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Statements in the media… good, bad and indifferent… August 9, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

Who said this?

To those who know the [tourism and hospitality] sector best, the State’s overall approach to the sector is weighed down by an overabundance of caution and a tin ear for expertise that doesn’t come wearing a stethoscope and white coat. Policymakers who wearily claim to be just “following the science” would do well to remember that economics is a science too and we should not ignore it when dealing with an industry in mortal danger, like tourism and hospitality.

Why none other than this character, and that’s close to a contender for one of the most egregious statements of the year. He’s changed his tune from lofty disdain of any state help to practically imploring for it. That said there’s a question at the heart of the broader issue that perhaps someone will return to on the site this week.

Meanwhile thanks to the person who sent this from today’s Sunday Independent which has a two page spread on that paper’s role in respect of Hume/Adams. Eilis O’Hanlon argues that ‘what alarmed critics was not that HUme was talking to Adams. The British government was also talking to Adams. It was that Hume was simultaneously, and in secret, working on a joint strategy wih the political representative of a terrorist organisation that continued to carry out atrocities. No one knew what they were formulating – at least not members of Hume’s own party, or other democratic parties, or the Irish government, thought the IRA Army Council had a full role in those discussions throughout.’

Even taking that on its own terms, and really, one has to wonder how else other than talking with and attempting to formulate ways forward with an active PIRA and SF would progress be made (or even to indulge the hyperbole on a ‘joint strategy’ – what sort of strategy would that be and how would Hume possibly sell anything that wasn’t as inclusive as possible to all other actors, the ROI, unionism, the UK government, even nationalism itself? To ask the question is to see how absurd it all is). But the timeline seems hazy. THe news of Major’s administration’s talks with the IRA only came out in November 1993. Attacks on Hume were as Liam Collins on the same page notes across ‘late summer and autumn’ of 1993. But then step back and look at the political analyses that were on offer and quoted by Collins on the same page. Dunphy talking of ‘Hume [stating] with commendable clarity for him which is unuausl, that if Britain and the Unionists don’t do business with him they will have to deal with the IRA, with physical rather than political force’. Interestingly and again quoted by Collins later Jason O’Toole interviewed Aengus Fanning in Hot Press who argued ‘I’m not saying it was wrong – it was the way 9Dunphy) chose to do it. He felt very strongly about it at the time … we were all concerned about entering into negotiations with the IRA and also the idea that we must have peace at any price’. Again to phrase it in those terms is to see the absurdity. With the reality of unionism and the UK and ROI governments there would never be peace at ‘any price’.

Probably not Eoin Burke-Kennedy’s fault, who wrote the accompanying article, but what to make of this headline in the IT during the week? https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/sacrificing-pubs-for-schools-ireland-s-latest-covid-trade-off-1.4322043

Sacrificing pubs for schools: Ireland’s latest Covid trade-off

But no mistake in the editorial:

The Irish Times view on the decision to delay pub openings
In effect, the Government has sacrificed pubs in order to reopen schools

Meanwhile Finn Redmond in the same paper on much the same topic writes that:

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has cited “international evidence” as good cause to keep the pubs closed. Yet looking across the Irish Sea could perhaps offer some clarity. Pubs have been open in the UK for weeks now – with strict social-distancing measures. These are, at worst, minor impositions that limit the risk of contagion while also allowing people to spend money and (no less important) begin to enjoy a social life once again.

This would be the same UK which only five days before saw the following headline in the Guardian on foot of advice from UK government modelling expert Graham Medley.

Pubs in England may have to close to control coronavirus, says Sage adviser

Perhaps Medley, like some of us, doesn’t believe that ‘a social life’ depends upon access to pubs alone (and even more strangely, if you, I or Redmond really want a pint there’s many of them open where for the minor imposition of having to buy some food we can enjoy quite a few).

Then she offers this gem:

Rising infection figures in the UK and Ireland may be worrying but they are inevitable, and as much a product of increased localised testing and contained outbreaks as they are a function of the R-rate spiralling out of control.

Another IT journalist downplays what is happening:

Despite the precariousness of the current situation, there is no going back to the full lockdown of last March. We know now what works to stop the virus: distance, hand hygiene, masks. We know where the risky environments are: crowded indoor spaces, meat plants, shared accommodation.

We need now to continue to protect the vulnerable, and to develop targeted strategies that “build a wall” around the current outbreaks.

However, there is as yet no reason not to keep moving towards the restoration of a low-risk society where people can try to restore their economic fortunes while staying healthy.

