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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not my debt

The 35-40 billion euro quoted today as the (current) estimated cost of the Irish banking bailout is not my debt.

So I'm not going to pay it, and I urge everyone else who is not responsible for the debt to behave likewise.

Iceland has demonstrated that the idea that keeping bogey banks afloat is essential to the survival of a state is nonsense. Anglo and the other banks gambled and lost. They should have been let go to the wall, as capitalism suggests. They should still be let go to the wall even now.

This transfer of cash, from the taxpayer to the banksters, the banks and their bondholders is nothing more than corporate welfare. These scum speculated and lost. But when I lose a bet, neither Paddy Power nor the Government intervene to secure my money. So why do the hyperrich get their losses nationalised?

If you weren't in Fianna Fail's Galway tent, if you weren't on Seany Fitzpatrick's dinner party list, if you didn't help run up these spectacular losses, then it's neither morally nor legally your responsibility to pay them.

Brian Lenihan and the pondlife in Fianna Fail want you to pay these debts to bail out their pals. Don't do it. Only a policy of public disobedience in this matter will see this Government removed, the cancer of their corruption excised and the debts transferred to where they belong - to those who ran them up in the first place.

You can't stop them taxing you. But you can do everything possible to minimise your taxes. You can't bring down the banks, but you can hurt them by transferring your savings out of the state. You can't refuse to pay moneys due to the state, but you can delay paying them for as long as possible, and eke out those payments in instalments to create maximum difficulty for the state.

Or you could go further. I don't mean drive a cement truck into Leinster House. I mean get out on the streets and demand change.

There are only two ways to avoid being saddled with 40 billion euro of debt you never ran up - emigrate like hundreds of thousands of people are doing already, or protest. REALLY protest.

It's not my debt and I won't pay it.

Jail the bankers and their politician protectors NOW. Let THEM pay the debts THEY ran up. Or let them rot in prison.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dole we can't afford

There is some interesting data hidden in the latest live register figures today.

There are currently 18,120 people from the UK signing on in Ireland. These are people who do not hold Irish passports, so include Britons but not necessarily Northern Irish people.

There are 3,902 people signing on who come from the old EU15 (minus Britain and Ireland, that is.) That includes French people, Germans, Spanish, Italians, Danes, etc.

There are 40,427 people signing on who come from the EU accession states - Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, etc.

And there are 13,926 people signing on who come from elsewhere.

We can do nothing about the right of EU citizens to take benefit payments from Ireland, even if we cannot afford it.

But these figures indicate that for every Western European signing on (and remember they have had the right to live and work here for generations) there are TEN Eastern Europeans signing on (who have only had the right to live and work here for the past few years.)

And we are apparently paying dole to nearly 14,000 people who do NOT come from the EU.

My question is simply, why?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Arsehole's Day

Well, here we are again, at the intersection of marketing masquerading as culture.

Noted masters of the dark arts of advertising, Guinness, are trying for the second year running to parlay some bullshit date they picked almost at random into a secular national day in honour of their piss-poor product.

Most Dubliners, indeed most Irish people, were prepared to tolerate this blatant hijacking of Ireland and Irishness for a once -off event, especially since there was little we could do about it, short of banning their pub promotions.

But now that they're trying to make their secular Paddy's Day into an annual event, it's time that people started protesting.

Why bother, you might ask. After all, if Diageo want to give away cheap pints in Dublin, what's the problem?

The main problem I see is that it is yet another elision of drunken behaviour with Irish character, one that plays to outdated stereotypes that the global media laps up, just as it lapped up the idea that our Taoiseach is an ardent boozer who does interviews while hungover.

There's the secondary problem of anti-social behaviour resulting from this Arthur's Day nonsense, as Garda figures for arrests for disorderly conduct last year in Dublin will testify.

But if we really must have another national drinking day, why must it celebrate one of the great tragedies of the Irish brewing industry?

Not only did the growing hegemony of Guinness (a British run firm owned by a multinational) destroy the vibrant local brewing industry in Ireland in the past century, but their own much-vaunted flagship product is, frankly, muck.

Don't get me wrong. They do know how to brew at St James Gate. But the marketing wankers won't let them. The Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is one of the world's great beers. But try buying it in Ireland. The carbonated Guinness Extra is also pretty damn good, but is restricted to a few dusty bottles hidden away on pub shelves behind the ranks of Smirnoff WKD.

The draught version of the stout is nothing like what it was even after the nitrokeg creamy head was introduced. On order from on high, the brewers have been forced to try to brew all the taste OUT of the beer, so that the marketing wankers can 'position' it against swillable piss-lagers like Budweiser.

But Guinness is a stout. It never was, nor never could be a competitor for bland, fizzy alco-waters. The result is that they lose their traditional consumers and yet fail to attract the 'Heino or Carl' contingent either.

It doesn't stop them trying though. We've had Breo. We've had Guinness 'Lite'. Now we've got 'black lager'. All diabolically bad. And this is the direction they keep pushing Guinness draught towards.

There's a reason why Guinness doesn't compete in international beer competitions anymore. It's because they're not only not the best stout in the world, they're not even the best stout in Dublin.

