“How much more money do any one of you actually really need? Why would you ever consider taking something away from people that means so much to them? This isn’t a game. Football isn’t just a game. It’s one of those amazing things in life that can make you feel shit one moment and then like it’s Christmas morning the next. It has the ability to make heroes and villains out of ordinary men. People love this game. My father used to love this game. You all used to love this game, I’m sure of it…Just because we own these teams doesn’t mean they belong to us. And I don’t want to be part of something that could possibly destroy this beautiful game. Because I would hate for all those little kids and grown-ups out there to ever lose access to that beautiful passionate part of themselves.”
Rebecca Welton [played by Hannah Waddingham] from S3 E10 of Ted Lasso
She may be talking to the owners of the richest football clubs about the formation of a “Super League” but in reality this speech would be suitable for just about any board of any corporation that produces any product needed or enjoyed by the masses.
Over on my rugby site I recently saw a link on Twitter to an article I wanted to read and to read it I had to get a free subscription to the publication so I signed up with a view to cancelling once the money was about to kick in.
Well, that time is approaching so I thought I’d share this “article” with you because I thought the headline was hilarious.
“BUYBACKS AREN’T BAD”???????????
One of the reasons they ARE bad is that corportions used govt handouts after COVID to buy back their own shares rather than to help their customers by lowering prices. This article tells us it’s a good thing because it helps provide a good dividend for investors. Well DUH!!!! That’s like a bank robber saying the theft was good because it helped him buy a Rolls Royce!!!!
The argument laid out in this argument is essentially “trickle down economics” which is all I need to know that I should NEVER pay for subscription, Shame, because they do have quite a few rugby articles, although if anything that fact helps underline the contradiction of a Progressive following rugby union! Might as well move into golf and Polo as well while I’m at it!!!
I have copied a bit of the article just to show I’m willing to let the author make his own argument, while respecting the firewall by not publishing the whole lot.
When companies buy back their shares, as AIB did two weeks ago, it’s common for them get stick for it. You’d expect criticism of the practice from The Guardian, but even the Harvard Business Review is piling on.
Their argument goes like this: it’s bad when companies buy their own shares back because it’s money that could have been used for wages or investment. The argument is that buybacks reduce wages and investment, so they’re bad for society.
But buybacks are good for investors. And more importantly, they’re good for society.
A company is doing a good job when it’s maximising its value. Obviously that’s true from the perspective of the company’s shareholders. But it’s true for society too.
When a company is maximising its value, it’s combining a bunch of inputs like land, labour and machinery in such a way that the whole is more useful than the sum of its parts. Society gets more value from a bakery than it does from flour, workers, vans, ovens and land. The extra value created for society is reflected in the value of the combined entity, relative to the value of the separate inputs.
Since the formation of the Irish State its government has been led by either Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or as we have now, a combination of the two. Or to put it another way, the country has only even known a right-leaning government.
Meanwhile the left has always been fragmented, marginalized and kept at arm’s length in a variety of different ways, and calling the ruling “Civil War” duopoly out has always been difficult to do without finding yourself branded as “radical”.
Well fair play to Independent TD Catherine Connolly of the Galway West constituency for not only telling both Taoiseach and Tánaiste what she thinks of their policies, but also for doing it with amazing dignity. This is what the Dáil is meant to be for, representing the people, and I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of Irish people who would like to say those words to this pair.
Next step is convincing enough voters to elect a government that can lead us away from the FFFG mindset (and btw many include the Irish Labour Party in that, one which Connolly herself used to be a member but left in 2006).
The Marriage Equality and Repeal the 8th referenda results were great, but if we’re not careful the losing minority could be organised and well-funded enough to fight back, just look what’s happening in the USA.
I am not a member of People Before Profit. In fact, if anything I am skeptical about the Irish left in general and would avoid committing myself to a particular party and instead wait until election campaigns to determine which individual candidates I consider to be worthy of my first preference.
Just to be clear, the actual story featured in this article is meant to be the response of the PBP to President Zelenskyy’s address to the Dáil this week. But what the article actually does is present as news the reaction of other parties.
