Eacnamaíocht (Economics)

The Big Bang Theory

Like lambs to the slaughter Seán and Síle Citizen trots forward eager to taste the sweet green grass of domestic recovery, attracted by the repeated cries of the establishment: the good times are coming back! However don’t raise your heads from engorging your bellies or you might see those thunderclouds on the horizon and feel the first patters of an approaching deluge upon your snouts.

Economist and author David McWilliams points out that while house prices (in BÁC) are on an upward slope for most people their incomes are on a far more precipitous downward slope.

“…while inflation is falling, wages are falling even faster than prices, and this means that people’s purchasing power is actually falling, not rising.

The numbers show that, even though unemployment has fallen in the past two years, so too have real wages.

This is why you feel poorer, not richer, despite the fact that everyone says there is a recovery in place. For the economy to feel prosperous, real wages have to be positive – they are now negative, and have been since 2011.

Without real wage growth, there can be very little prospect of sustained demand. Without sustained demand, there won’t be a sustained fall in unemployment.

The lack of jobs and demand means that the rate of inflation has continued to fall.

This is very worrying, because it shows us that prices in general are heading downwards, but house prices are heading skyward.

Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because your wages are linked to general prices, so as wages keep moving downwards, house prices move upwards.

This means houses are getting more and more expensive, but the only way the average person can afford a house is to borrow and borrow as much as possible, because wages and incomes are not keeping up with house prices. We’ve been here before. Don’t you remember the madness?”

Where there is a circus there are always some clowns. From the CLR:

“One can almost see the light bulbs flashing above the heads of those who thought up the latest cunning wheeze from the Reform Alliance camp. Let’s be honest, the latter formation (if that is too kind a word for it) isn’t exactly popular. The RDS shindig demonstrated that while there may indeed be those who are keen on reform, the RA’s USP was largely focused around the issue of abortion, or rather no abortion.

And it seems that lacking any genuinely charismatic figures (none even on the scale of that empathic titan Dessie O’Malley in the late 1980s. I joke, but only just) they are likely to dwindle to yet further insignificance.

So what are they to do?

Someone was looking at the polls, studying the elections and – ta-dah! Here we are presented with an Independent Alliance.”

A political party under the leadership of individuals who worship at the transitory altar of property booms and foreign direct investments? Would could possibly go wrong?


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Ireland Spends More Money On Non-Irish Translations

Scary Eire

Scary Éire

In case you missed it (because you know the newspapers aren’t going to report this one), from RTÉ:

“New figures show that Government departments spent more than €1m on translation costs last year.

However, less than half of this was spent on translating documents into the Irish language.

The figures show that the Department of Social Protection had the highest spend on translation.

It spent more than €360,000 on translation costs into other languages, while the Department of the Environment spent €19,384 on translation into other languages.

The Department of Education and Skills had the highest spend in terms of Irish language translation, with a bill of over €107,000.

The Department of Social Protection spent over €35,000 on translation costs into Irish, and the Department of the Taoiseach spent €33,866 on translation into Irish.”

The next time an Anglophone supremacist decides to attack the equality of rights between Irish- and English-speaking citizens you might remind him or her that we now live in a multicultural Ireland. And that includes those people whose culture is expressed through our indigenous language.

The Mafiaization Of Ireland

An Taoiseach na Chófra. The Irish political elites leading by example...

An Taoiseach na Chófra. The Irish political elites leading by example…

Every journalist in the world is influenced one way or another by his or her personal beliefs and values. Simple common sense tells us that and to be frank would we want news reporters who serve as little more than conveyor-belts of information? However the line between “influence” and “acting in accordance with” is a fine one. In Ireland that line was crossed over many decades ago. The majority of “established” Irish journalists make no real pretence at neutrality in their reporting. Many act as little more than propaganda machines for whatever point of view (or party) they agree with. That is never more true than on the issue of Britain’s continued colonial presence on our island nation and all the troubles that have spilled from that, both current and past. In the 1970s much of RTÉ’s news and current affairs department fell under the thrall of committed “anti-Republicans” through the entryist tactics of the Workers Party and its acolytes. An entire generation of Irish people had their world-view perverted by committed ideologues in a manner unprecedented in western Europe. Arguably those self-same people, through their coordinated selection and misrepresentation of contemporary news events, contributed to prolonging the conflict in the north-east of Ireland by decades. Many of those former young Turks, though now approaching the ends of their careers, remain in positions of authority throughout the Irish media and continue to dictate its journalistic ethics.