(That honour goes to the spectacular Wrasslers XXXX by the Porterhouse Microbrewery.)

Thankfully, there has been something of a renaissance in craft brewing in Ireland in recent years. In addition to the Beamish/Murphy (same brewery now) Guinness alternative, there are now real options for stout drinkers who wish to avoid the fish-scales slop coming out of St James' Gate.

Carlow do an extremely tasty O'Hara's stout, and College Green in Belfast have the excellent and sumptuous Molly's Chocolate Stout. And of course the Porterhouse boys specialise in stouts and porters, as the name suggests. Their Plain, Oyster Stout and XXXX are all superb.

These are REAL Irish beers, deserving of people's attention, palates and money.

I propose that all right-thinking beer lovers and Irish people turn their back on the bullshit that is Arseholes' Day and spend the evening instead exploring the delights of Irish craft brewing either in the nearest enlightened hostelry or else in the comfort of their own home.

Maybe when Diageo start shipping market share in large amounts to real brewers, they will realise the error of their ways and permit their own brewers to do what they do best and make some proper stout.

After all, they do it for foreign markets and they've done it in small batches for Ireland too. The only thing stopping them is the delusions of the ponytailed wanker brigade who have such contempt for both beer lovers and the Irish nation that they genuinely believe you'll buy into their new national day proposal just because they'll discount their pints of muck for the night.

And now Budweiser are getting in on the act, proposing their own 'national happy hour' in the US.

This crap is going to spread, people. Not content with privatising our public spaces, now they want to privatise our holidays too. Don't let the marketing vermin win.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pass me or I'll sue

Oh, this is just priceless.

A graduate at Queens University is suing the college because, get this, he reckons his human rights have been breached because he didn't do quite as well in his degree as he expected.

Andrew Croskery got a 2.2 degree in electrical engineering. What with the state of the current economy and the rampant grades inflation at work across the entire educational establishment, Mr Croskery no doubt realises that his degree won't permit him to study further and won't impress would be employers.

After all, they're already lining their waste baskets with CVs from people who actually earned first class degrees and masters degrees.

The poor diddums hasn't accepted that perhaps he should have hit the books a bit harder. Obviously, it's not his fault that he didn't do particularly well. Of course, it's the university's fault for not providing him with 'better supervision.'

I wonder what he means by better supervision. Did he expect the college to provide a mammy surrogate to get him out of bed and to his lectures on time? Or a study coach to sit him down and make him hit the books? I suspect what it means is that he expects them to simply give him the degree grade he wants, whether he earned it or not.

The High Court heard from some lawyer, who's presumably happy to bank a large amount of cash for pursuing this case, that: “It is obviously an important case for the applicant. He avers his employment prospects have been jeopardised."

It's self-evident that getting a poor grade jeopardises your job chances. But let's say he wins his case and Queens is forced to grant him a grade he didn't deserve. Then perhaps Mr Croskery might gain employment on the back of that grade with an employer.

What happens if the employer discovers that Mr Croskery isn't up to the job? Will he sue the employer for breaching his human rights too?

This sorry court case is the culmination of two odious trends in modern society. The first is one prevalent in education from kindergarten upwards - the idea that everybody wins, that no one fails, that top grades should be handed out to everyone for fear of someone's feelings being hurt.

The second trend responsible for this is the creeping culture of entitlement running rampant in society. Mr Croskery feels entitled to a better grade. It doesn't matter to him that he may not have done the work to deserve a better grade. He wants it, and feels it is his due, and therefore he must have it.

It will be fascinating to see how this case pans out. I genuinely believe it's possible though unthinkable that Mr Croskery might win.

What a wonderful precedent that would be. It opens up a second route to academic success - the courts - and slaps down one of the few remaining arenas of meritocracy left in society, permitting those who can afford it not only to access third-level education but also to buy, via a legal action, the grade they desire.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Leadership: Two examples from Europe

In Ireland, it's considered good political leadership for the Taoiseach to stay up till four in the morning drinking, singing and mimicking sportsmen.

Well, it isn't, but if you listened to Fianna Fail the past couple of days, you'd think the man had been up till all hours fixing the economy.

The desperate attempts to paint dipso Biffo as the innocent victim of scurrilous Fine Gael tweeters fell on deaf ears - the country, indeed the whole world, recognised truth when they heard it and now everyone knows we're a crisis country led by drunkards.

Needless to say, the markets responded, hiking up the cost of the borrowing we already couldn't afford. By the time Cowen had slept it off and roused himself to apologise 'for sounding hoarse', the last of his credibility was being piddled up against the wall and the damage was long since done.

It's not the boozing while the country's a mess that makes him such an abject leader. It's the going on radio and letting everyone hear he's been boozing his head off, and then trying to deny it, that makes him a bad leader.

By contrast, the poison dwarf Sarkozy isn't going to be bullied by the Eurocrats over his Roma expulsions. Whatever you think about expelling Roma, and the majority of Western Europeans think extremely highly of the idea, it's the rare state leader who doesn't cave when Brussels starts threatening.

