      If its beer and circuses for men, then its soaps and shopping for the women. Sitting at a supermarket check out going beep-beep-beep that’s €12.34 love won’t get the brain cells excited either. Yet, we still need to be served by the checkout girls, even the Tesco self service has checkout manageresses hovering around it.

  20. Stock Market Crash

    It is the 5th Sept and that is 7th days before the Full Moon of the 9 11 11 ( Nine Eleven Eleven ) that is Saturday ….and Sunday …is MOON WOBBLE ……

    take note of earlier remarks last months

    • adamabyss

      I will be interested to see what happens John. Of course I don’t believe that telling the future is possible no matter what methods you purport to use however your posts have been interesting and entertaining up to now and have been tolerated by most on this board.

      However, if you get this wrong (and I’m prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt and allow a wide range of possible events / circumstances to be accepted as your ‘prediction’), then I really think you should give up the ghost (at least on here) and leave the soothsayer stuff to Mystic Meg and her ilk.

      Yours in anticipation,


    • dwalsh

      Hi John ALLEN

      Have you a blog or anywhere you write more about your predictions? I missed your earlier remarks and I am intrigued.

      • I have no blog .Galbraith the famous economist introduced astrology into economics not formally but is a way where everything else failed , he mentioned it .In his time it was not needed because the theory of economics generally worked in more ways than one . However today nothing works and were he alive today it is my belief that he would have resorted to astrology to make a point once more .

        As no one else on this blog does it I am attemting to record the upcoming events before they actually happen so to make my point and not to castigate this weather forecasting technique to the dustbin.

        It has a lot to offer if you know how to use it.

        So BLACK BLACK MONDAY NEXT …… coming to a cinema near you.

        • Dorothy Jones

          Take it nice and easy there John…maybe it’s me…but…one cant ‘record’ events before they happen…just predict them using preferred methods/tools….??

          • I agree with what you say Dorothy .What I mean to say is to put on record that there are upcoming major events to happen that are determinable by an already preset principles recorded by others in recent times and in ancient times and we must recognise these economic tools and use them .

        • dwalsh

          Thanks John ALLEN :)

          Newton was an astrologer and an alchemist and also a numerologist – especially in his theological writings. I guess great minds are able to encompass apparently contradictory systems.
          I too predict a serious crash this autumn. Only because the system is so obviously ready to crack at any moment – and there’s nothing left in the sovereign kitty to bail it out.

          They have bankrupted the western nations. I think they meant to.

          Will be interesting to see what occurs in the days ahead.

        • dwalsh

          “the theory of economics generally worked in more ways than one . However today nothing works”

          They no longer do real economics today. Academic and professional economists in the main act as service providers to the banking and corporate oligarchs. The academics provide theoretical rationalisations for the policies the oligarchs want to pursue; and the professionals design the technical systems to implement the policies. All of this has nothing to do with real economic science or the smooth operations of markets for the good of all. It is all designed to accomplish other goals…and I do not mean merely wealth creation. Finance is the supreme instrument, one might even say weapon, of political and social engineering.

  21. StephenKenny

    Given what a bunch of thick useless sissy cowards men are – for example the Egyptian men mentioned above – it is a wonder that any society that included men ever managed to do more than bang the rocks together for long enough to make a decent spark.

    • adamabyss

      All due respect to women (whom I love) but I would never underestimate the resourcefulness and power of the male of the human species.

    • Dilly

      Men invented just about everything that makes your life easier. But we are told to think of ourselves as useless by the media. All adverts are geared towards Women simply because they are more likely to part with their money. Society has become pretty much a joke at this stage. You just have to laugh at it, and get on with life, because we are only really renting this space until we all croke anyway.

  22. This is not as good as your last few articles David because it smells of populism and the neurotic imaginings of a mind looking for something to do on a slow new day. I keep telling you, stop worrying man. Why are you always looking for something to worry about? 90 percent of the things we worry about never materialise and worrying is pointless. It is a form of insanity

    There were plenty of men hanging round street corners after Thatcher and her crew set about decimating the manufacturing base in the UK in the early 80s. Same in the 1930s during the depression for my father’s emerging generation. Both generations survived and it was not the end of the world and the unemployed of today are not the time bomb waiting to explode which your article is implying. Because someone is unemployed it does not follow that they are potential rioters or violent revolutionaries

    You ask the question ‘what then?’ if Ireland does not do anything to give unemployed Irishmen a sense that they have a future. Well David ‘what then’ indeed?

    Are you trying to unnecessarily promote fear and helplessness by asking this question? You don’t have an answer and neither does anyone else. It is sheer speculation and it sounds like you are making bombs which you hope will later be fired by others

    Let me tell you about ‘what then’

    When you have been unemployed for a great length of time it saps your strength and your confidence flies out the window. You lose the will to get up in the mornings and you stop reading the papers and
    listening to the news because it is irrelevent to you and acts as a constant reminder that you are an outsider

    It is clear who the protected ones are: the wealthy; the public sector; semi-states and quangoes and the politically connected. There is a huge swathe of families who have been thrown to the wolves and this winter they are going to suffer that with budget 2012

    The best thing single guys like Breakfast Roll Man can do it stay single, lived in shared accomodation and draw the dole. Problem solved. God help anyone who has a family, is in debt and has a mortgage

    • StephenKenny

      Worrying isn’t a form of insanity, it’s a critical part of the, now all-but-useless, ‘fight or flight’ decision making process that ruled our lives for all but the most recent centuries.

      The whole point of worrying about something is to develop a strategy to engage optimally with whatever it is you’re worrying about e.g. an approaching predator, or a potentially approaching predator. Of course, if it’s a complex social issue, or an exam question, then worrying isn’t much use.

      Without worry, without trying to decide between fight and flight, people seem to settle down with a 6 pack and whatever it is that Mr Murdoch recommends for their attention.

    • Good post, are you saying David is coffee table economist?

      DmcW writes “As they say in football, the real general is the midfielder who is keeping his head when everyone around him is losing theirs.”

      There’s a difference between keeping your head and fleeing from the battlefield in order to keep your head?

      Re “When you have been unemployed for a great length of time it saps your strength and your confidence flies out the window. You lose the will to get up in the mornings and you stop reading the papers and
      listening to the news because it is irrelevent to you and acts as a constant reminder that you are an outsider”

      Unfortunately, we’ve been brainwashed re work. There’s always tons of work to do everywhere. It may not be paid but it can be personally rewarding or helpful to others.

      The universe is made up of rooms.

      Some rooms are dark.

      But if you look and search closely enough, you can find a light switch:)

      Don’t come back and ask me what happens if we don’t have the ESB:)

  23. 33square

    “Sometimes listening to the debate in Ireland and watching the constant firefighting, it is hard not to get the sense that few are focusing on what type of country we are going to be in a few years time”.

    I’m lucky to be working in IT. I’ve worked in 2 financial software places in the last few years where the above “firefighting” is par for the course. There is NO long term thinking. They move from project to project without cleaning up as they go. They “meet” deadlines at all costs, quality being the first casualty. Eventually progress grinds to a near halt and the companies begin to hire more and more experienced people for their software, that they believe to be “highly complex”. This perceived complexity, however, was brought about by neglect. In a few years, it will cost these companies less to scrap/rewrite everything than to attempt to continue with their current systems.

    The one software job I had where the above was not an issue was not involved in finance. It was a startup company that had a tangible product to sell. The company did the software thing right (they had foresight, kept things as simple as possible and favoured quality over meeting deadlines), but got the finance thing wrong and went under in mid 2008 (one of the first casualties).


    • That’s interesting. I am a Computing graduate myself and know a bit about computer programming but the scenarios you are describing here are precisely the reason why I didn’t rush to take up employment in software development. You are just a tiny cog in a production process that can become so complex that it becomes unmanageable

      Simplicity is the key and I like driving this point home to those types of people who who think too much and insist on designing the most convoluted systems possible

      Debian Linux is now 20 years old and it is of such high quality due to the democratic nature of open source software development practices. It is possible to create complex software that is of a very high quality and I know so because I use it every day and it is all free of charge. It is also refined and wonderfully simple to use

      Maybe our politicians and other supposedly wise ones should be made to join an open source project during their summer break. It would show them democracy in action and prove to them that people can work together to provide high quality and simplicity despite the apparent underlying complexity. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) and all that!

  24. Harper66

    Ireland’s former top civil servant, who retired during the summer, received nearly €600,000 in lump sum and severance payments on top of a pension of over €142,000 a year.

  25. dwalsh

    Hi colm brazel

    re your post in previous blog; can’t post there for some reason.

    If you knew the myth of Cassandra you might not have applied it to me.

    Cassandra was able to accurately see and predict the future but was cursed never to be believed. Those around her were unable to listen or to hear the truth she spoke.

    So the metaphor is quite accurate really; but perhaps not in the way you intended :)

    By the way I do think there is a lot we can do about this crisis; both locally and individually. I dont know where you got the idea I don’t.

    Many here dislike or disagree with my perceptions and analysis; as do I with theirs. But I do value their criticisms and the opportunity to listen to their views.

    Your replies to Realist re derivatives did a good job of explaining their toxicity and danger to our civilisation. I expect however that in this you will have been playing Cassandra yourself…I very much doubt Realist will agree. But I may be wrong.

    • Re

      “By the way I do think there is a lot we can do about this crisis; both locally and individually. I dont know where you got the idea I don’t.”

      The bit i took from the myth was the aspect in the myth that though she could predict the future, she couldn’t alter it.

      I perhaps incorrectly took it you had the same view that there is nothing we can do especially re the markets.

      On the other hand I propose we leave the EU and return to our own currency.

      What do you think we should do?

    • Realist

      “Your replies to Realist re derivatives did a good job of explaining their toxicity and danger to our civilisation. I expect however that in this you will have been playing Cassandra yourself…I very much doubt Realist will agree. But I may be wrong.”

      I am not sure what derivatives you consider bad, but I assume those that are based on subrpime mortgages and insurances based on them.
      Of course they are bad, but the root cause is not the derivative, it is the thing on what is based on.
      The problem is always underline hard asset.
      What about government bonds or derivatives based on government bonds (take Greek or Irish bonds) ?
      Is it derivative that is bad or government bond ?

      In essence speculators just brought us to the reality faster as they exposed these toxic assets faster :)
      The same is with oil futures and so on, speculators bring us to the reality faster.
      They anyway loose money and gain main between themselves in so called zero sum game on short term basis (apart from some derivative makers and brokers for fee who usually always won).

      • dwalsh

        I suppose your mind-set is one way of looking at it. For me I see that millions of ordinary people have paid the price in lost jobs, savings and pensions.

        You are correct to point out that the assets created by the systemic mortgage fraud know by the euphemism ‘sub-prime’ were toxic. All agree on that. Even without derivatives it would have been a major economic crisis. But it was not merely the asset that was toxic; the system that generated the asset is toxic…ie financial capitalism.

        It is clear that regulation did not fail; it was simply not applied. The systemic lack of due diligence was encouraged from the very highest echelons of financial capitalism – which by the way is not the government as you seem to think.

        The US government is pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of financial and corporate capitalism. The real problem of government in the USA is there is no government in the constitutional sense. The government does what it is told by its primary constituency — which is the oligarchs of financial and corporate capitalism.

        Apologists for Derivatives say they distribute and thus dilute risk in the market system. In fact they distribute poison which also infects otherwise good investments; and because speculators can proliferate multiple bets on a single underlying asset they geometically amplify risk and losses.

        But really I dont expect you will agree. We are all creatures of our mind-sets. Ours are very different.

        • CitizenWhy

          O Yes, complex derivatives distribute risk, They also multiply risk and put everything at risk, including national economies. But they do make the bankers rich, even when they collapse.

          The face value of these derivatives ended up exceeding all the wealth of all economies of the world put together. This is a way to lessen risk?

          Issuing these complex derivatives was in reality printing money, very bad money indeed. We have turned over the printing of money to private bankers. God help us for our foolishness.

