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Capping Welfare March 20, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in British Politics, Capitalism.

A recent move by the Westminster Government to cap Welfare payments at £26,000 per household was defeated in the Lords. Polls showed 76% of voters in favour of such a cap with many wanting to go further capping payments at £20,000.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

‘It’s a basic issue of fairness. Should people really be able to earn more than £26,000 just through benefits alone? I don’t believe they should. And I think the overwhelming majority of people in the country would back that view.

To further their anti welfare agenda, the budget in the UK is due to introduce a statement to tax payers saying where their taxes went. Taxpayers in the UK will receive annual personal tax statements which will detail how tax income is spent. In the example in todays Guardian it is shown as a pie chart. What jumps out is the light blue section spent on Welfare. This will surely increase pressure on welfare spending too as people see what amount is being spent on welfare.
Note too how its all about Taxpayers and not citizens.

The government here must be looking across at these plans and wondering could they get away with it. The welfare capping proposition would surely go down well here, cheered on by various elements of the media. I can see it now, Labour Ministers defending themselves on how they kept the cap a few thousand more than what Fine Gael wanted to implement. Cant see the Pie chart though as the money being spent on bailing out banks would be a fine chunk on the pie chart.
I’ve no doubt though that in the next few years we’ll see the promotion of a ‘simplified’ welfare system here. One where allowances are gotten rid of or at least the number of them severely reduced and a basic social welfare payment to cover a range of Social Welfare payments. … and Labour Ministers defending themselves by saying that the basic social welfare rates remain untouched.

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1. acknefton - March 20, 2012

a comment from comrade trotsky

The very principle of compulsory labor service is for the Communist quite unquestionable. “He who works not, neither shall he eat” And as all must eat, all are obliged to work. Compulsory labor service is sketched in our Constitution and in our Labor Code. But hitherto it has always remained a mere principle. Its application has always had an accidental, impartial, episodic character. Only now, when along the whole line we have reached the question of the economic re-birth of the country, have problems of compulsory labor service arisen before us in the most concrete way possible. The only solution of economic difficulties that is correct from the point of view both of principle and of practice is to treat the population of the whole country as the reservoir of the necessary labor power an almost inexhaustible reservoir and to introduce strict order into the work of its registration, mobilization, and utilization.

Cometh the hour cometh the quote

2. Organized Rage (@organizedrage) - March 20, 2012

This attitude that looking after people when they are old, sick, unemployed, unemployable, and disabled is somehow bad, is an indictment of the age. We should be proud we spend so much on the welfare of citizens. What should we spend it on, the military so they can waste it on foreign wars and weaponry which will never be used.(Inshallah) Bailing out banks?

Could some of this money be spent better, yes, for a start private companies should cease skimming money off the top which should be spent on welfare.

Spending money on the welfare of millions of people can only be money well spent. Indeed if the UK were a civilised society, instead of a class prejudiced swamp, we would be spending a dam sight more on the welfare of the citizenry.

By the way, the above Trotsky quote is why many of us have little time for Trotsky and his militarisation of labour. Sadly Stalin was not one, as he scooped up such reactionary drivel and put it into practice in the most brutal way.

3. Bartley - March 20, 2012

Here\’s a contrary view …

The cap is a good thing for the long-term sustainability of the welfare system and thus strenghtens the social net as opposed to attacking it.

So whats the key to welfare sustainability? Its the sense of social solidarity amongst taxpayers.

The surest poison to that solidarity is the idea, real or imagined, of the Reaganite welfare queen living it up on benefits.

If that solidarity is replaced with whipped-up indignation, the welfare system will eventually collapse as the policitical will to protect it drains away.

And the key element to the welfare queen narrative is the complex array of benefits and allowances, in cash and in kind, some hard-to-value accurately, others available only occasionally or in special cases.

Now a resonable cap completely cuts the legs out from under the welfare queen spin. It gives tax-payers a guarantee that at least no familiy on benefits is better off than the average working family.

