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

The Change-o-meter.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 17, 2011 in Irish Politics

Fine Gael and Labour were elected on a platform of change. Let’s see how they’re doing:

Restored the Minimum Wage +1

Held a referendum on Judges’s Pay +1

Held a referndum on Oireachtas Investigations +1 (I know, I know, but they did hold one)

Made some interesting Seanad appointments +1

Made progress on debt interest reduction +1

Not being a government engaged in chaotic reshuffles or being actually drunk +1

That gives them a pro-change score of +6


U-turned on Mullingar barracks -1

U-turned on Roscommon hospital -1

Went Franfurt’s way rather than Labour’s way -1

Gave an obscene Fianna Fail-style severence package to Willie Penrose -1

U-turned on Leo’s previous position on Metro North -1

U-turned on parliamentary scrutiny of semi-state appointments -1

U-turned on appointments of henchmen to state boards -1

U-turned on third level tuition fees -1

Giving an anti-change score of -8

Which overall gives a score of -2. 


TV I’m enjoying: Burn Notice

Posted by Jason O on Nov 17, 2011 in Movies/TV/DVDs

We can get a bit snooty about what we watch. Sometimes television isn’t groundbreaking or thought provoking, but just plain entertaining. Burn Notice is one of those shows. Jeffrey Donovan, owner of the biggest s**t eating grin in current television, plays Michael Westen, a top special operative who has been “burned” by his superiors and exiled to Miami. Working alongside a psychotic ex-girlfriend and former IRA terrorist (They fortunately dropped her dodgy accent after the pilot episode) played by the ridiculously skinny Gabrielle Anwar, and backed up by cult favourite Bruce Campbell (You’ll know him when you see him), Westen tries to discover why he was burned, whilst making ends meet working as a security consultant or sorting out problems sent to him by his nagging mother (Cagney and Lacey’s Sharon Gless).

The show is great fun. It’s funny, has plenty of action, and is crammed with guest stars of the That’s-that-guy-from variety. Filmed on location in Miami (For once, Vancouver wouldn’t do) it’s also packed with great shots of the city and gratutitous boob and bum shots from the beaches. Miami Tourism must be delighted. I’m looking forward to season 3 already.  


Fianna Fail should have a read of Sinn Fein’s surprising budget submission.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 17, 2011 in Irish Politics

SF put away the crayons, and take out the grown up pens.
SF put away the crayons, and take out the grown up pens.

If you can, take a goo at Sinn Fein’s budget 2011 submission here. It’s well worth reading, and I say that not because it’s the usual far left Utopian stuff I rail against, but because it isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s a left wing document, and it advocates higher taxes on those earning over €75k (A rate of 48%), hikes in capital taxes, the closing of generous pension write-offs and a 1% wealth tax on non-working assets. But it’s not the usual Richard Boyd Barrett “Corrib Gas will pay for everything” guff. It’s thoughtful, costed (I can’t comment how well) and here’s the thing: It would look very comfortable in the hands of a French Socialist.

That’s not to say I agree with it. I’d love Sinn Fein, indeed every party, to be able to submit their proposed documents to the Fiscal Advisory Council to at least publicly verify that the sums are correct. There’s no reason why Sinn Fein should not make the request, on the basis that such an endorsement, provided their figures are indeed correct, would be worth its weight in gold.

Secondly, SF, like most political parties on the left, don’t seem to understand that taxes themselves have an effect on economic activity. For example, SF assume that a rise in Capital Gains Tax will bring in a certain amount of extra money. What they don’t understand is that a rise in CGT will often make property owners decide not to sell, and wait for a future government to cut the rate in the future. Waiting a few years to save a couple of hundred grand can be worth it.

Thirdly, I’ll be fascinated to see the effect the higher income tax rate will have on SF support amongst better paid public sector workers. Having said that, it could attract  lower paid private sector workers for the exact same reason.

I remain sceptical, because the plans still hinge on most problems being solved by the well-off and business being willing to sit every year and be milked, tax wise. That rarely happens, and if anything governments that try it can attract lesser returns each year as ambitious and talented people go elsewhere in search of lower taxes. SF, like Labour and the ULA, still takes the Progressive Democrat approach to the overall tax take, that it is possible to have high public spending and low taxation for the great majority. It just isn’t true.

Having said all that, the Fianna Fail response to all this will be interesting, because this is the sort of document that a Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail coalition negotiation would be based initially upon, and it’s not cloud cuckoo stuff.

In fact, it’ll be pretty hard for FF to claim that it is trying to recover its working class base without embracing policies like these. Assuming SF does not get to those voters first, that is. One thing it will do is open a conversation point in FF, between those willing to go left with Sinn Fein, and those willing to look at Fine Gael as a possible alternative.  

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