The Lobbyists’ Lobby

Sorry I haven’t posted the past few weeks…we’re well into rugby season and when I go to Saturday matches I have pints…and Saturday evening pints makes Sunday morning blogging very difficult!

I just want have a brief ramble about a couple of recent events..the government shutdown in the USA and the 2014 Budget announcement here in Ireland.  Both feature themes which will be integral to this blog.

In many ways, you can’t blame someone for defending their own turf.  We have all done it.  You don’t need a law degree to realise that if you are representing someone else, even if they have done wrong it’s up to you to do all you can to maximise the return they get from the powers that be.

In the USA, everyone knows that the Republican party represent big business.  The identity of those actually pulling the strings may be obscured by complex legal loopholes but I find the term “fat-cats” works fine.  And their front men in Washington did an excellent job these past few weeks…provided their job was to increase the popularity of the Democrats, that is.

To hear those Tea Party congressmen and women whinge about Obamacare is really laughable.  Every time they talk about it their opening sentence is something like : “Of course it’s a disaster” and based on that totally groundless premise they go on to make their “argument”.  And also, in the most telling of ironies, they claim that they are speaking on behalf of “the American people”.

If those American people truly believe the GOP’s motives are based on anything other than the Fat cats’ greed, then they are stupid and deserve everything they get.  The US medical “system” has been a gravy train for insurance & pharmaceutical companies for years to the detriment of the most basic of necessities…citizens receiving basic care.  It needed to be stopped, and though Obamacare is far from ideal, it certainly ensures a lot more Americans are covered than there were before.

Then we have the budget here.  Of course when the Finance Department is compiling its plans you know every lobby group in the country is going to make its case.  You also know that whatever the final announcement by the minister, none of them are going to be happy, or at least they won’t SAY they’re happy for if they do, they’re afraid of being overlooked the following year.

But for the love of all that’s holy…outside those lobby groups, is there any chance SOMEone can be objective when it comes to Budget time?

EVERYONE knew there would be cuts.  They had to come from somewhere.  If it wasn’t the bereavement grant, it would have been something else.  If it wasn’t the “old reliables” fags & booze, it would have been something else.   Yet all the media does is find out who represents those who were hurt the worst and give them free reign to make it sound like the government has just unleashed the apocalypse on their constituency.

And with this current Irish government there is an added bit of insanity to the complaints.  To be clear…we have currently in power a merger between an insanely pro-business party Fine Gael and an insanely pro-union one, the Labour Party.

Everyone who whines about the budget harks back to their respective election manifestos in 2011.  Well if these people were paying that much attention to that campaign they will know that the two parties ran ON SEPARATE PLATFORMS.  So to use “broken promises” as a stick to beat them either shows a hidden agenda or an incredible amount of stupidity. 

The two parties came together and produced a Programme for Government and it is this, and nothing else, on wish they should be judged when it comes to promises.  That will never be enough for the Talking Heads on the panel shows I fear.

Remember…if someone is directly affected by cuts or even Obamacare, I’m not saying they don’t have a right to complain.  Things like the Joe Duffy Show act as a kind of “Victim Impact Statement” for such people, a chance to vent although they know nothing can really be done to change anything.

It’s the so-called “pundits” that annoy me.  we look over to the USA and laugh at FoxNews but over here things are getting just as bad with the likes of NewsTalk which over the years has virtually become what i call “BlueShirtFM” with corporate shills like Shane Colman, Chris Donoghue and Jonathan Healy being elevated to lofty broadcast status because they are happy to trot out the latest tripe from the Denis O’Brien & Michael O’Leary spin factory.  And it’s not as though RTE are much better with their leaning towards Fianna Fáil.

There has to be lobby groups.  There has to be political parties.  All I wish is that we could be given a chance to appreciate those facts and factor their agendas into our discussions rather than being expected to parrot their own soundbites back to them all the time.

Time to get on with my Sunday. JLP

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