Posts Tagged ‘recession

19
Dec
09

Rand Illusion

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – what would you tell him to do?”

“I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”

“To shrug.”

Regardless of how much you may revere the writings of Ayn Rand, it cannot be denied she made one definite mistake with Atlas Shrugged. To be fair, it’s a mistake so commonly made that it would be irrelevant anywhere else, but with Rand it takes on a unique significance. The purpose of citing Atlas, as we see above, was to serve as a metaphor for the rich and powerful whose strength, hard work and moral clarity are what support our society as we know it, and how state interference in their businesses and profits causes the world to “shrug”. However, in the original Greek myth, Atlas didn’t hold up the world. This is a misnomer that has somehow been accepted as his defining trait. In the myth, Atlas was the titan who held up the heavens. Now, if we instead apply this as a metaphor to Rand’s work, it suddenly takes on a new meaning, not terribly unlike that of another literary giant, Chicken Little. Instead of a tribute to “those who produce the most”, it becomes a tale about a bunch of gullible sycophants running around in a panic because the sky is falling.
Continue reading ‘Rand Illusion’

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15
Dec
09

The McCreevy generation

I’ve been posting here a lot recently, considering I said I won’t be updating much longer. It’s just that occasionally something occurs that just can’t be ignored. This is one of those times

There’s an article in yesterday’s Irish Times about Charlie McCreevy. It seems he was on Miriam O’Callaghan’s radio show on the weekend defending his role of finance minister until 2004, when he was booted out to Europe. On the property bubble he claimed: “There were property bubbles in a number of other countries.” It’s amazing. They’re still trying to pretend there isn’t something unique about Ireland’s economic crash, that we’re simply victims of a global downturn. This is infuriating on its own, but it’s made so much worse when we consider that, arguably, there is nobody in government who shares as much blame for Ireland’s recession as Charlie McCreevy.
Continue reading ‘The McCreevy generation’

08
Nov
09

Rand and the Recession

I have been reading two truly hilarious novels lately. One of these, PG Wodehouse’s Thank You, Jeeves, deserves credit for being intentionally funny. The other, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, not so much.

I bring this up because it’s been well reported that sales of Atlas Shrugged have jumped considerably in light of the recession. So much so that there’s a recent rash of books coming out discussing Rand’s books and the philosophy she professed. Last week’s Economist magazine had an article on her, and there have apparently been rumours in Hollywood that an adaptation is being fast-tracked. Her new popularity is being credited to the recession as the book prophesises an economy grinding to a halt, and a government scramble to fix it which instead makes the whole thing far worse. It is this view that leads me to believe the rest of the world has read a different Atlas Shrugged from the one I have, as the philosophy espoused in my version has been rendered provably wrong by the recession.

Continue reading ‘Rand and the Recession’

22
Sep
09

Bertie’s conscience

I have recently developed a recurring nightmare. I’m sitting in Fagen’s having a chat with Aer Thaoiseach. For some reason I’m trying to elicit from him some personal or scandalous info on Celia, but he suddenly cuts me off, informing me how his conscience is %100 clear regarding the recession and how stoney broke he is these days.

My patience breaks and I cry, “Conscience? Broke? This is madness!

To this Bertie calmly responds, “Madness?” before exploding, “THIS IS DRUMCONDRA!”

He then kicks me in the chest, and I fall backwards into that little snug near the small bar, or something.

This is what I’m on about. Via Simon at Irish Election.

23
Aug
09

Bus Eireann’s recession

I find myself contemplating Bus Eireann and their recent financial woes. This was brought on by a trip to Galway on Thursday, a quite a painful experience as it entails no less than three bus routes from where I live. To make things worse, every leg of the journey was filled to capacity. Literally every seat had an arse on it (in fact at one stage we were a little over-capacity, with a wailing infant making things ever more comfortable), which belies somewhat the drop in passenger numbers that is the causing Bus Eireann such grief.

Of course one can’t judge the entire operation based on one journey, and to be fair the buses were only about half full on the return leg. I don’t doubt that the company is in trouble. However, it seems to me that addressing a drop in passengers by raising their prices (among other things) is incredibly stupid. I want to believe that this company is not run by idiots, but they’re not making it easy. Every bus I encountered on my trip had a sign stating “Save €€€’s” stuck on it, pushing on us some sort of commuter ticket. Now, I’m not in a position to criticise other people’s grammar mistakes, but surely in company that at least two brain cells to rub together somebody would have said, “isn’t that a possessive apostrophe?”