As we see the merging of fringe elements of Irish Republicanism with a criminal underworld that pervades Irish society it still occurs to no one in the media to raise or ask the obvious questions. Would the so-called “New IRA” and the Continuity IRA exist if the British Occupation did not also exist, albeit now confined to the north-east of Ireland? Would Mafia-style gangs have been able to embed themselves as generational-enterprises in poorer urban communities if the Irish political classes had not been so engaged in their half-hearted suppression of an insurgency against a foreign power occupying part of their national territory (when not lining their own pockets)? And what if the Irish news media had been more honest with its readers and viewers? What if it had told the whole truth over the last four decades and not just the partial or half-truths dictated by propaganda considerations (or enthusiastically obeyed government censorship)?

From a rare report by the Irish Times earlier this year:

“Drugs and the IRA arrived together in the late 1960s, but security of the State took priority and received most resources, a gathering of former parliamentarians was told today.

Former member of the Garda Ombudsman Commission Conor Brady said Ireland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world but one of the highest illegal drugs usage rates in the EU.

“Over the decades that drugs were insinuating themselves into Irish life, the bulk of Garda resources, the bulk of Garda energies and most of the personnel in detective areas went into the struggle against subversion,” he said during a meeting of the Irish Association of Former Parliamentarians in the Seanad chamber.

By the time resources were put into dealing with illegal drugs in the 1980s, it was a “classic case of too little, too late”.

And they had to be aware of the “hidden costs of the Troubles which we continue to pay in the drugs problem”.

Mr Brady, a former editor of The Irish Times said drugs and the IRA arrived together in the late 1960s as far as the Garda was concerned. “But the responses to the two challenges were very different.”

He told the Irish Association of Former Parliamentarians that within months of the outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland the special Criminal Courts were in operation, a wing had been cleared in Mountjoy prison to house subversive prisoners.

However, he said “the establishment simply didn’t treat drugs as a priority”.

The first drugs squad was established in 1968 with three staff. This increased to nine three years later, when at the same time 600 extra gardaí were assigned to the Border.

He said one drug squad detective said to him in the 1980s: “I wish the Provos would get into the drugs trade, then I might get some resources.” [ASF: emphasis added]

It was only with the emergence of Concerned Parents Against Drugs in the mid-1980s, with the fear communities could be subverted by the IRA, that the Dublin city drug squads got resources.”

So much for the gangs of “IRA drug-dealers” that so preoccupied Irish newspapers and political speeches during the 1980s and ’90s. In fact the opposite was true. But then when wars are being fought truth is often the first casualty. The media in Ireland are as complicit in the Mafiaisation of our nation as any number of masked gunmen (or corrupt and corruptible politicians). They misrepresent and misinterpret what is really happening in order to match pre-set ideological beliefs and agreed narratives that cannot be veered from. No attempt is made to get to the origins and sources of crime. It is all surface reporting, sensationalist tabloid stuff replete with anti-heroes and “campaigning” journalists.  Fighting the same old war when another war has begun.