As long as the cap is held high enough (circa EUR31k in this case), it should only impact on a relatively small number of extreme cases, while strenghtening the position of the vast majority of welfare dependents.

Mark P - March 21, 2012

The surest poison to that solidarity is the idea, real or imagined, of the Reaganite welfare queen living it up on benefits.

If that solidarity is replaced with whipped-up indignation, the welfare system will eventually collapse as the policitical will to protect it drains away.”

So of course the solution is to whip up that “welfare queen” lie and play to people’s worst prejudices by introducing legislation of this sort, right?

Let me guess, you’re the sort of person who thinks that the citizenship referendum was a good thing as it ‘completely cuts the legs out from under the” pregnant black woman passport tourist spin”.

Bartley - March 21, 2012

Let me guess, you’re the sort of person who thinks that the citizenship referendum was a good thing …

My, my, Mark, you are a skiller debater.

Oh, I see what you\’ve done there … attribute racist sentiments to me by guessing some opinion on a completely unrelated issue that I never articulated.

Such sleight of hand, the switch was almost imperceptible!

But why stop there, seeing as youve invented the magic formula for winning any argument?

Surely you can work in islamophobia, climate change denial, and the drowning of cute, adorable kittens?

RosencrantzisDead - March 21, 2012

His argument is valid: you are arguing that we should play up to a prejudice surrounding people on social welfare/benefits. A tougher law or a cap, you say, will undermine the prejudice and protect benefit recipients.

This is a rather irrational approach since it advocates moving away from ‘evidence based policy making’ (a phrase that was in vogue not too long ago). There is also some futility in trying to combat a prejudice, a preconception or attitude developed without any actual experience, by playing up to it. Prejudice is always unencumbered by evidence.

If we take your approach to its logical limit we should be dedicating resources to: establishing a full time Garda Satanic Ritual Abuse investigation team; the HSE should be paying for research into Morgellons disease; and, the Constitutional Review Group should be looking into the fact that a statute is only enforceable if one consents to it – which is clearly a pressing constitutional question.

Bartley - March 21, 2012

His argument is valid

Attribution of racism on the basis of a “guess” is never valid. Rather its a lame and lazy mode of debate that over time tends to desensitize the term.

you are arguing that we should play up to a prejudice surrounding people on social welfare/benefits.

No, I was arguing that a perception based on a very small number of extreme cases, but applied to the bulk of welfare recipients, could be undermined by making it impossible for such extremes to occur.

An analogy … the system of third level grants was long damaged by the perception of widespread cheating among applictants with substantial assets but low or manipulatable income.

Would the system be strenghtened or weakened by tightening up eligibility with an asset test so as to assure tax-payers that the grant money was not being siphoned off by famers buying a big car or a new Massey Ferguson the year of the grant application?

The majority of grant recipients would be in exactly the same position as before financially, but with the advantage that they are much less likely to tarred with the same brush as the undeserving. More crucially the system itself becomes more sustainable if its widely perceived to be whiter than white.

And I use that phrase without a hint of a racial subtext, dog whistle, or double entendre – just in case MarkP hasnt yet dialled down his racism-radar.

Ed - March 21, 2012

I don’t think he was attributing racism to you at all. He referred to an argument which I heard often enough at the time of McDowell’s citizenship referendum, that if the measure was passed, it would undermine racism rather strengthen it because it would remove the perception – whether it was valid or not – that people were coming to Ireland and having children so they could claim residency.

The people making this argument might well have said ‘of course, we both know that is not actually happening in reality, but it’s important to eliminate the perception that it might be happening’. In itself, there is nothing racist about this line of argument. But I consider it pernicious because A) it effectively means pandering to racial prejudice instead of confronting it head-on, and B) there is no reason to think that the change to the citizenship criteria introduced in 2004 made the least bit of difference to prejudice against immigrants, which is non-rational and non-factual far more than it is actually based on anything that can be disproved with facts. It’s a similar story with ‘welfare queens’.

