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Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week October 31, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in media.
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Shane Ross has once again cut to the heart of the problem caused by the collapse of neo-liberalism and the southern state embracing it wholeheartedly, and then selling its soul to protect speculators and bankers. You’ll never guess who.

The leaders of social partnership owe Irish taxpayers big time. Few people have yet rumbled the way that some union leaders plundered the country’s coffers. It was a social partnership benchmarking cabal that recommended the 9 per cent pay hike for the public service in 2002. It was union leaders who landed gigs galore on the boards of well-paid quangos, appointments given by grateful governments to insiders in return for keeping middle and lower paid staff in line.

The union leaders led good public servants up the garden path into the fantasy land of double-digit wage increases, accompanied by guaranteed jobs and pensions. The outcome is today’s bewildered public service, nursing an understandable grievance while the sheriff knocks at the door. They had been led to believe that they were the chosen people.

The social partners were the most powerful pillars of the State’s hierarchy during the Celtic Tiger years. They sidelined the democratic forces of the Dail. Brian Cowen repeatedly doffed the cap to them during his time in Finance. His speeches were filled with sycophantic promises to “consult” the boys with the beards.

Incisive as always. And in no way ignoring major issues. Unsurprisingly, this is a message repeated elsewhere in the Sindo.

John Drennan offers another scapegoat – the Brits. Or at least, the south’s post-colonial mentality, especially that of the political class.

However, now that a great politics of reform is needed our ‘doss house’ — as Brian Hayes so eloquently called it — of a parliament is so riddled with the vices that come with a colonial mindset that they are neither temperamentally nor politically equipped to rat out their real bosses.

Except this of course shifts the blame from where it really lies – in the wholesale adoption of neo-liberalism. It’s a smokescreen, implying that had the people in the Dáil not been who they are but had adopted the same ideology, a different outcome would have been possible. That’s simply not the case.

Brendan o’Connor also seems to think the answer lies in a renewed version of the recent past, this time by scrapping our “can’t do” culture.

If Ireland’s economic success was a form of madness, then maybe we need more madness. Maybe it is time to send in the clowns again. And let’s cherish and nourish the madmen who dare to dream, and who, if only some of them get it right, are our only ticket out of this.

The fact that we’ve seen what neo-liberalism can’t do – provide a sustainable economy for the people – seems to have escaped him.

Speaking of neo-liberalism. Here’s Marc Coleman, whose trip to Germany seems to have produced a rush of blood to the head, and delusions of grandeur that spouting neo-liberal tripe is an act of boldness comparable to the world-historical act of Luther nailing his 95 Theses to that church door.

Thesis 1: As the jobs and wealth creator for the nation, the private sector must not be burdened by taxes to fund public waste or overpay.

Thesis 2: Wasting taxpayers’ money must be a criminal offence.

Thesis 3: Bloated hierarchies should be replaced by cost effective structures, lean and Lutheran, with fewer but better managers.

Thesis 4: Public sector salaries shall be cut to levels 15 per cent above EU norms or five per cent below private sector earnings, whichever be the lower.

Thesis 5: Semi-state companies should be sold as far as possible and competition increased to lower the cost of living.

Thesis 6: Neither tax hikes nor welfare cuts should occur until Thesis 1 to 5 have been implemented

Thesis 7: A taxpayer’s charter should index tax bands and credits and the protection of key reliefs.

Thesis 8: The State should not tax the family home

Thesis 9: No person in publicly funded employment should comment on economic policy, this being a conflict of interest.

At least number 9 would spare us having to listen to or read Colm McCarthy as he sharpens his knives still further.

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Comments»

1. Bartley - October 31, 2010

As always Ross is OTT in his rhetoric.

However he does have a point about the air of unreality that still pervades the pronouncements of certain individuals in the union movement.

Case in point: Blair Horan thinking that clerical officers are disproportionately disadvantaged by so-called bank time being done away with. Presumably because they are obliged to to visit the pretendy bank every week to cash their imaginary pay cheques, whereas the higher-ups only need to grace the make-believe bank with their presence once a fortnight.

Blair, hello! These are imaginary cheques! Nobody is being disadvantaged, because EFT has been used instead of pay cheques for the best part of a decade.

This sort of fundamentally dishonest messing is exactly what will sink Croke Park in the end. Which is a pity because it could have been an excellent deal for public servants.

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DublinDilettante - October 31, 2010

Which part of the Croke Park Agreement do you think was most beneficial to public servants, the no-strike clause or the bit that gave the government carte blanche to tear it up whenever they saw fit?

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Bartley - October 31, 2010

Which part of the Croke Park Agreement do you think was most beneficial to public servants

The no-further-paycuts clause of course!

gave the government carte blanche to tear it up whenever they saw fit

That would be implicit in any agreement of this sort. The T2016 transitional agreement was torn up with barely a murmur of dissent when it became patently clear that the emerging reality just couldnt support the pay rises agreed.