          • dwalsh

            Analysts I respect suggest there may be as much as $1.5 quadrillion in the system – mostly off-balance sheet. This is why no matter how much money we give the banks they will never be ok. They are in many cases sitting on black holes. Amazingly Obama’s administration refuses to do anything to restrict them. My conclusion: Obama and Geitner work for Wall St. not for the American public.

        • Realist

          “I suppose your mind-set is one way of looking at it. For me I see that millions of ordinary people have paid the price in lost jobs, savings and pensions.”

          I hope I showed some logic in my sentences and I am not just one way looking :)
          They paid the price of being in government sponsored businesses (finance, building industry, car industry, …)that almost ceased to exist at the moment.
          On the free marker unhampered of government intervention it will be no booms and busts.
          In Ireland was the problem that away more money was moved to building industry that it should, so other industries were drained of money. Now these other industries need money to start the economy but money is scared at the moment, even if the money exists somewhere.
          Nobody wants to invest into anything as there is not safety in the market.
          This is why people are not working.

          “But it was not merely the asset that was toxic; the system that generated the asset is toxic…ie financial capitalism.”

          As pointed a lot of times:
          1. Printing of money by central banks and governments (bonds as collateral in ECB, fractional banking system)
          2. Bailing out companies from taxpayers money (banks, builders, car companies, insurance companies, …). Nobody should be too big to fail
          3. Bailing out governments (apart from Iceland, that was the first example of no bail out in West, but they will be away better off soon as at least not dreaming all will be good like in Ireland).
          4. government can make laws, tarrifs, taxes, subsidies, … to favour any industry and nobody will be able to get rid of them till next elections, when they are going to blame speculators (which one ?, government sponsored or any ?)
          5. Government spent more money that they should causing problems and draining more money from the economic activities through taxes

          “It is clear that regulation did not fail; it was simply not applied. The systemic lack of due diligence was encouraged from the very highest echelons of financial capitalism — which by the way is not the government as you seem to think.”

          Unsure why you are not against the governments when every little segment of life and David’s article is pointing on government failure.
          Even you are saying it should be more regulation (I disagree), but more regulation means more government involvement and that means they failed in the past if they did not regulate it properly :)
          Financial government backed big boys are too blame of course, playing tricks with accounting, not failing, being bailed out, having politicians in their pocket.
          but this was all mutual, do not forget as governments also borrowed money and printed money to dillute their spenditure. Both governments and bankers gained instantly by printing money as they were first on the source.

          “Apologists for Derivatives say they distribute and thus dilute risk in the market system. In fact they distribute poison which also infects otherwise good investments; and because speculators can proliferate multiple bets on a single underlying asset they geometically amplify risk and losses.”

          I just disagree with general opinion on derivatives. Commodity futures are not evil as they do good (
          Unregulated markets are not to blame for the systematic mistakes of the housing boom.
          Futures contracts on oil, for example, allow producers and major consumers such as airlines to lock in guaranteed prices and confidently engage in long-term projects that would otherwise be too risky.
          Would you like the price of your ticket to Spain to be changing every day due to the price of oil ?

          You need to give me example of derivative that caused the problem. They are mostly based on something concrete.
          The problem in finance is that it was based on dodgy mathematical models from MIT and similar without understanding the economics.

          • CitizenWhy

            To Realist:

            Three types of derivatives:

            1. Those you mention favorably (which I referred to as simple derivatives). No problem.

            2, Complex and virtual. Complex involve layers and layers (tranches) of jumbo bonds based on supposedly predictable cash flows, such as mortgage payments. Not a problem as long as the cash flows are from a reliable source. In 2005 a decision was made – no one has identified where – that sub-prime mortgages, previously shunned, would be acceptable for inclusion in those jumbo bonds. This provided a huge amount of capital to sub-prime lenders. Hence they began a process of making ever more loans, to more and more dodgy borrowers, then selling the mortgages to Wall Street to include in their jumbo bond complex derivatives. The sub-prime lenders lied – with full company support – in the approval documents (e.g., upping income of borrower). Then the investment banks lied, saying all layers were were made up of borrowers with top credit ratings when in fact many of the layers were made up of borrowers with the lowest possible credit scores. Due to the deliberate complexity of these derivative bonds the rating agencies, under strict time constraints, could not analyze all layers, just the top few. So they gave these bonds top ratings, which meant they were as safe as cash, and then the investment banks sold them to institutions looking for the safest investments possible. As the sub-prime home owners defaulted, and then some of the highly rated borrowers defaulted due to unemployment, these bonds collapsed, harming buyers and governments all over the world. No one has been indicted because the regulatory agencies were under orders from the Cheney-Bush administration to do no endorsement. And the nature of these deceptive bonds means that they will have done their harm by the time they fall under regulatory scrutiny.

            Even worse, once Wall Street issued one of these deceptive bonds they began to create virtual versions of these bonds based on mathematical trading models. Hence one bond, backed by mortgage payments, dodgy in most cases, could produce dozens and dozens of bonds backed by absolutely nothing. Sheer gambling.

            Theoretically these bonds could be produced and sold honestly. But could you trust the Wall Street trading crowd to do so?

            Your doctrinaire religion that government is always at fault and the trading-driven banks are good guys is a very dodgy proposition in the face of reality.

            3. Credit default swaps. If trading stops, someone owes someone else a huge amount of money, sometimes more than the owing company could ever raise. Trading stopped.

          • Realist


            2. Jumbo bonds are based on subprime mortgages, so I despise them as they were created by printing money from fractional banking system and giving to people who cannot really afford it, causing house prices to go crazy in the first place as more money pumped into it.

            3. CDS again are abused, but it is still unknown did Golman made AIG fail asking for more collateral from AIG. Are we going to find out or not soon who knows :)
            It is ugly how they abused it while S&P valued it as AAA’s :)
            As said million times, the underline problem is more subtle, it is fractional banking system that cause borrowing of the unreal money to people who cannot afford it and having frantic investment funds (stupid guys working on mgmt fees) buying such packages.
            Not to mention they were all bailed out by tax payers money (stupid governments, or to say smart as they all profited).

            “Your doctrinaire religion that government is always at fault and the trading-driven banks are good guys is a very dodgy proposition in the face of reality.”

            The government is guilty giving privileges to some, e.g. printing money through fractional banking system, or bailing out some (e.g. certain banks, building companies, car companies, …). I hope this is enough reasons not going further down the road :)

            I actually do not like investment banking and finance at all :)
            Let me tell you why, because they abused so much world resources in the wrong way that the science and other sectors of worlds life suffer.
            They are abusing so much brain power (not just employee’s but people, individuals who believe in trading) by employing non-economical methods, mainly mathematical, that are wrong and not based on proper economics. By employing such stupid methods they charge us crazy management fees (e.g. managed funds in Ireland, ….).
            But I believe this is also failure of people believing in such. We have no proper economical education to understand the failures of finance, current education.
            Waste of time in involvement in such zero sum game (or <0 when substracted by brokers fees), where even individuals believe they should be traders and earn crazy money.
            Crazy concept you cannot fight with regulations but by education. You cannot prohibit coke or beer due to negative effects, but rather know when to drink it sensibly and so on.

            But we need to look the underlining issues causing mess like Goldman being so powerful in the US especially.
            They can have their own people in the white house and FED (is that not government mistake too).
            They have fractional banking system to abuse printing of money.
            E.g. without such system and gold or other hard money standard FX (forex) market will cease to exist. So how much resources we will save just by that :)

  26. Colin

    “As they say in football, the real general is the midfielder who is keeping his head when everyone around him is losing theirs. Is there such a person among our ruling and political class who will put the long-term interest of our people above everything else?”

    Yes, there is. His name is Roy Keane (remember his performances against Portugal and The Netherlands in WCQ 2002?), and unfortunately like yourself David, he’s not a politician and he’s anti-establishment. We need to re-visit Saipan. Keane was right. Most breakfast roll fellas knew that, it was the older generation who sided with FAI/MMcC insiders. We lost our chance to clearout the old corrupt farts in all aspects of Insider Ireland Incorporated.

    “Fail to prepare, prepare to Fail” – Roy Keane, June 2002.
    FF/PD/Green Govts failed to manage the economy, and look where we are now.

    Also, life on the dole isn’t too bad. You’re your own boss, there are no deadlines set by asshole managers who can’t help being assholes. As long as you accept that unemployment isn’t your own fault, then you can use the time constructively. My advice to anyone is only go abroad if you’re 100% sure you’re gonna be better off financially and socially. Moving to London to get work digging holes in the ground would be a silly move for an unemployed Irish blocklayer, as he’d be worse off after paying tax, rent, food, electricity, transport costs as well as a shyster of a gangerman annoying him all day long about progression of works. In the meantime, stick it out, develop hobbies and interests and wait for things to pick up somewhere where you’re sure Paddy won’t ride you.

    • /* As long as you accept that unemployment isn’t your own fault, then you can use the time constructively */

      You can indeed. Without feeling guilty about it either it must be mentioned!

    • Deco

      In agreement with you Colin.
      When a role model comes along who provides inspration, the establishment roll out and saturate the population with a message to undermine the useful message.

  27. Malcolm McClure

    It’s probably just me, but I find that there’s something mildly obscene about David’s neologism “Mancession”. The proper constuct should surely be Juvenocession from the latin words juvenis ‘young man’ and cedere ‘retreat’.

    That said, let’s be practical about young men’s unemployment problems. Young Irish men require jobs. Ireland is world champion grass grower, so we are known as the Emerald Isle.

    Grass cutting is not commonly thought of as a dangerous occupation– but it can be.
    A neighbour of my youth cut off a finger with a push-type lawn-mower when cutting another neighbour’s lawn for pocket money. Modern machines are much more dangerous.

    During the present unemployment emergency, the government could introduce a law making it an offence to cut any grass, anywhere in Ireland, unless a licensed grass cutter was in attendance and make failure to do so punishable with a heavy fine.

    Grass safety licences would be graded A, B and C and would only be issued to unemployed young men who had passed a suitable safety training course.
    An ‘A’ type licence would make the bearer eligible to supervise safety of hay and silage cutting activities.
    A ‘B’ type license would make the bearer eligible to supervise the safety of lawn-cutting activities by householders.
    A ‘C’ type license would enable the bearer to cut lawns with his own mower and strimmer for householders and to supervise one trainee assistant.

    Lawns could be left uncut at the owners option but each time a lawn was cut the householder would have to produce an appropriate stamped and signed certificate if required to do so by an inspector.

    The licensees would be paid according to local rates appropriate to their license grade.

    This suggestion might seem an excess of bureaucracy, but better that, than nothing to do and nothing done to help potentially active young men.

    That takes care of May to October. A similar scheme could be applied to hedge and verge cutting for the rest of the year.

    • wills

      This could also generate a new market in insurance for fingers.

    • You arn’t serious.

      What a useless idea? Lol.

      There’s plenty of real work helping the old, the elderly, building schools, hospitals, public parks. Lots I havn’t thought of.

      Perhaps individuals could assign themselves work and get it approved as ‘valuable work’ by local committees, such as work carrying out local or community improvements.

      Communities themselves could be involved in ‘valuable work’ suggestions for their communities, such as building a sports stadium. Sport could be designated as ‘valuable work’.

      People involved in the arts should be allowed to designate what they do as ‘valuable work’.

      We need to expand our idea of work to go beyond printing useless certificates or making plastic balls in a chinese sweatshop:)

      • Malcolm McClure

        colmbrazel: I’m deadly serious. This is an emergency. We need a simple clear policy that everyone understands. The discipline given by National Service many years ago and a potential career as an industrial safety officer in the future.

        What I have suggested will inconvenience mostly the middle classes, who often hide from reality behind well trimmed lawns. Farmers can reclaim the additional cost, (much less than the cost of diesel to cut the grass), against tax.
        My suggestion will make the reality of everyone’s participation in solving the unemployment problem visible to all.

