Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Books you should read: The Dying Light.

Posted by Jason O on May 12, 2011 in Books

Both exciting and disturbing in equal measure.
Both exciting and disturbing in equal measure.

“The Dying Light” by Observer journalist Henry Porter is terrifying because it is so humdrum in its approach to the creation of a very modern form of tyranny. The story follows a young British lawyer (And former SIS operative) who is investigating the death of a friend and former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Downing Street doesn’t like that, and deploys the subtle but suffocating tools of the  state against her and her allies.

What is genuinely troubling about the book is its believability, and how the “If you have nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.”  argument has been used to equip the state with a frightening array of powers open to misuse by unprincipled people in power, or worse still, people who think they know what’s best for the rest of us. The scariest thing of all is that the arguments made by the chief baddy in the book are the exact same arguments I’ve heard a well-meaning political aspirant make to me about the need for the Irish government to have these powers!

Also worth noting is the difference between the role of the British Parliament in the book, and how the Oireachtas would respond to the same challenges. Suffice to say it’s hard to see the Dail acting as a bulwark of individual freedom.

A lot of the powers used by the government in the book are already in law in the UK. Just look up the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 which is practically a police-state-in-a-box.

I found “The Dying Light” to be pretty much unputdownable. 


If only we had had a shit-throwing monkey.

Posted by Jason O on May 12, 2011 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

The monkey was concerned when he saw the reliance on property taxes.

The monkey was concerned when he saw the reliance on property taxes.

Someone asked me recently as to whether those of us who worked in the construction industry knew what was happening in terms of the property bubble. The answer is yes, we did know. We used to see that famous figure of 88,000 dwellings being built in a year (when Sweden, with twice our population, was building 12,000)  and we would laugh out loud. Why didn’t we do something about it? Because, and here’s the truth, we actually thought someone else was in charge. I remember listening to Brian Cowen, who was minister for Finance at the time, and thinking “Well, he and his officials are paid so much, they must be absolutely shit hot and know what they are doing. After all, if you pay peanuts, you only get monkeys.”

The truth, of course, is that the pay the best to get the best rule does not apply in Ireland. In fact, if we had had Bertie Ahern in the room with a monkey throwing his (the monkey’s not Bertie’s) feces at a wall covered with property dampening measures, from mortgage lending restrictions to property taxation to ending tax breaks for building, we would, as taxpayers and citizens, have gotten better value out of the monkey.

In fact, I’ll got further. We know there are a 100 things that we don’t want to do that we know we should do, from water metering to public sector pension reform. If we had a monkey throw shit at just one of those things every twelve months, and we did whatever the monkey decided, that monkey would be doing this republic a greater service then the contribution of most of the members of our national parlaiment. At least better than the collective contribution of Seanad Eireann. Maybe that should be on the ballot, asking the good people of Ireland would they like to replace the upper house with a shit throwing primate? After all, the monkey wouldn’t fiddle his expenses and claim he lived hundreds of miles from his parliamentary constituency. And he’d work for peanuts.

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