What I wrote in late 2013 still stands:

“It’s twelve months since Alan Ryan, Officer Commanding the “Real” IRA in Dublin City, was assassinated by members of the capital’s notoriously violent and repercussion-free criminal underworld in circumstances that have yet to be fully explained. Whatever one’s feeling about Ryan and the confluence of those on the edges of Irish Republican ideology and activism with Ireland’s drug-dealing cartels (and I for one am a staunch critic) there is no doubt that his killing was something of a “game-changer”. Up to 2012 most Dublin crime-gangs took a subservient position to Irish Republican revolutionary or military organisations wherever the two butted up against each other. Since the 1980s the “taxation” of criminal organisations had formed a very minor part of the military budget of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army in its war against the British Forces in the Occupied North. A number of unwritten rules governed this loose and even within the Republican Movement highly controversial association which kept violent disagreements to a minimum.

However by the mid and late 1990s those rules had begun to unravel as the Irish Republican Army’s decades old struggle came to a negotiated end via the Irish-British Peace Process and Ireland’s emerging crime cartels began to stretch their violent muscles in the new, post-war era of the Celtic Tiger. Through their experiences stemming from the internal rivalries that tore apart the criminalised Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and its IPLO off-shoot the nation’s narco-gangs found themselves on an equal gun-for-gun, member-for-member footing with any Republican counterpart, whether the genuine thing or simply a “flag of convenience” for apolitical crime (as some would argue Ryan’s section of the Real IRA were engaged in and parts of the so-called New IRA may still be).

Ireland’s current criminal underworld, the cartels that act with relative impunity in our largest cities, are as much children of the post-ceasefires’ Peace Process and Celtic Tiger decade as any number of corrupt bankers, lawyers or politicians. They stem from the same toxic cocktail of unregulated affluence, greed, selfishness and cultural disintegration mixed with political and judicial maleficence. In one sense Alan Ryan was no different from any of his Tiger Cub peers. He looked the same, he dressed the same, he talked the same and on many things no doubt he thought the same too.”

You can see more on this over at Vice magazine.

Let Them Eat Cake!

Austerity - A Survival Guide

Austerity – A Survival Guide

Given the dominance of Ireland’s news media by an incestuous group of like-minded individuals espousing a right-wing, moral-free ideology is anyone really surprised by this? From Julien Mercille at the Social Europe Journal:

“A study of Irish press coverage of austerity between 2008 and 2012 conducted at University College Dublin confirms that the media have been relentless cheerleaders for austerity. The case is so overwhelming that it may even surprise proponents of austerity. The full report is available here

The study examined over 400 editorials and opinion pieces in Ireland’s three leading newspapers (Irish TimesIrish Independent and Sunday Independent). It found that only 12% of articles oppose fiscal consolidation, 55% support it, and 34% don’t voice any clear opinion. Worse, those numbers arguably overestimate the extent of the small opposition to austerity, because many of the articles opposing fiscal consolidation simply reject specific cuts without proposing any alternative policy. It is astonishing that only 3% of all articles support an increase in government spending, which could form the basis of a Keynesian stimulus programme. The media debate thus revolves around how best to implement austerity, without questioning it. Totalitarian regimes would surely be impressed by the effectiveness of this information control.

The media have not been shy about announcing their role in convincing the public that austerity is good for them. At the outset of the crisis, in November 2008, an editorial in the country’s newspaper of record, the Irish Times, called for a campaign to ‘educate’ the population about the need for austerity and ‘civic discipline’. The problem was that Irish people did ‘not appreciate the possible extent of the economic downturn’ because only 10% of them thought the budget should be tougher while two-thirds thought it should be less tough, according to a national poll. The editors thus concluded that ‘the Government will have a major job to do in educating public opinion about unpalatable economic realities and the need for civic discipline’.

The media have helped the government extensively in that task. One reason that explains why only about 12% of articles oppose austerity is that a large majority of writers come from elite institutions that favour austerity. Excluding regular journalists, 29% of the authors of opinion articles in the press on austerity are mainstream economists, 28% are working in the financial or corporate sector, and 20% are political officials in the three main political parties, which have all supported austerity. In short, the overwhelming majority of writers (77%) come from elite political or economic elite institutions. The remainder is composed of 9% of academics (excluding mainstream economists), 7% of members of progressive organisations, and only 3% are trade union officials. It is thus a very conservative cast of writers who are allowed to take part in the debate in the national media. Elite sectors dominate, but institutions like academia and trade unions are also relatively conservative, further reducing the number of progressive ideas.

