Re-inventing Ireland. Time to grow up.

 Posted by on November 23, 2010  Add comments
Nov 232010

Even though the country is on the brink of an abyss, perhaps this is also a time to look at the opportunities.

I think we need to change not only our politics, but our entire society, beginning with ourselves.

It seems to me that our society and our political system have now proven themselves utterly incapable of delivering the sort of leadership or management needed for Ireland to survive in the modern world.  We need to find new ways of electing leaders with a global vision, instead of the glorified county councillors we currently return to our national parliament.  To my way of thinking, that means we need to reform the system we use now : the single transferable vote in multi-seater constituencies, because it gives rise to the worst sort of blinkered political clientelism.  It gave the world Willie O Dea and Jackie Healy-Rae.

We need ministers with ability, knowledge and skill.  At present, the people who head our multi-billion departments are selected from a tiny pool of about 80 people, most of whom have no expertise in anything except talking nonsense and backstabbing political opponents.  Every minister in the history of this state has tried to bestow largesse on his local constituency without regard to the greater good of the country and this is simply not acceptable any more, if it ever was acceptable.  I think we need a way of co-opting high-quality people into a working cabinet — people who aren’t hamstrung by local parish-pump concerns and who aren’t beholden to anyone. To put it another way, I think our government departments need capable chief executives.

After the lies of the past week, it’s obvious that we must shake off our age-old tradition of never telling the truth.  Our people don’t believe the government, and the world at large, with good reason, doesn’t believe any of us.  I think we need a new vision, and a different way of seeing ourselves in the world.  We need to take responsibility and we need to grow up because the party is well and truly over.  We need to learn lessons from the Scandinavians, the Dutch and the Germans who are utterly baffled by our behaviour.  Let’s stop being infantile once and for all.

We need to build accountability from the ground up, and we need to foster a culture of complete intolerance for stroke-pulling in every aspect of our lives.  Our small-minded venal attitude to personal honesty feeds into a culture at government level of trying to get the most out of our neighbours while giving back as little as possible.

We need to abandon the passivity that has been drilled into us for generations through our church-dominated schools system and start to act like grown adults.  We need to turn our backs on these false authority figures from whom we have been taking orders since the foundation of this state.

We need to walk away from the cloying, grá-mo-chroí, saccharine image we created of lovable rogues and start to act like solid adults instead of always looking for a fool’s pardon, so that maybe eventually our neighbours will start to develop some respect for us.  Enough shamrock shit.

It won’t be easy.  Thinking for yourself is never easy, but I don’t believe we have any other option, and maybe finally, when we grow up, we’ll deserve the key of the door that the adults foolishly gave us before we were ready for it.

If we can take on these challenges and others like them, I think we might emerge a better country from the experience.  I’d welcome people’s suggestions on this, but let me offer a small health warning.  If anyone is thinking of sending in the usual complaints, with no positive suggestions, those comments will simply be deleted.  I’m not in the mood for people venting about this.   I want to hear genuine, practical suggestions, not demands for retribution.

While such sentiments might satisfy an atavistic urge for revenge, they won’t solve anything, and though I must admit that I’d like to see certain people strung up on lamp-posts, the reality is that we do not need mob rule.   We need logic.  Therefore, the best we can hope for in that regard is a Truth Commission where people who created this catastrophe finally confront their role.

Much though it irks me to say it, along with imagination to bring us out of this mess, we also need forgiveness, unless we want our country to go through another century of dysfunctional, paralysing bitterness similar to that caused by the Civil War.


UPDATE  A reader brought this to my attention.  2nd Republic.  Worth visiting.

  132 Responses to “Re-inventing Ireland. Time to grow up.”

Comments (132)

    Well said, and, thought provoking as usual Bock, too true, we have never matured as a Nation, hopefully now we will. I undertake to contribute in whatever way I possibly can, to rebuilding our country, based on the points you have made above.


    Where to start? Reform our local councils a la Brosnan, reduce the number of TDs, reduce the salaries and perks to the incumbents of Dáil Éireann. Pay them the equivelant of a middle ranking manager in the private sector. As one who doesn’t really understand our PR system, what’s wrong with first past the post? Reform the public sector so that inovation and creativity are rewarded. Get rid of the rediculous grades and give those who want it a career in serving the public. Stop all the perks like time off for cashing cheques, time off to go to the races, extra holiday pay to replace the lost over time. Invest in indigenous manufacturing so that we Irish can generate real value and wealth to our own economy. If treated with repect by the politicians and the establishment that respect may be reciprocated. Lets create a society where every citezen is equall in the eyes of the law, where the quards are subject to the same laws as joe public. Get rid of the cosy cartels tat result in the dearest medicinesin Europore. Christ, but we’re going to be busy.


    Bravo Bock!
    This is the best, the most intelligent and analytical opinion on Ireland I’ve ever read, especially since I’ve been wondering myself for ages about the political culture and the election system, but hardly dared to vent, for being an “interfering foreigner”.

    Especially the voting system baffled me. How to change it? I admittedly don’t know enough about procedures in Ireland to that effect.

    An idea (not thought through though – no alliteration intended) might be to establish a “citizen’s movement” a kind of “round table”, inviting constitution savvy lawyers and economists and whoever feels to be able to contribute, to work out a proposal to change the election system. And doing so with lots of PR. That is, doing press conferences, inviting the media etc. They certainly are hungry for new movements, change and ideas.
    The idea behind my above idea is the Round Table of the outgoing GDR, before the take over into a unified Germany. At least it was a movement to change something which seemed unchangeable.

    But somebody has to organise it and that’s where I see the problem – to get all the relevant people together and actually do something.
    Could you?


    While I agree ithe the general gist of what you are saying, I would take issue with the idea of having less and not more local influence on those elected. I see grass roots activism as the only way to keep the elected on the straight and narrow. The further the politician gets away from his constituants the further he is removed form the realities of life. However the one ingredient that is absolutely necessary is a public that is willing to get off their behinds and get involved. I do wonder if this is feasible in Ireland given the fractured nature of the political landscape and the bitterness that has been ingrained for generations. I have a hard time imagining a traditional FF or FG supporter crossing party lines to vote for, much less volonteer for a canditate from a different party even when he knows that his own party’s candidate is a crooked gangster. And that unfortunetely is what it is going to take. As you probably know I left Ireland in 1985 and have lived in the Northern Rocky Mtn region of the USA since. I love Ireland dearly and return as often as I possibly can
    usually hauling 20 or so others with me to experience what a truely unique nation the Irish people had created. Today I have to say however I am afraid for and a little ashamed of Ireland and for the generation who are now facing an economic situation far worse than we faced when I bolted in the 80’s. There is a uphill battle facing Ireland, and it’s one I do not envy you. Where do you even begin?


    Lets start thinking.
    Are we interested enough to get active and involved? For starters….
    Am I interested in how this country works? Yes/no.
    If yes which bit interests me more thean the rest? Education, healthcare, social care, roads…….
    How can I find out how eg Education works in my area? What is taught, who teaches it, how much money and where from, where do the teachers come from, who appoints them, how are they managed…………..Keep it simple. Find out.
    How can I find out how what we do compares with what is done in France, Germany, UK……Keep it simple.
    Find out. Google rules.
    What are the differences and why? Start to form own opinions. What is my preference as to how education should be organised? What would I like to see changed?
    I now want to share my opinion and have it heard – how do I do that? Who do I need to talk to, write to, lobby?
    I want direct influence….how do I get appointed to xyz organisation which I now know is responsible for……?
    What I would expect would be a lot of fuckheads in fancy dress from Church and State trying to get me to fuck off. Its up to me whether I do or not.


    I was amazed when I came back to Ireland to realise that most jobs in the public sector are not open to the general public. Basically you get a job in a dept when you are 18, and then every job you go for after that is especially ringfenced for you so you dont have any outside competition. How can that be a basis for creating a dynamic changing organisation. It is also discriminatory in that it privileges idiots who have never done a real job over those who may have some, gasp, life and work experience. That has got to go.


    [Bock Edit: As promised, negative comment deleted. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.]


    I like your suggestion about co-opting capable people into government. I believe that the Germans have a system where a proportion of the MPs are nominated from a list in proportion to the electoral votes won, as well as having local candidates competing for constituency seats (forgive me if I’ve butchered this). Something along those lines seems like a workable system where individuals with useful financial/diplomatic/business skills but not great campaigners could still serve their country.


    Spike, it works like this:
    and thus:

    Didn’t find another link in English to explain the voting system. But might give you an idea.


    There are some good working political models around the world, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Canada and the USA to name a few. Although none of these countries are perfect, they operate a long way from the parish pump politics of Ireland and people are held accountable for their actions. surely, we could adopt at least some of their ways. We need more efficient governance, we have too many people contributing nothing and making a handy living off the “system”, this must change, we can’t afford it any more!
    Having said that, I fear there is a lot of truth in what Poll Dorcha said.


    Poll Dorcha is free to post that comment anywhere else on this site, but I asked for suggestions on this thread, not despair.


    Well said Bock. Couldn’t disgree with anything you said there.
    I’m thinking in the immediate term, just thinking out loud.. so excuse me if it’s completely illogical.. but, What would happen if the budget wasn’t passed? What would happen if Cowen was replaced and that was seen as further instability in Ireland? What would happen if we defaulted on our debt and Portugal And Spain followed? What would happen if the Euro was destabilized? What would happen if world markets were destabilized? Would it all be so bad?
    We’ll be defaulting in any case. . We’re a small population here. There’s only so much blood you can get from a stone.