Mark P - March 21, 2012

I genuinely can’t quite work out if Bartley is entirely disingenuous, or just slightly dim.

WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2012

Mark in fairness he got your number on your initial response.

Mark P - March 21, 2012

What on earth are you talking about, WbS?

I never said or in any way implied that he is a racist. I implied that he was a fool or a knave, which is a quite different thing.

WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2012

But that’s the point. Pretty much everyone else on this thread bar none has engaged with the original point he made in a serious way.

You by contrast decide to go in all guns blazing. There’s just a point where calling people ‘dim’ or ‘knaves’ or whatever etc, etc, get’s a bit tired.

Either we try to have serious and useful discussions here, particularly with people many might disagree with or we fold up our tents and go home because we all know the answers>. Except of course we don’t, and we only arrive at them by working through discussion and debate. No?

And by the way, even if Bartley or anyone else were flying a kite I’d still think it worth engaging up to the point where it was clear they were doing so and there was no purpose in engaging (assuming I wanted to engage in the first place).

Mark P - March 21, 2012

In fact, I did engage with his point: By constructing an equivalent argument on another issue to demonstrate that his point was either (a) stupid or (b) disingenuous. Neither Ed nor RiD seem to have had any problem in following my drift. Bartley has never yet posted anything here worth engaging with beyond that, at least to the limited extend that I recall his posts.

He then responded with some false outrage about how he had supposedly been called a racist. Which, in fairness, is about what I’d expect from him. I’m only a bit startled that you seem to agree.

And no, I don’t think that there is any possibility of reaching useful answers through collaborative and engaged dialogue with people with his views. Or the likes of Alistair’s views. They don’t share a goal to collaborate towards in the first place.

WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2012

I see you sidestep the issue of the tone of your engagement here entirely.

As regards constructing an equivalent argument, that works up to a point, but when I read it earlier today I thought it was a pretty loaded one (and in racial terms too. I mean you’re not accusing him of being a racist, but you’re ascribing fairly noxious views to him ‘you’re the sort of person…etc’ that you have no idea whether he holds or not. He may believe, as reading his other contributions here makes me suspect, that he holds a US view of citizenship.

But then Mark, given you don’t believe there’s any point in discussion with others who hold different views (which in respect of the gulf between yours and those of so many others here probably puts you in a minority of three or four who actually comment), what precisely is the point of your being here?

Mark P - March 21, 2012

No, I didn’t sidestep the issue of the tone of my engagement. I clearly said that I was not looking for some kind of collaborative engagement with him. I was pointing out that his argument was disingenuous and/or stupid not for his benefit but in case anyone else is reading and is interested.

Once more, I did not say or imply that he’s a racist. I did compare his views with other noxious or idiotic views, but it was a perfectly reasonable comparison given that the views he was expressing were themselves noxious or idiotic in precisely the same way.

I also didn’t say at any point that I thought that there was any point in discussing things with people with different views, a self-evidently stupid idea. I said that I didn’t think that a prolonged engagement with people like Bartley or Alastair served any purpose. I’m not stopping you from exchanging endless, purposeless, discussions with either of them to your heart’s content however.

Mark P - March 21, 2012

“I also didn’t say at any point that I thought that there was any point in discussing things with people with different views, a self-evidently stupid idea.”

That should, of course, read “I also didn’t say at any point that I thought that there was no point…”

I don’t approach discussions with hardened right wingers with the idea that through constructive dialogue we will somehow reach a higher truth, lying beyond either of our preconceptions.

WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2012

Don’t you get it Mark? it’s not your call.

There was a thread here where a broad range of people were discussing an issue (I’d also add that there’s a distinction between alastair whose approach dipped into pure trolling in his latter days on here and Bartley who, like it or not, is actually listening to others and presenting defences for his discussion). And what you did was arrive and in a manner perfectly calculated to up the temperature and shut off discussion.

You say you’ll engage with views other than your own, but here’s a perfect example where people are engaging and probing the attitudes of someone on the right of centre and you decide unilaterally that somehow it’s not for others to have that discussion in the form they were having it.