After five years of austerity, there might be a small space opening up in the mainstream media for slightly more critical views, because the failure of that strategy can’t be hidden indefinitely. It is now becoming more common knowledge that fiscal consolidation in a downturn does not succeed in reviving an economy. Nevertheless, the alternative media remain the best outlets to read and write about the truth, such as the excellent blog Notes on the Front written by Michael Taft.”

Please take some time to read the whole article.

Enda Kenny – Mister Ten Percent

Enda "Oirish" Kenny

Enda “Oirish” Kenny

From his state o’ chassis address, Enda Kenny TD, leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach na hÉireann:

“Two years ago, the Irish people gave Fine Gael and the Labour Party a clear mandate to take the necessary decisions to achieve economic recovery and get Ireland working again.

Our plan is working.

People’s hard work and sacrifices are beginning to pay dividends. Ireland is rebuilding its reputation, restoring its confidence, laying the foundation for a better, brighter, more prosperous future.”

So who exactly are the people who have worked and sacrificed? You and me perhaps, along with the vast majority of the Irish people. However what of those who have been deliberately cushioned from the grim reality of life in modern Ireland? Those whose pampered lifestyles have continued through boom or bust? Those for whom personal hard work and sacrifice are laughable concepts? From the Irish Examiner:

“Austerity is filling the coffers of the country’s richest 10% and creating poverty among an increasing number of the general population, an EU-wide study has found.

Instead of Ireland being the poster child for austerity, what is happening in reality should be a warning to all about the dangers of such policies, the report states.

The report states income inequality in Ireland is now four times the OECD average, long-term unemployment had quadrupled in the four years to 2012, with record poverty rates. It says one in ten working households in Europe is now living in poverty and predicted it will take up to 25 years to reduce poverty to pre-2008 levels if current policies are not changed. 

The last Irish budget increased taxes by 1.3% on those earning €20,000 — seven times more than the 0.2% tax increase on those with €100,000 a year while those on €200,000 paid a mere 0.1% more. 

Oxfam estimates that of the €14.3 trillion held by individuals in 52 tax havens around the globe, almost 5%, or €707bn, is sitting in Irish accounts.”

No Irish-Speakers

No Irish Need Apply

No Irish Need Apply

Following the news yesterday that several hundred jobs are to be lost as three companies reduce or cease their operations in Ireland (one of which will have a major impact in the local economy of north Dublin) one might imagine that the potential for up to 200 new jobs for Irish citizens would be greeted with some joy. From the Irish Times newspaper:

“Irish is the 14th largest language out of 23 in the EU’s terminology database, the Dáil has heard.

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Dinny McGinley said the database contained nine million terms in the 23 official EU languages.

Mr McGinley expressed the hope that a derogation on translating all EU legal text into Irish could be lifted next year ahead of the December 2015 target.

He was responding to Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan who said about 180 jobs could be created in translation services if a derogation on the use of Irish in the EU was lifted.

Mr McGinley said his department had spent €11 million in funding specialised third-level Irish language course in Ireland in areas such as translation, interpretation, information technology and law.

Mr Flanagan said that by the end of 2012, 243 people had graduated from those courses.”

However this is Ireland, an island-nation where the only role Hibernophones are expected to fill is that of second class citizens with second class rights. So we go to the Commentariat of the journal.ie replete with its usual brigade of Anglophone supremacists. Irish-speakers being treated as the equals of English-speakers? In Ireland? In the European Union? Shock, horror! What next, letting them sit at the front of the bus?

Ah, if only the English lobby in this part of the country had the likes of the bible-thumping, Creationist-believing, gay-hating Edwin Poots, the regional “minister for culture” in the north-east of Ireland, to stand up for what they believe in. From an interview featured on Slugger O’Toole:

“On his time as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure he told me that his greatest achievement was ‘burying the Irish language act’…”

Blocking equal treatment under the law for Irish-speakers? Now there is a political leader the Angloban could really rally behind.