        Your suggestion of ‘valuable work’ approved by ‘local committees’ indicates that you have much more trust in local committee’s evenhandedness when dishing out money the unemployed than I have.

        We need a simple law, easily enforcable and equitable, to show that the government means business.

        Young men may dream of becoming sports commentators or pop musicians or whatever, but it is time to shoot down pie-in-the sky ideas and introduce a touch of reality in present circumstances. Most people have some association with grass, Every fit young man is capable of cutting a lawn. Let’s set them to work.

        • Juanjo R

          This is just plain insulting…

          • Malcolm McClure

            Juanjo R: You don’t actually get it yet, do you?
            You will.

          • Juanjo R

            I do get Malcolm.

            You are a pompous old twat who is posting here clinging on to this blog, in order to massage his waning ego, much like you do in that summer school in Donegal where you try to hob-nob with people of some import and feign relevance to the world.

            Nothing else is off any importance to you.

        • breltub

          One thing you have overlooked here is grass eating animals.I think that perhaps a licencing proposal ought to also be brought in to limit the amount of herbivorous beasts allowed per hectare as over stocking the grass supply in certain areas might lead to pockets of unemployment for the designated grass cutters and inspectors, the licence fee would obviously be ring fenced to help only those affected by overstocking grazers!

          • Malcolm McClure

            breltub: Excellent point. Make organically grown lawn cuttings a perk of the job for the grass safety inspectors. These cuttings could then be baled and sold as fodder to beef farmers so that they could increase their over-wintering stock.
            Everyone wins

    • adamabyss

      Infantocession would be more appropiate, it seems to me, especially for that layabout ‘Call of Duty’ playing type.

    • redriversix

      Hi Malcolm
      Would you like to lie down ? can i get you a cup of tea or call some one for you ?

      Jesus Christ…..are you for real !!!!!

      • Juanjo R

        Unfortunately he is!

      • Malcolm McClure

        hi redriversix: Simply put: the unemployed are not just the responsibility of the state, or local committees with good intentions. They are the reponsability of us all, and this suggestion is a draconian but necessary way to get everyone involved.

        The point is to get everyone earning a living wage, forgeting for the time being what they thought they were qualified to do, but out there mixing with a whole range of more settled people, some of whom might help them progress in their desired direction.

        Other plusses are
        Early rising.
        Fresh air and (some) sunshine.
        Inculcating respect for safety in risk-prone young men.
        Ground floor experience in running own simple business.
        Job satisfaction: looking back each day at well trimmed lawns etc.

    • mishco

      “A neighbour of my youth cut off a finger with a push-type lawn-mower when cutting another neighbour’s lawn for pocket money.”

      The neighbour didn’t tell him the wheel end goes on the ground. Good legal case for compensation here!

    • breltub

      Another initiative should be to tackle our national obesity problem.

      We could use the masses of unemployed men to guard the sugary and fatty food aisles in supermarkets and only allow those who are not fat to go down and buy items from the designated rich foodstuff aisles. There would of course be a licencing aspect to this as these aisle guards would need to undertake a number of safety course.

      Many young men could also be trained as fat assessors and everyone would be issued with a national eating licence after checking themselves in for an NCT [National Calorie Test]

      This would generate employment, upskill our work force, help us pull on the green jersey and become a fitter, healthier nation.

      There could also he a NCT licence inspector who would carry out spot checks at meal times in homes to make sure the chubbier people were not getting their hands on a few biscuits bought by the skinnier partner.

      To offset the potential black market, we could reduce the VAT on fruit and vegetables making them more attractive and thus filling people up on the good stuff, and also pour stimulus spending into grotesque anti fat food campaigns much like the RSA do with drive safely ad campaigns

      I think young men would be best suited to this job, most especially out of work GAA, Rugby and soccer players as they could run down the fat people who would undoubtedly come up with cunningly elaborate plans to get their hands on simple carbohydrates

      As was stated above, this is a national emergency and could go hand in hand with the grass cutting proposals and the hedge and verge initiative

  28. wills

    Not settled on articles point. Perhaps that is the point. Its impressionistic.

    I feel compelled to contribute the following in regards article……

    Workplace no longer a mans world. Agreed.

    The nature of work I reckon is morphed into a new time space continuim.

    Machines do the majority of manual work now and making inroads into mental work too.

    So, work as a concept morphs into a new space.

    The new space presents a new paradigm of opportunity for humankind.

    Economically the new space presents humankind a different MO on income and earnings and money.

    Humankind settles down into the workings of the unconscious mind and waves goodbye to illusions of childhood and material ownership.

  29. Will Mancession increase Batchelorhood and why should an unemployed man get married ?

    Read the following :

  30. redriversix

    Stock market crashes again

    Libya will not resume full oil production until late next year [or when N.A.T.O says so]

    Markets have no faith in IMF/EU

    A confederate European union with one finance minister mentioned for the first time in main stream media tonight

    Gold & silver prices still rising.

    Gilmore yapping on about how Ireland is the leading light in Europe and an example others should follow.

    Never mind the fact that their STILL is no money anywhere to repay all this debt worldwide.

    Unemployment rising
    Poverty trap [intern]jobs rising
    Suicide rates growing and unreported.
    No Government of Independence in this country , merely caretakers for Bankers and Europe.
    Where is Micheal Noonan ?

    Families falling apart

    Anti-depressant consumption on the rise
    Garda retiring,over 1200 members

    No new Garda recruitment allowed.

    Hospitals severly under-staffed and under-equipped.

    Longest waiting lists in Hospitals in August since records began.

    No support for small business from Banks.

    449.000 unemployed and rising yet Government returns falling and will continue to fall as crisis worsens.

    Social welfare will be unable to pay its obligations/entitlements to citizens who have paid their P.R.S.I. contributions because the Government has no money.

    During the boom we had full employment and people came here from overseas to get work and we were very glad of them ,at the same time we had over 120,000 on the live register.

    We are witnessing the death of middle-class and the absolute targeting of poor people including people who have lost their jobs/Companies in the last three years, through S.W.cuts to repay Corporate Banking institutions.

    The complete “dumbing down” of society through media propaganda and the promotion of consumerism over the last ten years creating a soft generation who are not interested in questioning anything.

    We need to do something because what we are heading for is going to be quite frightening.

    Wars are being fought in Iraq,Libya,Afghanistan.Covert wars are being fought in Syria,Yemen,Egypt and South America to name a few.

    Financial Wars are being fought every day from Wall street to Madrid.
    Large Companies are already sharing the spoils of War in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.

    So the rich and the establishment are following their long term plan to enrich themselves even more and install there idea of how things should be.

    In conclusion if they are able to “rise up” over the last ten years,Why shouldn,t we.

    They expect us,the people to do nothing.

    All that is needed for evil men to succeed …is for good men to do nothing…

    P.s America,right on cue i might add have issued a Terror alert about the hijacking of small planes over the next ten days,allegedly AL-QAEDA planning a spectacular to commemorate 10 year 9/11 anniversary…….

    • mister_jinks

      Well, that’s very depressing really but it just about sums up the state of the nation and the world.

      “The complete “dumbing down” of society through media propaganda and the promotion of consumerism over the last ten years creating a soft generation who are not interested in questioning anything.”

      Yes. Spend half an hour on Facebook and you’ll see ample evidence of this.

      “We need to do something because what we are heading for is going to be quite frightening.”

      Well, I’m trying not to be too gloomy about the future these days but it’s hard. If you want a dark glimpse of a possible future maybe watch the documentary movie Collapse by Michael Ruppert. It used to be on youtube but not more. You’ll probably find it elsewhere with a little Googling. Day by day, I just feel that we’re headed in this direction though.

      The Crash Course by Chris Marteson explores the fundamental problems facing the US economy, although the content can be applied to the Eurozone also.

      Some observations, no particular order!

      * The sovereign debts of the PIIGS (and other nations) are not likely to ever be repaid unless these economies return to unprecedented growth levels.
      * The sovereign debt of the USA is not likely to be repaid either.
      * Significant devaluations of the US dollar and perhaps the Euro and others are very possible in the medium term. After all, they are fiat currencies with no material backing whatsoever (since the gold standard was abandoned by the US in 1971).
      * Global oil production may have peaked – well it’s been reasonably flat for years now and many commentators predict that it will go into decline in the medium term.
      * Net global energy supply will not be able to keep up with demand (which continually increases) and as a of a peak in oil production will go into decline also as oil is the worlds primary energy source.
      * Here’s the killer though – you can’t have economic growth without growing the energy supply.
      * Or growing the supply of other raw materials such as metals for example which are becoming scarcer and harder to extract.
      * But, the entire global financial system requires exponential growth (which tends to infinity) to surrive.
      * To put it simply, this is because it is based on debt and servicing the interest on this debt requires growth.
      * The global population continues to grow.
      * Environmental destruction continues.
      * The effects of climate change (whether man made or not, it doesn’t matter) are upon us.
      * To sum up, exponential growth tending to infinity, is not sustainable on a planet that is finite. That is a simplistic conclusion but it’s hard to argue with it as it is mathematically sound.

      So, that is where we are at, like it or not. Our way of life, particularly in the industrialised world, is unsustainable in the the long term and the cracks are really beginning to show.

      Anyway, I believe that we are in the middle of one of the most challenging eras in human history. Where to from here, well I’m not really sure although something can be done on a local level such as getting involved in the transition towns network perhaps or other such initiatives.

      Regarding a return to economic growth, well, I believe that the party is well ands truly over and it’s all about sustainability now. It’s unchecked growth that got us into this mess in the first place so it’s time to move on and throw away the old beliefs that won’t serve us in the future.

      By the way, the general limits to growth were well recognised as early as 1971.

    • redriversix

      Thanks for the link Liam,I must be living in the wrong Ireland

      He then goes on to talk about how the euro rescue plan is not working…!!!

      “Man I,m so angry,I could spit”

  31. dwalsh

    I like this article. Especially the underlying message that in focussing on and arguing about specifics we can end up missing the bigger picture…where are we going…and more importantly…where do we want to go?

    What kind of country and society do we want for ourselves and our children?

    In the past decades private sector pay and conditions have steadily declined in the west as globalisation relocated manufacturing to low-waged regions. Now they are also relocating many service and support industries to these regions as the local populations become more educated. Their wages are generally rising as ours are falling. So a new global balance is emerging.

    One form of local myopia I dislike is the vilification of our public service workers. It is as though decent pay and conditions has somehow become immoral. As the private sector dives for the bottom, with increasing numbers employed on temporary contracts with no benefits or security, justly disgruntled private sector workers turn on whomever might have it a bit better and demand they lose their benefits too.

    Why are we turning on each other like this? The oligarchs must be pleased as we demand lower pay and conditions and longer working hours for all.

    Instead of asking why should my neighbour have decent pay and conditions — why not ask, how did it become immoral to expect decent pay and conditions?

    Is that what we want for our children? Lower pay, no benefits or security and longer working hours?

    All of this does not mean I think there is no need of reforms in public services. I’m sure there is; I’m not talking about operational specifics. My point is — what is so wrong with decent pay and conditions?

    (I am not a public service worker)

    • Realist

      Hi Dwalsh,

      “All of this does not mean I think there is no need of reforms in public services. I’m sure there is; I’m not talking about operational specifics. My point is — what is so wrong with decent pay and conditions?”

      I have nothing against people in the public sector, but about public sector in general. People are people and we are growing public sector now for decades, searching for new stimuluses, uses and so on for it.
      The problem is that in economics of public sector (and socialism) you cannot know the real price of service given by it.
      Due to no competition and no real way to quantify the return from it we do not know is it worth it.
      Why would public be better then private ?
      The second problem is that the public sector is paid by coercion in taxes (income taxes, sales taxes, inflation taxes, NAMA taxes when they arive, debt taxes when they arive, …. ). What it means is that somebody else is deciding for us what si the best purpose of money, no check on it.
      E.g. if you buy a bread in the store and you do not like it, you will not buy it again. That is instant check, and such badly run business will go out of business.
      How do you that with public sector ?

