Posted by Jason O on Nov 13, 2009 in Irish Politics
, Not quite serious.
A BNP Mayor has called for the deportation of Irish/EU nationals who fail to secure employment in Britain, and called for a review of social welfare payments to non-British nationals, given the current economic crisis.
The mayor insisted that he was commenting on Irish/EU nationals who are abusing Britains’s “generous social welfare system”. He said: “I’m calling for anybody who is living in the UK and who can’t afford to pay for themselves to be deported after three months,”
” I have no problem with foreign nationals who had worked and settled here and who had since lost their jobs, saying these people were perfectly entitled to help from the state. The people I am talking about are the non-nationals that are coming in here on a weekly basis and they are coming in here because of our generous social welfare system. I’m asking the relevant Minister to give instructions to departments right around the country to monitor these people and, if they are not looking for work, there should be some situation or some measure where before a period of say, three to six months, if they can’t find employment that they should be returned to the country of their origin.”
Posted by Jason O on Nov 12, 2009 in Irish Politics
What the f***? many of the more lefty-liberally of you will say. And yes, I know, it seems a bit oxymoronic, but hear me out.
Firstly, I’m not one of those weirdo Keith Joseph “The Free Market Cures All!” types. To me, the two great achievements of post-1945 Europe are the European Union and the Welfare State. I’m on the centre-right, but centre is as important to me as right, and the mark of a civilised society is caring for the people at the bottom of the pile. But here’s my problem.
As the John O’Donoghue shenanigans have proven, Irish politicians just cannot be trusted to spend our money wisely. Every year, the comptroller and auditor general’s report is full of examples of politicians just pissing away our taxes because it’s not their money, and so there are no consequences.
It’s time to deal with this, and here’s how: A constitutional amendment to ban, by law, the current expenditure budget from rising above, say, €50 billion, for 10 years. Like any household or small business, the government will just have to make do with what it has and get better value out of it. But wait, you cry! What about the poor? Won’t they suffer because of this? Won’t vital public services be cut?
It’s a fair point, and here’s my suggested solution. We’ll let every taxpayer make a compulsory €1500 donation to the registered charity of their choice each year, out of their existing taxes. That’ll put an extra €1.5 billion into charitable organisations. Who do you think will get better value for that money? Barnardos or the Department of Social Community and Family Affairs? Who will get more of that money actually to kids or old people or the homeless who need help, as opposed to getting blown on quangos and public sector pensions and TDs expenses?
Posted by Jason O on Nov 11, 2009 in Irish Politics
, Not quite serious.
Criminals are people too!
Sources in the Dept. of Justice have said that the fact that only six ASBOs have been issued is to be welcomed, as it means that the state is not criminalising young people for, eh, committing crimes.
A spokesperson said: ” We’re delighted with this new approach, and look forward to expanding it, I mean, just imagine the effect a murder trial has on an accused murderer’s self esteem. Is it right that every one is “sitting in judgement” of this person? Who are they to judge, aside from the fact that they weren’t covered from head to toe in the blood of their wife whom they beat to death with an Argos toaster? But, still.”
The DOJ has recently advised the Garda Emergency Response Unit not to open fire on armed criminals as it may traumatise them with Iraq-style Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. ” In fact,” A spokesperson said. ” It would be ideal if the odd Garda could let themselves get shot by armed criminals. The self confidence boost that would give to the armed criminal would be enormous!”
Posted by Jason O on Nov 10, 2009 in European Union
, Not quite serious.
A surprised Belgian yesterday.
Following much controversy about the appointment of a high-profile “traffic stopping” candidate such as Tony Blair to the new position of President of the European Council, speculation in Brussels is now that “some guy off the street” will be appointed to the job, according to unnamed sources.
The sources have said: ” We’ve been getting a lot of stick lately for being out of touch with ordinary Europeans, so we’ve now decided to just get some guy.” Candidates include a fella seen hanging around the bins near the Berlaymont, the woman who delivers sandwiches to the parliament or maybe just some surprised Belgian we pick out of the Etterbeek telephone directory. Also, having an amusing name would help, like President Smallcock or President Rumpypumpy. That’s the favourite at the moment, although I wouldn’t rule out Rock-Paper-Scissors as a decider. Best of three, obviously. We don’t want the process to look random or ridiculous.”
Posted by Jason O on Nov 9, 2009 in Irish Politics
, Not quite serious.