As long as a discussion is within moderation guidelines on here it continues. It’s not your call.

Mark P - March 21, 2012

What a pile of old balls, WbS.

I didn’t decide to end a conversation, nor did I succeed in doing so. That’s something you imagined. I made a comparison between Bartley’s stupid and/or noxious opinion and a similar stupid and/or noxious opinion on another subject, in order to illustrate the stupid and/or noxious nature of his comment.

The only resulting derail – which still did not end the ongoing conversation – stemmed from Bartley’s disingenuous claim that he’d been called a racist, something which the other people already posting on the thread, had no difficulty in seeing through. At least until you arrived back riding your high horse.

As it happens, I don’t customarily get into rows with Bartley because, like Alastair before him, his opinions are so predictably complacent that I rarely see any purpose responding to him even in passing. After all, thejournal.ie exists if I ever feel the need to get involved in an endless and pointless argument with the smug Irish Times reading cohort. So, really, you needn’t fear that my apparently shocking and appalling tone will drive him away and end your ability to engage him in prolonged debate to your heart’s content.

WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2012

You arrived in such a way as your words seek to shut down conversation. You don’t read the rest of the thread or if you do you ignore the tone of it, and then make an intervention that is radically at odds with it.

There’s been feck all extra comments subsequently because what you’ve sought to do is to put Bartley beyond the pale. And in that you’ve succeeded. And that’s a pity because disagree as I do with his thoughts on this issue I think it’s a useful exercise to go through why they might be incorrect. But rather than going through the difficult spadework of actually, y’know, making the effort to get to grips with why he’s wrong and how he’s wrong and how we might craft something half-way coherent to counter and doing it in a way which aligns with the way this site does things it you short circuit that process with bluster and simplification.

Great. But the problem is that there’s hundreds of thousands of people out there, or more, who share, or buy into, the opinions he has and SFA who buy into ours. So I’m all too keen to work through ways of fully examining why those beliefs are wrong, and not in an arrogant or pompous way but in a way that connects with ordinary people who, given the right nudge, might come over to what broadly might be called our side.

And now what you do is, predictably, resort to insulting me when you after how many years here are well aware of the line this site takes – and Christ knows how many times I’ve asked you to take it easy – and yet even after all that you still can’t rein it in just a bit. Pretty pisspoor Mark P to be honest.

Mark P - March 22, 2012

Your whole comment rests on the idea that I came onto the thread seeking to shut down your conversation with Bartley. I did not. You are imagining things. I cannot be any clearer about it than that.

You are also imagining things when you start talking about the alleged benefits of engaging in prolonged conversation with a hardened right wing troll, but as I don’t really give a shit either way if you waste your time doing so, that is not a motive for me to try to stop you.

ejh - March 21, 2012

The cap is a good thing for the long-term sustainability of the welfare system and thus strenghtens the social net as opposed to attacking it

This is of course absolute nonsense. When you play up to prejudices, you don’t weaken them, you strengthen them. When you introduce harsher immigration controls, you don’t weaken ignorance about immigration, you strengthen it. This is what actually happens in practice, after measures like tus are brought up, backed up, naturally, with precisely the arguments Bartley wishes to propound.

One example from my days working in the Uk Social Secutiry system. You used to be able to have your mortgage interest paid when claiming income Support. Money didn’t (in the final instance) go to you, of course, it went to the mortgage holder. But the press produced story after story about benefit claimants in big houses getting hugr wedges from social security system.

So they brought in a cap – you could only claim mortgage interest for a certain amount of time (or after a certain amoiunt of time, I can’t remember completely correctly after twenty years).. Did this stop the flood of stories? Did it bollocks. Did it strengthen the social net? Did it bollocks. They made the provisions harsher – and then stopped payment of mortage interest entirely. So lots of people lost their homes.

