no signs

A No vote won’t bring change, but it’s a start

A piece written with Niamh de Barra for the CrisisJam Fiscal Treaty Referendum special.

I didn’t know why I was voting No, exactly. There were a few reasons, a nebulous fog of them, swirling around the pit of my gut and pulsing in my temples.

So, I decided to turn it on its head, think outside the box, innovate, get real in the real world. I went looking for reasons to vote ‘Yes’ and found jobs, stability, growth, and lots of talk of confidence that didn’t inspire any.

The Irish Exporters’ Association tells us that a Yes vote will give:

“Confidence to Irish exporters many customers  in  the eurozone” (sic)

The American Chamber of Commerce spells out VOTE YES with the first letter of each of its reasons for doing just that – perhaps trying to twee us into acquiescence. For the E in YES we get:

“Ensure confidence in Ireland’s ability to restore growth.”

Enda Kenny is confident we need confidence, as is Michael Noonan. Continue reading →

playing cards

The screwed up State we’re in

A piece written for the December 2011 CrisisJam special The State We’re In.

Gene Kerrigan summed up the State We’re In in one word: screwed. He’s right, of course. We are screwed. It’s patently obvious that we’re screwed. The rapidity of Ireland’s descent into screwed-ity, and the depths to which we have plunged, is unparalleled in what the IMF calls the “advanced economies”. We are, let’s say, very seriously screwed.

One would think that, given the seriousness of this screwedness, this state we’re in; given the effects of this crisis on our public services, our welfare system, our low-paid workers, our emigrating thousands, our jobless thousands; given the despair, the hopelessness, the misery being suffered by so many people all over this country because of stupid decisions made and stupid policies pursued; one would think, given all of this and more, that the months since February’s election would have seen some serious political arguments being played out as the country, and the country’s politicians, grappled with the screwed up state we’re in. Continue reading →

crisisjam 11 cover redmonk

Invasion of the time bandits

Those who are employed experience a distinction between their employer’s time and their ‘own’ time. And the employer must use the time of his labour, and see it is not wasted: not the task but the value of time when reduced to money is dominant. Time is now currency: it is not passed but spent.

-E. P. Thompson, Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism 

 The ideal office worker is a person whose personal life is entirely flexible and does not in any way limit the time they can give to their job. Ideally they live close to the office (no time-consuming commute) are childless, and have no significant interests outside of work.

According to the National Employment Survey 2008, the average hours worked across all sectors in Ireland in October 2007 was 34.4 per week. This figure will probably raise a hollow laugh from most workers, particularly salaried workers not entitled to overtime. The NES is probably not terribly reliable when it comes to calculating hours worked in jobs that don’t pay overtime since it’s completed by employers or HR departments and the figures it generates are for ‘paid hours’ – anyone who works in a job that doesn’t pay overtime knows that ‘paid hours’ and ‘hours worked’ are two very different things. Continue reading →

crisisjam lab

Selling off the soul of science

As Dan Hind points out in The Threat to Reason, “Reason and science can be empolyed for swindling ends but they can also serve in the cause of human liberation. The decision to treat human beings as objects of rational administration does not derive from the operations of rationality. It is an act of will.” Below, Eadaoin O’Sullivan tries to rescue science from its ideological hijacking, and suggests that in fighting against technocracy, we should be wary of being drawn into a fight about who’s got the smallest p-values.

Some weeks ago Colm McCarthy, during an interview on Morning Ireland, was asked about the unreliability of the ESRI’s economic forecasts. His response was brusque, and along the lines of ‘Economics is an inexact science. Forecasts are not gospel and are only estimations.’ There are two possible responses to this burst of professional honesty: (1 – obvious) You lot weren’t saying that five years ago; (2 – important) Exactly. So why do we persist in making the hypotheses generated by economic research into the immovable fulcrum around which all debate about politics and society must revolve, given that those hypotheses are only ever tentative and wide open to falsification and consequently no more valid a basis for political decisions than other tentative hypotheses about the importance of justice, fairness and equality? Continue reading →

Love life? Love Enda

Following the launch of the Edelman Trust Barometer and Enda Kenny’s affirmation that he stands for trust, trust and more trust, Eadaoin O’Sullivan looks at nodding dog syndrome and why some world views appear more credible than others.

Launched last week with much ballyhoo, the Edelman Trust Barometer is a survey of a small sample of wealthy people in 23 countries around the world. Enda Kenny chose the launch of this year’s survey to reappear in public after a stint in hiding. His appearance at the launch of a survey on trust was probably, to some eyes, unsurprising, even predictable. All politicians, all people, indeed, aspire towards at least a semblance of trustworthiness. Some aspire to it in practice. For Ireland’s next Taoiseach to seek to associate himself with a survey of something as valuable and valued as trust; to use its launch as his popping out of the birthday cake moment after a week hunched trembling excitedly inside; betrayed nothing but the standard opportunism of the standard baby-kissing politician. Continue reading →