Handsome in a bland kind of way, he resembles a male model wearing drip dry shirts in a safety wear catalogue. He was never interested in politics, but everyone knew the old man and it was just assumed, and sure enough, when the father moved on, the party moved in. It was the wife who made the decision, and runs the campaign, and, let’s be honest, has the political brain, and should really be the candidate, but she didn’t have the pedigree, and in this party, pedigree is everything.He was comfortably elected first time out, and the wife and his father’s old secretary keep the constituency ticking and a life in his father’s shadow allows his brain to pump out trite, harmless nonsense at the drop of a microphone. He has earnestly declared that he passionately believes in a “world class health service” and “protecting the weakest in our society.” as well as, one assumes, gravity, the North Atlantic, and the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun.
He was asked once as to whether he was ideologically more disposed towards higher taxation or alternatively, spending cuts, and he’d had to lie down in a dark room for a week.
Given his absolute blandness, one wonders as to whether there actually is any real passion behind those dull eyes. It is, of course, quite possible that he pays to be dressed up in tights, suspenders and a bra, tied to a rocking horse and spanked by a woman dressed as an SS Gauleiter, but it’s very unlikely. He’d need an imagination to do that. In recent times he’s got all sorts of people roaring at him about cutbacks and the like, and he doesn’t know why they’re all shouting at him? He’s just trying to run a small family business. But he’s sure of one thing: There should be some sort of elected body to run the country and represent people and make rational decisions about this stuff. He might even write a letter to the papers about it.
Posted by Jason O on Nov 9, 2009 in Movies/TV/DVDs
The Trebor Mints of language on television: It's extra strong.
I am, I admit, part of a tiny minority that has no interest whatsoever in The X Factor or The Apprentice or indeed any reality TV. There is a reason for it, in that I am blessed with friends and family and indeed work colleagues who are more interesting than the reality TV rabble. As a result, I tend to like my TV to be full of stories and characters I wouldn’t normally encounter in my life, whereas reality TV is full of people I’d try to avoid in a queue in Spar.
Deadwood, set in 1876 South Dakota, hits it on the button. It stars Ex-Lovejoy Ian McShane (When did he turn into such a good actor? Probably in Sexy Beast, where he played the menacing homosexual gangland boss Teddy Bass, a character for which forever will ensure the movie was known in teenaged boy circles as “That film where Lovejoy gets it up the arse.” But I digress.) as the appropriately named foul-mouthed saloon and brothel owner Al Swearengen, big shot in the rapidly developing gold rush camp/town of Deadwood. True to usual HBO form, the language is incredibly strong, but it’s a fascinating story, and much is based on true events, with real people such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, as well as Swearengen himself, all featuring. An old favourite, Powers Boothe (You’ll know him when you see him.) also features.
Good, solid television, and crammed with all the usual character actors, Deadwood is worth putting on the Christmas stocking list. Just don’t let those of a gentle persuasion watch it.
Posted by Jason O on Nov 9, 2009 in Irish Politics
Well done to the excellent Dan O’Brien of The Economist Intelligence Unit who pinpointed in Saturday’s Irish Times, with laser precision, what the hell is wrong with this country and why our political system is so incapable of making things work properly.
The truth is, genuine patriots in government have to be willing to be unpopular, and confront an age old Irish myth, that is, that an unpopular government cannot possibly be doing the right thing. We pay our elected leaders a lot of money, and for that, they should be willing to be unpopular if it means doing the right long-term thing. Yes, people can argue over what the “right thing” actually is, but in the Irish context, there tends to be a refusal to even begin that debate. Take nuclear power: We actually buy electricity generated by nuclear power whilst complaining about the reactors that generate the electricity we buy. It’s like someone lecturing a drug dealer about the evils of drugs as he buys drugs off him. Do we honestly think we’re being clever?
Posted by Jason O on Nov 7, 2009 in Irish Politics
, Not quite serious.
More pesto, comrade?
There was once a time when Irish trades union officials were fire and brimstone men, ready to take to the pickets at the drop of a differential payment. Then along came Social Partnership, and they went from being fellas standing outside a factory huddling around a burning steel drum to sauntering up the steps of Merrion Square like ex-officio members of the cabinet. Today’s trades union official is a paragon of reasonableness, the 1970s wrapped up in 21st century empathy and the need to “engage.”