    In the long term I suggest rather than hitting the poor with slashes to the minimum wage or social welware cuts and old age pension cuts, why not get rid of the exorbitant pension reliefs for high earners and start taxing higher earners a little more. Get fucking rid of ministerial cars – you wouldn’t see the likes of it from the Mafia or Robert Mugabe.. swanning around everywhere in their mercs.
    Get rid of exorbitant TD expenses. Get rid of the Seanad. Get rid of the president – it’s not a necessity.
    That’d be a small start.
    [Bock edit. Sentence about retribution removed, as warned. Please, people. respect the spirit of this post.]


    we also need to take Eircom back. The smart economy is a load of bollox because the cost, and availability, and development is in the hands of a company who have no interest in investing in the technology, since they enjoy a monopoly in owning the lines. That has got to go.


    And perhaps taking control of our energy resources instead of giving them away?


    By Yanis Varoufakis
    Professor of Economics, Athens University

    Secondly, the very same people who were responsible for Greece’s indebtedness, profiting heavily from it in years past, are the ones who are now preaching the austerity sermons and administering the medicine to the innocents who suffer its ill effects.

    Fuck the politicians church bankers developers. Dont rely on them to change anything without unbearable pressure – they wont. We have seen that.
    Have to back them into corners they cant get out of. Present them with overwhelming pressure which says do this this way or you are out – career over. Just be clear about what you want to see replace the crap currently in place – research, analyse, conclude, pressurise by whatever means you can find. One thing you can be sure of is none of the crap currently overseeing our society will research,analyse,conclude……………other than with regard to their own interests.


    So not only are you advocating the elevation of “worthies” to your para- democracy mixture but you are also censoring those who critique your naivety. Good luck with that


    Agree with you Bock, we’re over represented for one thing, we don’t need so many TD’s, or the Seanad, we’re a small country, we’ve too much emphasis on local politics, and the influence that can have. We definitely need to have people with more expertise at ministerial level, though how to get them to consider doing the job I have no idea.


    Poll Dorcha — Did you read the post or did you not?

    I’ll repeat the relevant section for you in case you lost your glasses.

    let me offer a small health warning. If anyone is thinking of sending in the usual complaints, with no positive suggestions, those comments will simply be deleted.


    You will find at the heart of my post an advocacy for a mass movement as the only way to effect change, changes that won’t come about by using your delete button. I would suggest , as Fintan O ‘ Toole does today, though some people he concedes may have issues with the union leadership, to take to the streets next Saturday in Dublin with the unions and countless community groups. Better than twittering?


    Good blog ,Bock.I think “the powers that be” should consider bringing in managers/directors from successful countries.Places like Sweden,Switzerland maybe.Perhaps they could be parachuted in to HSE,Guards,ESB and/or our other state and semi-state bodies.Doubtless this would stir up animosity but stirring is needed.They could be charged with implementing part of the Benchmarking agreement,the part dealing with reforms,efficiency,flexibility which was promised but never happened.
    In addition to this,they would be hard-nosed proffessionals with no vested interests,political baggage ,old allegiances or loyalties.I’m not saying it would be easy,could you imagine trying to slot some outsider in near the top in the Guards! But the moribund system we’ve had hasn’t worked and reform is needed.This is just one small suggestion


    I’ll make a couple of suggestions based on my own experiences;

    1. The rewards for being in the legislature don’t reflect the 24/7 on-call nature of the job. Our best and brightest earn much more, on a global stage, with less personal aggravation. In the meantime our representatives are mediocrities who are willing to subject themselves to the whims of every waster in the area in the hope of gathering 7,500 no.1s.
    Suggestion: Pay more to fewer TDs. Make the constituency sizes so large and/or complex, that clientelism won’t work. Limit service in the legislature to 10 consecutive years. Abolish the career/dynastic politicians. Get people in that have real life experience to offer. Abolish the Seanad, we’re a small country, we only have enough real talent for one (small) chamber.
    2. Our public servants are promoted for a combination of reasons including political affiliation, risk aversion, mistake avoidance, and loyalty.
    Suggestion: Implement a points/merit system that recognises private sector experience, exposure to best practice (including other jurisdictions). Attract our suitably qualified managers and technocrats in at grades above clerical officer. Abolish public sector unions, when it comes to the public sector, we are all employers.
    3. We have a massive pool of natural resources off our West coast. We also have an economic wealth that we generate on a daily basis. This is our children’s legacy and it needs to be conserved.
    Suggestion: We need to ruthlessly challenge all contracts that have been agreed and all bureaucracies that have been set up. Let’s agree a best practice ratio of hospital administrators:nurses and doctors. There will be casualties, and these will have to be helped and retrained to join the productive economy.
    4. We are now the proud owners of one of the world’s largest property enterprises. This needs to be an opportunity to offer a future to our young families that were priced out of the “boom”.
    Suggestion: Let’s turn this into the world’s greatest social housing exercise.


    “Abolish public sector unions, when it comes to the public sector, we are all employers.”
    Go ahead and try that out in your real world!


    If we don’t change the rules of the game now, when will we ever change them?

    If we are going to remain beholden to the same old vested interests, we’re stuffed. Remember, those public sector unions were part of the social partnership that has had a hand in running the country since 1987. Like all of us, their fingerprints are also on the present fiasco.


    Poll Dorcha said: “Go ahead and try that out in your real world!”

    The first step is to collect ideas, the second is to examine if they are feasible and desirable, the third is to transfer them into action “in the real world”. Sounds simple, is more often than not more complicated.
    This post is apparently the first step: collect ideas.

    If you sit there and think “oh dear, that’s not viable at all, why bother?” Or “Let’s march to Dublin and show them”. Or “all your ideas are crap, you can’t do anything anyway”, than, and I’m sorry to say that, you are not more than a sheep. Or a pint-in-the-pub-revolutionary.

    If you have no idea what to change and how to do it, you won’t go anywhere. Thinking about what a mature Ireland should be, is a first step. And about time, too.


    Lots of positivity here. It does the soul good (after the barrage of bad news, negativity and gloom of the last few weeks) to read creative and constructive ideas.

    I’d like to add a suggestion or three of my own.

    Each and every citizen of our lovely country should spend time looking at themselves. We should ask ourselves what *we* can do as individuals to make the future all that it can be. The selfishness, arrogance, materialism and brashness of the “Celtic Tiger” needs to be well and truly put behind us. A sense of civic, national, and collective pride should be nurtured. We need to rethink our values. I hesistate to say “regain” our values, as many of those were once seriously misplaced, particularly where inappropriate deference to authority figures (particularly the church) is concerned. We need to behave as adults, and take responsibility for our actions.

    It seems to me that there’s far too little in the way of adult, independent, rational thought put into our political alliances – and far too much tribalism and short-sightedness. We need to change that, starting right now, today.

    I think there’s a place for an upper house and a Presidency in our country. However, those seeking such offices should be directly elected (not appointees, political or otherwise). An election to any of these positions should be regarded as an honour for any citizen. Renumeration should be limited to the basic rate of unemployment payment plus strictly limited (vouched) expenses.

    Drastic reform of our public services sector is needed. This should be from the top down, with no more unaccountable mandarins. I want to see a motivated, professional, and hard working public service, where good performance, effectiveness and diligence is recognised, encouraged, and rewarded.

    We should seriously consider a mechanism by which an (appointed) international panel of external “auditors” monitor our future governments and institutions on our behalf. Such a body to be directly answerable to the electorate, and insulated from interference from political, religious, corporate, or any other inappropriate influence.

    We should, with immediate effect, make it a capital offence to use the phrase “Goi** forwa**”


    Carrig, I can see Poll Dorcha’s point.. it’s great discussing ideas and coming up with ways to implement them, but we need to get out there and get very angry and demand change at the same time. This would be a first step. A positive one, as suggested.
    (This is in relation to Poll D’s comment on taking to the streets.)
    In my opinion, it’s a little early to be talking forgiveness.

    Bock, apologies about my joke at 12 about the lamp-post.. I don’t advocate violence at all.


    Here are links to Swiss and Norweigan Gov info.

    There will be great pain whether we go for bailout / default, The information has to how a default would impact is easy enough to find.
    The pain of accepting the current proposal is far less clear and may remain so until its too late.

    My own area of interest is Healthcare and the HSE, That said I am deeply concerned about all sectors, I have been carrying out my own research on the HSE for the past 18 mths, A lot of this is in reams of scribbled notes and copies of documents, Not put together yet in a readable form.
    All I will say on the HSE at this stage is what you already know that the waste and inefficiency is staggering.
    75% of HSE expenditure goes on administration and the executive, That leaves a tiny portion of budget for patient care.
    I believe we need to exercise great care, Whereas anger is understandable and necessary, We cannot allow it to cloud rational judgement, Anger now has to be harnessed and used to generate an outcome of benefit.
    I would agree with dispensing with the Seanad, The role of President, We would have to wade through everything else including the present Party Politics system.
    I’m not comfortable though with any labelling of groups of people, I dislike the emergence of a sense of hatred for people involved in certain sectors at who blame is being laid indiscriminatly.
    There are specific people responsible for this crisis, There are others who are complicite and others who were downright irresponsible and reckless but there are others who were just doing the best they knew how, The latter can still be of benefit to a new Ireland.
    We are a people with Education, Intellect, Talent and Experience, I feel we need to focus on a future plan and try as we can to use what hopefully we can view as the past as the harshest lesson which brought us to greater things.
    ” When you look into the abyss, The abyss looks back at you ” Neitchze


    ” I think there’s a place for an upper house and a Presidency in our country. However, those seeking such offices should be directly elected (not appointees, political or otherwise). An election to any of these positions should be regarded as an honour for any citizen. Renumeration should be limited to the basic rate of unemployment payment plus strictly limited (vouched) expenses.”

