Archive for July, 2010

Stop The Health Cuts
July 23, 2010

I think some people are confusing a reform of the health service and reduction of the budget, they are two totally different things. The Tories for example are going to totally change the NHS without reducing the overall amount of money going to health. If it works they will get more for the same amount of money. We will get less for less, while being told we will get the same for less.  Lies.

Whereas it’s correct to look for cuts at the top etc., in truth that is the line we always hear before cuts at the bottom and front line.  The guys on 150k a year sitting in an office in government building had their cuts reversed for example, but temp nurses have been let go all over the country in recent weeks.

The debate now is whether we close the 2 billion gap in December with tax or cuts.  The government is clearly saying it has to be cuts and health will be the number one area for them. The propaganda is that the “cuts will be from the top down”.   The truth is this does not now and never has and won’t happen.  In Dec. beds for patients and front line staff will be in the firing line. The Croke park deal is very carefully crafted to exclude anyone that works outside of core office hours from protection from pay cuts – that is where the axe will fall as well as any staff not on permanent contracts.

Although there will of course be some waste to be found here as there is anywhere, it is not where I would start looking. I would not even start in hospitals.

People have a genuine opinions about waste in the Public Services, but it is used by people “at the top” to avoid paying fair tax rates or indeed having any efficiencies applied to them.

The 2 billion is coming from cuts and most of it will be from health, as education is ring fenced. The idea that those cuts will come from “waste at the top” is a joke, it will not: it will come directly from the care of the weakest in society. Staff will again be demonized for not “shielding” patients from the cuts. It is disgusting and very dishonest.

So, if you are focusing your mind on “waste” you are being had for a laugh by people like Harney, your argument is music to her ears as it clears a path for massive cuts and a plan to lay the blame at the door of staff when a service collapses. You may not support her directly, but by not looking to everyone in society to take sacrifices to provide a first world health service you are ideologically a fellow traveller. We spend a pathetic amount of money on health (private and public) in this country and we have just decided to pay less to maintain the low tax rates in the EU. That is a wider society problem than simply one for staff in the service to deal with.

The real truth is that people will vote for health cuts so long as it avoids more taxes .  In Dec. nobody will go ape sh!t when home help is removed or 12 beds close in the local hospital, but if there was a property tax etc they would. The TDs are only responding to this.

Reform of the Health service is another subject, I could write a book on ways I would structurally change the service to make it more efficient and better to use, but it is not a reason to slash health spending to protect tax breaks for parasites.

We are paying a lot less tax than 5 years ago, the idea that we can ignore that is a joke.  1,333 beds closed to date around the country and not one senior person in the system is affected. Get on to your TD and tell him/her that you want the cuts starting the other way around.

None of these cuts are starting at the top…

Xray  23. 7. 2010

Sat back on the Harley and dropped the wrist a little …
July 22, 2010

Yesterday was a silver grey day with a patchwork of squalls coming across the drumlins and hills of south Sligo. The back road from my house to Ballymote and then from Ballymote to the N4, was fine some nice corners to drop the handlebars on and only one or two bits of road that had me talking to the bike “here’s a bad bit Alfie”. A couple of nice S bends and down sooner than I thought to the junction with the N4. I came out just opposite the junction for Riverstown and looked either way, nothing coming out I go, drop the wrist, flick the left foot 2nd, drop the wrist, left foot 3rd, wrist foot 4th, 5th, sit back and watch the road in front open to a black, clear, winding ribbon. Its a good road no pot holes and sweeping curves that you just lean on and the bike gives a little pull back up as you come out of the corner.

Coming into Castlebaldwin a squall comes across so I decide to pull in for a Garage Latte. Sitting in the restaurant one of the lads from the local bike shop (my destination) comes to look at the bike and we talk cost of insurance and bike stuff. The squall passes and I get back on the bike, leaving the service station and heading for Boyle. I look either side of the N4 nothing coming and off I go in a smooth ride up the gears. There’s little wind and the trees are not moving I sit back on the Harley and dropped the wrist a little hitting 100.

As Lough Allen comes into site, reflecting the grey of the sky of its waters and the horse man on it s banks the pleasure of been on the bike hits me and I am all over again in love with my bike. I like this bit of road, before I came to live in the West, it was the bit of road that made me feel I was home long before I bought my cottage.

The road rises so you can see the Lough, dips to the valley near the canal and then there is the bridge, beautiful and simple in its design but its a bridge I like. Under this bridge even though its high the sound of the Harley reverberates back down to me and I smile.

Up the hill and turn into the lane for Boyle, just slow down and take the turn, nothings coming so down we go into this small rural town we glide me and the bike. At the first mini roundabout no one else is around so I go straight on and the second mini roundabout no one around so I turn left and there in front of me is a car, and it HITS me. NO! not like that, thank god. Its hits me that from leaving Ballymote to arriving in Boyle a journey of over 1 hour the only vehicle I have seen was the bloke in the Garage who has a bike. Not one car, van, Bus, HGV not one vehicle of any sort on the main road from the North West to Dublin or anywhere along that route. Is this the recession in reality, the one that can be seen?