      Who is to tell me that I should spent my taxes on 1/3 healthcare, 1/3 welfare, 10% on education and so on.
      If I want it all on education this year how am I going to do that ?
      Putting money in uses by government smart ideas with huge administration cost.

      • dwalsh

        In a proper democracy the public services should be answerable to the public. That would be a reform I would encourage.

        Privatising the government is not the way to go. It is already happening in the USA and just look at how well its working! Government handing out trillions of free cash to its owners on Wall St. How would you feel about that use of your taxes?

        How about the privatised penal services? Could that have anything to do with the fact that America imprisons more of its people than any other nation on earth!

        • Realist

          “In a proper democracy the public services should be answerable to the public. That would be a reform I would encourage.”

          How ? Be concrete. When you cannot price the service if no competition. Whatever public sector (government) told you to pay you pay (you must pay through taxes, pure coercion, regardless do you want or not, or you may go to the prison). How democratic is that :)

          “Privatising the government is not the way to go. It is already happening in the USA and just look at how well its working! Government handing out trillions of free cash to its owners on Wall St. How would you feel about that use of your taxes?”

          Not true. What is privitised in the US ?
          Government bailed Wall St. but that is not privitization as they are now more public than private, is not it.
          In Ireland BOI and AIB are not more private but rather more public, is not it.
          Governments did not default, not yet, is it not why they could not let everything go south.
          Politicians do not want EU and ECB to break down and this is why they will still bail out everything and everybody in finance.

          “How about the privatised penal services? Could that have anything to do with the fact that America imprisons more of its people than any other nation on earth!”

          You should go deep down the root cause of everything.
          I think if you drill down one step you will see the root cause of things.

  32. billy button


    I would like to share a perspective on this.
    I am 25 and feel I know alot about this cohort. I finished secondary school in 2004. The school was a large north dublin one, with a mostly working class profile. In my class there were 88 lads that I did the Leaving cert with. Over the last 7 years I kept in touch with many and would often meet a few round Christmas.

    Of the 88 9 went to University or an Institute of technology – Only 10 percent… Truely a sad stat

    About 25, so lets say a 30 percent went to the trades.
    Plumbers, Carpenters ect. Most had some sort of leaving cert in the 250 to 350 point range. Most were qualified around the end of 07 or 08. Just as the collapse began

    About another 25 to 30 went stright to the sites, mostly as labour. That or they went into jobs like mcdonalds or the tills at tesco.

    The last few maybe a dozen, mostly the ‘hard’ lads, did nothin or went on the dole. Some got into crime/drugs. One is in mount joy for 11 years another is a cronic heroin addict. Saddest of all.

    So move on 7 years. Most of the trades lads are unemployed. Some didnt even get to finish their apprentice time. The labouring lads are almost uniformly jobless. The lads in tesco are mostly still there, but few have advanced. And the lads in university are unemployed, underemployed or have gone abroad.

    So what do I think that means…

    Well third level isnt for everyone, but only getting nine lads from 88 into it is terrible. There is a real and nasty geographical class divide in education. There are few role models for working class lads. When I went to university I didnt know how to write or reference. I’d never read a book or been in a library. Ive grown to love those things but I was simply never exposed to it. I didnt know about it, how anything academic worked. In university the 9 lads all did well 3 Phds nearly done. I got a 1:1 BA and MA.

    The fellas in trades, I see often. Some have taken to manual work or simple factory stuff. Most know they will never work at what they trained for. I see alot of them in the pubs, I know alot of the lads drink to deal with their sadness. They feel worthless living with their ma at 25. I can see how easy it is to gradially slip into alcoholism. When your refused work so often it gets to you, and I see it in these guys I know.

    The lads in tesco are depressed, they see no future in their jobs, they know 400 euro for a single guy at 20 living at home is alot. But they also know at thirty with a wife, child and mortgage its not enough. Passing 25 they worry more and more.

    The labouring lads are on the dole. They drink and smoke. Their sad at their lot but maybe dont have the cop on to find a way out. They need support but I dont know if they get it. Ive never seen it. Most of them are good lads, work hard and as the mature are decent men. But their cut adrift in a rough society.

    They last few, the ‘hard lads’ seem nihilistic. Live for the weekend, father children they never see, get high, get drunk, but never get out. I guess this are the guys they call the underclass. They were lost well before secondary school, often due to people and environments beyond their control.

    What would I do?

    1. give lads strong role models, male teachers mid 20s to 50s. Alot of they lads need a strong hand to guide them, help them, disipline them. Someone to relate that is stable. Often this lacks at home. Start this from the age of 5.

    2. in poorer areas cut the class size. Areas with socio-economic problems often produce kids that find it hard in the class room. smaller class better mean better relations to the teacher and a more controlled environment.

    3. Grade the teachers by preformance. In retrospect I had some wonderful teachers but some truely woeful ones aswell. Pay more to good ones esp in harder districts.

    4. In secondary get rid of the Leaving cert as one big orgasam of testing, Its a relic that should die. its fails youmg men. Have continual assessment by the teachers. a little work everyday not a cramming session for a 3 hour test.

    5. Bring back the technical school. Alot of lads are not destined for academia. They dont want that path. I feel a person should be educated for the life they want to live, with skills pertinant to that life. Never bar anyone from trying the intellectual route but give them a choice. maybe around 14 or so.

    6. As for uni, get rid of the points system. Set a minimum standard for entry. Then make the first year in uni the selection test. Thats a far more accurate guide than a leaving cert as to whether a person will like/succeed in a given course. It might also instill a better more academic culture at third level.

    7. Finally bring in a life lessons class. Tell the lads rthings they need to know. How to pay bills, what a certain interest rate will mean on a loan. What having a child involves, or things to consider in a partner. Perhaps even how to consider the moral, ethical and spiritual side of the decisions they make. Basically the advice most of us learn the hard way.

    Irish education does not teach the boys of today how to think. This is how it fails. It never teaches them the skills to develop as people. To ask what they want of their lives and what makes sense for them and others as people in a society. Irish education teaches people to memorise but rarely to thing and certainly never to analyse. Working class boys are worst off of all in that it is they that need to change their outcomes the most. Analyse why other groups do so much better than they, and think how to change it.

    • CitizenWhy

      Thank you for this post. It describes exactly what is wrong. I have often found myself waiting at the bus stop (USA), the only white guy (elderly) among young black men. Their stories are like yours. They are good people who never had the kind of support that would have helped them. Occasionally (if they have a secondary diploma) I can refer them to a government program that would send them to community college for free in a number of job oriented programs. In contrast the poor families in the area with two committed parents are clearly directing their children well.

      P.S. Many here in the USA (Including a nephew) trained in the trades go to work in Buildings and Grounds for a large university, getting a regular salary and health insurance and a good pension scheme and taking on projects beyond work for extra income. I do not know if that would work in Ireland – you may need connections – but it often works here.

    • Juanjo R

      Some responses regarding the above;

      1) National school teaching is dominated by females, more to the point – sheepish gaelgoir culturally conservative types. You need to change the nature of the education here to get a result.

      2) I’m tired of the disadvantaged schools begging bowl bullshit – seriously the middle section of soiety is getting severelly impinged to the point that its now the real disadvanted part. The middle section was where the true engine was. Repair that.

      3) Heres a better idea – reduce school holidays and run two shifts morning and evening in schools aka the continent. Teachers have had it too good for too long and facilities are underused.

      4)& 6) Continual assessment has its pitfalls too but your general points here are good.

      5) Vocational schools still exist nobody wants to go to them that actually cares that is.

      6) There is a minmum standard its called matriculation.

      7) With you on that general point but home environments are as important in outcomes for the working class.

      • Harper66

        “Begging bowl bullshit” – ignorant comment and gross over simplification.

        “Vocational schools still exist nobody wants to go to them that actually cares that is.”

        I am baffled. I think you are speaking on a subject you are not too well informed on. There are two streams of thought on education. One is the modernist approach which advocates learning to develop the person. The second approach is the post modern view of education as equipping the learner with a specific set of skills in one specific area and nothing else.

        FF pushed the post modern view through the ugly monster that is/was Fas – short courses that barely equipped the learner with certain skills put gave them no awareness of the wider context they were working in. In my opinion this is the stuff of Orwells 1984 and should be resisted. It is dumbing down.

        The vocational model endorses a more holistic approach to learning but it is being shouted down by the noise of the ignorant, such as grind schools which do little to educate your child but will cram information into their heads for them to regurgitate it for one exam.

        • dwalsh


          Well said Harper66.

          Female teachers referred to as “sheepish gaelgoir culturally conservative types” is another dispicable passage in this fascist rant.

          • Juanjo R


            You know who the only world leader to sympathise with the third reich on the death of Hitler was?

            Dev! Mhaith on fear! Agus bhi se ina Uactarann na Eireann ina dhiadh sin!

            And do you you know you opened fire first at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday? – the IRA no less. From a barricade outside at the british army who were keeping their distance – all in order to provoke a response. And they got it.

            Did you hear that in school or anytime since? No we heard about the evil british bullies killing a whole 15 innocent people and we are still crying about it. But the assassination of british soldiers defenceless in their beds that morning well – that was an act of war! And a clever one at that!

            Did this IRA shoting at the brits first make it into Neil Jordans film – of course not – it might have blurred the storyline — you know between the goodies and the baddies.

            Whats worse it would have contradicted the popular myth.

            Irelands pure heroes fought for equality and sovereign freedom and ( catholic not protestant ) god above and maidens dancing at the crossroads! And sure bedad FF have continued to bring us those ideals to this very day…

            And isn’t that what you are all so angry about …were you all just fed a load of horseshit and you cant deal with the contradiction between what you were brainwashed to think and what has transpired or is still transpiring?

            I mean not many people have died as a result of all this, at least not directly, yet there is so much anguish.

            Personally I resent the proto-facist anti-british pro-catholic nationalist shite that was fed to me all throughout school. I resented in particular the attempted brainwashing by these self important ‘insiders’ of Irish society – the national school teachers.

            All this only occurred continuously with their sheepish collusion for societal status and for money.

            I was beaten with a ruler frequently in national school. I’m not that old. By women teachers. Nothing was ever done against them.It was know and complained about. I do remember a stop being put to males doing it.

            I was thrown out of class in second level for daring to suggest that the catholic church was a cult and religion class was an attempt to brainwash me and others. I was ostracised by my almost all female classmates for this and for offending the poor young christian doctrine teacher fresh down from Dublin. She ran out of the room crying. She couldn’t deal with all the lies and contradictions plainly. I was attached by her older boyfriend ( whom she was living ‘in sin’ with up the road ) on a football pitch with two of his brothers present — I was a bit scrawny 17 they were 19, 26 and 28 and two of them quite a bit bigger and heavier than me. I got attacked ( head-butted ) for pointing out a contradiction which was offensive to the mind set of those people. If i fought back when attacked I’m sure it would have been worse for me.

            In case you think I was a trouble maker my record was clean otherwise and my academic part quite good.

            My conclusion, Ireland is a shitty aggressive dishonest place.

            And getting around to what qualifies me to know about schools – let me see 6.5 years working on construction projects in many disadvantaged national schools and with 4 VEC ( that is vocational school ) projects ( 40+ sites / 100+ projects or jobs of all sizes including emergency ones ) with access to school boards/principals/caretakers and VEC liaison staff — all during a building boom and crash — this wouldn’t qualify me to know anything on the subject or to know what I saw and examined repeatedly professionally with my own eyes?

            Plus unlike you lot, I actually went for 5 years to a vocational school. So don’t lecture me on holistic approaches. So there I’d say I’m better qualified to know that any of you three.

            The begging bowl mentality has failed — look at any ‘disadvantaged school’ or look at the social project of Ballymun in general – two expensive makeovers and all its people know is how to collect their handouts and state entitlements.