    Good one BP. The basic rate of unemployment. Ha.

    “There will be great pain whether we go for bailout / default, The information has to how a default would impact is easy enough to find.” Thanks Norma.


    I may have already provided this link here today, Forget, brain melt, However here it is again regarding default.


    Nietzsche, Norma, Nietzsche… me little-miss-knows-it-better ;-)

    FME.Yes, it’s ok to be angry and to show it. But I think it’s not about to DEMAND change, it’s about to DO change. To demand change is just asking the same old crowd to do it. And would they feck…


    Thanks for the link Norma… there isn’t one negative point he made about defaulting.
    As I said, “Would it all be so bad?”

    From the article:
    “If it defaults on its debts, Ireland can bounce back fairly quickly. If it accepts an EU bailout, it will be stuck in recession for a generation” “.. going bust isn’t that bad. Russia and Argnetina defaulted on their debts. It wasn’t the end of the world. The financial makets portray it as a catastrophe, but that is mainly because bankers and bond investors stand to lose a lot of money.”

    I don’t see any “great pain whether we go for bailout / default” in that article.
    In all reality, it (defaulting) seems the lesser of two evils. We just need to stand up to the IMF/EU.

    Yeah Carrig, demand change – do change.


    we could lead the way in organic produce capitalising on the green image of Ireland. No matter where I have gone in the world, I have always been able to get Kerrygold. It is valued as an Irish product and has a market. Similarly I noticed in the caribbean and the US that a brand of soap powder ‘Irish Springs’ was a big seller. We have an image as a clean green country. We could rule the world in this respect.


    hi Norma

    I like your thinking. The mad thing is I have loads of dealings with the HSE as i have a son with a disability. But getting anything from them in writing, or indeed from any statutory agency is a nightmare. They refuse to be held accountable for any decision. And yet they have so many layers of admin services. Did you discover a giant shredder by any chance?

    We need paper free offices in all our public services. Every piece of paper is scanned into a computer and a process is started which has to be seen through transparantely and accountably. This has been standard practice in the UK public sector for years.


    Poll Dorcha in post # 19 referred to Fintan O’Toole’s article in The Irish Times today.

    The most constructive contribution I could possibly make here is to highly recommend that you all read this article. With all due respect to Bock and the other posters above, I think you could all learn something from it.

    Bock, in your initial post you said:

    “We need to learn lessons from the Scandinavians, the Dutch and the Germans who are utterly baffled by our behaviour. Let’s stop being infantile once and for all.”

    While I agree with the second sentence in that extract, Fianna Fáil is not the only entity that has screwed the Irish people. We have also been screwed by the PDs and their ideology of non-regulated freebooting capitalism. And insofar as that is the ideology that prevails in the EU, we have been screwed by the EU. And now the EU, led by the Germans, wants Irish citizens to suffer alone for the sins of the EU in this regard.

    Fintan O’Toole has outlined in his article the scale of the problem and what needs to be done about it more lucidly and eloquently than I could ever do.

    Please read the article. Here’s the link:


    Bock, that article was inspiring.

    We have a myriad of problems besetting us but I will try to address what I see the gravest issues that urgently need to be looked at and fixed.

    1. The Political System.
    We urgently need to get away from the gombeen clientelism that is so pervasive in Irish politics. We also need politicians that are capable of performing their duties with a degree of ability and competence that is almost entirely absent. A German style PR List system would be a start. Let’s get experts in and place them in cabinet positions if needs be.

    Forget about setting up an electoral commission: design the system and put it to the people. At the same time the No. of TDs should be cut by at least 50 and the Senate abolished.

    2.Public Pay.
    Start at the top and place a ceiling on the pay of all elected representatives, senior public servants, judges, semi-state executives, managers, etc. Furthermore, every job in the public should have a basic salary that is modest with the possibility of bonuses bases on merit and performance. Every public servant should be assessed on an annual basis, his or her performance examined and graded.

    2. Accountability.
    In private companies everyone is held to account. If they fail in their duties then they are subject to sanction including dismissal. Why is this not the case in Ireland’s public service?

    3. The HSE
    Set up a group of Irish and international experts whose brief would be to design and develop a complete suite of software that administers the entire health service, calculates pay, establishes rosters, routes all communication, establishes priorities and issues alerts.

    Once that is completed and fully tested abolish it entirely and re-hire all of the frontline staff immediately and the required number of administration personnel to keep it the software running. This would mean the loss of thousands of jobs but would ultimately save billions of euro.
    (PPARS was a disaster because the Byzantine rules governing pay defied any logic)

    4. Social Welfare.
    Yes, a difficult area to tackle I know but it is the biggest single drain on public resources. We have ho choice but to reduce the basic rates somewhat. However it is the huge sums given out to people who have lived for generations in a culture of welfare need to be addresses as a matter of urgency. We have15 and 16 year old girls becoming pregnant in order to begin to live an independent life away from their family and at the expense of the state. The people who live within this culture are far more aware of their ‘rights’ than the average Joe who has recently lost his job.

    Ultimately we are going to have to reestablish a greater sense of community. With the demise of the greedy ‘Celtic Tiger’ and indeed the church, we have a gaping void here. If people have skills and are currently unemployed then the state should do all in its power to encourage people with skills to help out in their locality and that would include extra welfare payments.

    I’ll leave it for that for now.


    Thanks for the article Spailpín Fánach.
    He’s summed up what I was thinking and posted above. We need to demand an election asap.
    We need to send the IMF/EU packing – They don’t have the Irish people’s interests at heart – As I also said in another comment and was accused of blaming the EU for getting us to where we are.. That we are part of the European Union, bla bla bla and not their fault.

    Wake up people. Get out on the streets and demand an election now. Get fucking rid of Biffo. That’d all be positive.


    I don’t think you can go far wrong with a stepping off place for change in Ireland than to consider the words of J.F.K , ” ask not what your country can do for you but rather what you can do for your country”. Words to live by in troubled times and in good times too.


    Shellshock. Its possible those shredders smell of napalm !
    Fintan O’Toole will be launching a website tomorrow, Listing his proposals.

    My son introduced me to a man a few weeks ago, Who was part of a team who developed a software product which would be of enormous assistance in streamlining admin especially in HSE , Basically it enables the staff member to dictate into iphone or blackberry and transfers to computer as document, Resulting in as you rightly stated paper free environment……..Not only paper free but eliminating mistakes or misinterpretations in hand written notes, More info on this can be found on As far as I know only Waterford hospital have introduced this system in Ireland.

    The system presently is beyond unacceptable, I do however have great respect for the people working at the coalface in such a broken and fraustrating environment.

    Boldpilot. Your post goes deep to the Irish mind set, I do think though that we need to now define our values as a Nation, To do that we must examine exactly what they are now as opposed to the past, Values are based on perception if not defined, Irish society has changed radically and the core values have to be defined for people who dont want to participate in past impositions while not excluding those who wish to maintain the values they choose not to dispense with from the past but without the imposition on the rest of us..

    Carrig. Neitchze ?? ” me little-miss…………” ??


    Lest we forget. We are victims of crime. Our children are victims of crime. The criminals continue to commit crime. Head says stay cool research, analyse, conclude and force change via democratic means. Heart says burn the fuckers out of their lairs and see what happens. Think we need to stay cool.
    Stiglitz October 2009
    “[In Ireland], this bank bailout is a simple transfer from taxpayers to bondholders, and it will saddle generations to come. The only thing that might give you solace is that, as chief economist of the World Bank, we see this type of thing happening in banana republics all over the world. Whenever a banking crisis happens, the financial sector uses the turmoil as a mechanism to transfer wealth from the general population to themselves. I’ve been very disappointed to see that it has happened, not only in banana republics, but in advanced industrialised countries.”


    I am convinced that from a moral aspect we really need to have a fact finding commission that also consists of ordinary people from the public, that is open to anybody and totally transparent in its process and findings. Our ways to communicate are totally obstructed by perverted rules and the dail is a a good example, to change that we need much higher participation from the public, and to be able to allow them to come forward we need to enable the platform for such discussions that would also deal with a new constitution.

    Technically all this is possible.

    Such a fact finding group would NOT be in the way our tribunal system is designed, forget about feeding barristers ridiculous money.

    However, such a committee should be entitled to question people in a way so they can not refuse to appear., and the people that need to be questioned are in banks and politics.

    I really believe we can learn from Iceland in that respect.

    The psyche of this Nation is not well, to enable a healing process we need to be able to find closure, to find peace and go forward. Yes, this involves forgiveness but equally judgement, both in conjunction will enable a learning and a healing process.