16
Jul
09

An Bord Snip Nua: or how did it come to this?

Today was D-Day, at least in TV3’s words. An Bord Snip Nua (which is surely the worst quango name ever) published its report. And it isn’t easy reading.

So, what happens now? Obviously nothing happens just yet. Can’t let a recession ruin the government’s holidays (the cynic in me is wondering if the timing of this thing was deliberate, as it seems to take a lot of pressure off the government). Still, they’ll soon be reading this thing like it’s the menu in the Dáil bar, deciding who among us should be screwed over the most.

Personally, despite how necessary everyone is saying these cuts are, I don’t see the government taking on much action on them. They don’t have the nerve. Despite the notion that they’re unpopular because of the tough decisions they’re having to make, not many of the decisions they’ve made were really that tough. The pension levy was a soft option. The wider electorate had little sympathy with the affected civil servants. Nama aside, the only one that counts is the medical card for OAPs and we saw what happened there.

Now it’s time to step up and take the toughest decision any government has ever had to face, and I’m not talking about anything in the report. If they want to succeed in selling this bloody thing to us, first they need to come out and admit: “Yeah, we fucked the whole thing up, and how.”

The mealy mouth admissions offered so far don’t cut it. Cowen has already said he would have done some things differently had he know the way things would turn out, but it’s deeper than that. The financial black hole that these guys have created would be impressive in a normal-sized country. For a nation of four million it’s scarcely believable. And no banker or greedy developer can be blamed for this. It’s governments alone that squanders taxes. Likewise references to the global recession ring hollow. No developed nation, with the exception of Iceland and the likes, is facing what we’re facing.

And you know what, despite spending the money, the services they spent it on didn’t improve all that much. Kids are still being taught in prefabs (prefabs that have ended up costing the state more than building proper classrooms would have). Universities and the ITs are still under-funded, which is weird considering our emerging reliance on being a “knowledge economy”. And our health service is not even worth discussing.

If the current government is to survive (and believe it or not, I want them to) and push through these cuts, they need to start by being honest with us. I’m not talking about an apology (though I suppose this is inherent), and I’d rather not go down the road of individual lynchings (reading the report, it’s clear McCreevy, Ahern and Cowen share some personal responsibility). Just open up and admit you blew it, and we’ll figure out where we go from there.

27
Apr
09

If you don’t like this post, please ignore it

Like many others in the Irish blogosphere, I received an e-mail today from a crowd calling themselves Reclaim Ireland. They’re seeking some publicity for their cause (something about the government being too focused on private gain) and asking us to publicise their website for them.

I have received similar requests in the past, and though I usually don’t respond I can at least appreciate that I was contacted personally. This one’s different as it’s the same blanket e-mail sent to several bloggers. Now it is flattering to be included on this list of the country’s most prolific bloggers, but spam is spam. I would have simply deleted it and forgotten it forever, but I was further annoyed by this tid-bit: “If you think the idea completely ridiculous, please ignore this email.”

As it happens, I don’t think the idea is ridiculous, but only because I can’t figure out exactly what the idea is (there is some talk on overthrowing the Government, but nothing on how exactly we go about it). What I resented was the attempt to influence editorial control of my blog. If I think it’s a ridiculous idea, I’ll ignore nothing. If I want I’ll bloody well say so.

This e-mail exemplifies the problem with the bulk of online commenters that has been spawned by the recession. They are utterly convinced of the responsibility of the government and the failures of the established political system (the subject of the e-mail was even “revolution”), yet they have such little faith in their alternative that they can’t bear to see it criticised. A solid political argument thrives on dissent, not pleas to be ignored. Alan Moloney posted something on this a while back.

I hate to sound so negative, and I realise cynicism is the easiest response, but I’m really annoyed by all this lazy “fuck the government” talk lately. I’m as angry as anyone, and I’m perfectly willing to listen to a real alternative. Until you figure out what that is, don’t let the door hit you or your revolution on the way out.