Archive for November, 2013

The 1% Difference Campaign – Neoliberal Front
November 18, 2013

How many one percents of your time or money does it cost to pay for blanket radio advertising?

Surprisingly affordable if ‘The 1% Difference Campaign’ is anything to go by.

Unless maybe you happen to be a front for the wealthy.

Regular adverts are encouraging us to give

The idea is simple. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, we all give the same – 1%. It’s one percent of you.

One percent of your time or one percent of your income, to a charity or cause you believe in.

Easy to give at a time of such taking

 The goal is to raise giving levels across the board in Ireland. It sounds like an impossible goal but it is actually very achievable. The campaign is jointly funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The ‘Corporate sponsors’ section is more interesting however

RTÉ
Aviva
Vodaphone – pays no tax in Britain
KPMG
IBEC
Morgan McKinley – finance and consultancy
Publicis – PR, advertising
Drury – PR – Anglo, Fianna Fáil, golfing with Sean Fitzpatrick etc etc
Healy Group – food/pharma
Matheson – law – probably the biggest player in Ireland’s multinational tax avoidance industry
Byrne Wallace – Law – NAMA,  Anglo etc etc.

The adverts on Matt Cooper says ‘proudly supported by TodayFM’, maybe that means Communicorp is also involved though it doesn’t say it on the website. The TV advert is even more revealing

“giving is good for you”

Another one

‘100minds’ http://100minds.org/

100 of Ireland’s “brightest graduates” will raise €1000 each thus delivering 100k to Temple Street Children’s Hospital who they are “partnering”.

And just like that

Onboard here are KPMG, PWC, Deloitte, Google, Linkdin and others

The ‘about us’ section give no indication of who is behind it but I will take a leap on the next gogetter fancying themselves as a ‘social entrepreneur’, who will receive considerable plaudits for thinking outside the box, utilisation of social media etc etc before moving onto the next private endeavour. While every hospital in the country slides into the sea.

Interesting thing here is the “brightest”. The successful hundred would be selected from applicants. Strange limits when presumably aiming to collect the most amount of money poor sick children but the market decides you see…

The 1% difference campaign is “spearheaded” by the Forum on Philanthropy.

If you recall headed by Frank Flannery who before the budget proposed tax exiles be let longer in the country if they made a donations.

Before launching into several pages on tax avoidance opportunities, their 2012 report outlines

Proposal

The Giving Campaign will form the context or overarching infrastructure for the recommendations of the Forum on Philanthropy and will form part of a wider national recovery strategy designed to restore both the economy and national self-belief.

The Campaign will increase awareness and understanding of the value of Philanthropy and Planned Giving amongst all sections of Irish society (high net worth, business, and the general public), through demonstrating their contribution to improving Irish society and the development of community in Ireland.

Rationale

According to the latest report on fundraising in Ireland by consultants, 2into3, Irish charities reported an increase of 23% in fundraised income in 2010 over 2009, (or 6% if you exclude international development aid charities), despite the fact that Ireland is still in the grip of a serious recession. The report’s authors stress that if the quality of the ‘ask’ was improved Irish people would give even more.

The National Giving Campaign is an opportunity to get the ‘ask’ right, and elevate fundraising and philanthropy in Ireland to a new level. The Giving Campaign will operate for two years, at which time it will be reviewed and a decision taken to renew the campaign or to implement alternative strategies to grow giving in Ireland.

The steering Committee

will select a team of experts and ‘best of breed’ agencies to design build and run a major public awareness and call to action campaign run over a two to three year period. The design of the campaign (including key messages, tone, etc.) will be driven by empirical research. Possible campaign phasing for 2012/2013 includes:

• Set the Context for Giving  in Ireland,highlighting the benefits that giving delivers to Irish Society;

•Inspire our target audiences – tell them why they should get behind this campaign use role models (Henry Shefflin/Brian O’Driscoll/Bernard Brogan to legitimise effort;

Use partnerships to drive the message to key sectors e.g. IBEC/ Dublin Chamber to the business community, GAA/IRFU to the general public, Trade Unions for workers;

The campaign would begin with a high profile launch with the Taoiseach/ Minister at a suitable venue e.g. Croke Park/Dublin Castle, followed by TV/Radio/Billboard and Digital advertising campaigns. The campaign would then use partnerships with

a national sporting organisation/business organisation to drive a series of regional/county road shows on the good that giving is doing locally and how with a little more investment much more could be done. The impact of the initial media campaign would then be re-enforced by charities launching their own campaigns under the National Giving Brand. The campaign would be positioned as part of a movement for national renewal and restoration not only of the economy but of national self-belief. A key success factor would therefore be high profile political leadership.

Everybody giving the same regardless of means is also an echo of that other favourite, the flat tax.

Individually we can all give 1%, collectively we can do nothing, is the message.

Not least address all that deep deep structural inequality.

Dr. FIVE 18 November 2013

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On the Greek “Vote of No Confidence” – Is the Parliament Relevant ?
November 18, 2013

Did the Greek No Confidence debate, much discussed last week, make any difference ? Is the Parliament at this stage relevant, or not ?

