If only we had had a shit-throwing monkey.

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.

3 thoughts on “If only we had had a shit-throwing monkey.

  1. Peter: I agree, money is not people’s only motivation. I have known people who earn a fraction of others who are much more content in their lives.

  2. We already have enough monkeys – brick throwing ones who ‘built’ low quality buildings during the ‘boom’ years. They might have been on to something though as now the same monkeys are now being paid to fix the energy inefficient housing they previously threw up!

  3. Your assumption is based on the theory that the profit motive works for every situation. It does for very algorithmic tasks but for complex cognitive tasks its not so clear that paying more gets better results. Actually the opposite is most often true. I’m not suggesting people don’t get paid well or even excessively but that relying on pay alone to regulate people’s behaviour is a flawed theory. To a PD that might sound like heresy but I think I’ve got one or two examples that could back me up.

    This clip explains it much better than I can. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

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