    We were coerced into voting for Lisbon, the piece of shit which is supposed to be the European Constitution, something that no even experienced legal eagles can read without getting eyeball aids. A public discussion and consultation on a new Irish constitution would be start….


    [Bock edit: excessively cruel response by me deleted]


    Bock, you’ve set a daunting challenge, because you’ve got a colossal problem (the socio-political system in Ireland) which exists within an even more colossal problem (the global financial system).

    Either of these by itself would be enough. Anyway:

    The reason why Fianna Fail have been caught out is the same reason that the other Ponzi scammer, Bernie Madoff was caught out: the global financial system began a massive contraction, one that may be the first stage of a series, that will lead to total global collapse. Madoff could have got away with his pyramid for a long time, maybe even indefinitely, had the bubble kept doubling…at least long enough to be in his dotage by the time the shit hit the fan. Same with BIFFO – had the global system not creaked to near implosion in 2008, the scams, chicanery and humbug of Fianna Fail would have been exposed only much later, probably on someone else’s watch.

    Now, to the outer issue: the global financial system. It can’t be overstated: it seems to be on the verge of complete meltdown. It came very close in 2008, and is doing so again in 2010. Frankly, I don’t care if it’s because it’s Peak Oil (the oil price hitting $147 a barrel in 2008 may have been a trigger) or the Derivatives bubble bursting (that’s now a 1 QUADRILLION DOLLAR BUBBLE). Think on that – a 1000 TRILLION DOLLAR DERIVATIVES BUBBLE…there isn’t enough money on Earth to rectify that…and it may be that all these bad debts are being sucked into the bubble to buy time…days, weeks, months, maybe a year or two. Whatever.
    Bottom line: the world economy demands Growth. Not linear growth, but exponential growth. At a rate of 2.5%, an economy will double in only 25 to 30 years. Having grown tired of explaining abstract concepts like this, it seemed sensible to create a simple animation to explain more concisely:

    There’s a link to Professor Bartlett’s lecture on growth to the right side of the link above. Anyone wanting more detail should watch that. Suffice to say that at some point, probably sooner rather than later, an extractive economy is going to hit a wall – and that wall will be a lack of oil, water, soil, rare earths, air, phosphorous or some other critical substance.

    In order to really grasp the driver behind this, the money system has to be understood, and the overwhelming majority of people don’t/can’t. Money is debt, and that, combined with fractional reserve banking (where banks only need to hold 1/10th of the cash they have in their books) has helped to create an economic system that is one giant Ponzi scheme. That pyramid on the dollar bill is the PERFECT symbol!

    Bernie Madoff was a bit player compared to the architects of the banks and money.

    The quote to bear in mind is: “Unless you change the way money works, you change nothing”.

    My personal belief is that every plan or discussion on reform is, in the long term, likely if not certain to fail unless it attempts to reform, abolish or replace the current system of money. You can put in a list system and castrate every last FFer, but it won’t make any difference if the money system continues BAU.

    Here’s a MUST WATCH 47 minute animated documentary about money. Do yourselves a big favour, make a cup of tea, sit down, and watch. 47 minutes. that’s not a lot.

    Better that than Frontline or Primetime, going forward.

    Anyhow, Ireland exists inside this ridiculous human construct. Even within the larger context of an insane system that’s almost certainly doomed to fail, the Irish socio-economic-political system is bonkers. Designed almost on purpose to produce an Idiocracy, what hope is there?

    The first goal of any new leadership has to be Triage. To prevent things from becoming even worse than they are – a task completely beyond the brain trust currently in charge. The worst-case scenario, if it happens, is not worth discussing here. It would not be believed…just as the current situation was mocked when discussed in 2005/6/7.

    No need for me to address things like a list system, reducing TDs, blocking the path of county councilors to high office, making it possible for non-pols to be in cabinet, etc. Those are no-brainers, and shouldn’t even be debated. Fuck Dev’s shitty constitution.

    The country needs, as a matter of national survival, to create contingency plans for systemic collapse, namely:

    1. Enough Energy to provide critical resources, heat in winter, water, hospitals, etc.
    2. Food security. Potatoes, lots of them.
    3. Reopen domestic sugar production (also usable as fuel). Sugar is the most calories per acre you’ll get.
    4. Stockpile critical resources, medicines, etc. Ever heard of the Baltic Dry Index? I’m betting nobody in cabinet has either, and that should scare the shit out of you. Internation shipping came close to stopping in 08.
    5. Does the Irish navy have the ability to defend Irish coastal waters from Spanish fishermen if/when we leave the EU? Can we reclaim the territorial waters from these thieves?

    You get the idea. Yeah, I’m a doomer, and should kill myself. Fuck off, and shut up. You’ve spent the last few years being wrong, and I’ve spent them being right, and I’m fucking tired of listening to cornucopian whiners and their appeals to ridicule, ad hominems and strawmen.

    The other thing that should be prepared for is a default – there is no reason why a newborn child in Ireland today (and that child’s children and grandchildren) can in any way be expected to bear the debts of the fat sacks of FF ~1997-2010. The system needs to be taken down, one way or another, Just as every jury should know what JURY NULLIFICATION is, every taxpayer of every country needs to know what a DEBT JUBILEE is. When a system fails as spectacularly as this one ALREADY HAS, and moral hazard no longer exists, the shared illusion that is money needs to be abandoned.

    How, exactly is far above my pay grade, but the depressing thing about any discussion on RTE is how the brain-slugs keep talking within the frame/premise that “we have to keep things going”. It has escaped their attention that things have already stopped “going”, and the illusion of motion now is simply due to momentum, or gravity pulling the countries of the world towards the ground, having already fallen off the cliff.

    Meet the President of Planet Earth: Wile Coyote.


    Well fuck me.. just found this. Someone else agrees with me. These figures are staggering..
    Would urge people to read this! It’s explained very clearly and plainly.

    “The IMF and the ECB are certainly not in Ireland to protect the interests of the Irish nation or the Irish people. The ECB also has another interest in the matter – saving the Euro, its baby, from destruction.

    The Bank of International Settlements, the central bank of central banks, estimates that British banks currently have a $230 billion exposure to Ireland. German banks have an exposure totaling $206 billion. All European banks have an exposure totaling $650 billion.

    Therefore, British and German banks have the most to lose if Ireland is unable to service its debts. If (when) the British and German banks lose money due to these bad loans, the British and German taxpayers will be the ultimate losers as the two governments will merely ‘socialise’ the banks’ losses, i.e. the British and German taxpayers will be forced to ‘pick up the tab’, again. This is why a British contribution of approximately $10 billion towards a ‘bail out’ package suddenly looks quite attractive to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Would you rather lend $10 billion to Ireland in the hope that it may help to fix things, or would you rather suffer potential losses of $230 billion?

    Unfortunately for Messrs Cameron and Osborne, they are simply throwing good money after bad. Their plan will ultimately fail due to the fact that the Irish nation, and its banks, are insolvent. As the old saying goes, one cannot get blood out of a stone. There is only one realistic way out for the Irish government – it needs to default on its debts and it needs to default as soon as possible. “


    I don’t understand why we’re talking about all these long term goals.. when there is a crisis right now that needs to be dealt with.


    @Niall November
    Fine points and more or less what I was thinking. Might I add, but unfortunately not as eloquently put but…

    1. We also need to have our “new” government take 100% control of our finances (bit late at this stage but..) where we can coin our own currency, backed by our ability to pay. If we can issue bonds (promisery notes) then we can issue our own money but with little or no interest. Why in gods name borrow foreigner’s money and pay interest to them. The Central Bank is a privately owned foreign bank. We are now slaves to foreign money lenders.
    We can still use the Euro for international trading etc, but use this new currency for local, national transactions. A kind of a good currency / bad currency. Audit the revenue commissioners / finance department. We pay far too much take as it is. We are taxed to the hilt on goods, services and our labor.
    2. A new symbol of this new country. A new oath, not just to Ireland, but also to the people who died to creating it. We need a new sense of pride going forward, not this gombeen plastic patriotic shit that resembles wearing green every time Ireland plays soccer or rugby.
    3. As said in previous posts, public sector positions must come into line with the private sector. But not just performance based, but also penalties. IE – Lies / deceptions should have penalties attached.
    4. As written above, we have an abundance of natural resources that those bastards gave away for next to nothing. Nationalize them and tender out to companies to can bring them to our market. Irish if possible.
    5. Every person should be educated from a very young age about how our (new and old) political system works. It amazes that most Irish people haven’t a clue about Irish politics or banking sector.
    5. Have quarterly reviews on our progress, if any. If problems exist, we can act a lot quicker.
    6. As for the likes of the millions we are paying for carbon credits, this whole area needs to be investigated.

    Thats it for now.
    Cheers Bock.


    dermotoconnor, are you seriously suggesting that our little Bertie was wrong all along in mouthing the mantra of “groath”?

    Excellent post – you have articulated what I have felt deep down in my bowels for a long long time. I never did get the “growth” thing. We live on a finite planet. We can’t keep “growing the economy” – no more than we can continue to “increase and multiply”.

    The damage we’ve already done as a species in these respects is probably already irreparable.

    Yes, FME, as Fintan O’Toole said in the aforementioned article, notwithstanding the macro perspective presented by dermotoconnor, according to which the massive Ponzi scheme, global capitalism, is fucked, if we don’t as a nation take decisive action now we’re probably completely and permanently fucked.


