Posted by Jason O on Oct 30, 2009 in Irish Politics
My brother was recently having a cup of coffee with a female Polish friend, during which her boyfriend departed to his second job. As my brother continued the conversation, he suddenly became aware of a hand appearing in front of his face. He looked up to see a large pregnant girl in a tracksuit, with her hand outstretched in front of him, as she busily texted someone on her mobile phone. My brother caught her attention (Well, she was very busy!) just long enough to say that he had no money. The Polish girl said the same thing. On hearing the Polish girl’s accent, the Irish girl pointed at her and declared ” You’re what’s wrong with this country!” My brother snapped, and ate the head off the girl, pointing out that the Polish girl and her boyfriend both work and pay taxes, whilst this layabout goes around expecting other people to bale her out. She waddled off, irate.
I know who I’d throw out of the country. Clue: She doesn’t speak Polish.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 29, 2009 in European Union
A particularly minty form of ballot paper.
Although the eurosceptic nonsense about the EU being undemocratic is just that, there is nevertheless, the fact that it is not democratic in the sense that any European voter would recognise it. Consider how the new EU president is being chosen: Tony Blair is the big name, but it is very possible that the leaders of Europe, over coffee and mints, could suddenly agree on a name for whom most Europeans will go “Who the hell is that? Is that the guy who fixed our fridge when it broke down last year? Looks like him. Of course, I’d have to see the crack of his arse poking out from the back of his jeans to be sure.” How on Earth can you build democratic legitimacy with that carry-on?
It is just not good enough. This person will eventually have the trappings of a head of state, and therefore the people of the EU who pay them are going to have to get a say. And I don’t mean through the European Parliament either.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 28, 2009 in Irish Politics
Do you like air?
This is a poll conducted by the National Youth Federation (Here). I can understand the logic of conducting a poll to determine the needs of young people, makes perfect sense. Then I started reading the questions, and they pretty much sum up why so many Irish people are disenchanted with politics, in short, because they are spoken to like they are morons. Some of the questions are about the availability of specific facilities, which is fair enough. But some of the questions are so generic as to make one wonder what it can actually tell us about what young people think?
For example, one question asks: “Do you think that their should be more,less or the same amount of cuts for young people?” (Their spelling, by the way.) Where is the follow up question? Who do they believe the cuts some be focussed on? There’s an answer I’d like to hear.
Another question asks: “ Do you want Ireland to have leaders who are? Smart? Tough? Fair? Kind? Hardworking? Honest?” WTF? What can that answer possibly tell us? If they’d at least put in “able to deal with the Jewish Question.” we’d know what percentage of those polled were Nazis. That would be something.
What about this one: “ On a scale of 1 to 10 How important are the following?(10 being the highest & 1 the lowest)”
“A country where most people are highly educated.”
“A country that is fair and equitable where wealth is evenly distributed.”
“A country that has lots of money, but the money isn’t necessarily shared with all its citizens.”
“A country with a good environment.”
“A country rich in culture and arts.”
“A country where people are healthy.”
It’s not like they are even asked to rate these issues exclusively. You can rate them all as very important, as opposed to deciding which ones matter more.
But then I suspect a poll announcing that most young people questioned don’t give a toss about arts and culture would not suit the worldview of those conducting the survey. After all, they asked this question:
“A country that is fair and equitable where wealth is evenly distributed.”
In other words, it assumes that sharing the wealth evenly between those who get up and go to work in the morning, and those who don’t, is “fair”. Is it?
Posted by Jason O on Oct 27, 2009 in Not quite serious.
- Three senior citizens detained for “Smackin’ bitches and hos up”
Members of the Yorkshire Constabulary had to call in riot support last night after an drunken orgy of sex, violence, drug taking and speeding down hills in a bath broke out amongst a group of senior citizens in the west Yorkshire town of Holmfirth.
The group, led by three individuals identified by their gang names Compo, Clegg and Foggy were dispersed with tear gas and repeated baton rounds after police intervened to break up a crack cocaine and prostitution ring run by three men known locally as “the triad of evil.” Foggy, the leader of the group, is ex-military and a criminal mastermind, with Compo his chief henchman and Clegg just along for the nice walk and the odd ho-slappin’.
The police authority has confirmed that some of the arresting officers sought psychological assistance after the arrests. “Seeing an 80 year old woman standing on a street corner in suspenders and high heels will do that to you. Especially when you see the zimmer frame.” An unnamed officer told us.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 26, 2009 in Just stuff
Hail to the Chief?
Should Tony Blair be appointed President of the European Union? I know, that’s not the title, but that’s how it will be seen in the world, so get over it. But is he the man for the job? I mean, he’s obviously not the woman for the job, but you get my point.