The Daily Lucinda

English: Lucinda Creighton, TD

Lucinda Creighton – think Sarah Palin with brains

When the journalists and editors of a right-wing media cartel start campaigning for the creation of a political party to reflect their “values” one should take note. Even more so when it is done under the guise of “reformist” rhetoric designed to cover a far more sinister, socially Darwinist agenda. From the Irish Independent newspaper:

“If there is one lesson to be learnt from the Sunday Independent series of Millward Brown polls, it is that City Hall is in trouble.

By City Hall (Tammany Hall might be more appropriate), we mean that special clique of politicians, social partners, mandarins and business insider classes who have parcelled the State up between themselves since independence.”

That the media themselves are an integral part of that “insider” class and have been since the days when they were the cheerleaders for the worst excesses of the counter-revolutionary Free State regime is of course carefully omitted.

“…all eyes increasingly turn to the political potential of the Reform Alliance (RA). Such interest may, however, pose as many difficulties as opportunities.

A party of genuine Reform which is not informed by the views of the left is not worth the penny candle for it will merely be a social club for Liter PD manque and dispossessed FG types. Similarly, those of the left who go it alone or as a loosely aligned group run the risk of becoming little more than a Liter version of the old Democratic Left.

One of the features of all Great Disruptions, be it the American Depression or the Weimar Republic, is that new forms of politics emerge as a response to the failure of old ways.

When it comes, though, to the desire of voters for reform, the RA is unique in that, given all the blood spilt by those ministerial resignations, could anyone deny that a party led by Lucinda Creighton and Roisin Shortall would be for honest dealing and real reform.”

The references to Germany’s politically and economically chaotic Weimar Republic have become a running theme in Irish newspapers over the last three or four years and often reflect a certain distaste amongst the nation’s media élites for democratic politics in general. The rejection of the philosophical Right or Left by many journalists in Ireland and the claim to cleave to a hybrid middle that is bound to neither ironically (or perhaps significantly) reflects the very ideological forces that came to rotten fruition in Germany during the late 1920s and ‘30s.

Meanwhile the would-be champion of the New Right, former Fine Gael deputy Lucinda Creighton (she of the “pure” blood, as Kevin Myers might put it), must surely by now have witnessed her ears bursting into flame so frequent is her name-dropping in the newspapers of the Indo stable. Again from the Daily Lucinda Independent:

“ORDINARY working and middle-class people are feeling they have been abandoned by the political establishment, Rebel Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton told the Sunday Independent.

The former European affairs minister noted that in particular, significant elements of Fine Gael’s core vote were feeling abandoned by what she described as “a disturbing trend where politics appears to be distancing itself from the lives and needs of middle Ireland”.

In the wake of a further raft of taxes and charges, she warned that the coping classes were “finding it impossible” to get by.

“What I hear from everywhere is that the coping classes are now being squeezed beyond sustainability.

“I don’t believe the Government is deliberately leaving people behind but it does appear the concerns of middle Ireland are being forgotten,” she said.

“Increasingly middle-class and working people who are not wealthy, who live prudent lives, who might once have aspired to own shares, the sort of citizens who want to pay for their own health insurance, are finding it impossible to cope,” she added.

The Reform Alliance TD also warned: “Where politics fails in its responsibility to ensure we have a society which respects those who work hard, a vacuum emerges and extremism rises. This is already evident in polls across Europe where extremes of the left and the right, one as frightening as the other, are rising.”

Leaving aside the bizarre claim that the “not wealthy” in Ireland aspired to own shares and pay for their own health care (a reflection of Creighton’s own pampered reality and of those around her) the appeal to rally a supposed societal “middle” against the perceived wayward forces of the vox populi reflect something far more dangerous than it allegedly defends against.

There is something rotten in the state of Ireland.