Ecoprincess  22.7.2010

The Irish Nomenclatura – Crosspollination in Irish Financial and Political Life
July 22, 2010

One of the striking things about the power apparatus in Ireland is the myriad of cross-pollinating relationships within it. I don’t see “the government” as simply a selection of TDs from a parliamentary majority who form the Cabinet. These people have little or no power. If they had real power, the likes of Mary Coughlan would never become Tanaiste. They represent around 10% of the real power in Ireland. The rest is made up of the influence of the banks and insurance companies, the CIF (who own, to a large extent, FF), the upper levels of civil administration, public bodies like the HSE, Fas and the like, IBEC, PR companies/lobbying groups, the panoply of quangos and the mouthpiece for the “consensus”, RTE.
Complicit in this cosy structure and the maintaining of it in situ are the trade union movement and the media, particularly the Independent News Group. The lines between public and “private” get blurred (particularly when “private” companies exist on public monies dubiously awarded)

Cross-pollinating relationships are rife across this structure. They reinforce themselves in public bodies and quangos, in departments and private lobby companies, in our now-insolvent banks and union movement. The potential for conflicts of interest are huge but this power circle know how not to rock the boat and know that even if they do get caught out, the way to go is to simply brazen it out and further lower standards in Ireland until we arrive at where we are today, with public standards in the sewer and corruption everywhere in Irish public life.

So it doesn’t really matter who is in the Dail because these people have no real power and are there basically to serve those who exercise the other 90% of the power in the country. Those who exercise that 90% of the power would not tolerate able, talented, public-spirited people in elected office because such people are difficult to control.

In short, TDs and Senators, with a couple of exceptions, are the hired help, there to serve those who exercise 90% of the power. Which is why the quality is so low. They are happy to take the vast paychecks and unvouched expenses that comes with the office they hold. But that is the very point. They are in office but NOT in power because they don’t exercise the power.

When I mention the word nomenklatura, this is what I mean.

Slim Buddha  22 July 2010

Catastrophes Past and Present
July 16, 2010

Famine Commemoration Day

I’ve often wondered how different families who remained in Ireland survived the famine (what doesn’t kill yee, makes yee stronger), especially the peasant families like my own. The subject was taboo with all my grand parental units. I do know on my mother’s side that the family returned from the US in the late 19th century, which is quite unusual. Add a Kelly from Donegal to the equation (but his family history is completely lost as he was a blow-in hired from a job fair in Strabane) and I have my maternal side covered as much as possible. My paternal side just wouldn’t talk about it, though again several brothers ventured to NY to dig the subway tunnels and returned to Ireland, but this was well after the famine. Maybe the paternal side were good hunter-gathers and were just too ashamed to talk about it. (I also wonder if their antagonism against tinkers was a realisation that but for fate they too would have been travellers. In fact, I’ve met settled travellers in the North East of the same surname and spelling. I got a good grilling when I applied for my southern driving license, and I couldn’t understand at the time why all the fuss. Then I learned about my long lost cousins.)

Anyhow, the famine had significant political ramifications. All sides of my family stated, often with a shudder, that by hook or crook (often clandestinely) they wanted rid of the post famine regime one way or another. I believe at the time the regime was run from a place called Westminster. If memory serves me correctly this place is in London, England.

Pretending the famine, and such other modern disasters, is non-political is just another modern contrivance by a well fed and cosseted consumer oriented populaces.

gli    9.7.2010


The Wall Street Journal Says “Ireland and Spain’s Unemployment is Permanent”

How about this for a wild and insane thought. There is no real fix for our economy, and by extension employment prospects for the unemployed, the underemployed, and those coming off the educational assembly line.

We’ve adopted, wholesale, the consumer-service economy. We produce very little of added value (i.e. taking natural materials and turning them into usable long terms assets) in balance with our population requirements. We merely consume what others produce from outside Ireland. When we did address a material structural deficit, such as housing, we turned a need into a casino parlour game. We overproduced in many sectors (housing, public transport duplication, the health service debacle and narrowly referenced agricultural policy), draining resource materials and labour from other requirements, thereby wholely distorting trade-offs between exiting or newly produced asset classes and our future ability to invest in other assets.

The second part of the economy, service, requires a fundamental income gap between wage/income groups. In order for people to pay for nanny, house cleaning, gardening and such jobs there needs to be a viable gap between those who can command high salaries whilst simultaneously ensuring those providing service jobs can’t command too high a salary. Deregulation of labour markets and of immigration standards ensures a continuing pressure on labour income. As the proportion of low paid, dead-end jobs increase relative to national income, large swathes of people become subsistent participants in the economy with limited means to consume. (The Yanks euphemistically call them the working poor meritocratic productive workers who rely upon weekly loans in lieu of real economic wages to just about survive. Every year since the early 1980’s this group grows in size. It’s hitting Ireland with a vengeance.)

Add a dollop of neo-liberal ideology, meritocratic sociopathy, and just plain base greed and here we are.

The bottom line is that if Ireland didn’t run an international tax dodging scheme for MNs in return for jobs, we’d be third world fodder.

We’d need to reconfigure and readjust our cognative diagram of the internal economy. One where income would have to reflect hourly inputs based on the production of physical assets, and one where income is distributed more equitably. A proportion of the population would have to realise that their so-called lifestyles can’t be maintained indefinitely. There is no cosmic lottery which will lift all boats in the future.

However, the meritorious won’t give up one penny nor will those whose goals are much more modest cut their cloth to suit their situation, and the govt must figure out some way for the later to access credit. We’ll muddle through until we can’t. Emigration is the only escape valve open to this or any other governmental configuration.

When you can’t or won’t produce physical commodities or the surplus wealth of commodities produced is owned by another jurisdiction, as with MNs, you don’t have a whole pile of options.

gli    14.7.2010

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