It’s another issue that I find myself conflicted over. For a start, I don’t think most ordinary Europeans want him, because of Iraq, and the EU needs to listen to public opinion. But on the other hand, a President Blair will put the EU on the map. Along with Bill Clinton and President Obama, he’s one of the great communicators. Across the world, people will know who President Blair is, as opposed to President Junker, or President Bildt or President Balkenende. I mean seriously, if Carl Bildt broke into your house and stole your DVD player, could you pick him out of a line up? (Margot Wallstrom, you’re barred from this competition!)
Once again, however, it shows why we really should be directly electing this person. Sure, no one outside of Sweden would initally know who Carl Bildt is, but if we had a year long nominating procedure, we’d get to know the candidates. After all, five years ago, nobody had heard of a Kenyan-American politician with a funny name.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 23, 2009 in European Union
Interesting piece here by the always readable Timothy Garton Ash on Britain’s obsession with Germany.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 23, 2009 in Irish Politics
Time to trim?
I’m not a fan, usually, of devaluation, as it tends to be a short-term fix to more deep-rooted problems in an economy. Indeed, one of the benefits (Aside from cheap holidays) of a strong currency is that it makes raw materials cheaper, but also forces the economy to become more structurally competitive.
However, recent noises from the Elysee Palace, pointing out the damaging effect the (Artifically high?) strong euro is having on Eurozone exports, particularly with regard to Airbus, have suggested that it may be on the agenda. Or perhaps it’s been put on the aganda to encourage a weakening of the euro in the markets.
What would be particularly interesting would be the effect of euro devaluation on the UK. Would it stifle UK exports to the Eurozone? From an Irish perspective, we’d gain twofold, as our exports to the US and the UK would be strengthened, and with global resource prices at low-ish levels we could afford to import a little inflation into the economy. On top of that, the fact that we are inside the Eurozone means that the effect would be far less damaging than if we had a solely national currency.
It’s worth thinking about.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 22, 2009 in Irish Politics
It’s no secret that I’m an IKEA fan, and as I was standing, Wickes ratchet screwdriver in hand (Very, very handy piece of gear, the ratchet screwdriver.) proudly surveying my newly-assembled Benno DVD towers, I started thinking: Why can’t we have a party run on IKEA principles? Think about it. You go to the store, see the piece of furniture you want as it will appear in your home, decide that it is a price that you are willing to pay, pay it, and get what you want. Simple.
Imagine we had a party like that. That made very simple, measurable priomises, and told us what we would be paying in taxes or fees for them. And that is all they promised, as opposed to the current “These cutbacks are terrible. There will be no cutbacks when we are in power.” nonsense which debases politics and makes disappointed voters cynical. A party that, for example, didn’t promise a perfect health service but instead said “OK. Every family not on the GMS will get two vouchers for two free GP visits per year. Won’t solve all your problems, but it’s a dig out when one of the kids is sick and will save you €60. And you’ll know whether we deliver the promise or not.”
This coming election, I don’t know who I’ll be voting for, but I suspect they’ll be the people promising the least.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 19, 2009 in Irish Politics
Enda: Has he got the bottle?
Enda Kenny has promised to scrap 20 Dail seats and the Seanad if elected. Do we believe him? I don’t mean that he’s lying, in that I feel that Enda is a man of integrity, but do we believe that Taoiseach Kenny could get the Seanad to vote through a bill to abolish itself, or get his TDs to vote through a boundary commission that reduces the Dail by 20 seats? Yet again, like his previous “bolt from the blue” policy of announcing a paycut at a press conference in front of gobsmacked colleagues, this must surely raise the question of his judgement and indeed the judgement of the parliamentary party that insists on keeping him as leader. What will he announce off the cuff as Taoiseach? Membership of NATO? Ireland’s committment to putting a man on Mars? War with the Isle of Mann? This is assuming, by the way, that he can get through an election campaign where FF will surely identify him as the weakest link in the alternative government. Once again, by his own hand, the Enda Factor is alive, and if the FG parliamentary party can’t deal with this single glaring issue how can they be expected to run the country?
The reality is that the Seanad in its current form is not worth keeping. Should it be reformed? If it were to be a means of bringing people into politics who normally could not get elected to the “local fixer” lower house, then maybe a reduced Seanad would be worth keeping, provided it accepts the principle that every citizen should have a vote in its composition. As for reducing the Dail size, that makes sense from the simple proposition that reducing the Dail by 20, or even more seats, would not actually reduce the Dail’s value for money.
The proposal will lead to one of two things: Either Taoiseach Kenny will face down his own party establishment, and show himself to be capable of pushing through genuine reform, or this issue will be the issue that shows that he is not actually running the country. Assuming this sort of stuff doesn’t stop him being Taoiseach in the first place.
It’s a hell of a hostage to fortune to leave.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 16, 2009 in Not quite serious.
This made me laugh, primarily because it’s only a few degrees from the truth.