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DublinDilettante - October 31, 2010

The no-further-paycuts clause of course!
Which is completely contingent on the government’s assessment of totally unspecified “unforeseen circumstances.”

The government may in theory walk away from any agreement (as they will from this stalling exercise), but do you think the unions’ position in that eventuality will be strengthened or eroded by having explicitly signed up to it in the first place? If it’s implicit in any agreement, why did the government make sure they had it in writing?

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WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2010

It’s interesting Bartley that Horan would take that line re bank time. But I think this is purely tactical to save some privilege days – hence in news reports his point about how higher level civil servants have longer holidays compared to lower grades and aren’t giving up privilege days either.

All that said I think bank time is as absurd as you do.

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smiffy - October 31, 2010

The bank time is a pretty nuts, but Horan has a point in resisting. It’s interesting one of the first concrete examples of civil service ‘reform’ but forward by management (after a long delay, entirely on their own creation) is something that, while minor, impacts only on CPSU and PSEU grades, but not at all on senior grades, who aren’t on the clock anyway.

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WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2010

That’s true, and its something of an indictment of the way all this is panning out. Hence my thought that this is merely tactical. It’s certainly difficult to stomach the idea that lower paid PS/CS employees getting it in the neck while much higher paid ones are able to get away with more egregious excesses.

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2. ejh - October 31, 2010

Number 9 is fantastic, isn’t it?

Number 4 is another in the long-running series “people who say the public sector should be more like the private sector and then advocate solutions that the private sector would never do”. Would a company publicly announce that it intended to pay fiver per cent less than its competitors, and if it did, what would it expect its employees to do, other than go elsewhere?

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3. Bartley - October 31, 2010

why did the government make sure they had it in writing?

Presumably that was intended for consumption by an external audience.

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ejh - October 31, 2010

And why would that have been?

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Bartley - October 31, 2010

And why would that have been?

Eh, is that a trick question?

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4. ejh - October 31, 2010

Incidentally, was the post title initially typed with a misspelling of “stupid”? Good thing that got corrected.

Now in the private sector, if you did that your feet wouldn’t touch etcetcetcdronedrone….

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Garibaldy - October 31, 2010

Damn you EJH. Was hoping that got fixed before anyone noticed.

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5. EWI - October 31, 2010

Thesis 9: No person in publicly funded employment should comment on economic policy, this being a conflict of interest.

I don’t know why anyone is surprised by this. In the US, the Shane Rosses are already calling for public sector workers to have their vote taken away:

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201010130035

(of course, should they get that, the next step will be in justifying taking the vote away from *all* workers, as my old pal Wulfbeorn called for some years ago)

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CL - October 31, 2010

Such a prohibition would rule out Lenihan and Cowen from commenting on economic policy. And all university economists. And the ESRI. And Colm McCarthy who seems to be permanently on some publicly funded committee or commission with the inevitable neo-liberal recommendation.

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CL - October 31, 2010

Related Question: How much is Colm McCarthy paid from public funds for his ideologically-driven propaganda compared with a civil service clerical worker who is engaged in socially-useful production?

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6. Niall - October 31, 2010

Bizzare. It gets worse and worse. I’d pay anything to actually hear editorial meetings in the Sindo offices. It reflects poorly on the nation that this publication sells more than its rivals.

There’s nothing left to say!

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7. Paul Moloney - October 31, 2010

Surely the most stupid statement is this “apology”:

“Soccerphile website

IN LAST week’s issue, in an article by Alison O’Riordan, we used a form of words referencing German stereotyping. These words were, in fact, a quotation from the Soccerphile website. However, the manner in which they appeared did not clearly convey their origin. We regret not including the proper attribution for Soccerphile website.”

I would have thought that the main issue is not that Alison quoted copyrighted material without attribution. The main issue is that Alison quoted copyrighted material as if it was part of an interview with a real person.

P.

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WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2010

Oh dear, the Phoenix used to track that sort of thing. It doesn’t reflect well on the SI.

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Tim Johnston - November 1, 2010

ha, yes that was spotted on politics.ie of all places.
The REAL issue is, as you say Paul, that she quoted a “German stereotype” she found online as part of an interview with a real person and the piece got pulled. AoR frequently makes up “interviews” as part of her “research” and this time she didn’t even try to change the quote to disguise the plagiarism.
You’d think that somebody who moans about struggling financially and being in negative equity- in a national newspaper -would try a bit harder to be good at her job.
If Ms.O’Riordan is too lazy and illsuited for her chosen career there are legions of excellent writers out there who would like her job instead.