Apparently the PBP’s objection to further sanctions against the Russian economy is considered to be a “contradiction” given they recently proposed sanctions against Israel. On the surface, that seems a very straightforward way to characterise. However, the Russian sanctions have been widespread and increased gradually since the beginning of their occupation of Ukraine. Meanwhile Israel have no sanctions at all despite their actions against the people of Palestine.
So to summarize, the two situations are very, very different. For Russia, they condemn Putin’s actions but suggest that maybe continued sanctions will tend to hurt the people not those in charge. For Israel, they are calling for sanctions that will hurt the government.
This is why the best hope for peace is not rowing in behind our own government in its efforts to use the Ukraine crisis to militarise our society. The Irish government’s main interest is using the conflict to hammer a final nail in Irish neutrality. If they were serious about the defence of human rights, they would have stopped the US army from using Shannon airport as a transit point for flights to torture centres. In reality, they have been turning a blind eye to Irish neutrality, and are now using the rhetoric of the conflict in Ukraine as an excuse to disband our neutral position entirely. They want to draw Ireland closer to NATO and increase military spending.
Maybe THIS is why the Irish media wants to focus on a disingenuous claim of contradiction? So that nobody sees the (actually obvious) threat to Irish neutrality?
Again, I am far from a spokesperson for PBP. But I do see how the left is portrayed in the media which is clearly trying to shape a particular narrative, which usually means it is hoping a different one will not take over. JLP
I have long been interested to know what actually happened in Ballymun – not enough to do extensive research mind you, and one notable sidebar from this thread is that if the were to meet me, his first impression might be to see me as some kind of “Rugby Dad/Newstalk Niall” hybrid, but still I was grateful to him for tweeting this extensive info so I thought I’d share it here. Check out the link at the end to watch the video if the embed isn’t working.
Everything below this line of the post was written or produced by the author in question. JLP
Since Ballymun comes up a lot in discussions of the housing crisis, here’s a thread debunking some of the most persistent myths/misconceptions/lies about the community.
(I made a film about this some years ago, but people were largely indifferent, so this is a capsule summary).
Rugby dads, professional gentrifiers and Newstalk Nialls generally reference Ballymun as a “knee-jerk response” to a housing crisis (mostly false), a utopian project (totally false) and a failed housing model (also false).
The truth is, Ballymun was the Irish state doing what it does “best” – the bare minimum of public provision it can get away with. There was no failure of utopian planning because there was no utopian planning. Promises of cinemas, bowling alleys and amenities were always false.
That said, the blocks themselves were built to a French system and were generally sound, bright and spacious.
Ours had a large living room with private balcony, a large bedroom, two smaller bedrooms, a bathroom with bath and constant hot water, and a decent-sized kitchen.
But it swiftly became apparent that Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council) – whose senior officials always resented the fact that the National Building Agency had been entrusted with the lucrative project – had no intention of providing even basic services or maintenance.
In the early years, the community itself plugged this gap. Communal areas were scrupulously maintained by residents. To the best of its ability, an impoverished community stood in for the absent state. It built structures of mutual support and recreation that endured for decades.
Eventually, however, successive economic crises overwhelmed residents. From the 80s onwards, several waves of heroin addiction swept over the area, on the heels of a prescriptions drugs epidemic.
A beleaguered community lost the ability to do the Corpo’s job for it.
While the plethora of community organisations rallied and survived, the area deteriorated physically and economically.
Ballymunners made numerous earnest attempts to engage the state over the heads of the Corpo, which had by now largely abandoned the area to its fate.
These heroic efforts kept the community above water, until, in the late 90s, government finally yielded to pressure and announced a Regeneration project (an earlier attempt in the early 90s having been abandoned at about 10% completion).
This was to be enacted by a new limited company wholly owned by Dublin Corporation – Ballymun Regeneration Limited (BRL).