            Heres an issue that effects everybody in every school and that teachers sheepishly have been colluding with non re-use of school books. . Its presented as being the issue of the poor the disadvantaged only of course teachers though forcing the cost of new books on disadvantaged kids will still be claiming their schools are disadvantaged to the department – look the kids are so poor!.

            There is nearly 500,000 unemployed in the country I’m sure some of them have kids and they are not all in areas tagged as disadvantaged. How does that work for their kids.

            Can I tell you where always gets the best treatment in a school makeovers in a disadvantaged school – the staff room and staff toilets.

            The ‘begging bowl’ is a way of getting your hands on what you want not actually addressing real issues – its like a kids whine to its parents — so the parent gives in quickly and the whine goes away.

            The bankers did it and it worked. In a huge way. We are total pushovers.

            Plus I said female NATIONAL school teachers above.

            My point is that NS teachers are predominantly of the one limited nationalistic narrow minded mentality and they are shoved out into the world pretending they are mature adults aged 21 after 3 years of a short intense mixed education – when are still are fucking clueless about any significant issues in life or anything other than Gaeilge, Eireann go brath, catholisim and GAA which they walked in loving. Being good at Irish is the main criterion for there becoming a NS teacher. How can such a narrow focus and clear agenda cannot be universally helpful in caring for young minds.

            And the vast vast majority are female. This is a fact.

            Aside from this I have little respect for NS teachers and I have personal experience for this, more and worse than what I mentioned above.

            But you judgemental f***s are calling me facist. I’m ignorant apparently. You know nothing of me.

            Criticism no we can~t have that toss some PC red herrings his way and lets go on believing everything is okay!

            As for racists or facists – get this – the ONLY vocational schools with significant increases in enrollments across the last number of years were the gaelscoils/colaistes in poor areas BECAUSE Irish Mommies and Daddies want their kids to be educated where there are no foreigners clogging up the educational system.

            That is a fact.I’m able to go one better and name a clear example of this if need be.

            I’m glad that I’m out of there. No Irish sheep will teach my kids, or hit them.

          • Colin

            I salute you Juanjo R. Great Post. Insider Hypocrisy is Rampant from the infant school to the corporate boardroom.

            Anyone else notice more FAI incompetence last night? We were down to 10 men at one stage because of a ‘it’ll do, everything will be grand’ mentality which is still in situ in FAI HQ. FIFA rules clearly state every player on the pitch must have a number on his jersey. Clowns in FAI don’t seem to know this. What do they know about football anyway?

          • Malcolm McClure

            Juanjo R: Your emotive rant above explains the chip on your shoulder, which apparently is quite justified. What you experienced may well have been true of female teachers in Ballymun, Tallaght, etc. a generation ago, but is it still true today?

            A neighbour’s daughter teaches in Tallaght. She seems to enjoy the challenge, coping with some children who have stable backgrounds and others with problems. However this is the challenge for every teacher in the land, although the mix may be different. It seems to be policy to throw in recent graduates from training school at the deep end, in places like that, to experience the difference between educational theory and practice. The key to maintaining discipline is not the curriculum, over which teachers have little control, but their commitment and enthusiasm. Judging from my own experience, anyone who has more than three teachers with full-on commitment in the course of their entire education is truly fortunate.

            Complain about those who set the curriculum, by all means.

            Remember with gratitude your good teachers, if only for trying against the odds, and consign the rest to the dustbin of oblivion.

          • coldblow


            From Crotty’s Ireland in Crisis:

            “The self-image of “traditional” Ireland was, it may be suggested, characterised less by hypocrisy than by self-deception on a heroic scale. It was this that gave it such enormous emotional power, and could achieve such resonance even among those who might be objectively regarded as the victims… The self-portrait of traditional Ireland was a work of art, a triumph of imagination, will power and technique over refractory raw material… Traditional Ireland worshipped its authorised self-portrait with an idolatrous fervour. All peoples need their public myths. But all public myths are not equally mythical. Not all feel the same need to disguise so much of the truth as had the traditional Irish one.”

          • coldblow

            That should read JJ Lee’s History of Ireland, not Ray Crotty.

        • Juanjo R

          Attention you three;

          “Racism is the belief that there are inherent differences in people’s traits and capacities that are entirely due to their race, however defined, and that, as a consequence, racial discrimination (i.e. different treatment of those people, both socially and legally) is justified.”

          Perhaps you people you learn what racism is, and particularly how SOMEBODY NEEDS TO BE OF A DIFFERENT RACE to be a racist – before you attempt to defame somebody ( me in this case ) with with your stupid libels.

          F*****g Morons.

          • Harper66

            Do you expect a civil reply to that abusive rant?

            You know nothing about me. I grew up in a working class area and attended a vocational secondary school.

            I was a recipient of the “begging bowl bullshit” and I was and remain truly grateful. Without it I would have finished secondary school but college or university would have been a world I could not even have dreamed of.

            By the way I would never dream of speaking to people in the manner you addressed me – even if I was, like you, hiding behind the anonymity of this website.

          • Juanjo R


            Relatively equal access to education for rich an for poor is not ‘begging bowl bullshit’ its normal behaviour in any modern country that values some degree of meritocracy.

            The ‘disadvantaged’ funding tag in Ireland is a pretence of a type wealth distribution or equaling of the playing field for the poor. Its a political PR plaything not a reality. To paraphrase a well known ad “it doesn’t do what it says on the tin”

            I mean poor families have to pay for their needless new edition books too ab well as the rich or intermediates! What is that if not a regressive measure! But if they are lucky they might have their toilets refurbished!

    • Adam Byrne

      Very many informative points thanks billy, thanks.

      One thing strikes me though. I myself come from a working class background with some not-so-great role models in close proximity to me (enough said) but I read hundreds, if not thousands of books when I was a kid (and continuing through early adulthood) which prepared me very well for university – even though I didn’t start that till the ripe old age of 37.

      There are plenty of second hand books and newspapers lying around, and were, even back in the 70s and 80s. I’d read anything I could get my hands on. I worked my way (A – Z) through a ragged old set of encyclopaedias when I was still in primary school.

      Lucan, West Dublin didn’t have a library until the late nineties (or early noughties?) after decades of appeals and agitation by local residents (most of them working class as far as I know) but we had a mobile library going around or people used to bus it to town to utilise the library in the Ilac centre or the afore-mentioned second hand book shops (good one in Leixlip too).

      Anyway, you seem to have caught up with your reading but I sincerely believe that some kids just like reading no matter what background they come from and will push it themselves. I even had plenty of time left for sports (football mostly) and earned a living at times (when necessary) from that during my twenties and thirties.

      Of course nowadays you have so many more distractions for the kids, most of them nihilistic in themselves if you ask me – mobile phones which they can use to communicate endless, inane nonsense to their friends by call and text, video games (we had some basic ones on the Spectrum 48k or the Commodore 64) of a violent and addictive nature, internet porn (we might have hidden one magazine in the bushes which did us for most of our puberty), incessant advertising selling untold shit, the ever-present iPod (just look around on a public bus these days – even the ‘adults’ wear headphones non-stop) pumping absolute garbage into people’s brains. Most kids don’t allow (or are not allowed) a little silence to just look around and think about the world as it passes them by. And of course kids don’t play out on the street morning, noon and night like we used to. There are some reasons for this but is Ireland really that much more dangerous for kids than when we used to live on the road? There is more traffic for sure but crimes like stranger-child abduction and still low in comparison to, say, the USA. But we live in a molly-coddled society and a society that is heading in the wrong direction in terms of its values and how it raises its children.

    • Great post especially like 7. But ’4′ I disagree with. Replacing anonymity and privacy protection with continual assessment and the corruption/abuse this invites, is no answer.

      • Harper66

        “Replacing anonymity and privacy protection with continual assessment and the corruption/abuse this invites, is no answer”????

        Continous assessment is much better indicator of ability than one off exams which primarily rewards the ability to regurgiatate facts.

        Our education system is built around one off exams and the quality of our colleges and universities and our graduates is slipping not improving.

        I spoke to a woman recently who told me her son had gotten into Trinity, I asked her what course he was doing and she couldnt tell me, but she looked at me as if I was missing the point….

        I am baffled by your claim that continual assesment should not be considered as it invites corruption.

        • @Harper66

          Plenty of teaching quals here, don’t worry about that, also family, both sides, plenty of experience.

          Basically, if the person giving the mark can be targeted by a student, pressure can be brought to deliver the mark the parent and student wants.

          There have been severe instances of this in the USA with on numerous occasions peeved students shooting their teachers simply because they failed to get into the course they wanted by a few marks, but that wouldn’t happen here, or would it:)

          Management might want the teaching staff to up the marks to improve the profile of the school.

          It appears you are a rather naive person:)

          • Harper66

            I have plenty of experience in this area.

            Continuous assessment is a component in many courses in college and university without the dire consequences you outline.

            I can also assure you I am not naive, I am curious though why the need for the condescending put down?

          • coldblow

            I actually agree with you on this one, Colm. For all their faults exams are anonymous and objective.

          • dwalsh

            your final comment undermines your arguments. Insults dont make good arguments.

            There are good points on both sides. Continuous assesment is better for students in a lot of ways IMO.

          • Harper66,

            Sorry, nothing personal. I was referring to the argument you put as being naive. College and second level are two different systems.

            I was referring to continuous assessment at second level where continuous assessment for formal examination purposes is a road I believe to disaster.

            Of course teachers practice continuous assessment on an ongoing basis by way of preparation, class tests and so on.

            Of course the LC is flawed but it has much benefit including externally applied objectivity, transparency
            and accountability.

            Overall, education at second level is pretty dire especially for advanced or under achieving students, but bringing in continuous assessment to replace the LC is a recipe for a can of worms:)

    • Praetorian

      @ Billy, good post, tallies with my experience, it would seem things have not changed for all the talk, in my primary class of 36, 5 got to university and the breakdown was similar to what you have outlined, with at least one I know shot dead (involved in gangs) and two doing serious jail time. Hard to get out for the majority who struggle, even more so now.

    • Scipio

      This is an excellent synopsis of how the Irish education system has failed “the lads”. However, by the time you implemented these solutions the ship would have sailed for the generation that Billy speaks of. Wouldn’t be the 1st generation this has happened to in Ireland.

      I suggest expanding the Irish military. Give these lads some structure, training, and discipline. Now before the peaceniks start flaming me about “Iraq/Afganistan/WarOnTerror” et al ad nauseum – I am not suggesting the re-formation of the Wild Geese which would then be sub-contracted to the USMC. Rather a type of Irish Peace Corps leading the charge on public works/national interest type projects (setting up a national wind farm(s), demolishing ghost estates,,,). The US military has been very successful in working with the US version of “the lads” that Billy speaks of. The military is about the one area of the US Govt. which works and which is held in high esteem by most people here.

      Personally, I believe that a citizen militia is a good thing. These lads are getting the dole – they may as well do something for it.

  33. wills

    Billy, great post. Very informative. Thanks.

  34. uchrisn

    Read an article on Sweden about the growing number of young males who couldn’t find work, even pre-crisis. Like Ireland the guys were just not competitive enough with girls academically. The journalist was looking at it more from a family perspective, the girls generally are prefering to stay single rather than marry a guy on a lower income. Guys on the other hand have no problem marrying women earning less than them. So they were looking at future trends of a large number of underemployed or poorly paid men not being able to find a partner. This would be similar in Ireland and the construction industry temporarily masked that.
    Personally I think that people in general and these young men should think about what they can do for others rather than look after themselves. Missionary priests and nuns are not married and do not have any material goods. They use their skills in developing countries. They may not be rewarded with dollars, they have other rewards and are some of the most fufilled people.
    At the end of the day Irish people have much more advantages than people in developing countries, many of whom live on less than a few dollars a day.
    As far as I am concerned I would like the developing world to be put on a level playing feild with the developed world, i.e. no visa/work/trade restrictions.
    I think the worlds great secret is all of these people living outside the developed worlds finacial and trade empire. Look at the secret 1.2 trillion in ‘loans’ made by the Fed during the crisis. All to developed world countries and banks. The dollar does not deserve to be the global reserve currecny anymore.

