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Programmes for government June 11, 2020

Posted by Tomboktu in Irish Politics, The political discourse.
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As the three teams of negotiators inch their way towards either finalising a programme for government or failing to do that, it is reported that the draft is long and detailed. I’d wager that format reflects the Green’s determination that their second time in ‘senior hurling’ won’t be the same as their first. That has prompted me to I have taken to wonder about the history of programmes for government in Ireland.

First, have they always been part of government formation or just when more than one party is involved? And how far back in the state’s history do they go? For example, the wiki page for the inter-party government in 1948-1951 has no mention of a programme for government.

Second, once a government is formed and the ministers appointed, how faithful are the ministers and their parties’ TDs to the programme? When they deviate, why? If my memory is correct, in 2007 when the FF-GP-PD government was formed, the looming crisis in the financial system was not known by the parties. It would have been ludicrous for them to have sticked to their original plans when the crisis did force its way to the surface. But were there commitments in that government’s programme that did not depend on funding, and were they implemented or did they get squeezed out for other reasons? And for other programmes, when and why do commitments get dropped?

Are their studies of what has happened programmes for government over the decades? How systematic have government’s been in implementing them, or even trying to implement them? How many commitments in them get implemented, and of those how many are implemented in ways that were not expected by some or all of those who negotiated the programme?

The Economist on Piketty May 6, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Books, Capitalism, Economics, Inequality, Journalism, Marxism, Taxation Policy, The political discourse, The Right.

I bought the Economist because the cover said it has an article about Piketty. (Reading articles about his book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, is quicker than reading the book!)

The headline on the actual article is weird: “Bigger than Marx”. That is true neither of the physical heft of the book nor, if everything I have read about it so far is valid, of the contents.

And then the content of the Economist’s review: 13 paragraphs: two are neutral; four approving; seven critical of the book. The Economist cites five critics of his thesis or aspects of it and zero supporters.

Not that I’m terribly surprised at their overall view, but they might have been subtler. Or maybe I should applaud their transparency.

Minister shocked, shocked I tell you, by use of a term… May 2, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The political discourse.

This from last week which I didn’t get around to posting…

Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Resumed)
Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett:     Many of the points have been made but like other Deputies, I believe the Minister should delete this section. When one looks at the combination of measures in the budget which were directed at lone parents, one would have to conclude that, in a quite malicious way, lone parents were attacked with the deliberate intention of driving them out of the workforce or that these measures were based on complete and utter ignorance of the nature of lone parents and people in receipt of lone parents’ payments.
From the point of view of a Government which is cutting everywhere, I can see an austerity rationale behind both explanations. One is that we will drive lone parents out of work because we want to free up certain types of employment to get people off the live register and the various other schemes we are cooking up to ensure the figures for long-term unemployment are kept down. That is one possibility. It would not surprise me. For example, community employment, CE, schemes became good projects and communities made them their own. When they were first introduced, however, there was justified suspicion that they were meant to massage the long-term unemployment figures.
If these measures were not introduced to drive lone parents out of the workplace, they were introduced through ignorance of the real character of lone parents. I suspect this may have been the case. To justify the lowering of the age threshold, the Minister and its other defenders state that the current system has not managed to lift lone parents out of poverty and that a disproportionate number of them live in or are affected by poverty. The implication is that, given the fact that lone parents are not working, they need to be incentivised to work. The key point is that 60% of them are working and they do not need to be incentivised by reducing their payments.
The Government was guilty of having the same stereotypes of lone parents that had persisted for a long time, that is, people are sort of welfare queens sucking off the social welfare system and they must be driven off their dependency on social welfare and forced to work. The Bill’s provisions will have the opposite effect. The campaigning of the lone parent organisations established in recent months and of groups such as SPARK, One Family and Treoir, which have shoved the reality of the experience and character of lone parents in the Government’s face, forced the Government to acknowledge last week that it got this matter wrong and that implementing the cuts contained in this Bill without having the necessary child care system in place would be detrimental and drive lone parents out of work. We need a Scandinavian model of child care if the Bill is not to drive lone parents out of work.
Having made this acknowledgement, the logical next step is to delete this section. One cannot make this cut on the basis of promises of pie in the sky. Virtually everyone in Irish society, including myself, would love to see a Scandinavian model of child care being in place by the end of this year. I differ from some of those who claim it would not be possible, in that I believe it would be possible were there a real will and determination to make it happen. However, significant resources would be required. This defies credibility, given the fact that this idea is coming from a Government that is slashing, burning and cutting left, right and centre and is committed to considerable further budget cuts in the next two years under the EU-IMF austerity programme. If we pass the fiscal treaty, we will be required to make even more severe budget cuts in subsequent years. From where will the Government get the money and resources to put in place a Scandinavian child care model? The Minister and I would like to see such a model. Ireland did not put it in place when the Celtic tiger was in full swing, yet the Minister is telling the House that she will have it in place within six months at a time when austerity butchery is cutting everything. The Minister does not honestly believe it will be done.
I hope a trick is not being played on people and that this is not a case of the Government agreeing to do something and acknowledging the problem under pressure, yet implementing the cuts as planned in the hope that people will have forgotten by December its promise about putting in place a Scandinavian child care model. We will not forget. Since the Government entered into office, that we are committed to having such a model by December is the one good development of which I have heard. It will be brilliant and neither I nor parents can wait. However, there is no justification for making this cut without that model being in place, as doing so will immediately drive people out of work.
If a person’s relationship breaks down next week and he or she has a 12 year old child, he or she will not be entitled to receive lone parent’s allowance. The Minister acknowledged this last week. If that person has or is considering getting a part-time job, he or she will become disadvantaged and will be encouraged to return to full dependency on social welfare, given the lack of adequate, affordable or even free – it should be free, since it is free in Sweden – child care. Other people will be affected as the various phases of these cuts kick in during the coming year as envisaged in Bill.
Given the logic of the Minister’s comments in the Dáil last week, section 4 should be deleted and should only be re-inserted after the enthusiastically awaited Scandinavian model of child care is in place in December. Goodness me, we might even support her implementation of some of these measures at that point, but there is no justification or logic for implementing them prior to that time. On their own, they can have no other effect but to drive lone parents out of the workforce and into full dependency on social welfare.


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