Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Of Paper and Tablets

There are so many reasons why the procurement of tablets for TDs in order to save money on paper is a stupid, idiotic idea, I thought it would have been facetious to actually give it any thought.  Then, on the News at One, Oireachtas head of Communications Mark Mulqueen comes on the radio and says that it will save money in the long term, as part of a move towards "the paperless office".

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Real European Economy

The austerity that is sweeping Europe is being broadly - if barely - accepted is being accepted because there is some sense that there have been excesses that need to be rectified.  While there have concurrently been imbalances, and not all sectors of society have benefited, there is a socialised acceptance that some kind of redress needs to happen.  In Germany, it was a little different.  There has been sustained economic growth, budget surpluses, and general contentment; but it has been growth of a different kind from that of the post-war period.  While in the post-war period the boom was based on reconstruction, this time Germany has generated wealth through prudent economics, but it has invested that wealth abroad.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

RTE and The Future of TV

Last night's love-in with RTE was a classic wolf in sheep's clothing.  RTE decided to make a programme about television and its future, as part of the fiftieth anniversary programme, that was in effect an egregious, dishonest use of the license fee to defend the license fee itself.  There was no real analysis of other markets and how they operate, because almost all of them operate differently to Ireland; some operate on a license fee without ads (Germany, France), while others operate on ads with no license fee (USA - though PBS is a specifically and exclusively federally funded organisation).  RTE takes both, and screws up at both.  For ad based content, you need to compete against other commercial channels - RTE's viewing figures have been steadily falling over the years.  For license fee driven content, you need to advance the cultural and political objectives of the state: within the last twelve months, the monstrous treatment of Fr Kevin Reynolds, TweetGate and Sean Gallagher, were swiftly followed by the shutting of the London office of RTE.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Positive Public Service

Romantic Ireland's Dead and Gone,
It's with Whitaker in Retirement
Tom Geraghty's myopic and formulaic defence of the public sector in today's Irish Times made me mad again, but not for the usual reasons.  The gap between public sector and private sector average wages was ignored (50% according the the CSO, see page 2), and of course private sector unemployment and emigration was not considered.  It's nothing new, we've seen this kind of trade union bluster before, and I won't waste any more electrons on that here.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monbiot and Python: Brothers in Arms

Scary corporate men coming to get you!
“We can state with conviction, therefore, that a man's support for absolute government is in direct proportion to the contempt he feels for his country.” 
― Alexis de Tocqueville

George Monbiot is a man of passion.  He is one of the people who - in my mid twenties - helped me to see past the orthodoxy of western liberalism, and actually question the righteousness of the establishment.  That was a good thing.  But I moved on.  As quickly as I understood that the establishment needed to be questioned, I understood the importance of perspective; that being outside the establishment made it difficult to see in, just as it was often painfully difficult for those within the establishment to see out.