Really? A very strong partial lock-down in three counties and he can say that? It would be useful to see the evidence underlying that contention. And what of other states in Europe where it seems plausible that other full lockdowns are on the way. And for that correspondents predictive track record consider this.

Meanwhile the Taoiseach gets it. Sort of.

He defends the decision to keep pubs closed and to restrict attendances at outdoor events to 200, and recognises the huge disappointment it caused.
His defence is “a significant spike in numbers” in the past week, with the danger of community spillover. He agrees the approach is conservative in some areas but argues that a balance has to be struck between protection and reopening.

“The idea that one can govern the virus, with certainty, is a misplaced idea. The virus will come back to bite us,” he says.

But then there’s this comment BTL of that interview:

Why Micheál Martin is continuing to push this conspiracy theory of a killer virus is beyond me.
The scientific evidence from experts worldwide is undisputable at this stage.
This killer virus conspiracy theory has a survival rate in the region of 99.9% but our current taoiseach and previous one also I might add believe that a killer virus that kills no more people than a seasonal flu justifies shutting down and killing the economy, bankrupting thousands of small and medium sized businesses, putting people under house arrest, denying children the right to an education, and now mandating that people wear muzzles in public places from Monday.
The list is endless…
All this because of a sniffle.

Seasonal flu mortality rate 2018/2019: Thirtyfour deaths in influenza cases have been notified to HPSC in the 2018/2019 season.
Numbers of dead due to Covid-19 as of Friday: 1,768

That supposed ‘survival rate of 99.9%’.

Speaking to the US Congress in March, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he estimated the overall death at somewhere around 1%. This is inclusive of all those who have had the virus, including those who have not been tested. This would make Covid-19 ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu, which has a fatality rate of about 0.1%. By way of another comparison, the 2009 swine flu pandemic was estimated to be fatal in around 0.02% of cases.

And yet the IT hadn’t removed that comment late on Friday afternoon/evening.


1. NFB - August 9, 2020

And if everyone in ireland got this “sniffle”, that’s a death rate of nearly 50’000 at 1%. Doesn’t look like a small number to me.

Liked by 1 person

Fergal - August 9, 2020

Love the way that comment says ‘scientific experts from around the world… indisputable ‘ and fails to mention one!!!


WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2020



WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2020

Or me!


2. sonofstan - August 9, 2020

“. We know where the risky environments are: crowded indoor spaces, meat plants, shared accommodation”

Fortunately most Irish Times readers don’t share crowded accommodation or work in meat plants, so nothing to worry about.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2020



WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2020

They know their base


3. CL - August 9, 2020

‘economics is a science too’

“economics….has always been partly a vehicle for the ruling ideology of each period” -Joan Robinson, ‘Economic Philosophy.


“This isn’t a lockdown”-Stephen Donnelly

“This lockdown, and any subsequent localised lockdowns are going to be a lot harder than first time around, said the government source.”


WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2020

Wow that’s a good spot CL those last two quotes – re economics it’s a soft science I think isn’t it? Not without use to put it mildly but not robust to function without interpretation


benmadigan - August 9, 2020

didn’t Thomas Carlyle describe economics as the “dismal science”? He wasn’t far wrong. Commodifying anything and everything has certainly led to a dismal life for the many, tho’ not for the few.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2020



CL - August 9, 2020

Orthodox economics elevates ‘the market’ as the solution to economic and social problems, while denigrating government intervention.
This is an ideological position that serves the material interests of the propertied, the powerful, and the privileged; neoclassical economics gives a pseudo-scientific cover for this predatory process.
In practice the power of the state is used to defend capital, and attack the working class- a socialism for the rich and market solutions for the proletariat.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - August 9, 2020

Big time CL. It’s a brilliant switch and bait.


sonofstan - August 9, 2020

“Orthodox economics elevates ‘the market’ as the solution to economic and social problems, while denigrating government intervention”

Except when it comes to funding the research and technology that feeds the market.

Liked by 1 person

tafkaGW - August 10, 2020

Economics at best is a social science and is always part of *political* economy, i.e. ‘the economy’ isn’t a natural system to be studied, but is made by humans, and can be determined by humans.

Much what passes for economics is just ‘praise-singing’ for capitalism, with a little dodgy mathematics mixed in. File under religious studies.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2020

There’s a lot in what you say. Supposed nostrums have been jettisoned with little or no trouble in the last six months too.


4. Pangurbán - August 9, 2020

I doubt Adam Smith would have described Political economy as a science. His use of the phrase hidden hand would classify it more as a mystical belief

Liked by 1 person

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