His, (Yes, they’re still primarily men. The comrades are all for women’s rights as long as they don’t have to elect them. That and not having facial hair in the halls of ICTU is regarded as a bit suspect.) language has changed too. Occasionally, there’s still the odd poseur who throws in a “comrade” or two and talks about “working class solidarity”, but mostly it’s language that wouldn’t sound out of place in a meeting of The Guardian’s editorial board. Social solidarity, the need to “upskill” and the endless “call for more resources” are now the phrases du jour. They don’t even attack capitalism anymore, the smarter one’s knowing that battle is well lost, even in these dark times. Instead, “neo liberalism” is the new enemy, a broad, vague and slightly fashionable phrase that menances even when uttered by those young “Che” wannabes as they listen to the iPods that neo-liberalism spawned. In recent times, however, they have started to use the word “Profit” as a filthy word, up there with “Nazi” and “Gary Glitter”. One is beginning to form an impression that if a senior SIPTU official went on a murderous killing spree down Grafton street with a sword, hacking surprised (Well, you would be.) tourists to pieces, the ICTU press release would say “Regrettable as his actions were, at least he didn’t make a profit!”
The key is to be reasonable. Don’t defend public sector pensions, attack the lack of them in the private sector, even though it is private sector taxes that fund the public sector ones in the first place.
And the golden rule: Do not, for the love of God, let the private and public sectors be seperated in the mind of the public. That’s the emperor’s new clothes right there. Instead, talk about social solidaity pacts and “dividing” ordinary working people. Remember: The private sector may generate economic capital, but the public sector generates social capital! True, public sector workers won’t accept their pensions in anything but economic capital, but that’s not the point!
Despite the rhetoric, the truth is that the closest today’s union leaders get to Marx is Marks. And his good friend Spencer, which is kind of complimentary, in that whilst his private sector members can’t afford to do their shopping there, they can at least stack the shelves for him when he does.
Posted by Jason O on Nov 4, 2009 in European Union
Vote Tory on a false prospectus?
There’s more to UKIP than just opposition to UK membership of the EU. UKIP is a right-wing party, and I would not vote for them. But you have to give them credit for at least being honest about where they stand on the EU.
The Tories, on the other hand, are trying to have an each way bet on the EU. Today, David Cameron will annouce the Tory policy on “renegotiation”. I’ve no doubt that many of the things he asks for from the rest of the EU he’ll get, like scrapping British workers rights. But that won’t be enough for the nutters, who are demanding stuff like allowing national parliaments to overrule bits of EU law they don’t like. They want a “reformed” EU which will, in effect, be just a common market with no social aspect. Cameron won’t be able to deliver on this, because all across Europe are people who actually want to keep these rights.
There’s the big lie right there, where the Tories pretend that they will be able to force the rest of the EU to abandon the social and political sides of Europe. It isn’t going to happen, and then what?
What will the Tories do then? Sabotage the EU? And expect France and Germany to just take it? Don’t be surprised if the Europe question tears the Tories apart two years into government, this time between the moderate “Stay-Iners” and the “Better Off Out!” Gang.
Posted by Jason O on Nov 3, 2009 in Irish Politics
Pat Kenny: Surprisingly really good!
I have never been a Pat Kenny on television fan, because I always felt that he was more Paxman than Gaybo and was squandering his talents on the Late Late. But watching The Frontline last night, I have to give it to him. It was solid, fact-based stuff, where he forensically took Jack O’Connor, Moore McDowell and others through their answers, blasting the guff away, and in particular making Jack O’Connor look like a man who is just against everything.
I’m biased, of course, and and I actually understand why Jack O’Connor says the things he says, but the real revelation (Aside from Pat, and the flash of steel he showed when Jack made an instantly regretted (And apologised for, to his credit) remark about the size of Pat’s house.) were Moore McDowell and Tax specialist Suzanne Kelly, who both cut through the guff with hard statistics. My one regret about that was that they couldn’t use visual aids to explain their points, which I think would have been very useful, but both did more to enlighten me and others about the public finances and the “easy option” of taxing the rich (75% on anyone earning over 75k) than months of Dail and media debate. I’d actually watch a show with just the two of them. Fintan O’Toole made some valid points too, especially about the national pension fund, but he can be so “will someone please think of the children” sometimes. Still, I suppose someone has to.
The one flaw of The Frontline is the audience, which kills the real debate with Joe Duffy style stories of “suffrin’” I know, these are people’s lives, but they are telling us things that we all know from our own lives and families, and add nothing to the debate. Maybe if a “civilian” was allowed take part in the debate from the panel it would help, but these little nuggets of mediocre observation (A Bit like your blog! Boom boom!) are where I go for a widdle.