    It may be catagorised as negativity but I remember the sign at work that said …”when you’re up to your ass in alligators it’s hard to remember that it was your job to drain the swamp ” ! Personally I think that the job has already begun when the Cork pig farmer and latterday patriot Ned O’Keeffe is stirred to emote about Johnny Foreigner coming in to run the banks. And stuff. If I have a wild hair up my ass about anything in Ireland it’s the ghastly concept of “self regulation ” that’s applied to every one of the professions. In a technically complex world it’s ludicrous that the very people who are required at every turn exist in an almost unregulated bubble. We don’t need new republics and radically altered voting patterns, we need legislators ; people who can draft and pass legislation that you can’t drive a coach and horses through on behalf of a special interest group. In other words it’s the quality of the government, not the quantity that matters.


    Arguably Ireland was responsible for the beginning of the end of the British Empire. “Ireland” (actually a handful of egomaniacs) will be responsible for the end of Capitalism as we know it.
    I do not know what the quick answer is to our current problems . We the People did not create this problem, however we are going to have to fix it. A few ideas to consider , most likely totally impractical

    !. Reform of the Government , leave potholes to the local council. Forbid T.D.’s from getting involved . Reduce the number of T.D.’s require their attendance in the chamber when in session. Subject to the chair allow free speech from all Deputies.

    2. Reform the Public Service reward and promote competence only, not based on “time served”. Extend redundancy package across the entire Service.

    3. Nationalise all natural resources without compensation. (requires major change in the law’s )

    4. Establish a CAB style unit for Social Welfare to prevent fraud.

    5. Encourage and grow the notion of “buy local” . Farmers markets Etc. Possibly get door to door deliveries.

    6. Total reform of the legal system. Removal of all antiquated law and up date to the 21st Century.

    All aspiration and most likely to be ignored.


    Some excellent ideas above. John the Pessimist, Norma, FME, all make good points about reform. Reduce the number of TDs and lower their salaries. Do away with the political dynasties. Look to the German and Swedish models of government. While we’re at it, seperate church and state completely. Just some of the items on my wishlist.

    In the short term, get out on Saturday for the ICTU demonstration, and get all your friends and neighbours out too. I’d be there if I could. Encourage the voters in the Donegal byelection to cast not one vote for FF.

    Jaysis Kryst, it seems that every song on my mp3 player today is about the crisis. The Specials “Gangsters” seems particularly apt:

    Can’t fight corruption with con tricks
    They use the law to commit crime
    I dread to think what the future will bring
    When we’re living in real gangster time

    Edit: Sweet merciful krishna, Mary O’Rourke has called for a FF leadership contest. And Mary Hanafin is considering putting herself forward. That’s how FF are going to deal with the crisis (‘crisis’? Fubar Republic, I think, not ‘crisis’). Deckchairs on the damn Titanic.


    Local complementary currencies

    There will be a liquidity crisis. Money will not be forthcoming from banks to fund businesses and individuals.

    A network of local electronic complementary currencies (a currency that is used in parallel with the Euro) will allow local economies to restart and ensure as much value is kept locally as possible.

    And the good thing these currencies can be controlled by democratically controlled and accountable committees, and run for the benefit of their users, not for financial parasites.


    A guaranteed right to keep the family home.

    Damn ‘moral hazard’. Once people know that they won’t be thrown out on the streets for non-payment of mortgage / rent, then they will be more willing to commit to social and economic regeneration.

    We can’t afford to be divided and ruled into those with large debt exposure and those with small. Solidarity is needed, not a repeat of the private/public sector slanging match.

    This ‘breaks the rules’ of money lending. Well so what – suck it up, moneylenders.

    (Disclaimer: I am neither in the public sector, nor have a huge mortgage).



    +1 on the edutainment video

    Part two is here

    I honestly believe everybody in Ireland needs to see them, as a vast majority does not understand what hit them, hence they are scared!

    I had some email exchange with “Al” Bartlett earlier this year, yes he is right, he is right since long….

    To put some meat to the bone, of roughly USD 200 tln (source McKinsey: Mapping Capital Markets) round about 120 tln is traded as debts.



    The ‘money as debt’ video you link to is good on analysis of the debt problem but worrying in it’s political affiliations. Where all the Zeitgeisty stuff is leading (and it’s there as a subtext of the video) is the belief that the system is controlled by a shadowy cabal. And surprise, surprise, these are usually foreigners, or the enemy within. They also often have hook noses, a tendency to avoid pork etc. etc. (at the risk of awakening the spirit of TheSystemWorks).

    It’s not a conspiracy (although cartels are a natural part of it), it’s a system, a hegemonic cultural set of norms. The lending of money at interest is part of an economic system known as capitalism. Its other pillar is the ‘right’ to make a profit out of other people’s labour. Once we generally deny these ‘self-evident rights’, and the right of the rich to wield most political power, then capitalism collapses, and we have a chance of getting on with building a sustainable and civilised society.

    If you want proof that the Illuminati / Rothschilds whatever-you-are-having-yourself are not in control just look at the ballsup the money markets are making in forcing the Eurozone into a position where it defaults on loans and credit default insurance. True conspirators would keep interest repayments by their debt slaves at levels that were just manageable, but didn’t threaten the whole edifice.

    Cockup trumps conspiracy most of the time, and the economic system we suffer is one colossal example of it.


    @ pope

    Did we see the same video?

    I did not see any of these implications, foreigners, jews etc.


    Pope Epopt. Your post @ 51 is the strongest and most relevant point I have read any where, The depth of that fear is what will demobilise the population.
    The restructure of Mortgage debt by writing down loans to realistic market value is the only way, To release a population, such as the Irish from what is most likely the most embedded fear other than hunger.
    It cannot be labelled ” debt forgiveness ” because there is no such thing.


    @George R. Bauman

    It comes mainly towards the end and is implicit – take the tentacular takeover of the US by ‘European central banks’. Then have a look at related videos on the Youtube page, like ‘Rothchilds Timeline’. The equation “broken banking = dirty furriners” or worse is floating around the addled pate of your average Tea Party supporter.

    Be very wary of the Zeitgeist – I won’t pull a Godwin but similar notions were being promulgated elsewhere in the 20s and 30s.



    I’m not a Shinner but I was told by one it is Sinn Féin party policy. Whether they would insist upon it if they were part of a coalition, is another question.


    Can anyone tell me why I shouldn’t vote Sinn Fein? I’m leaning towards them more and more..


    Im only speaking for myself but I would never vote again rather than vote for SF.
    They have very sophisticated spin but it comes from a very hollow place.
    Blatant opportunism, Hardly a surprise, This is their one big opportunity to gain seats, They will design a mandate around specific needs of the population, Will they implement it………….Will they fuck.


    Mad Dog @ 20 has the right idea.Import the people that are needed to make something of this country.Germans Swedes etc for managment and Chinese graduates for smart economy and business skill.I base this on the following facts Germany and Sweden are the best run countries in the world and Silicon valley is what it is because of the number of Chinese graduates it imports.Also all the real Tiger economies are either totally Chinese or have a large Chinese Population.So there to fill the key positions in Ireland import some of those people.How about that for a suggestion.


    @ Pope

    I find the CB octopus appropriate. I am with you on the point of red flags up when it comes to tea party agenda style ethnic bashing, but honestly, I did not see it.

    I would however say that Banks are to be taken into account here big times, so called market makers have a majority of responsibility on the situation we are confronted with. Remember the investors call with lenihan…monkey sounds etc. These guys are not only bullies….


    “the single transferable vote in multi-seater constituencies, because it gives rise to the worst sort of blinkered political clientelism.”

    In fairness, the sad reality is that Healy Rea and O’Dea were more than likely voted in on first preference votes. You can have a first past the post system if you want, but as long as people keep voting for arseholes, we’ll always have arseholes as political leaders.


    Superb as ever BOCK but I believe that what seems a simple suggestion would in reality require a mass uprising of blood-spilling proportions because it would be vital for success that any movement seeking to gain control has to seek to gain control of the very reins of power currently in situ in Dáil Eireann; any thing less would, I suggest, be futile.
    Every free nation in the world had to do likewise before those holding power could be successfully removed.
    History is a the teacher in these things.
    A lot to ponder now; quite a lot.


    FME – I hope you’re joking about voting for SF. I have railed against FF since the 70s and the early days of Haughey (which is before I was even a teenager, but could grasp the corruption). But don’t mistake this for a failure of capitalism. This is a failure of cronyism. Capitalism would have let the shareholders and bondholders take it in the shorts and not put the taxpayer on the hook. As for talk of Ireland being cut out of the international lending markets if our banks defaulted, that was garbage served up to rationalize the actions that our government took – which do far more for foreign banks than for us. But we’ve covered that ground already.

    Don’t throw out the most positive lesson from the last 20 years – that we, as a people, are capable of wonderfully creative things in business and the arts. We can create jobs and export goods and services that the rest of the world will value. Central control won’t do that, and will only lead to a different form of Cronyism. In case anyone wonders, I agree entirely with the principle of a solid social safety net and equality of opportunity. Private enterprise will serve us well if we dump the corruption, will grow our economy and provide a tax base to fund social programs. But people like SF will lead us straight back to the Britain/Ireland of the 50s-70s. By all means toss out FF and FG. Elect TDs who think for themselves and are accountable to their electorate. Elect those who talk common sense. And look to ourselves to create the future that we want.