  35. uchrisn

    Living in a developing country shows how little people actually need to live on. There a couple might earn 900 dollars a month working in the typical public service job. They can afford a bungalow house on half and acre for 30,000 dollars within 40mins drive of the capital. They can still have money to pay for food and occasional trips etc.
    Basically they can’t afford BMWs and shopping trips to New York and they can afford housing.
    This helped me see clearly at the time the housing
    ‘scam’ in Ireland. Of course its possible to provide housing for everyone at a very reasonable price in as properous a place as Ireland, even Signapore can do it with a massive population in a tiny space, and look at all the space in Ireland.
    The property price fixing ‘scam’ in Ireland origionally benefited – all existing homeowners in terms of increased ‘imaginary’ home values, – All farmers who could sell their land for high prices – The banks whose balance sheet value exploded, the developers and construction indusrty workers who could all cream off a tidy profit from the high prices, Real estate agents who gained higher fees – Bondholders and Wall street banks – who benefited from CDS sales and interest payments on the bank bonds.
    However as with all collusionist scams it will eventually end in tears for many and profit for the few bigger and stronger ones. Unfortunatly it hasn’t ended yet with NAMA and the banks still artifically propping up the price of properties with the backing of the people mentioned above.
    Control of central banks has been taken away from governments (the people) in all capitalist countries as history has shown that they are just not responsible enough in the short term to manage monetary policy. They just tended to give themsleves too many goodies in the short term and mess the whole thing up in the medium term.
    I suggest that control of regualtion of the property merket be handed to an independent agency appionted for terms of 14 years and not governments. I don’t blame the government for failing to bring in legislation to make housing affordable and stop the bubble. I blame the people listed above. At the end of the day of people ran for election on that premise in 2002, 2007 and 2011 and did not get elected.

    • CitizenWhy

      I got to know many Mexican families in my neighborhood. They work very hard for very little money but they stick together as a family and they help each other. The apartments – cheap – in or neighborhood are actually large and pleasant. They are following in the footsteps of our Portuguese and Cape Verdean immigrants, saving what they can to buy a “triple decker” (three apartment tenements), renting one of the apartments and living in the other two. They know how to manage poverty.

      In watching some of the movies from the 50s and remembering my childhood, I realize how well we once managed poverty and enjoyed each other’s company and the rich life of music, games, conversation and imagination we shared. Recently, in modest retirement, I have got to know some young college graduates who actually like to talk about literature and philosophy. I have always enjoyed thinking about these things and am surprised to mix with young people who share this enjoyment. That’s something the bankers haven’t seized yet.

      • Praetorian

        I lived among the Mexican-American community in the US and travelled to Mexico several times, remittances play a large role with a lot of families building ‘retirement’ or family homes in Mexico sometimes a room or floor at a time, you see a lot of half finished houses, when I queried this I was told the next stage is only done when the money is there and people criticise them for being feckless, wasters. I too saw how hard they work, they were also very entrepreneurial using money from ‘jobs Americans won’t do’ to start their own small business, I was deeply impressed, they just ignore the critics for the bigots they are. Wise indeed and may have the last laugh.

    • dwalsh

      “Control of central banks has been taken away from governments (the people) in all capitalist countries as history has shown that they are just not responsible enough in the short term to manage monetary policy.”

      I’m not going to give you the long version of the account of how for instance the USA government has been usurped (bought) by capital and is actually not a functioning government in the constitutional sense – i.e. of the people for the people – i’m sure you get the idea; but I cannot let this statement go by without objection.

      The Ferderal Reserve – a privately controlled central bank with the franchise to produce and control the world’s reserve currency – has played a pivotal role in creating this global crisis.

      The policy of cheap money. The championing of mortgage fraud under the guise of social policy. The gagging of regulators in the USA and globally. And perhaps worst of all, unleashing the plague of unregulated derivatives trading on the world.

      If as you say central banking had to be taken away from government because ordinary people are too irresponsible to manage financial policy — then how do you explain the appalling mess your wonderful central bankers have made of the whole planet?

      I know — your going to blame the government…!
      You mean the government the bankers paid to have elected; the one where their CEOs and executives run the treasury and the other federal agencies?

      Sorry but your argument is illogical and untrue. The opposite of what you say is truth.

      • uchrisn

        Sure the Fed and the ECB are not performing well and are under large influence from private Banks. The boards that make decicions on both of these key central banks have a banking background and have often worked for Goldmans etc. in the past. This was a key factor in the crisis.
        Putting central banks under government control is not the answer. Governments would use monetary policy to improve their chances of winning an election by lowering interest rates before the election etc.
        For me the answer is too have a wider group of people on the boards of independent central banks. Such as economists from workers unions, NGO’s guys like David.
        When the decision making structure of the ECB was being made up I had no input. I would certainly like to have had now.

        • dwalsh


          A larger spectrum of representation on cental bank boards – yes. Democratic representation – not the private banking interest hegemony we currently have.

          The Fed is essentially a private bank…not merely influenced by them. You are completely ignoring the central role played by the Fed in this disaster:

          “the Fed and the ECB are not performing well”

          This has to rank as a contender for the crown of understatement of the crisis. Astonishing.

          “Governments would use monetary policy to improve their chances of winning an election by lowering interest rates before the election etc.”

          It would be entirely desirable if politicians set fiscal policy to benefit the electorate. Not in the crude manner you suggest; but in ways that generate a stable economy in which all citizens can find a place and prosper at whatever level they can achieve. Indeed I would say that is precisely what we all suppose we are paying them to do. That would be proper democratic government.

          The real danger you overlook is adjusting fiscal policy to suit wealthy patrons. Which is actually what is happening now, and which is an underlying cause of the current crisis — i.e. the deregulation and bailouts arose precisely in this manner.

          At this time even the most economically illiterate among us realise that our governments are putting wealthy patrons before the public good.

          Your comment is simplistic and a reversal of the actual facts on the ground. Nonetheless you do highlight a real problem – but of course not in the way you imply it.

          Politics as a career is very insecure and professional politicians are thus vulnerable to undue influence from those who can offer them financial security irrespective of their fortunes at the polls — i.e. wealthy patrons.

          That is an inherent weakness in democracy as we have it; a weakness the oligarchs will endeavour to retain since it gives them leverage at the expense of the public and democracy.

          • uchrisn

            In ancient Rome you couldn’t run for election unless you had a rich patron to back you. Of course you looked after his interests when you get in. Thats what our system is based on. Policiticans only allowed to advertise on free media such as the internet, and corporate donations banned is an obvoius solution. The Oligarchy and their media would never go for that.
            I have seen the video by Bill Still, its interesting. Unfortunalty he completely fails to explain the reasons why almost all democratic countires in all corners of the world have independent central banks.

  36. Harper66

    “THREE more tough Budgets will get us back on track, the country’s top economic think-tank predicts today.”

    Isn’t that what said three years ago?

  37. DeirdreMcGowan

    In a review of 1976, Christina Murphy wrote in the Irish Times
    “The objections to jobs for married women had reached a vertiable crescendo at the end of the year. Civil servants, religious brothers, local councillors, VEC members, farmers, all leapt with an incredible agility onto the bandwagon. There were times when you would think that every job in the country was being held down by a married mother of nine, while thousands of starving unemployed male school leavers roamed the countryside destitute”

    Male and female rates of employment were equal at 65% each in the last review by the IMF,(but women still earn less and work part-time more often). Would David like to take us back to the 1970′s when young women were supposed to go home and wash the dishes quietly while their brothers worked for wages.

    • Harper66

      Your post is an astounding contortion of the point David was trying to make.

      • DeirdreMcGowan

        Simply pointing out the dangers of using a gender based argument to highlight the very real problem of youth unemployment.
        “astounding” was my reaction to the emphasis on gender in David’s post.

        • Harper66

          I think it is okay for a person to write a commentary on unemployment amongst men without being accused of being sexist, dont you?


    Sent an email to Joan Burton asking her what proportion of jobs advertised in Fas last yr paid the av wage or above , circa 35k.The reply was, “we don’t collate that sort of info”.Sent the same email to her UK counterpart, the answer was 31%.Fas is garbage, just a cushy gig for the staff.On the job training is non existent in ireland, apart fron burger/pizza making.40 % of jobs created by the economy in the past decade have vanished. Ross has a good piece re bankers.

    • Harper66


      I think this may be the Shane Ross piece you make reference to?

      I totally agree with you about Fas, I have heard stories of goings on in Fas that defy belief.

      I have to say I never liked Joan Burton but my opinion on her has improved of late – she is making serious efforts to bring in savings in her department and if memory serves Shane Ross wrote recently that the mandarins in the Dept. of Finance moved heaven and earth to keep her out of that ministry…which would lead me to only one conclusion she would have tried to instigate change….

    • Colin

      I attended a FAS course over 10 years ago, it ran 48 weeks and was titled “Computer Programming”. Our instructor took early retirement from Bank of Ireland, and told us he took the FAS job in order for him to “give something back” to society. The guy was a fat lazy incompetent smartarse. His first words to the class were “You guys are smart, and I’m not gonna spoon-feed you”. He was right, we were smart, there was competitive entry to the course and most people there had honours degrees in other areas, but he was too busy surfing the net on the job that he didn’t know where the spoons were kept. We as a class did organise ourselves to demand better tuition, we contacted the head of the FAS Centre about the carry on of the instructor, but we got absolutely nowhere. They closed ranks around us. We were denied our proper training.


    Dermot Mc Carthy’s retirement package, 700k !

  40. Praetorian

    It seems pretty obvious that the type of people who manage to work their way to the top of the Irish political system are middle of the road, safe pairs of hands types, who are neither going to wrong the boat nor come up with anything remotely imaginative. They will never challenge corporate power or banks, that has been pretty much laid bare in the last 3 years of fumbling, stumbling and decline, with 460,000 people testament to the priorities.

    However it is worse than that, even within the grubby system they are not prepared to advance even a little the societal cause for ‘FEAR’ of upsetting the vested interests, because of this and this alone the entire society is doomed to go on and on, it will be a lost decade, like all the other lost decades prior to the so called boom.

    Not a single Irish politician in power will pin their colours to the mast certainly not like FDR did in 1944 (and before when he took on Wall St. and won). We are living in easily the most mediocre period in the history of the Irish state.

    FDR’s Second Bill of Rights:

    Excerpt from President Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union:

    “It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people–whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth–is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

    This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights–among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

    As our nation has grown in size and stature, however–as our industrial economy expanded–these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all–regardless of station, race, or creed.

    Among these are:

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

    All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

    America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.

    For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

    Film version

    • dwalsh


      He was a remarkable man and I endorse his vision.

      Many today will not, even to their own loss – due to the heavy market propaganda we have been subjected to for decades. It has become a fetish; a modern cult of the Golden Calf.

      Good post.

    • CitizenWhy

      I have always loved Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights. Much of the New Deal came out of NY State programs under Al Smith, Many of these programs were developed by the Bronx Democratic Party Club made up of Jewish Socialists and Irish labor pragmatists. The Bronx Club was the only one in the state voting for Roosevelt as the nominee. The other choice was an ultra-conservative racist from Texas.

      The Democratic Party lost its way when it “reformed” itself, eliminating Presidential nomination by delegates chosen by the clubs (that is, urban working class organizations) and putting the nomination in the hands of “democratic” primaries. Incidentally this “reform” occurred just as urban blacks were beginning to get some power within the club system. The Bronx club played a big role in helping blacks attain that power.

      The “reform” shifted power from the urban working class to suburban college graduates and professionals who operated on abstractions and lacked the experiences necessary to understand and advance lower class people. Disaster!