That’s what actually happens. And of course they’re about to repeat the process with Housing Benefit.

it’s nonsense. A disingenuous nonsense.

ejh - March 21, 2012

There’s a further point to be made here, which is that much of public policy in the free-market world over the past thirty years has involved implementing policies which do not work but which continue to be implemented, believed in and strengthened, even when they do not work. Manifest examples would include the war on drugs, increasing the prison population, attacks on welfare, scapegoating of immigrants.

This is such an obvious truth about modern politics that it has become evident that policies are pursued not just despite the fact they do not work, but in an important sense because they do not work – their very failure merely feeds an appetite to intensify them. This is probably because they are all, in central ways, policies of scapegoating. You locate a sinner, a wrongdoer, individual of collective, and if hurting them, if punishing them, doesn’t solve the problem – well, you obviously muct punish them some more.

sonofstan - March 21, 2012

Interesting point.

However, there is probably another way around the ‘welfare queen’ trap, or at least some of the resentment it arouses. The only way a family, however constituted, is going to break through Osborne’s ceiling is if there are many children, since the SW system in all countries recognises the cost of children and pays benefits accordingly – something that, obviously, employers don’t do, and haven’t since the abolition of the single/ married differential in the PS.

So here’s what I’d suggest: instead of incremental rises in JA/ JB/ Disability / Lone Parent allowances with each child, pay all of what’s figured to be the cost of a child as Child Benefit and keep it universal. And then, obviously, take it back in tax from high earners.

That way, every unemployed adult would get €188 or whatever a week, and every(set of) parent(s) would get the extra €30 odd pw plus the existing CB. And thus, if said parent returns to work all s/he would lose is the €188, which 20 hrs at min wage will comfortable replace.

Housing benefits remain a slight difficulty with this picture, I admit…..

Ed - March 21, 2012

No matter how much social welfare payments are cut in the US, the ‘welfare queen’ stereotype endures; even after Clinton ended ‘welfare as we know it’ with great fanfare in the 90s, Republicans are still banging on about it, Gingrich is making great play of his line about Obama being a ‘food stamp president’. As long as a single cent, or a single stamp, goes to people who are unemployed, there will still be people shrieking about ‘welfare queens’. Caps or cuts will do nothing to change this.

It’s partly a question of racial divisions in the US – poverty is presented as something that affects black and Hispanic people exclusively, although there are plenty of poor whites on food stamps. But it’s mainly a question of the weakness of the left and the trade union movement. When the only effective political forces that can defend policies of redistribution are weak and on the defensive, it’s easy to attack those policies, without paying much political price. Social solidarity doesn’t really mean anything in the abstract, it’s social movements that you need to build on feelings of solidarity, strengthen them, and translate them into political action.

RosencrantzisDead - March 21, 2012

You’ve hit the nail on the head here. The ‘welfare queen’ stereotype is a prejudice. It is not based on actual experience or evidence. Playing up to it with tougher laws to clamp down on the ‘delinquency’ has not been, and will not be, successful. All the legislation does is reinforce the prejudice.

fergal - March 21, 2012

some one earlier mentioned the destination of this money,where it actually ends up.Most of the welfare money here must end up in the local economy thus providing a stimulus for local employment,it’s unlikely to end up in some offshore bank account.
On rent allowance or housing benefit this is essentially a subsidy to the landlord class.I read somewhere(great proof that!)that 50 per cent of all private rentals in this state are paid rent allowance i.e.the state.So much for the free market and so much for providing monies for council housing,cooperatives,self builds and sheltered housing.It’s the economy,stupid!

4. steve white - March 20, 2012
Tomboktu - March 20, 2012

A bit of a coincidence that this should pop up now. I’ve been poking around the official data recently trying to see what we can find out about tax transparency too. But I understand the term differently from Deputy Murphy.

The Revenue Commissioners annual reports give data on income tax paid by income groups up to €275,000, broken down by single male tax payers, single female tax payers, and married couples (same-sex civil partnerships weren’t in place for the latest complete figures). Parliamentary questions have seen the data broken down further (as noted on CLR a few weeks ago in the weekly column on the Sunday Independent), up as far as incomes of €2,000,000 without the single–married distinction, but the Minister refuses to break down the numbers with gross incomes over that on the basis of confidentiality.