    Lest we forget, the SF party sees democracy only as a convenience of the moment. For most of its existence it didn’t recognise the Dail, the Courts, the Guards, the Irish Army: in other words the accepted democratic basis of the state. Equally it gave unswerving allegiance to the PIRA and never deviated from that, while that organisation murdered numerous men and women. It is masquarading as a political party but throughout the period from the the 1920s to now it has very often set itself against the will of the people and hid behind ditches with weapons to effect their unique form of fascist thuggery.


    [Bock edit: this comment seems to have been posted on the wrong thread. Please refer to earlier remarks.]


    Bock, Starting a study circle to study the political systems in the Scandinvian countries. Take one country at a time. One of the things you will notice is the presence of fools is kept at a minimum within the public sevice. Meet one night a week and start a small change.


    CharlesO’R. As the temp plummets, Your pancake recipe is by the cooker ! Just heading to that place of freeze in the coming days………The Irish version of course, Im a bit better prepared this year.

    Back to topic, Your suggestion is excellent and for those of us interested, Now is the time to be heard.
    The other thread running on this site ” Irish Catholicism saves Europe yet again ” and this one are inextricably linked as the present mind set of the people has to be altered in order to address what will be the future of Ireland long after we are gone.
    If we do not address this with extreme urgency we are running the real risk of disorderly default and that will contain all the negative prospects which occur in Countries experiencing poverty and deprivation.

    I still believe the lack of cohesiveness among the population is palpable, Everyone seeking direction but segmenting the facts about what is actually going on and our connection in real time to those facts , Here , in Europe and farther afield.
    Is anyone else on this site willing to participate in forming a study group as per Charles suggestion ?
    Real and tangible suggestions would have to be a major part of same as time is not on our side.


    There’s a great deal we can learn from the Scandinavian countries. I had the pleasure years ago of observing at first hand how the Danes do things, and the corresponding dismay comparing how we do the same things.


    Bock. All of Scandanavia has so much excellence to offer us as example, But the people who can affect change wont look there, The core value of Scandanavian Countries would pose too big a threat to the ” Seek destroy and benefit ” core values of Ireland.

    Tonight on the News, The economics correspondent from Channel 4 said that he has only been here since last monday week and was deeply shocked at the shambles that is our Political system………sad but true, not so much ” craic ” now are we ?

    I have spent, What feels now like a billion hours seeking information facts and some degree of enlightenment on the internet, books etc, Im beginning to feel now that im only reinforcing a sense of hopelessness for Ireland, As ive said before I have no adherance to any romanticised patriotism but this is where im from, this is what it is and im Irish, No more than I would let my life, my kids lives my home fall apart and end up in decay, I do not want this last opportunity to pass me by, At least without trying.
    We respond to each other here with information, facts, stats, humour, anger, cynicism even a bit of affection from time to time, But now I think structure, ideas, help and plans could come from your creation.
    Its late, maybe im too much a dreamer…………Night all.



    The capitalism you imagine only exists in the Platonic world of neo-classical economics texts. Capitalists were always crony capitalists, always seeking to use the local and national state to rig the market in their favour. That’s why the ideology of rolling back the state is such transparent bull. Why do you think so much money is spent on the corporate lobbying of governments? Capitalists need the state to create their infrastructure and opportunities for them, and police the citizenry in their favour.

    The great historian, Fernand Braudel, in Capitalism and Material Life illustrates an instance of early capitalism in the Italian City-States in medieval Italy. A group of smart/amoral merchants realise that, if they gain a monopoly on flour shipments into the city from rural mills, they can charge whatever prices they wish. If the urban poor cant afford bread, that’s their problem. And so it has gone on, ever since, with varying degrees of elaboration and ruthlessness.

    That being said, great technical and scientific inventiveness has flourished within capitalism; but that inventiveness is necessarily blind to longer term issues of internal contradictions and external material limits. Capitalism is palpably no longer fit for purpose as an economic system, if that purpose is to survive with some form of civilisation intact. We will have to become socially inventive to match our scientific/technical inventiveness, and construct something better, which will mean taming capitalism in radical ways.

    Business as normal is increasingly becoming barbarism as normal.


    You’re dead right, Pope Epopt. When will they ever learn?

    The purported economic remedy being imposed on Ireland at the moment by the IMF/EU and our (their?) puppet government is just more of the same kind of the amoral deregulated capitalism – ie, the kind of “Let them eat yellow meal” laissez-faire capitalism that caused the Great Famine – that caused the problem in the first place.

    The inherently inequitable exploitative nature of capitalism is by definition the antithesis of democracy, which is founded on equality first and foremost.

    It is not only unethical but as your analysis in post # 42 above shows it is economically untenable.

    Our supposedly democratic governments, including the “government” of the EU, have to address the question of, as you put it, “taming capitalism in radical ways”.

    They have shown no sign whatsoever of being either willing or able to do so. Instead they are behaving like puppets of “the gnomes of Zurich”.

    I’ve always tried to maintain what I believe is a healthy scepticism towards any form of “ism” or “ology”. But if your analysis in post # 42 above is correct – and I cannot see anything wrong with it – Marx could be proved right after all in his prediction that capitalism per se is inevitably doomed.

    Maybe we should accept that and get on with it.


    Bock, I have been to my horror monitoring Ireland this last week and rarely been so saddend. I can guess Ireland is in chock and maybe worse. It is of paramount importance that one declares a psykological state of emergency within ones self and inject good thinking that contains various elements of hope. By that I mean accessing ideas that are an alternative to that which has stifeled Ireland for so long. A study circle may sound a bit “Mossig”( can’t find the English word) but it helps bring about an atmosphere of hope, continuity, Developes the art of listning and prevents despair. You belong to something bigger than youself and it helps bring about structure in a social sense and structure in ones psyklogical outlook and prevents negativism from growing roots. It will not improve the economy but improve your sense of control in that you understand why things are the way they are even when told different. It is allso accessable to all regardless of education and background and this meeting of minds is invaluable because it is they who constitute that beautiful island called Ireland and if change is to happen you must get down to basic understanding of each other. Norma, save a pancake for me. And Bock thank you for allowing me to show myself from my best side and that is what its all about. Go for it Ireland.


    Here study circles are financed by the Social Democrats and trade unions. The bourgeoise partys have their own study circles as do the Christian Democrats and so on. A study circle has at least 5 participants and usually meet weekly. This brings many out of the house and since people are people they like to meet other people. There is a circle leader who leads the group but sometimes they lead themselves. A study circle say called “A New Vision for Ireland” could meet at some venue and perhaps study economics under the leadership of a person with that knowledge. Nothing frightens powere hungry people more than people empowering themselves. Now I have to put the horses to bed.


    You’re right, Charles. Information is the key. I think people are more prepared to ask questions now than they were a few years ago, apart from those who think X-Factor is more important.


    @Pope Epopt,,

    Far be it from me to argue with the infallible ;-)…but seriously….

    Your points are well made and well taken. Again I beg to differ though.

    The key ingredient for a fair outcome in a capitalist society is an educated and responsible population, exactly the thing that I believe that we have been pushing towards in this debate. It has been sadly lacking for many years. US voters are led astray by shiny distractions like flag burning and abortion and ignored economic issues for years. Similarly in Ireland we saw fit to return Haughey and his heirs after GUBU, the Dunne scandal and others too numerous to mention. It wasn’t like it’s the first time FF showed their hand….

    Capitalism is all about companies and individuals pursuing their own agenda. Entrepreneurs and businessmen will take legitimate risks if they believe the returns are there. They will create new businesses and grow the pie overall as a result. Of course, if they think they can pull a stroke and benefit, they will do that too. For a successful outcome, voters have to act in their own self-interest too – electing politicians who enforce rules, and throwing out bums who line their pockets. It means not voting for the label of the party, but for the substance of the individual and the policies they will follow.

    I’m not a utopian – far from it. But I do believe that the ultimate responsibility for most of this mess lies with us – the voters – collectively. If we re-elect fools and criminals who are only in it for the bribes, then we get what we have – a kleptocracy. If we ruthlessly winnow out those who show themselves to be corrupt or inept, we will get better government. One that enforces the social contract.

    If we want real jobs and a sustainable standard of living, I trust incentivised entrepreneurs to create them far better than I do the likes of SF. I worked in Britain and Ireland in the 80s. I’d rather give people the opportunity to take risks, create wealth and be rewarded rather than swap one set of cronies for another who call each other comrade. Your best and brightest will go where the opportunity is – so why not give them an opportunity at home?

    In summary – this was NOT capitalism, this was cronyism. And we the voters bear at least some of the blame for it. Let’s act in our own interests in future by demanding more of our politicians.


    You’re dead right. This was not capitalism, but cronyism. And the current rescue of the bank investors isn’t capitalism either, but theft.


    I beg to differ, for the aforementioned reasons.


    I could not agree more, Bock. The banks liabilities should never have been guaranteed, and this BS about “we’d be shut out of the international markets if the banks defaulted” is laughable. A private default is not a sovereign default. The government could have borrowed at a rate that reflected the risk of its balance sheet, and with low debt (no bailout) we’d have got by.

    This is putting future generations on the hook to bail out bondholders – indirectly, other European banks. No wonder Britain decided to help.

