One of the more curious attitudes to come out of the FF/FG/Labour political establishment is the idea that political reform is some sort of fancy concept that has nothing to do with real life. If anything, that attitude shows how archaic and insular most Irish politicians are. In the United States, one of the great strengths of having a devolved federal system of government is that every city and state becomes a laboratory of democracy, where elected leaders have the power to try new approaches to problems. Some fail, some work but what is interesting is that the good ideas, whether it is cracking down on minor crime, like New York’s broken windows approach spearheaded by Mayor Giuliani, or other ideas like putting all state invoices online to encourage other suppliers to undercut them, allow a pick and mix approach for good ideas.
The current FG/Labour government, struggling to get better value for money from public funds, either doesn’t have the intellectual capability to grasp this, or isn’t genuinely serious about the task. Certainly, their stale status quo approach to local government reform would indicate a mixture of the two. As long as the specific individuals responsible for spending taxpayer’s do not have to face voters with a tax bill in their hand, we will have little progress.
But then, that’s almost certainly the way majority of our elected leaders actually want it. Office without responsibility, perks without perogative should be tatooed on their foreheads.