An Island Nation Once Called Ireland

European net migration in 2012. Ireland has the highest level of migration followed by several other recessionary nations

European net migration in 2012. Ireland has the highest level of migration followed by several other recessionary nations

Following on from my post here on the government plans to demolish uninhabited housing estates left behind by the evaporation of the economic mirage that was the so-called Celtic Tiger comes this news from the Irish Times newspaper:

“Ireland has gone from having the highest net immigration levels in Europe to the highest net emigration levels in just six years.

The European Commission’s statistics office figures show 35,000 more people left Ireland than arrived last year. This amounts to a net migration of -7.6 people per 1,000, compared with -7.1 in Lithuania, -5.8 in Latvia, -5.7 in Estonia, -4.0 in Greece, -3.6 in Portugal, and -3.5 in Spain.”

Of course the latter three are countries that Ireland’s political and media elites repeatedly claim are in a far worse state than we are (so just be grateful surly Seán and Síle Citizen and suck up that pain – or else…). However perhaps it is simply that the Greeks, Portuguese and Spanish have yet to hit on the Irish policy of population “readjustment”?

Michael Taft has a deeper analyses of all this with a headline that says it all: Purging Ourselves of Our Young. Taken together with the growing mountain of data on the increasing rates of poverty, crime, illness, suicide, home repossessions, bankruptcy, redundancies and emigration these reports simply serve to illuminate the moral vacuum (and moronic thinking) that exists at the heart of political and socio-economic policies in Ireland.

Socio-Economic Cleansing – The Irish Way Of Doing Things

Ireland's economic recovery - the exporting of its own citizenry

Ireland’s economic recovery – the exporting of its own citizenry

So the Fine Oibre government is considering demolishing forty of the ”worse” ghost estates in the country. From the Journal:

“The vast majority of the estates being considered are in rural areas and would not be suitable for either sale or for social housing as there are no local facilities or employment prospects.”

Read that again:

“…there are no local facilities or employment prospects”.

So what do Irish citizens in those areas where the ghost estates exist do for local housing, local services or local employment? Oh yes, they get sent letters from the Department of Social Protection suggesting that they should leave the country.

The “miracle” of Ireland’s economic recovery…

Ireland’s Realpolitik

The Official IRA discusses “itegrated” education policy with the BBC, 1975. And not a well-known newspaper columnist or two in sight.

The Official IRA discusses “itegrated” education policy with the BBC, 1975. And not a well-known newspaper columnist or two in sight.

From the Irish Independent newspaper an example of how the establishment in Ireland, political, media, business and judicial, differentiates between the revolutionaries it approves of or co-opts (the good “terrorists”) while rejecting as anathema the revolutionaries its disapproves of (the bad “terrorists”):

“OFFICIAL IRA members went on a top-secret training mission to North Korea, where they were taught assassination techniques and bomb-making skills by the totalitarian regime’s military. Former members of the republican paramilitary group have disclosed details of their 1988 terror trip to Pyongyang in a new book.

North Korea Undercover by BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney, reveals how the Official IRA men delivered a gift to President Kim Il Sung to thank the dictator for his support. It was a beautiful piece of Belleek porcelain, over 100 years old, which they had deliberately stolen in Belfast for their visit.

The military training mission took place at a time when the Workers’ Party, formerly the political wing of the Official IRA, had four TDs in the Dáil.”

Of those four elected Workers Party members of Dáil Éireann in 1988 two later joined the Labour Party (Proinsias De Rossa TD and MEP, and Joe Sherlock TD), one was appointed by a joint Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government as a circuit court judge (Pat McCartan) and one remained with the WP until his death (Tomás Mac Giolla). Several other members of the Workers Party from that era now serve as members of the current Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government including Eamon Gilmore (leader of Labour, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Pat Rabbitte (Minister of State for Commerce, Science and Technology).

Welcome to fíorpholaitíocht as we know it in Ireland.