    Don’t be surprised if those future generations don’t stick around to foot the bill for a meal they never ate.


    Charles O’Rourke, what’s the difference between a “study circle” and a group hug?


    @Spailpín Fánach

    My preference is for equality of opportunity, with a strong safety net, in the belief that it maximises the outcome overall with the minimum of infringement of individual freedom. Others may prefer different preferences – an example being equality of outcome (as Communism/Socialism tended to).

    I respect your opinions, and your points are always well made. To each his own.


    When they pulled down the sugar factory which is near me I thought and said it was nothing short of criminality. This was a place of employ for many people during its long years of service. It was a refinery which was one of four which we had in this country. This refinery had nearby a food processing plant which was closed in the 70s. This processing plant could process all types food which was grown in this country. Then like now we are set to wonder as we peer into the unknown as to how we could let ourselves be mismanaged by cute-hoor politics, and could only watch as our lives and our childrens lives will be changed forever.
    For my thinking I could only think as to what I would do in those dire times.

    1. Get rid off the President.

    2. Get rid of the Senate.

    3. No more state cars.

    4.Give all politicians an accountable wage.

    5.No more double jobbing.

    6.All politicians to be sourced on their credentials as to capabilities prior to election.

    7.Reduce pensions, and remove where necessary with past politicians.

    8.Remove unnecessary security and drivers of the politicians past and present.

    9. Nationalize the lottery, and make it a fairer system with accountability.

    10.A total review of all grants and state payments to all sections of the community.

    11.Re vamp the media with a law to prohibit secrecy.

    12.A revisit of the past tribunals by the Gardai with the power to imprison if needed.

    13.A total review of past proceedings of government by the Gardai.

    14.A prohibition on politicians from hiring or soliciting of family or friends.

    I suppose it should have been first and foremost but I am old so forgive an old coot. I would take back the monies given to the banks and let them fail. Because this is what they have done, they are failed businesses and therefore need investigation. I would tell the EU to take a hike and print my own money for local use at least. I would invoke talks with the UK in open forum with the UK citizenry as we are a people with like problems, and commonalities would prove the victor in our dire mess.
    All our problems are a long time coming we have been driven by greed for the most part. It seems as if we would always look down on our neighbour through the accumulation of paper wealth and what this paper would give us in the short term. We need to realize we need our neighbour and allow him to produce by their effort while not trying to demean by his lack of so-called social wealth. We need to grow up and become conscious of the fact of this being a one way journey and a little help along the way will hopefully lead us to a fulfilling end.
    As a footnote. The only earthly money you will take with you if you are lucky are the two pennies for your eyes, and the ferryman will take those. Coupled with the fact of their being no pockets in your shroud.


    You seem to have great faith in the integrity of the Gardaí


    Not particularly. But it was my idea of how I would do this, and the Gardai would certainly be under scrutiny also. There are some good ones out there, and being a retired Truck Driver I have come across most of them in many countries. I would have to add that I found the bean Police the most professional overall.



    “Equality of opportunity” is a meaningless mantra, a sop thrown to the lower orders to feed the American Dream, the rags to riches fantasy.

    It’s a false substitute for real equality.

    Do you really believe the average decent citizen born and raised in Moyross has equality of opportunity vis-à-vis his or her middle class counterpart – let alone the gilded youth?


    Excuse me folks. This is not the place for this discussion. Please stay on topic.


    As always, Bock, I respectfully defer to your prejudices.


    Prejudices? You’re not getting away with that nonsense.

    The line you’re going down contains no suggestions as required by this post. Have your ideological debate somewhere else. It has no connection with this thread and it won’t be published here.


    Well let me put it this way, Bock, and it might meet your requirements.

    In the ‘An Irishman’s Diary’ piece in The Irish Times yesterday, Frank McNally wrote about Kavanagh’s Weekly, a short-lived newspaper produced by the poet Patrick Kavanagh and his brother Peter in the early 50s.

    Here’s the link:

    The following extract, I think, speaks volumes:

    ‘Its opening editorial, for example – headlined “Victory of Mediocrity” – was a
    broadside against the performance of successive governments in the 30 years since
    the Republic won “what was called freedom”. This was followed immediately by a
    diatribe about the main news story of the week: the budget.

    ‘Here, the Kavanaghs cut loose on their real bête noire, Fianna Fáil, which they said
    still posed as a popular movement while in reality being “the party of the bankers,
    the capitalists, the new feudalism”. Even the most deluded romantics, they
    suggested, should now be asking themselves: “who ruled this country – the
    government or a conclave of bankers in Foster Place, very often under the directives
    of the British treasury”.

    ‘The editorial concluded: “Mr McEntee’s budget is not the budget of a free people; it
    is not even the budget of a free English people; it is the budget of Churchill’s Tory

    Does that sound familiar?

    It sounds exactly like a lot of the current commentary in the mainstream media and on this site. We’re going around in circles if we don’t move the discussion to a place where we’re problematising capitalisim per se, as the Kavanagh brothers did – not crony capitalism or other sub species of capitalism.

    So, Bock, insofar as the title of this thread is “Re-inventing Ireland. Time to grow up.”, isn’t it time we had a properly objective, grown up discussion about the matrix that governs our lives and our politics and that is apparently totally dysfunctional, ie capitalism?

    Is that not a constructive and relevant suggestion?


    I don’t know if you read beyond the headline, but here’s the relevant phrase from the post:

    “I want to hear genuine, practical suggestions”.

    Can you work with that?


    I have been working with it, Bock, but you don’t want to know.

    But that’s your prerogative and there’s nothing I can do about that.


    Please drop this passive-aggressive nonsense now. I have little patience for it.

    Address the terms of this thread or not as the case may be. It’s up to you.


    I really think, Bock, you should be able to exercise your editorial functions without resorting to personal insult.


    What insult are you talking about? Specify.


    I’m talking about the characterisation of me as “passive-aggressive”.


    Let me give you two quotes:

    – As always, Bock, I respectfully defer to your prejudices.

    – I have been working with it, Bock, but you don’t want to know.

    But that’s your prerogative and there’s nothing I can do about that.

    I wouldn’t take it from a teenager, never mind a grown adult. It’s embarrassing.


    Spailpin, Start a study circle and find out.


    SF.. this is obviously a strong emotive issue for you and it’s very noble.
    The practicalities of “problematising capitalism per se”. The thing is problematising isn’t a practical solution in the immediate future. It’s just a debate. And it’s very honourable. There is alot of inequality due to capitalism . A small percentage of people own the majority of wealth.

    But it’s the system we have at the moment, so we have to work with it, it seems.
    The immediate practical step towards defending ourselves from the vultures of capitalism, would be to send the IMF packing in my opinion.

    By the way, was a joke to follow this :”Charles O’Rourke, what’s the difference between a “study circle” and a group hug?”. Because if not, Charles’ suggestion is similar to your own – to get talking, all though his would be more to do with the here and now in my opinion. And that’s not to take away from any noble ideas whatsoever SF.

    Here’s a short clip I like on money.. funny stuff! Sums it all up for me!
    The host says at the end. “I think it’s called laughing as you sink” ha.


    It is the content of my posts that should be discussed.

    Nobody has specified how any of that content is irrelevant to the topic of this thread.

    Trying to divert the discussion to imputed personal deficiencies on my part is not constructive.


    If your posts on this thread include suggestions, they’re welcome. If your posts on other threads involve suggestions, that’s neither here nor there.


    If it’s revenue that needs raising, this would be a great opportunity to legalise – and therefore tax – The Herb. Sell it through chemists and pharmacies to bona fide residents in a form that does not necessitate the use of tobacco. That shoould generate a few bob: even the useless arses who don’t vote and won’t work would find themselves contributing the the economy…..


    FME, thanks for that YouTube link. “Laugh as you sink” is right.

    As the poet Byron, I think, said, “We must laugh that we may not weep”.

    Ricepaddy’s herbal suggestion would be very helpful in that regard. As well as the revenue advantages, it might help to instil a healthy anti-authoritarian outlook in some of the more entrenched party political and religious faithful.

    My rhetorical question to Charles O’Rourke about study circles was to highlight what I think is the closed nature of that kind of exercise as Charles described it – meetings of like minds reinforcing each others’ preconceptions and insulating themselves within their collective comfort zone.

    What we’re doing on this site is debating, which I think is very important and I very much appreciate and enjoy participating in it. And in my albeit limited experience of this kind of site, it’s the best I’ve come across – despite the odd spat.

    In my view a proper debate is a necessary precondition for correct action. History shows that constructive political change is preceded and informed by a cultural/intellectual climate that prepares the way for that change. The Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Celtic Revival are, I believe, examples of this.

    That’s why I think a site like this is very important and that’s the kind of thinking behind some of my comments.

    Grandiose or what!


    Spailpin. No where did I mention like minds reinforcing each others preconceptions in an insulated collective comfort zone. First how could they have preconceptions when lacking knowledge but with a thirst for it. I did mention people from various backgrounds and with different degrees of education in an inter active situation. You sir are an elitist intellectual nihilst with contempt for ordinary people.


    Spailpin, the movements you mentioned came with change from above, this change must come from the ground.