The relevance of any parliament depends on the democratic functioning (or non-functioning) of society. The figure out how healthy or sick our democracy is, we need to ask our politicians 5 questions:

1. What Power Have You Got?
2. Where Did You Get It From?
3. In Whose Interests Do You Exercise It?
4. To Whom Are You Accountable?
5. How Do We Get Rid Of You?

Sadly enough, the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety by “competent” politicians in parliament) by menacing it with an endless litany of fears (the economy, public safety, health, wellbeing, education, immigration, emigration, etc) all of them at the same time imaginary and designed with an agenda in mind that is not in the interest of that very same populace.

Parliament, in a non-functioning democracy (which is unfortunately what we all have allowed ourselves to be bullied into) is merely an instrument for creating that endless litany of alarmist fears while it is simultaneously a measure of how successful the system is in keeping the populace alarmed.

Votes like the one the Greek parliament held over the weekend serve one purpose only. They provide the party leaders with a gauge to measure their own popularity and that of their party. They provide a platform for individual politicians to publicly brown-nose the party leader, and for the party leader to publicly admonish the individual politician in case he/she doesn’t brown-nose said party leader with sufficient enthusiasm.
Theodora Tzakri, the PASOK MP who voted with SYRIZA against the government is an example of this real functionality of parliament. After two years of helping the Greek government rubberstamp troika dictat, send to them by email, she suddenly developed a social conscience, claiming her voters put her in parliament to help make a difference. The cracks are getting wider in the Greek government coalition, and it is only a matter of time before Samaras joins the likes of Papandreou, Ahern and Blair on the international lecture circuit. I am convinced that this suddenly acquired social conscience by Tzakri has a lot more to do with trying to secure her re-election to the next parliament than it has to do with concern for the voters or Greece. I’ve always been weary of people wearing €500 worth of shoes or £700 worth of silk shirts claiming concern for the “impoverished” people…

Parliament has been reduced to a platform hijacked by society’s leading psychopaths to allow their public grand standing and help secure their personal wealth and power. It has become an instrument for the elite to force the populace in to paying the cost of keeping the elite in its self-proclaimed rightful position and maintain the wealth of the very same elite. Unless parliament is taken back by the people and returned to being an instrument for the people, it is and will indeed remain irrelevant in terms of democracy. In terms of being an elitist instrument of public oppression, parliaments everywhere are highly relevant.

Ephilant 18th November 2013

The Pitfalls of Electoral Politics
November 12, 2013

It seems to me that the Irish left in general has refused to face up to the reality that any and every attempt at social democracy or socialist participation in electoral politics has completely failed to achieve its goals. Much of the blame for this has been put on the characters involved (with some justification), they were not true Scotsmen, so it’s a case of ‘once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more’. But perhaps the problem lies with and stems from this particular form of political engagement?

I read an article yesterday which I found very interesting. While it comes from a perspective I mightn’t necessarily subscribe to, it makes some very good points and is definitely worth a read:

No Vote Counts: Avoiding the Trappings of Democratic Socialism

Here’s a bit of it which I think is particularly applicable to the Irish left as it stands today;

Electoral work is not the same as engaging in a social movement. While electoral campaigns through organizations like the Green Party (the “cool” democratic socialists) may raise issues, it leaves the people mobilized around those issues standing cold when the only form of action offered to them is voting. It is great to raise certain points of agitation during their campaign, but we know that they either will not get elected or, if they do, will not be able to actually enact the kind of sweeping changes they are discussing. This is simply not the way the state functions, no matter how many of them pack the chambers. Instead, that time and money would be better used on actual movement building. All the benefits you get from a liberal electoral campaign you could get in putting the same effort toward a social movement, except at the end you actually have functional on-the-ground organizing that can continue to push reforms with popular power.

This point is lost on the Irish left, there is very little, if any, effort to form some kind of movement. Events are held to discuss the need, or lack thereof, for new traditional political partys and discussions are also had about electoral alliances, but there is no effort to create a mass movement. Time and again squabbles are had over various seats, Paul Murphy’s seat in the EU parliament just the latest example.

If we look at the past we can see how time and time again “successful” participation in electoral politics has resulted in dismal failure – The Labour Party, Workers Party and now Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin’s move to the centre and abandonment of revolutionary politics(even if you didn’t agree with them they have certainly moved towards the centre) is directly attributable to engaging in and tasting some success in electoral politics. As is the large increase of careerists and opportunists within the party. Much of the working class does not vote (and who can blame them? It’s a waste of time) and are politically disengaged, so in search of further support party’s inevitably turn to the voting classes which inevitably results in a move towards the centre.

I’ve wandered off the point a bit, and it is thus, given the repeated failure (and I would say inevitable) of socialist participation in parliamentary democracy in Ireland, why does the Irish left have such an electoral fetish?

Why, instead of trying to build electoral support is there not an attempt to build a socialist movement independent of electoral politics? Why are they setting themselves up to fail? Should the unattached on the left look towards trying to agitate and build some kind of mass movement completely independent of the electoral system, rather than ponder setting up yet another electoral vehicle?

Worth pointing out in case it isn’t obvious; the foundation of my argument is the acceptance that our current electoral system, like all liberal/bourgeoisie systems is unrepresentative of the Irish people, the working class especially. (I’ve been reading a lot of Lenin!)

Saoirse go Deo    11th November 2013

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