Eat The Old

Bono wishes us proles a happy fuck you from the masters of the Neo-Ascendacy

Bono wishes us proles a happy fuck you from the masters of the Neo-Ascendacy

Back in September the journal.ie, an online Irish news and current affairs website, held a poll asking its readers if they believed in global warming. Leaving aside the idiocy of asking the question in the first place (where have these people been for the last decade?) only 44% of those who took part in the poll replied that they did believe in it while an astonishing 42% indicated that they did not believe in climate change. Of course in recent years the commentariat of the Journal has an gained an unenviable reputation in Ireland as an online home for those expressing some quite extreme right-wing socio-economic views so perhaps this is no big surprise. If Ireland has a “Tea Party” movement then thejournal.ie is where it gathers (though it is worth bearing in mind the statistics on web use from the Guardian which indicate that over 90% of its Comments are left by less than 10% of its online readers). However in this report on the rally today by senior citizens in Dublin protesting the continued policies of indentured servitude being inflicted on its own people by the Fine Oibre coalition government the basic inhumanity of Ireland’s far right (for such they are) is revealed in all its online glory. Screw the old. Screw the young. Screw the ill. Screw the weak. Screw everyone but the rapacious Neo Ascendancy at the top and its parasitical hangers-on in the glorification of all that is self.

Such is the ideology of the Mé Féin movement. But then Jonathan Swift summed up their unchanging views far better than I: A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.

End Times In The United States

US congresswoman Michele Bachmann who recently claimed that the United States was in the "End Times" a reference to Christian fundamentalist belief in a future global apocalypse

US congresswoman Michele Bachmann who recently claimed that the United States was in the “End Times” a reference to Christian fundamentalist belief in a future global apocalypse

While some in the United States believe their nation is perched on the cusp of a very literal biblical apocalypse (step forward congresswoman Michelle “End Times” Bachmann) others seem intent on recreating an old struggle in a new century. From David Sirota’s article on Salon:

“Thanks to a confluence of three events, the S-word — secession — is once again in the air. In Washington, new questions are emerging about whether the United States can function as a unified nation after a partial government shutdown was engineered by a largely regional party — one whose home territory looks eerily similar to the Confederacy. Adding to the questions about the viability of the post-Civil War union is the fact that the shutdown has been orchestrated by a Texas legislator whose state party stalwarts — including its governor — seem to support secession, to the point of taking concrete legislative steps to prepare for independence. On top of all that, in states across the country, incipient secession movements have sprung up only a few months after secession petitions flooded the White House website.

In his seminal book “Better Off Without ‘Em,” Chuck Thompson marshals data to argue that America would benefit by letting the Republican Party and its strongholds formally secede from the country. Whether or not you end up agreeing with Thompson, the argument he forwards is compelling on the policy merits. It also raises an important but less-explored political question: Why would today’s conservatives want to formally secede from a nation that gives them the privilege of governing the whole country, even though they remain in the electoral minority and even though their policy agenda is opposed by a majority of the country?”

All of which looks quite familiar to Irish eyes. A small minority of the country’s population using intimidation and violence, religion and racism, to thwart the democratic wishes of the majority. Has anyone in the Tea Party movement mentioned partition yet?

Ireland’s Economy Or The Story Of The Lying Liars Who Lied

No bullshit please, we're Irish

No bullshit please, we’re Irish

Ireland is officially out of its economic recession. Well, that is the somewhat tendentious claim made by the majority of the Irish news media over the last 48 hours in one of the more bizarre PR spins we’ve seen in recent times. The reports are based upon a statement from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) detailing a seasonally adjusted +0.4% rise in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2013 compared with the first quarter. On the back of this economic crumb newspaper, radio and television reports are proclaiming a technical end to the recession that began in 2008 (though technically we are actually in a depression).

Except here’s the problem. The truer and more accurate guide to Ireland’s economic performance is the Gross National Product (GNP) which for the same period showed an adjusted -0.4% fall. The facts of the Irish economy are obvious enough and defy any amount of political and media-friendly spin: flatlining and but for emigration and “imaginative” government book-keeping damn near terminal.

