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The Irish Dream? Is that your dream or mine? January 6, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

John McManus wrote some while back in the IT that:

The cost of the Irish dream is now €50,000 year. And that is just for the entry-level version. What we are talking about here is having a house, a partner, two kids and a car. Not included is private schooling, skiing holidays and all the other aspirations of the urban middle classes.

Is he talking about the working class? And is ‘middle’ class defined by private schools and skiing holidays? Clearly to a point, the latter.

In fairness he notes that:

Micheál Collins of the Nevin Economic Research Institute has done quite a lot of work in this area using data from the Central Statistics Office. The data is quite old – from 2011 – but things have not changed that much in the interim, which in itself is part of the story.
The key point from his research is that the average disposable income of an Irish family is about €40,000 a year, which is quite some way off the price of the basic Irish dream. In fact only the top 20 per cent of households have a disposable income in excess of €60,000 and can thus be said to be truly “living the dream”. In numbers terms, we are are talking about only 320,000 out of 1.6 million households.

And that points to how low wages are. He notes that:

A country where the modest aspirations of only one in five households are being met is not exactly what you would describe as a nation at ease with itself. Depending on which side of the €50,000-a-year line your household falls, it is a recipe for dangerous political instability or the harbinger of much-needed social change.

In effect, Ireland is not working for 80 per cent of families. This makes it a fertile breeding ground for those offering populist solutions á la Donald Trump and the Brexiteers. We have already had a taste of it in the amazing rehabilitation of Fianna Fáil at the last election on the back of nebulous promises about fairness.

But note this…

Right now, the key political battleground must be the 400,000 or so families who are in with a shout of the economy-class Irish dream. They are the families whose disposable income is somewhere between €35,000 and €50,000. They don’t “have it all” but they still have a good chunk of it. They have a car, but probably need to replace it. They have a house but can’t afford to extend it. They are also the sort of people who vote.

I’m always puzzled why there’s a lower limit. Why €35,000? And what of those below that level? How does McManus feel they should be addressed? Note how it comes down to what they ‘have’. Somehow that seems to me to be part of the problem rather than any sort of a solution.

And this dream he mentions. Has that any currency at all?


1. Aengus Millen - January 6, 2017

This seems similar to the current British buzz word Jam (just about managing) I understand your frustration with the lower limit. From the neoliberal pov the point seems to be to appeal to enough people to be popular but not to offer change to people poor enough that it would require a fundamental reorientation of the system something they are obviously opposed to.


WorldbyStorm - January 6, 2017

It is frustration, and a sense that for a tranche in the Irish self-described middle class existence is really shaped to their concerns and needs and those outside it aren’t even a consideration.


2. sonofstan - January 6, 2017

” This makes it a fertile breeding ground for those offering populist solutions á la Donald Trump and the Brexiteers”

There’s a kind of sublimated desire for such a thing among the MSM these days, as if they won’t be happy until we conform to most of the rest of Europe and have a hard right of our very own.

Liked by 2 people

Starkadder - January 6, 2017

And if it comes to a final choice between (say) People Before Profit and a hypothetical Irish Trump/ Modi/ Orban figure, guess who most of the Irish MSM will back?


sonofstan - January 6, 2017

Even more so if it’s the possibility of SF in government. If there’s a plan, it might be to push the shinners into the position the BlP finds itself in of having to address’ legitimate concerns’ concocted by the same media.


oliverbohs - January 6, 2017

You got it in one. I only seem to talk on this site about the sheep populating newsrooms, newspapers, radio stations blah blah and that is tedious and unenlightening, but… the likes of Newstalk would not blink at employing someone similar to a Hiberno Rush Limbaugh, someone in that dead zone between Leo Varadkar and George Hook. More than one. Other people on that station might feel all virtuous by comparison. This site has pointed out the base attitudes shown by Eamon Delaney in articles he has written for example.
Suck up, and punch down shall be the only law


WorldbyStorm - January 6, 2017



lcox - January 6, 2017

And in fact the same John McManus has been on his high horse defending himself for the brilliant idea of handing the far right a space to share their slurry.


3. Ed - January 6, 2017

It’s an article of faith for these people, beyond any rational scrutiny, that people in the lower-middle tier of society (whatever label you want to stick on them) have nothing in common, either objectively or subjectively, with people a rung or two below them. Nothing will ever shake this idea out of their heads. A rational person might look at those figures and think ‘you know what, a political agenda that appeals to the interests of the hard-done-by 80 per cent sounds like good electoral sense’. But this can’t even be considered as a theoretical possibility.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 6, 2017

And the efforts to differentiate, ably laid out in the article, carefully cultivated and encouraged by certain parts of the society.


4. Michael Carley - January 7, 2017

Since when has anyone talked about the “Irish dream”?


Starkadder - January 7, 2017


I’ve occasionally thought someone should compare the ruralist /agrarian streak in Dev and other Irish Nationalists with that of other thinkers like Thomas Jefferson and Mohandas Gandhi.


CL - January 7, 2017

“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake,”-Stephen Dedalus.

Perhaps ‘the end of history’ came with the Celtic Tiger, and the ‘Irish dream’ was born. But that proved to be unsustainable, and history returned.

“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living”-Karl Marx.


5. sonofstan - January 7, 2017

If so, then there is a secret protocol …..between the generations of the past and that of our own. For we have been expected upon this earth. For it has been given us to know, just like every generation before us, a weak messianic power, on which the past has a claim. This claim is not to be settled lightly. The historical materialist knows why.

Walter Benjamin.


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