    Aim high shur SF… :)
    I do get these gandiose thoughts myself sometimes, of a different way of life.
    But you know though, if you could come up with real suggestions of practical ways of ridding us of the problems of capitalism.. I’m all for it!!
    Can I suggest, maybe do up a post on some enlightened philosophies you like and see if Bock might publish it? (Hell if TSW got something published here once, I’d say SF has a chance.).
    Just a suggestion anyways. Defending would be worth reading.. Sorry if the wrong thread.


    “You sir are an elitist intellectual nihilist with contempt for ordinary people.”

    (Charles O’Rourke addressing me in post # 103)

    Charles, as far as I am aware, that kind of personal denigration is in breach of the rules of this site.

    Is that not so, Bock?

    FME, as I tried to say in post # 102, before we get to the nitty gritty of “practical” solutions, I believe we must first seriously consider the possibility that capitalism per se has failed.

    That seems to be the import of that YouTube clip you linked us to in post # 98 that you said sums it up for you and I think you’re probably right in that.

    But so long as that notion is condemned as taboo from the commanding heights we are going round in circles, headbanging against the walls of the matrix.

    Outside of the matrix, there is a world of possibilities that might be discussed. Radical alternatives such as those proposed by Ivan Illich in the 70s might even be considered.

    I have suggested elsewhere on this site the radical proposal of equality of income for all workers. No one agreed with me, though none of those who disagreed with me adduced a logical reason for doing so.

    I refer to that argument here not for the purpose of rehashing it but because I think it illustrates the way an idea is rejected because it is heretical by reference to the gospel of capitalism as handed down by the high priests of that faith.

    I don’t presume to have definitive answers to anything. All I’m trying to do is pose what I think are pertinent questions and present constructive suggestions as to how I think the debate should proceed.


    Bock, A Truth Commission is no bad idea. Revenge no. Accepting responsibility for ones actions is a step one takes whilst maturing. The New Ireland must find a path away from the aftermath of the civil war. The schock that is Ireland today can have the effect of forcing a population to confront ” themselves”. No amount of national rhetoric will mask what is happening in their daily lives. No amount of revenge will alter the real situation. When they are all hanging from the lamp posts what then?. Boycott ( there’s an Irish form of resistance) the pubs for one month and use the time for reflection, after all it is about the future for you and your children. A small penance to pay and some good will come out of it.


    Spailpin, Given the situation in Ireland I am moved by your sensitivity.


    Spailpin, I stand by my compliment unless you deliver a concrete suggestion that will influence me so as I can say “That was something I never thought of before and I have use for that” Otherwise stay aloof in your ivory tower and await the next great movement of thought.


    Spailpin, pity you do not use your polemic talent in a direction that could benifit us all. I would prefer that you put your energy to work so that it instills courage.


    I’m going to start deleting comments.


    Foster much more critical thinking in schools.

    Daughter, educated in UK, say what you will about the UK education system, was taught critical thinking skills throughout all her schooling. Actually had to do a course in Critical thinking in A-level year.

    2010 – she’s at an Irish University. Says to me, off her own bat: They’re all spoon-fed, they don’t question, they don’t speak up.

    Me – 30 years ago in Irish Unversity, native German lecturer says to us: You’re so passive, you don’t speak up, you don’t question.

    Both outsiders. Make of that what you will.


    Yes, Bernie, I think that is a constructive suggestion. I definitely agree that critical thinking needs to be fostered and explicitly taught in Irish schools.

    Indeed I have already said that elsewhere on this site. In this regard I referred to an article by Professor Michael Cronin published in The Irish Times on 24th February 2010, “Educating free minds only route to true ethics”.

    The article is reproduced on his website:




    Bernie, I couldn’t agree more with your comments. Why so? It’s difficult to get to the root of this. The points system, the means of doing well in exams, the cramming schools, the perpetuation by teachers of the ways they were taught themselves, the lack of curriculum reform, a certain glorificationion in this society for what is called “common sense,” and lazy functionalism, with a concomitant aversion to the critical and the theoretical, and of course many other issues, combine to render third level students, in many cases, bereft of any great critical expression.


    Hear, hear.

    You mention curriculum reform, Poll Dorcha.

    The curriculum and assessment system at second level in this country is a disgrace. In fact I think it’s a crime to incarcerate young people in schools for 5 years of their lives and subject them to such a mind numbing experience. I have used the term “sausage machine” in this regard elsewhere on this site and I think it’s perfectly appropriate.

    Only once has there been a serious attempt to reform the curriculum and examination system and that was in the 1980s when Gemma Hussey was Minister for Education. A set of very enlightened proposals was produced which would have radically changed the whole structure. However, as is so often the case in this country, those proposals were never implemented and all that has happened since is tinkering around the edges.

    That is one initiative that I think should be revisited.


    Spailpin, good writing about an important issiue. I think you hit a vital nerve in the “school of thought control”. Breaking that is one way of removing a barrier to change.


    @Spailpín Fánach @ Poll Dorcha

    +1 Critical Thinking taught/encouraged in schools.

    Incidentally, I think that critical thinkers would look around and conclude that capitalism was failing and has fail built in, but I don’t want to hijack this generally practical thread with an old argument, that may even be becoming obsolete.


    Thank you, Charles.

    It is very gracious of you to compliment me in spite of my perhaps unwarranted dismissal of your study circles suggestion above.

    Though maybe we’d better be careful about being reasonable for too long or this site will lose its entertainment value.


    Thank you Spailin, I give as good as I get but we must leave our polemics aside as there is important work to do. You with your talent could use it to great effect even if only in a study circle say on economics. It’s not glamourous and will hardly draw attention but generalising sound information as to how things are and why is a great start to critical thinking. Lenin (if you remember him) once said that economics should be explained so as a house wife can understand it. So Spailpin get that circle going and I,ll bring the sandwhiches.


    I’d just like to tell everyone here that my landlord knocked €50 off my rent for the winter. I didn’t ask him to do it he just did it. And I’m almost broke, working 40hrs a week getting paid for 35hrs, so it was a welcome and unexpected relief.

    It’s that kind of spirit we need in this country.


    I am presently running a programme of Critical /Effective Thinking Skills for a specifically targeted group aged 16 to 28, It is operating with the Criteria of investigating and defining the approaches, attitudes and beliefs of each individuals view of their own lives and the connect / disconnect to their environment / influences/ and the indentification of whats imposed and validity and awareness of personal choice.

    That is a very bare bones synopsis, So far what has really come to the fore has been the internal resistance to what I can only describe as a Dermal wrap attitude, Which is devoid of cognisense of the outer layers of the Universe, There is an immense thirst for Rational and Logical thinking and the marked sense of disarray displayed throughout the layers which make up Irish Governance and society is strongly felt.

    I have believed for a long time that this process would be of huge benefit if it begun at Secondary level, To assist young people with learning the skill of investigative and defined questioning is a fundamental means to creating an environment they would feel ownership of and a place worth living in.

    Beyond Politics and Politicians, Unions, Bondholders, Banks and Developers, I am asking everyone here to please read the link I am providing because this shows the true pain of this crisis, I found it in a UK newspaper, Not an Irish one, To me this should be front page in every Irish newspaper.


    Norma, I’m 34.. am I too told to figure out the cognisense of the outer layers of the Universe.
    What is that seriously ? Do you have to be a spacer to join that group? This sounds like a Saturday night out to me. Just kidding. Sorry.


    +1 on the Critical Thinking in schools suggestion


    There is a danger that introducing Critical Thinking or Philosophy into schools will just compartmentalise it within that section or subject. A more radical approach would have these as core ventures, but also demand and seek a reengagement with the epistemological basis of all human knowledge. In other words a shift from posing subjects as having some form of artificial finitude to an a understanding that human knowledge in the main, is contingent, is required. For brevity’s sake, we could do worse that look at the ways in which John Dewey and Freire advocated a resestimation of human experiencing; thus knowledge, may be perceived i.e. along the lines of fluidity, change, ever open to reassessment, evolutionary and often poorly served by compartementalisation in the artifical constructs of school subjects.


    Poll Dorcha. Your comment cuts to the crux of CET becoming part of the system therefore defeating the purpose.
    The true benefits of CET are when it is part and parcel of day to day interactions in Family environments and the workplace, That means though, As I said on ” Critical Thinking ” thread, That it has to be a Facility and not part of any systematic approach as that would eradicate the very substance of CET.

    The whole point about CET is that it is about making quality choices, Therefore the acceptance of the programme has to be a choice in the first place.


    Poll Dorcha — That’s right. Even grown adults talking about “doing” subjects instead of “learning”.


    How about a Wikileaks type site in Ireland where individuals with a conscience can expose the shit that goes on behind closed doors here.


    Good idea. It would probably need to be hosted in a grown-up country.


    Lots of great suggested ideas here. Like the study circle idea. Would like to send a list of major changes suggested here to every sitting TD and to get as many people as possible to do the same. We all need to take responsibility for where we are now. It will take a lot of work and time but we all need to get involved and take ownership of the political system.


    Bock, I have started a study circle on economics with my self and the internet. I could include the twins but they only want their weekly pocket money and care less for the problems of the world. I have begun raising the Irish debt crisis or what ever you call it at work during coffe breaks. Its all I can do at the moment besides mapping Irish natural resources that may be up for grabs by the “Market”. There is a natural sympathy for Ireland here in Scandinavia but you don’t save a country on sympathy.


    I like that Wikileaks idea if it could be achieved.Perhaps some format such as “rate your solicitor”.Maybe Bock could take up the cudgel!

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