I’ve trying to find out if the official data has buried anywhere information on the sources of income and tax paid by those whose income comes from different sources: earned and unearned, for starters, and then broken down further components of gross incomes (by band — I’m not after Michael O’Leary’s or Margaret Hefferenan’s specific details in this exercise) under different schemes and clauses of the tax laws.

And a different approach to tax transparency that might interest Deputy Murphy: in Norway, everybody’s income tax filing is a matter of public record. So, for example, each year the magazine of the salmon fishery industry runs an article reporting the income and tax paid by key figures in the industry, including officials and senior members of the Norwegian equivalent of the IFA’s Irish Salmon Growers’ Association.

CMK - March 21, 2012

Might not be a great idea. Interest payments (IMF March report, p.27):

2012 = 6.6 billion
2013 = 9.3 billion
2014 = 9.9 billion
2015 = 10.4 billion
2016 = 10.6 billion

That’s if all goes to plan (looking less and less likely). Not sure if it includes the 3.1 billion to Anglo that we have to pay year.

Anyone, sending a tax payer a statement saying ‘you paid three thousand euro to service the national debt (to pay for Anglo and the rest) might not be a good idea in current circumstances.

RosencrantzisDead - March 21, 2012

I wonder if the promissory note/guarantee/NAMA will be included. Did the government not make a song and dance about how the Irish citizen was ‘not paying’ for these because the government used some accounting trick to move all of these off our balance sheet?

Obviously, everyone saw through it, but it would still permit the government to omit such figures from any such report.

CMK - March 21, 2012

I’m trying to figure out whether the promissory note repayments are included in the annual interest bill. On the IMF March report the annual interest bill is included in current expenditure and there is a zero figure given for bank related costs for each of the next few years. On the 2012 book of estimates the Anglo promissory note appears as ‘Non voted current expenditure item’ but I don’t exactly what that means.

Maybe a CLR contributor could clarify whether the promissory notes are part of the annual interest or not?

No doubt there are accounting tricks aplenty to massage down the figures. I seem to recall that dodge accounting was a contributory factor in the Greek crisis……. ‘have you anything to say about that Mr. Sutherland?’

fergal - March 22, 2012

CMK-what journalist would ask Sutherland any kind of probing questions,bit like Enda ringing the bell at the stock exchange in New York with a beaming Denis O Brien within spitting distance of him

Jim Monaghan - March 22, 2012

My vampire analogy makes more and more sense.

5. steve white - March 20, 2012

i think this is interesting its the good and perhaps bad of the drive transparency, someone made a comment in link about welfare versus bank debt sliabh tried to quantify that a while back http://www.sliabh.net/?p=2397

6. Ivorthorne - March 20, 2012

Bartely, that’s a useful argument to examine, however, before we examine the argument, I think it would be interesting to examine the origins of the perception that there are reatively large numbers of Reaganite-style welfare queens living it up on social welfare. If there is no link between reality and the perception that there are large numbers of these queens, then the cap probably won’t help.

The Regan example may be helpful. I belive that Regan used the phrase during an election campaign. Whether intended or not (and I would supect it was intended) Regan’s choice of words elicited images of African American women. They fed into a baseless racism. In Ireland, there are numerous myths about the benefits that asylum seekers and non-Irish EU nationals receive. In reality, few live comfortably on social welfare. It is not a lifestyle choice for all but the most socially dysfunctional. An inflexible cap runs the risk of hurting vulnerable families, but a flexible cap will breed “queen of the gaps” style arguments. The truth is that both here and in the UK, we already have natural caps.

Social solidarity is threatened by sensationalistic and inaccurate reporting by politicians trying to gain votes and newspapers trying to increase profits. I suspect that those who suffer from delusions about our welfare system would not change their beliefs in reaction to the introduction of a cap, but would instead look at the introduction of such a cap as confirmation that they were correct in their inaccurate beliefs.