And when they started comparing Sarko to the Nazis, thereby invoking Godwin and losing the debate, it was clear that the knives were out not only for the expulsion policy but for the diminutive leader too.

Sarko's response was effortlessly brilliant. If the Luxembourgeois commissioner rabbitting on about World War 2 comparisons was so concerned about the Roma, perhaps they could be housed in her country instead of being deported to their native Romania and Bulgaria?

The howls from affluent Luxembourg could be heard all over Europe. That is of course the LAST thing they want. And with Sarko now going after their shady banking system (which he accuses of assisting tax dodging) the state of Luxembourg is now singularly unimpressed with the Commissioner who brought down France's wrath upon their expensively-coiffeured heads.

Far from painting Sarkozy out to be a Nazi, Viviane Reding has likely signed her own career suicide note in this spat. Her own country will not thank her for turning France against them so effectively. It would not surprise me if she was to step down in the next few months for family or other spurious reasons and a new commissioner appointed from the Duchy.

These two, it seems to me, are the current polar opposites of leadership capacity at the nation state level in Europe currently.

In Ireland an abject garrulous drinker, croaking through a hangover on morning radio then grumpily trying to deny it afterwards.

In France, a politically astute, determined individual insistent on making strong decisions, standing by them and defending the sovereignty of his nation against all attacks, including those from the suprastate.

I'm no particular fan of Sarko's politics, but we could do with his leadership qualities in Ireland right now. Frankly, any change from the current cretins would be an improvement. Even a monkey wouldn't cost us percentile points on the bonds exchanges by turning up drunk on radio.

Edit: Not only does this story just keep rumbling on, with the addition of a golfer's demand for an apology for being mimicked by the drunken Taoiseach, but it is now gathering the sort of momentum that can take out a government.

By contrast, Commissioner Reding's appeal for back-up from Barroso at the highest EU level has, understandably, been equally brushed aside by the now rather irate French.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Science Minister's brainfart

Only in Ireland, or perhaps, in the buckle of the US bible belt, would a science minister launch a book on why evolution is wrong.

(Here comes the science part - no, it isn't.)

Specious nonsense doesn't begin to account for the superstitious claptrap contained in this tome by some godbotherer called John May.

What's even more nonsensical is that the Minister for Science is launching it.

Kebabs Lenihan has always been the Tweedledumber to Brian's Tweedledum. But now this walking political liability is not only demonstrating uselessness at his job (which one expects from the current cabinet) but downright moronism of the lowest order.

He should have been sacked a long time ago during the GAMA scandal, when he racially slurred migrant workers. He should be sacked now for this brainfart.

But it's testimony to both the void of talent in Fianna Fail and the utter lack of anything resembling ethics or integrity that this oxygen thief will continue in government, wasting more of our time and money spouting crap about 'de knowledge economy' even as he promotes retrograde anti-science falsehoods.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

In defence of burning books

So a gun-toting yeehah Southern-fried man of God in the good ole U S of A is going to hold a Koran-burning ceremony.

Not particularly respectful or in good taste, I'm sure you'd agree. Downright offensive to Muslims, one might think. Possibly inflammatory, in fact.

Lots of people are getting very upset about that prospect, and everyone from Hillary Clinton to newspapers in the Arab world have called for the event to be cancelled.

While some people have expressed their distaste for the offence offered to Islam, most are more concerned about the possible ramifications of this activity. They have raised the spectre of the riots across the Muslim world that followed the publication of the Danish Mohammed cartoons being repeated.

Amid all of this, almost no one has pointed out that burning books in itself is distasteful and ignorant and achieves nothing in real terms. The knowledge contained therein does not die, just the dignity of the arsonists.

But while Pastor Jones is undoubtedly a fool, he has one valid point to make. Why should the West continue to tiptoe around the psychosis of radical Islam for fear of offending people who are, at the very least, as idiotic and backward as the Pastor himself?

"Instead of us backing down, maybe it's time to stand up. Maybe it's time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behaviour," he told Associated Press.

It seems to me that the reason he shouldn't burn the Korans is because burning books is an act of profound ignorance. But he should not be prevented from doing so for fear of offending Medieval lunatics like the Taliban, the mass murderers of Al Qaeda or the Wahhabist psychotics running Saudi.

If Islam is truly a religion of tolerance, then its adherents will see this act for what it is - attention-seeking by a retard - and ignore it.

If however, Islam is dominated by those keen to seek out offence, quick to anger, ready to riot at the perception of a slight, and prepared to refute the pluralism and tolerance that permits their freedom of religion in the West, then they will indeed set fire to their own towns, protest at embassies and issue fatwahs demanding Pastor Jones' head on a spike.

And if that does occur, then Pastor Jones will have succeeded in a very real way in exposing the hypocrisy at the heart of Islam - a creed that demands to be tolerated where it has no rule but tolerates no plurality where it rules.

Let us not forget that a woman accused of adultery still faces death by stoning in Iran. Let us not forget the oppression offered by the Talibanin Afghanistan. Let us not forget that there is no freedom of religion in many Muslim-dominated countries.

It's time for Islam to grow up, and they can demonstrate that maturity by ignoring Pastor Jones' little stunt.