Inspired by Blairite thinking/models from the UK (and shipping over some of the same personnel), BRL swiftly decided on total demolition of the high rises
It should be explained here that outright gentrification (displacement and replacement of the community by more affluent residents) was off the table for a variety of reasons; chiefly, the fact that the community itself had forced the state’s hand and had to be won over.
While BRL carried out an elaborate pantomime of consultation (within already-defined parameters), its mission became clear:
Since the area couldn’t be gentrified, an attempt would be made to gentrify its people instead.
This would entail the forcible destruction, not just of the physical infrastructure of the community (tower blocks, green spaces, centralised shopping areas, community centres etc), but of all communal experiences of life in Ballymun.
BRL was quite explicit about this. The purpose of the Regeneration was to liquidate the existing community of Ballymun, with its communal forms of solidarity, and to allow residents to be reborn as responsible, market-oriented individual consumers.
The hodge-podge of architectural styles (sidenote: between 1997 and 2014, BRL spent €98.7m on professional fees alone) were all designed to achieve this.
Gone were the sweeping open spaces and the central meeting places that had fostered a community.
In their place – isolated developments that encouraged, and enforced, suspicion and exclusion of all but one’s immediate neighbours.
Ballymun’s vast network of community organisations – from football clubs to legal aid to tenants’ associations – was systematically dismantled.
These relics of non-market community identity (as BRL saw them) were brought under the banner of a BRL-run Neighbourhood Council, which was run into the ground and dissolved within a couple of years.
A tangent before the conclusion – it is shameful that anyone still parrots BRL’s mantra of “mixed income housing”.
The thinking here (explicitly stated in Ballymun) is that well-adjusted middle-class residents act as role models for their feckless working-class neighbours – vile
The Regeneration was, by every metric except BRL’s own, an abject failure. Estimates of its cost vary from €1bn-€2bn.
Ballymun was destroyed – socially, economically and culturally. The private sector investment on which BRL had based its Blairite fantasies never materialised.
The moral of the story:
When you see planners, politicians and pundits warn of “creating new Ballymuns”, always remember that they, and people who think like them, were given 20 years and a blank cheque to “fix” Ballymun according to their own ideology.
They utterly failed.
What really stuck in their craw about Ballymun was not the widespread, visible poverty (after all, these people have created a city strewn with the tents of the homeless), but the forms of solidarity and resistance to market ideology which Ballymunners carved out for themselves.
So yeah, if a politician, planner or developer arrives in your town with a “regeneration masterplan”, run them out of there before it’s too late.
There is loads of data available and I know by posting what I have below, I’m open to accusations of “cherry picking”, but these are metrics I consider to be significant. If we must insist on comparing countries on handling of the COVID19 crisis then IMO, morbid a task though it may be, the most important thing to do is level off the death figures by population of country.
First of all I felt it important to exclude the teeny tiny countries like San Marino and Andorra so I drew the line at countries with a minimum of 1000 reported cases.
As you can see, among over 200 countries, Spain and Italy, the most notorious for their handling of the situation, are at or near the top, though it is interesting to see Belgium between them. France and UK round out the top 5 and the entire top 10 are all in Europe.
The reason I included population density (people per square km) on the chart is that many have claimed it to be a factor in relative growth among nations. For me, this theory is disproved by the numbers since so many in the top 20 in the world are ranked 100th or lower on the planet in density.
Finally the second graphic shows a statistic I feel isn’t being highlighted anywhere near enough. Apparently there have been over half a million reported cases of COVID19 around the world which have reached a conclusion, and of these, 79% have recovered. This number has remained steady over the past couple of weeks. For me this gives us a general (if extremely basic) idea of what kind of outcome to expect from a diagnosis.
Of course I appreciate the caveats involved with this information, not least of which is the fact that most countries vary in the way they report their data. For example, apparently the US has only been reporting deaths from hospitals, Ireland is well behind on testing so there may be COVID deaths left out, and as for China’s figures, well, who knows.
But it’s important we remain engaged with information as much as we can, if not too much throughout the day as we try to get through the lockdown. JLP
These are unprecedented times. Our worlds have been turned upside down and we have absolutely no idea what comes next.