7. CL - March 20, 2012

Steps towards implementing Ayn Rand’s crackpot utopianism.

‘U.S. House Republicans proposed a budget calling for major cuts to Medicare and other social welfare programs and lower taxes for high earners as lawmakers gear up for an election-year battle over the federal deficit.’-

8. To Receive Welfare, Should Drug Test Be Required? « This Day – One Day - March 21, 2012

[...] Capping Welfare (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) [...]

9. FergusD - March 21, 2012

Actually folks if you look at those UK welfare spending figures wasn’t the biggest element for old age pensions? everybody benefits from those, although for the rich it is a minor contribution to their income after retirement for everyone else it is very important.

10. CL - March 21, 2012

Policy makers in Ireland and Britain have no need to invoke Reagan’s racist tactics of 30 years ago to attack welfare.
Welfare provision was once a means of protecting the working class from the instability and colossal market failure of capitalism; now it is becoming a means of forcing workers to adapt to the vicissitudes of the market including low wages.

11. WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2012

Mark, now you’re projecting onto me thoughts I don’t have – ironically precisely what you were doing to Bartley.

It wasn’t my conversation. IIRC I hadn’t engaged once on the thread up to the point where you interacted.

You arrived in such a way as to change the tone of the discussion radically. You brought an unnecessarily belligerent and confrontational approach and you personalised it.

And you continue to do so arguing now that he’s an hardened right wing troll. Yet again, you’re not a mod here, you don’t run the site and that’s not your call to make.

Sure, he’s right wing and he makes no bones about it. But that’s a crucial distinction. Not every person who is right wing is trolling, being right wing isn’t per se trolling, and bar the odd comment – frankly far fewer than similar from you, and I’ve yet to accuse you of being an hardened left wing troll, he’s been engaged.

Were he, or indeed anyone, to act in trolling behaviour he – as we have to three or four recently – would be banned. But he’s not. He’s been nowhere near trolling.

Time and again I’ve pointed out how this site operates, and a major part of that is listening to others views, even ones we don’t agree with or particularly like. And giving them a reasonably respectful, if not uncritical, reception as long as they remain within moderation. You and others are given a fairly free hand a lot of the time because we don’t want an oppressive approach either.

But if I ask you to tone it down then you could do me the courtesy of… well, toning it down.

I can’t be clearer than that either.

Mark P - March 22, 2012

And you continue to do so arguing now that he’s an hardened right wing troll. Yet again, you’re not a mod here, you don’t run the site and that’s not your call to make.

Whether or not someone is treated as a troll by the moderators of a site, which is to say whether or not they choose to employ some sort of sanction, is a matter for those moderators. Whether or not any individual believes that a poster is a troll is not a matter for the moderators any more than whether or not any individual believes that a poster is right wing, or an idiot, or a genius, or someone worth listening to or someone not worth listening to.

I am not demanding that the moderators take some kind of action against Bartley, nor am I trying to take that sort of decision on myself. I am stating my view that he is a right wing troll and not somebody who is remotely open to being convinced by anyone on this site, no matter how much verbiage they employ against him, and I stand by that opinion. If I recall correctly, people like EamonnCork were saying much the same about Alastair for a considerable period before you rather belatedly arrived at the same conclusion, so I have no particular expection that you’ll arrive at that point any more quickly this time.

I’ve already said, my general response here to people like Bartley and Alastair or anyone else who would fit in on the comments section of thejournal.ie is to ignore them. Winding up smug right wing gobshites is at best a briefly entertaining pastime, and there are many, many, websites where winding up said gobshites is a more appropriate behaviour than here because those websites (the complacent liberal cock breeding pen that is thejournal, the bigoted psychotic’s playground that is politics.ie) serve no useful purpose. So in fact, I don’t spend any significant time arguing with the likes of Bartley or Alastair here, whether politely or otherwise.

WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2012

You think I want to convert Bartley? You really think I’m that naive? Of course Bartley will hold his views, as I hold mine. But, if you’d read my earlier comments you’d see that conversion is not part of the process. It’s about finessing arguments and rebuttals made on the left. I really don’t understand why you are so dismissive of that, but I don’t much care.

Your point about distinguishing whether someone is a troll or not is frankly difficult to understand, I can’t, and won’t police what goes on in your head, but if you take it on yourself to respond to an individual others are engaging with perfectly civilly (and vice versa) as if they are a troll that response of yours, unfortunately for you, is trolling behaviour by any reasonable definition. To then refuse to accept general moderation or repeated requests to tone it down merely compounds that.

Finally, you’re on very very dubious ground in relation to the whole issue of trolling in the first place.

I’ve had equally as many complaints over the years about your online behaviours on the site in regard to trolling as I ever had about Alastair (and I’ve had IIRC one, perhaps two about Bartley over the years). There’s no end of people who have felt your attitude has been belligerent, coat-trailing and so on. As recently as last week I had to fend off numerous complaints.

And even here, yet again in your most recent comment ‘so I have no particular expection that you’ll arrive at that point any more quickly this time.’ you appear to think that a dismissive tone is reasonable to adopt in your interactions here. I’ve made no comment about your personality, intellectual capacity or whatever. Throughout this I’ve focused entirely on one issue ‘tone’. You seek to personalise this in the way you do, it sort of begs the question as to what sort of a response you expect to be taken in your case. How long do you think it will take given your performance over the past twenty four hours or so until I rather belatedly arrive at the conclusion that those who’ve raised complaints about your behaviours here are correct in their assessment?

Mark P - March 22, 2012

As recently as last week I had to fend off numerous complaints.

If you think back I’m sure you’ll have no problem recalling that those “complaints” consisted of Conor losing the rag completely out of nowhere and repeatedly posting that I’m a prick. Which is at least an improvement over the time he posted nine comments in a row over on Dublin Opinion insisting that I’m a cunt, so perhaps he’s mellowing in his opinions.

I certainly accept that I’m often the object of hostile commentary here, although they tend more to be in the way of open insults or claims that I’m a sectarian rather than claims that I’m a troll. In general I take such responses as a compliment, given the sources. I think you’ll find however, that I’m on the receiving end of many times more abusive comments here than I actually make, I just don’t come whining to the moderators about it.

How long do you think it will take given your performance over the past twenty four hours or so until I rather belatedly arrive at the conclusion that those who’ve raised complaints about your behaviours here are correct in their assessment?

Oh, I’ve no doubt that you are working your self up to just such a conclusion with every one of your increasingly strange comments in this exchange. But it doesn’t change the fact that my initial comment to Bartley was not, as you imagine and insist, aimed at shutting down other people’s conversation and it was not egregiously rude either. Nor does it alter the fact that I do not regularly respond in a rude or aggressive tone to Bartley, for the simple reason that I don’t regularly respond to his witterings at all.

WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2012

Let’s strip away yet another rather dismissive series of points, ie ‘working yourself up’ ‘increasingly strange’ and note that yet again you ascribe thoughts to me which you could not possibly know.

TBH my perception is that you’re testing the boundaries of what is permissible here. A fairly pointless exercise I’d have thought.

What I am attempting to do is to explain to you something that shouldn’t need explaining, which is that when you come onto someone else’s site you should at the very least pay them the courtesy of going with the general approach of that site and accepting moderation where offered.

There’s no onus on you to comment here at all. Quite the opposite. But if you do you have to be cogniscent of the approach the site takes. It is difficult to understand why you find this problematic. It is more difficult to understand why I find myself having to say this.

But unfortunately in instance it’s not the first or the fifth time. That approach is one where ‘hostile commentary’ directed to you (as last week and on other occasions) or from you (on other occasions) is not welcomed, indeed has been requested by me to be stopped. This is not a place for hostile commentary.

Either you respect that or you don’t.

With that in mind I suggest some time out.

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