New Monument Discovered At Brú Na Bóinne

Sí an Bhrú "Otherworld Residence of the Palace", the largest mound of the Brú na Bóinne complex, An Mhí, Éire

Sí an Bhrú “Otherworld Residence of the Palace”, the largest mound of the Brú na Bóinne complex, An Mhí, Éire

Ireland’s Brú na Bóinne (“Palace of the Bóinn”) is generally regarded as holding north-western Europe’s greatest concentration of intact prehistoric monuments with the main burial mound of Sí an Bhrú (“Otherworld Residence of the Palace”) dating to 3200 CE. It has been poured over by antiquarians, historians and archaeologists for centuries so it is a bit of surprise that a new monument has been discovered within the complex. From the Evening Herald:

“Using light detection and ranging imaging known as LiDar, an underground passageway and several other previously undetected features have been discovered near the river Boyne, Co Meath, on private land south-west of Newgrange.

The LiDar imagery showed a mound with a circular enclosure, while further work involving new technologies, known as magnetic radiometry and resistivity, unveiled a definite passage, leading northeast out of the newly discovered tomb.

It is the first discovery to be made without any archaeological digging, instead being found through use of LiDar and other “ground-probing techniques.” The archaeologists who made the discovery, led by Kevin Barton, are calling on the Minister for Heritage, Jimmy Deenihan, to declare the site a national monument.

Because the new discovery is on private ground, the team of archaeologists need the Minister to do this as without Government designations, an excavation would be impossible.

Activist group ‘Save Newgrange’ are backing the archaeologists’ request to the minister, as well as requesting that Meath County Council include the new findings in the Management Plan for the World Heritage Site.

The results of a full scale excavation could lead to an expansion of Newgrange and could halt any further plans for an N2 Bypass of the site, which would be critical if there were any more requests from local council to build the motorway.

In 2012, An Bord Pleanala refused an application for the bypass because of proximity to the monument. Local politicians, however, are still hoping to procure a bypass.”

I bet they feckin’ are! The modern Oirish surely love to hate their history. So, what’s the bets on the government not looking the other way while some major, party-donating construction company concretes over the discovering? What? No takers? Oh, what intelligent readers I have…

Let Them Eat Cake!

In relation to the controversial government legislation covering personal bankruptcy (the Personal Insolvency Act 2012), the transcript of the following radio interview by RTÉ journalist Mary Wilson with Jim Stafford, a Personal Insolvency Practitioner or PIP, is astonishing (via CLR):

“Mary Wilson reads an email sent by a listener asking: What happens to my home if I enter into a PIA?

Jim Stafford [JS]: Well, under the legislation the PIP is to try and keep the family in their family home if at all possible. The PIP will have to assess the existing mortgage on the family home, if it’s a modest house, if it’s a trophy house.

In practice, the PIP will also have to assess the type of house that might be needed for a professional person such as a solicitor, accountant or a hospital consultant as opposed to a house that’s needed by someone who is in the PAYE sector for example, so that, as a PIP, I would be making a very strong case, for example, that a solicitor should have a bigger house that accords with his professional status in society so that his neighbours and clients can see that, yes, this person is a good solicitor who’s is living in a good house etc. etc.

Mary Wilson [MW]: Really?

JS: Absolutely. The same as for hospital consultants, people like that.

MW: Despite the fact that he’s insolvent?

JS: Despite the fact that he’s insolvent, because remember, if we want the solicitor to continue to earn money or the accountant or the hospital consultant it’s important that he has his tools of trade for example.

MW: Well, he may need an office, but he hardly needs a palatial house in South County Dublin.

JS: Believe me, the clients who we have on our books are insisting they continue to stay in their palatial houses, now, it’s possible that some of them might have to down trade, but that all goes into the pot and at the end of the day the banks, the creditors have to agree to that process.”

Message from Ireland’s 1% to Ireland’s 99%: fuck you, peasants!