I have been periodically blogging on this site for almost four years, and I have never made a secret of the fact that I believe in a Progressive government for Ireland. This of course means the parties which have always represented the status quo such as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have never gotten my vote. I also have little faith in other parties purporting to be “left” such as Sinn Féin and Labour.
Yet when faced with a situation like COVID-19, I do not believe that a radical change to the face of our government is what is needed, even when it comes as it did right after a general election. Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael were in power when it was time to lock the country down and particularly in the most relevant departments like those of An Taoiseach and Health, we need continuity and stability so regardless of political hue I think the correct course would be for them to remain for now.
Now I’m hoping that my established premise will be remembered as I voice some concerns over the current situation. In his address to the nation on St Patrick’s Day, Leo Varadkar literally referenced Winston Churchill.
“This is the calm before the storm – before the surge. And when it comes – and it will come – never will so many ask so much of so few.”
For the life of me I cannot fathom why there was not more of a backlash to this. I am absolutely no fan of Sinn Féin but am I the only one who sees the irony in the fact that they would be lambasted for any kind of Nationalist references at this time yet our Taoiseach, one who has often expressed a liking for the leadership of one conservative UK leader in Thatcher, gets a free pass after throwing a nod to another?
This point is one of semantics and cosmetics I know, but I make it first because of the levels of reaction I have seen on social media ever since. Of course we need to stick together as much as possible during these times, and given the original nature of the crisis there should be much leeway afforded to our government, yet the levels of praise for his leadership have been, in many, many cases, “Churchillian”, and this concerns, nay frightens me.
Strong opposition and challenging media are important ingredients to any democracy. If a day ever came when Ireland had Progressives seated around the Cabinet table, I would expect nothing less than for them to have their feet held to the fire where possible, and we all know that would be the case.
And while the Green Party did not get my vote at the last election either, I cannot understand why they are being vilified for not unconditionally joining FF and FG in government. They claim to have offered three options to the “Civil War” parties, all of which have been rejected…
“I think the idea that FG and FF would present this narrow option to the people of the two of them in power with one of the smaller parties propping them up is very self-serving. It has the coincidental effect of giving them the most amount of power, for the most amount of time with the least amount of oversight.”
…and the backlash appears to be “shut up and get on board”. Whatever your levels of respect were for them before, surely they would be lowered should they accept those terms. But this post is not just about the Green Party. It’s for the type of representative body we want the Dáil to be when it comes to acting as a check on our Government.
Then there is the Irish mainstream media, one that already had a reputation for being more stenographers than challengers. And that was even before this particular Taoiseach came to power, one who sought in virtually his first act to set up a media arm with the sinister title of the “Strategic Communications Unit“.
Below are just some areas where I would like to ask questions of Leo Varadkar and his government, in no particular order:
What exactly happened with those orders from China which arrived with inadequate supplies?
If Opposition parties should feel shame for insisting that the Dáil convenes due to risk of social distancing among civil servants, have any measures been discussed to allow for some kind of COVID-19 friendly Dáil sittings until the crisis is over?
COVID-19 tests – they are in limited supply. Is there any transparency as to how they are allocated? And I have heard stories that the testing itself can take over two weeks to produce results – why is that, is anything being done to speed up the process and is this fact reflected in the numbers we are being given?
We have all has been adversely affected by this crisis, but that does not mean we will all be struggling by its end. When everyone’s assets have been reduced, the priority of Government care should be those who are left with little or nothing. So what exactly do you mean by “tough decisions” that have to be made once this crisis is over? Is there to be a period of austerity similar to that affected by the banking crisis or will the burden at very least shared regardless of wealth if not borne by the 1% at the top?
I am happy for Leo and Simon to remain in their jobs. I am delighted that Leo is rolling up his sleeves to pitch in as a GP. That’s all great. But if a republic values its democratic principles, no government should go unchecked, and we certainly shouldn’t assume everything is rosy on these shores based on a comparison to the leadership of the blond buffoons either side of us. All I’m asking is that we be mindful of this. JLP