      Had the Democratic Party left selection of one third of delegates to the clubs, the Democratic Party would be far more in line with the party of Roosevelt instead of the Neo-Liberal, corporatist party it has become.

      The genius of the clubs, when in progressive hands, were:

      1. Access to power by the urban working class and the poor. A poor parent going to a club house was heard and often got a follow up call from a powerful politician. That power won the parents a great deal of respect from their kids. My mother had great fun talking with our Congressman about a problem. The problem was quickly solved.

      2. Thrashing out issues with real knock-down discussions. The discussions were by people in actual touch socially with poor and working class families. From the discussions practyicalpolicy proposals were developed. The ideas percolated up to the powers in DC, they did not come from Ivy League Professors (some of whom are very good, but are ignored because they are just individuals). The Bronx club was fortunate to have many Socialists among its members and they had some very good ideas, very close the the Second Bill of Rights. It also had labor union officials and members who could circulate those ideas.

      3. The ability of clubs with ideas to influence the President and members of Congress.

      The “reform” was in response to “big city bosses” and in particular to the corrupt and racist Manhattan Club, which refused to admit blacks. Instead blacks joined the Bronx Club and the first black to be elected Manhattan Borough President was groomed by the Bronx Club. What was left out was the fact that Chicago, St. Louis and other powerful clubs generally followed the advice of the Bronx Club. It was phone calls from the Bronx club to other clubs that got JFK nominated.

      Eliminating the clubs also left everyone at the mercy of the media for discussions of policy or simple shouting of slogans.

      • Deco

        The Presidential Selection process is not actally dominated by the voters – but by the saturation level coverage of the media – which has reduced it to a spectacle. The media grew powerful to the point that it could deliver more for the “advertising sponsors”.

        And that is where the poer lies. To end it people need to be told at an aggregate level to switch off the remote control, and get off the couch. I mean an aggregate level, because that is required to attain critical mass in terms of election coverage.

        In the last Presidential campaign, in the end it was about the narratives, heroic eulogizing, and the celebrity endorsements. A serious business became reduced to an ongoing Disneyesque saga. And lets face it – the Disney saga model of covering the event has people hooked. It works. The seperation between a good movie and the political process, is non-existent it would seem for a broad enough category of the population. The politicians button press with mantras, persistent abuse terms for opponents,(often completely falacious) and loaded up with empty promises. Nobody actually stands up and says that the entire process is a hijacked to vested interests, and the media are making sure it remains this way.

        The population is dumbed down, and emoted up. Everybody is excited, and nobody really has it figured. And from what we have seen the difference is mostly superficial in any case.

    • Scipio

      On the domestic front (1932-40) FDR was a much more intelligent obama but equally ineffective. Even his own treasury secretary, Morganthu, acknowledged (in 1937) that nothing they had tried worked. He was bailed out by WWII. Roosevelt’s true genius was the establishment of the Pax Americana. However, he planted the seeds of socialism in the US which took root and flowered. You are now seeing the results of this.

    • dd

      Politics in Ireland is synonymous with nepotism. The country was founded by radicals with clear ideas for change. However public office here seems to be passed from one generation of the same family to the next.

      While Cummann na nGael(FG)/Labour/Fianna Fail of the 1920/30′s had clear and opposing agendas, their children, grandchildren etc who now hold office seem to be primarily concerned with holding onto their seat.

      FF over the last 15 years was a good case in point. They were neither right nor left just a populist party. While dining with Bankers and property developers at the Galway races and creating a property bubble, they were pleasing unions with policies such as benchmarking.

      We need to press the reset button on politics in this country and elect public representatives who will responsibly govern instead of bowing before vested interests

  41. StephenKenny

    In answer to David’s question, there seem to me to be three possible results of this policy:
    Firstly, the men could simply become effectively feminised, as is apparent in a number of countries. In the UK, for example, the men are taking on characteristics of what previously had been described as female. Research out of Oxford University recently indicated that British men spend as much as women on cosmetic products and services, and that time and money spent on apparel is close and rapidly catching up. Similar statistics come out of Sweden.
    Secondly, the men will just leave, as has been the case regularly in the past.
    Thirdly, a lot more prisons will become necessary as men increasingly lose reasons to remain within the system, and the structure that works best for men will be outside the law.

    It is most probable that a combination of all three will be what we see.

    There will be a number of other demographic changes that correlate with this policy. A decline in marriage rates and an increase in divorce rates. This leads to a bigger and bigger role for the state in the upbringing of children and care of the elderly, as can be seen in many countries.

    • Adam Byrne

      Disastrous all round!

    • Deco

      Interesting points.

      There is more to life than being a consumer. And there is more to being a man than being part of consumer focus/affinity group who is supposed to copy endorsements from reference celebrities.

      Consumerism is effectively dehumanizing us. Neil Fergusson reckons consumerism is one of the pillars of the success of the West. Actually, I suspect that it is one of the key ingredients of systemic failure. But this topic is completely taboo. It is like standing up in Red Square in 1984, and telling everybody that Marxist implementation was going to result a systemic failure and econimc collapse. Nobody will listen, because everybody has been saturated with information to the contrary. We are educated to believe.

      • StephenKenny

        The policy’s been in place since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and, as with the FIRE ‘economies’, will have to run it’s course.

        A ‘perfect’ consumerist society is a ‘perfect’ meritocracy – the more you’re worth, the higher your income, the more expensive your lifestyle, and round again. The more alternatives that people have to this way of life, the more damaging it is to this society.

        The advantages to such an organisation are considerable: they’re very safe; they offer equal opportunities for all; job selection and incomes are fair and based on merit; they have predictable economies and have no ‘crashes’; and so on.

        The difficulty is, of course, that this is never-never land – a political fantasy. Huxley wrote about this in his ‘Brave New World’. Families, and deep human relationships in general, are non-existant, and are deemed a serious psychological illness when they do occur – people are taken away from treatment, and cured.

      • dwalsh

        Good points Deco I agree with you about consumerism. The capitalist consumerist model is also the underlying cause of the environmental catastrophe which lies ahead if it continues. Brzezinski said it could not go on in an interview a couple of years back. I took to be a signal that the dismantling of the American consumerist dream was on the way. Could that have anything to do with the crisis?

  42. Emperorsgotnoclothes

    This is a very interesting article David. I haven’t posted anything in quite a while although I have been reading your articles and related comments regularly. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and try to see the wood for the trees — get some much needed clarity of perspective on things.

    Your point about the lack of consideration being given to exactly where this country is headed in the long-term is precisely the kind of thing I’m referring to. The issue of male unemployment is a potentially serious problem, from a social context. In order for it to become explosive, as DMcW is alluding to obliquely, a number of things must happen I believe. Levels of unemployment benefits need to be drastically reduced and the level of awareness about the causes of our predicament among young men need to rise accordingly. Once those two things occur then we are talking about the possibility of London-style riots, and possibly much worse. Gilmore has already alluded to cuts in social welfare benefits in December’s budget but it’ll be interesting to see how far they are prepared to go in this regard. The immorality of what has happened, and what is coming, doesn’t need restating. The interests of corporations and the financial system have implicitly taken precedence over the welfare of the citizens of this state, particularly the most vulnerable. In Noonan, though, they have a man with a proven track record and natural ability/taste for administering cruelty when required. I don’t expect that he will shirk from the “tough decisions” that a savage budget will necessitate.

    I’ve been reading an excellent book called “Free to be Human” by David Edwards which I can highly recommend. His main thesis is that the greatest obstacle to true freedom and democracy is the belief/assumption that it has already been attained. He explains how the western media operates to promote this misconception while simultaneously promoting an ideology consistent with, and supportive of, corporate/elite interests. Anyone with a passing acquaintance of the operations of Irish mainstream media will immediately recognize this in action — particularly evident over the past three years of this crisis. We can also clearly see that we exist with the illusion of real democracy in this country — again strikingly apparent in recent times. In Edwards’ words he offers an insight into the workings of the machinery and a recipe for escape -

    “Our freedom is so deceptive precisely because the illusion is so convincing, as long as we do what is required. With mindfulness, we may notice from one minute to the next our independent and critical stance can change to a feeling of deferential awe before some reassuring fatherly leader or ‘expert’ so that our heart grows heavy with self-doubt. To the extent to which we can become sensitive to these internal changes, we can begin to identify their causes in the influences affecting us. This in turn may enable us to realize that what we believe is often what we have been channelled into believing by a flood of facts and ideas rooted in a very particular view of the world which reflects the interests of the dominant political and economic system. When this is achieved we can begin to be sceptical of our own ideas and so begin to root out the delusions of the propaganda system by which we are stifled.”

    In relation to David’s article his words are also particularly pertinent to the issue of male suicide which is grossly under-reported and alarmingly on the rise in recent times due to economic hardship.

    “The widespread sense of apathy, hopelessness and even despair among many (particularly young) people today is not at all a reflection of the realities of what is possible, but rather of the sophistication of the system of thought control by which those possibilities have been obscured. When individuals who are acutely sensitive to their internal conflict with the outside world take their own lives, perhaps they are not so much jumping as being pushed out of the required framework.”

    Where we are headed is a serious cause for concern, particularly as the reins of power reside in the hands of individuals with no sense of civic duty or social responsibility and whose only real concern is self-interest and greed. The political and social frameworks are inherently flawed and biased against popular involvement and direct democracy (contrast our situation with that of Iceland where their constitution is currently being rewritten by a process involving the whole population). Once the inequalities become sufficiently intolerable, as they surely will, then this edifice will come under extreme pressure and who knows where this might lead?

    • dwalsh

      Excellent thoughtful post.

      David Edwards’ reference to mindfullness is spot-on. To see through and beyond the mind control that creates the illusion of freedom we have to pull our head out of the feedbag of the media. Even then it takes a while to detox and for the illusion to evaporate.

      • Emperorsgotnoclothes

        Glad you enjoyed the post and I appreciate the supportive comment. The book is a constant source of piercing insights into the operations of power and the apparatus it employs to consolidate and preserve its position. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I thoroughly agree with your view that, collectively, we need to disengage from the mainstream media and begin to ask questions of it, probe its motives and uncover the interests it truly serves. Until then we will remain inert and complicit in our own demise as a society. We must hope though that the goodness of the majority will eventually overwhelm the gombeens.

      • Emperorsgotnoclothes

        Im glad you enjoyed the post. You should check out the book I’ve referred to – it clarified so many aspects of the functioning of the media and the prevailing western economic system. Scintillating and profound.

  43. straboe1

    Having read in the Irish times the result of a survey which indicated that 80% of the those questioned were happy most of the time, I discussed it with a friend of mine.
    His answer was that they were probably all in the same situation as he was, he had become so angry that his wife persuaded him to go the doctor who prescribed sedatives for him. his view was that most of those sampled in the survey were probable on some form of sedation as well, whether legal or otherwise.
    This would explain why we do not have large protests here as were held in Turkey.

    • dwalsh

      “he had become so angry that his wife persuaded him to go the doctor who prescribed sedatives for him.”

      That is a harrowing tale. I hope he does not take them. We will all need to be on the ball in the coming times.

      • redriversix

        Hey dwalsh

        Its with a heavy heart that i must inform you,from my experience that the rise of people taking sedatives is huge.

        We also have a massive rise in “self medication”through alcohol and soft drugs.

        This is a classless disease and people across society are reaching for a “quick fix” rather than deal with reality.

        Fear and the inability for some people in society to deal with failure or their perception of failure or the old Irish adage of “what will people think”.

        I admit I do not understand the relevance of a lot of these blogs,We try and figure out the “Big Picture”while some discuss what frame it should go in !

        We need to get back to basics and look out for each other and concentrate on the simplicity of debits and credits.

        As you know from my previous blogs I have plenty of experience with fear , hardship and loss so i have some idea as to what is going on.

        Tomorrow have a fear free day because it is fear that is causing 70 % of our problems.