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EWI - November 1, 2010
Tim Johnston - November 1, 2010

This one has more of the OMG factor:

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/on-just-euro196-a-week-it-hurts-to-part-with-the-pennies-2271802.html

Spoilt rich kid pretends to live on dole for a week to see what it’s like being “poor”.

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Paddy Matthews - November 1, 2010

You’d think that somebody who moans about struggling financially and being in negative equity- in a national newspaper -would try a bit harder to be good at her job.

We are talking about the Sindo here. Fantasy comes as part of the package.

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8. Bartley - October 31, 2010

It’s interesting one of the first concrete examples of civil service ‘reform’ but forward by management (after a long delay, entirely on their own creation) is something that, while minor, impacts only on CPSU and PSEU grades

While the lower pay of the CPSU can & should be used to argue against paycuts at their level, I really dont see the connection to bank time.

Surely the only criteria to judge non-pay reforms of this nature are whether (a) the benefit being abolished was justifiable in the first place, (b) abolishing it will make significant savings, and (c) will not impact on service levels. The pay levels of those impacted by the reform is irrelevant, to my mind at least.

The whole point of Croke Park is to sell flexibility & reform in exchange for a pay guarantee. It will simply fall apart if everyone in the service is trying to maintain their own perks and privileges while expecting someone else to change in their stead.

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Niall - October 31, 2010

Bank time is quite silly, but if one looks at it from the perspective of the workers, it hasn’t been about going to the bank for a very long time. It’s just been another part of their compensation package, and it has been taken into consideration when reaching agreement on their overall pay.

I know I’ve worked in jobs where our paid break times have been above the statutory entitlement. Had the management turned around and cut our break times, I would have objected and had I had a union, I would have expected them to condemn the move. I don’t think we can really blame Blair for reacting as he has. That said, I hope he realises how far down his list of priorities this issue should be at the moment.

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smiffy - October 31, 2010

“The whole point of Croke Park is to sell flexibility & reform in exchange for a pay guarantee. It will simply fall apart if everyone in the service is trying to maintain their own perks and privileges while expecting someone else to change in their stead.”

I think that’s precisely the point being made by CPSU in relation to the bank time issue. While it’s not about pay, per se it’s hard to see how the union representing the lowest paid civil servants could justify accepting a change which negatively impacts on its members, when those grades on significantly higher pay aren’t faced with parallel changes.

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Bartley - October 31, 2010

when those grades on significantly higher pay aren’t faced with parallel changes

Yep it is fair enough for the CPSU to expect the higher-ups to also give up their privilege days (seeing as its been a long time since anyone has had to travel back up from the country by pony-and-trap or the slow turf-fired train).

But its inevitable that the CPSU are going to impacted by the changes to the non-pay elements, as they benefit much more from perks such as flexi-days off. Obviously its not nice to loose flexi if its been nearly doubling your annual leave, but that is exactly the type of thing that will end up being pruned if pay levels are to be maintained.

Similarly if sick days are being targeted by the HSE, you could well argue that this is unfair on lower-paid hospital porters and nurses. But if thats where the sick days are concentrated, thats also where the savings will have to made.

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9. gabbagabbahey - October 31, 2010

I was trying to work out in what political world “Thesis 2″ could possibly make any sense, and then I realised it’s completely Stalinist. Never mind exactly how ‘waste’ is defined (cost-benefit analyses post facto?) or whether its separate from existing crimes like fraud or embezzlement, or whether employment structures could be changed to allow for holding people to account through (private sector measures) like disciplinary proceedings or ultimate firing… let’s charge unsatisfactory workers/officials with a crime! Next there’ll be articles calling them saboteurs against the (taxpayer’s) state.

Perhaps there are other forms of totalitarianism that fit the picture, I’m just most familiar with the history of Stalinist Russia. And of course there are people who need to be held accountable for a lot of (often hard to define) ‘waste’… surely this also includes the banks too, given the amount of government funds (which qua ‘taxpayer’s money’ do indeed need a high level of accountability and justification, but as much because they’re there to provide for all citizens as because they’ve been provided by the owners and producers of taxable wealth).

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10. Jock McPeake - November 1, 2010

In my view Eoghan Harris wins this every week, with his open calls for smashing the rights and gains of workers in the southern public sector. He is a bosses mouthpiece. I cannot understand how this man still counts official republicans among his friends. But he could always quote Connolly to justify anything in the past, and he can still do it now.

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11. Tweets that mention Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week « The Cedar Lounge Revolution -- Topsy.com - November 1, 2010

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bosca, Garibaldy. Garibaldy said: @paddyhoey Never liked post-colonial thing. Inaccurate in my view. Slabbered about article Mick lifted headline http://tiny.cc/ubfpwneaar [...]

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