        We still need to take some kind of action as we are been lead “down the rabbit hole”

        More spin from the E.R.S.I this evening and at this stage it is becoming insulting.

        Swiss Govt trying to devalue franc by 40 percent this evening,how…I have no idea.

        Gold at $1909.00 U.S this morning.

        talk to you later.

        • dwalsh

          Hi redriversix

          It is sad that many will do as you say. I used to myself…years ago. I know that story well and its unhappy endings.

          I think you are right in what you have said about getting back to basics and looking after ourselves and those around us. That kind of advice listened to and heard would relieve much fear and dread.

          Personally I am not in fear. Fortunately I dont have debt. I dont have much else either; so very little to lose. I feel for those who do. Especially those with children.

          This is why I am so repulsed by the neoliberals and free-market evangelists. Especially those who seem positively delighted by the suffering unfolding in Ireland and globally. It is as if in their devotion to the Golden Calf of the market they have lost their humanity. That’s sad too.

          I see all of this in a bigger historical and planetary context. It is time for some fundamental changes in our world. We are grossly out of harmony with nature and the Earth which sustains us; and out of harmony with each other. This crisis is part of a process of adjustment beginning to unfold. Our current systems simply will not work any longer. Just as technology has speeded-up so alarmingly in the past couple of centuries, just so with the global changes coming; I believe the time-frame will be relatively short as these kind of things go.

          We shall see.

          • mister_jinks

            “I see all of this in a bigger historical and planetary context. It is time for some fundamental changes in our world. We are grossly out of harmony with nature and the Earth which sustains us; and out of harmony with each other. This crisis is part of a process of adjustment beginning to unfold. Our current systems simply will not work any longer. Just as technology has speeded-up so alarmingly in the past couple of centuries, just so with the global changes coming; I believe the time-frame will be relatively short as these kind of things go.”

            I agree 100% with what you have written. We are on the cusp of something big here. Now, we have may choose to fight against the forthcoming changes or we may embrace them and adapt. Either way, they will be imposed on us. To reiterate what I wrote previously, the current system is broken (if you don’t believe me, watch the news tonight, any channel). Our way of life is just not sustainable any longer. This is the beginning of a transition. The old beliefs that have brought us here need to be discarded. Our consumerist culture is very destructive, both socially and environmentally. Sustainable living is the future. There is no alternative that offers hope for the human species.

          • redriversix

            Hey Dwalsh

            I agree that it is time for some fundamental changes in our World and we are certainly out of harmony with whats important around us today.

            In the grand scale of history the time frame will be relatively short.

            But…..history has shown us that it is the “common people”who suffer the most.How do we use the knowledge we have gained over the years to help ourselves, there by helping others.?

            It was only through my life experiences which included being successful for several years,My wife standing by me as i battled addiction [and won].
            The realisation that i had lost everything including my [our]home and still able to function as a participate in family & life and from this ,realizing that “once your doing the best you can”…..
            Fear becomes a distant memory

            That brought me were I am today,here….to try and share my experience strenght and hope.

            The lies and deceit we have to listen to everyday is very frustrating and i want to do something…..but what ?

            Their are so many excellent people who contribute to this forum surely there is some way of “doing something”

            Colm brazel spoke earlier about Namaland being on RTE tonight,does anybody here really need to have seen that when you guys could work it out on the back of a napkin that the figures did not stack up !

            DmC articles are good but are we going to be reading them by candlelight,telling each other “how right we were”?

            Almost 3 months time till next budget,10 billion euro in cuts.How are these cuts,if true..possible ?

            For the record I am not a negative person,I do not have a problem with adversity as I am sure many of you do not either,just let us know whats going on and let us contribute.

            Can we minimise the suffering of others ? or is my “ego” getting loose again !!

            Take care & Goodnight

          • dwalsh

            Hi redriversix

            Bit tight here so I posted a reply below :)

      • Praetorian

        I was in my local Dunnes yesterday looking for some minced meat. It was all sold out (third day in row), which has never happened in the 2 years I have been going to the same supermarket. I asked the lady on the checkout about it and she told me that families are in early buying up the cheapest meat first, they get a couple of meals out of it and it saves a few bob, she said all the cheapest products in the supermarket were the ones to go first. I also noticed a lot of people checking out with beer or a few bottles of wine, would seem clear what people are going through yet the government seems determined to squeeze what it can out of them.

  44. DaveyHHH

    Lads, were are on the wrong end of an economic “Bust Out” to use a Sopranos phrase: ‘A “bust out” is a common tactic in the organized crime world, wherein a business’ assets and lines of credit are exploited and exhausted to the point of bankruptcy.’

    As a parody of Irelands situation, the Sopranos Bust Out episode is well worth a watch.

    • dwalsh

      Sounds to me like what the investment banks are actually doing right now globally.

      • CitizenWhy

        It pains me to hear our so-called investment banks called investment banks. They are in fact speculative trading firms. They long ago minimized their legitimate investment bank functions: raising capital for businesses through the issuing of stocks and bonds, trading the stocks and bonds they issued and simple derivatives rather than exotic and dangerous and deceptive derivatives, and advising on mergers and acquisitions. This change at Goldman Sachs, once a reputable place, was engineering by Hank Paulson, the first CEO of GS from the trading side, and the US Treasury Secretary when the big crash hit us all.

        • dwalsh

          You are absolutely right. They are gambling syndicates not investment banks.

        • StephenKenny

          I’d question whether Goldman’s were ever really reputable, in any useful sense of the term, but one of the things that transformed these organisations was the 1997(?) law change that enabled them to be anything other than (unlimited liability) partnerships. Prior to this, one of the restrictions on these organisations was that they were only allowed to trade with their own and clients money, and the companies were not allowed limited liability – the partners were ultimately responsible for losses. They couldn’t have shareholders.

          It’s also worth remembering that one part of the huge series of bailouts of Goldman’s was the overnight change in status from a Broker/Dealer to that of a Bank Holding Company (i.e. the status of a deposit-taking main street bank), around the time of the Lehman collapse – which has enabled them to borrow almost unlimited amounts at 0.5% directly from the US taxpayer. They could, if they chose, then buy US government bonds paying 2-3 %.

          • CitizenWhy

            Right on both counts.

            Investment banks should be private partnerships, as they once were. Going pubic as stock trading companies, answering to the relentless profit maximization expectations of listed companies, has been disastrous. Not only were partners, in the old system, responsible for losses, but they could not withdraw their bonuses until retirement. Those bonuses could shrink if losses recur. There were serious consequences to good or bad governance. This kept them from, as they used to phrase it, “trading on their own account,” that is, using their own capital to trade rather than client capital. Complex derivatives were created and traded with their own capital.

            The switch of Goldman Sachs from an investment bank charter to a commercial bank charter was an outrage, in that Goldman does not take deposits and does not make commercial loans. The switch was political decision for a number of reasons – near the top were fear that if Goldman Sachs went out of business (it was illiquid) confidence in the entire Wall Street system would dissolve and fear of losing face with China since we had lobbied for Goldman Sachs to be given a special status in China. China looms large in any US decision these days. Not for nothing that Tim Geithner is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

          • StephenKenny

            Just a small point -Goldman’s weren’t just illiquid, they were spectacularly insolvent. They were in a worse state than Enron were when they collapsed.

          • coldblow

            Stephen, re Goldman Sachs having been reputable, you got in before me. Galbraith names chapter 3 of his classic the The Great Crash, 1929 “In Goldman Sachs We Trust”. They came to the party late but when they discovered leverage and the oppotunities to buy their own stock via holding companies etc they made up for lost time and in the summer of 1929 issued $quarter of billion in sotcks in just one month alone. The value of these subsequently dropped from 104 cents to 1.25. If this is ‘reputable’ then the term is meaningless.

  45. StephenKenny

    I suspect that, as with a lot of things in life, consumerism in moderation is a very good thing. It is, after all, a description of trade, which is very much what caused the explosion in technology and advancements that we have seen. WIthout modern medical science most of us wouldn’t have got past the age of about 10.

    It is, as with so many things, a system that has simply got out of control. All the counter-balancing forces have gone, leaving us with nothing but forever unsatisfying consumption.

    My personal advice is to completely abstain from the media – no TV, no newspapers, no radio, and no websites of the organisations involved in such

  46. NAMAland 9:30pm RTE 9:30

    Shakespeare Sonnet 30

    “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
    I summon up remembrance of things past,
    I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
    And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:..”

    • Dorothy Jones

      I thought the programme was ‘light’ on content and presentation, particularly given the available information by namawinelake. Passing the unfinished site at Clongriffin over the last few years Shelley came to mind sometimes:
      ‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
      Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
      The lone and level sands stretch far away.

        • Praetorian

          What can they tell us we don’t already know or haven’t heard a million times.

          It has to be about solutions now not endlessly examining in not great depth the same old issues and personalities. I have tired of Prime Time, and especially Vincent Browne Tonight, thought those chairing his programme while he took his weeks of vacation spoke volumes, won’t be watching it again, better things to do with my time.

    • CitizenWhy

      Wouldn’t this apply?

      Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
      A medley of extemporanea;
      And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
      And I am the Queen of Romania.

      Dorothy Parker

  47. CitizenWhy

    On Education: Players get close observation and immediate feedback from their coaches. In education this is sadly lacking, although it was part of my primary school education.

    The new development below makes it easy for university and secondary teachers to immediately assess student learning and give useful feedback.

    Perhaps David should use this tool in his classes and give an assessment.

  48. dwalsh

    redriversix wrote:

    “Can we minimise the suffering of others ? or is my “ego” getting loose again !!”

    Yes…and definitely not!

    Not — that your ego is getting loose. Not at all. You care; and with the real coalface experience you have of adversity and self knowledge, you have a lot to offer to those around you who are less experienced.

    Yes — helping to minimise the suffering of others is all that many of us can realistically do for now.

    What I have valued about this blog is the opportunity to encounter the views of people who are thinking outside the media cordon. Both those I agree with and those I don’t agree with. I have learned a lot from reading their views and seeing why it is I think they are correct or mistaken. I’m grateful to all the contributors here and to David McWilliams for his articles and being our host.

    Thank you all.

  49. Noticed the Irish political coalition scam that works well in Ireland and cons the electorate every time?

    It works this way.

    Take a range of policies and examine the government position on each of these. The opposition, pre election, by way of policy documents pre election promises, individually make opposing, often radical opposing policies and promises, that pander to the electorate in that they reflect the views and feelings of the electorate.

    Post election the new coalition alter their policies on the excuse that its a coalition government, times have changed,they’ve had to give way to their partners bla, bla.

    A recent formula for this is:

    FF = FG + LB

    Meanwhile the absurd political circus continues. Noonan, the worst minister for Finance in the EMU, refuse to appear on Namaland on RTE last evening.

    Not that Pravda RTE was not trying its best to give us the scoop on NAMA even though the NAMA Grendel monster is cloaked as it runs invisibly amok among us.

    Pravda Morning Ireland tried to pin down the Min for Health James Reilly on why the paperwork hadn’t been done on the approx 200 doctors from India/Pakistan about to join and rescue the trolly service.

    I kid you not, India/Pakistan, was not a mistake on my part above. Frankly, I’m sure these are great doctors and we shouldn’t be worried at the length of time its taking to process their paperwork.

    No, we do produce doctors here at enormous expense to taxpayers. Yes, they do emigrate and we have to go to Pakistan/India to source doctors. Listen up now, neither I or Pravda RTE should have to explain to you why there are no jobs in Ireland and we’re presently awaiting the arrival of 200 doctors doctors from India/Pakistan.

    Actually, we don’t have to question this at all:) I wonder do they have any politicians in India and Pakistan, we need approx 200 of those as well:)

    • Deco

      They always outsource other people’s jobs, never their own….

      Was listening to details of more mistakes earlier on the radio. Are we going through the same quick hire process “bums on seats” approach that proves to be a disaster ???

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