Water Charge FAQ - your questions answered 01:16 Samh 01 0 comments
Peoples News issue No. 110 Date: 21 – 9 – 14 22:01 DFómh 01 1 comments
"Why aren’t the middle classes revolting?" - The phones3U scandal and the UK telegraph's "road to da... 19:04 MFómh 27 0 comments
Irish Water hiring mercenaries to attack protestors 03:28 MFómh 21 3 comments
US using Ebola crisis to move more of it's military forces into Africa 23:08 MFómh 17 2 commentstuileadh >>
Kevin Higgins - Aoine DFómh 31, 2014 15:19
Irish Air: Message from the CEO
with thanks to Padraig McCormack for the inspiration
Every day under the sky
in this teeny weeny country
they think belongs to them,
people kick football, jog
up and down promenades;
run red faced for buses
on wet mornings; days off they climb
up shaky looking ladders;
they drive miles through countryside
to attend funerals of people
they never met, and roll
car windows down. They give
others who?ve collapsed gasping
in the street
amateur mouth to mouth.
When everyone else is out,
they make obscene phone calls,
pant down lines at women
they think live alone.
Come the six o?clock bell,
those not trapped in traffic
or enrolled in evening classes,
slob on a bewildering variety of sofas,
play until bedtime with remotes.
All the time taking for granted
the luxury: breath
which, given the cost, we can no longer offer
free. Much as we all enjoy
breathing, our current funding model
is no longer sustainable.
Every country in the OECD,
excepting Ireland, levies
a small charge for breath.
Air is important.
We must stop disrespecting it
by failing to give it a price.
As of October, Irish Air
will begin attaching meters
to the side of each adult?s skull.
No eighteenth birthday party
will be complete without a visit from us.
It will be an offence,
punishable by a law made up yesterday,
to tamper with, or remove,
your personal meter.
There are no exemptions
for the disabled, the elderly, or the insane.
Air will still be available free
to children and the deceased.
When you smother your spouse,
inform us here at Irish Air,
and we?ll reduce your bill
by the appropriate amount.
The cranium of every tourist
will be fitted with a temporary meter,
to be removed only on their exit
from the country. Those whose bills
remain unredeemed will not be allowed
leave. Diplomats are exempted.
Resisters will have their air flow
reduced to the occasional puff,
every half hour or so.
If you have reason to believe
your personal air flow
has been erroneously reduced,
call our office
and speak to one of our staff.
It is an offence
to tamper with, remove, or shove
your personal meter
Our arses are important to us
and we will not tolerate them
being interfered with
by citizens of this teeny weeny country
you think belongs to you.
Michael Taft - Máirt DFómh 28, 2014 15:14
During a recent debate on water charges, Minister Alan Kelly had this to say about Government policy:
?I would go so far as to say that the timelines operating to date have been somewhat unrealistic, squeezing many years of work into too fine a condensed period of months.?To which a reasonable policy response would be abandon the current timeline; in particular, the introduction of water charges. If the timelines are unrealistic then, clearly, it is realistic to proceed with the charges. However, an argument that has arisen in the last week is that if water charges were abolished, suspended, postponed, put in cryogenic freeze, whatever, it would have a negative impact on our deficit. This arises because Irish Water is now ?off-the-books? for the purposes of calculating our deficit. This means that, unlike in the past, expenditure in water services is not counted as government expenditure since more than 50 percent of its revenue comes from non-government services (i.e. household and business charges). There is an exception to this which is discussed below. So how much would it cost the state to get rid of the charges? I have heard claims that it would cost an extra ?600 million, ?800 million, ?1 billion and more. Would it? FF?s Micheal McGrath asked the Minister of Finance a pretty straight-forward question:
?To ask the Minister for Finance the deficit in nominal and percentage terms which would exist in 2015 if domestic water charges were not applied, and the costs associated with water provision if brought fully back on to the State's books.?The Minister refused to answer the question or even offer an estimate. So when you hear Ministers, backbench TDs and commentators going on about how much it would cost the state to get rid of water charges, just remember: the Minister for Finance refused to tell the Dail how much. [Also, SF?s Angus Ó Snodaigh also asked the same Minister Kelly ?the amount it will cost to provide water and sewerage services in 2015?. Again, no answer. What does it take to get a direct answer to a direct question?] Given the official silence on this issue, I went in search for the answer. The PwC report on water services published in late 2011 stated that the cost of water services, which includes investment, was ?1.1 billion in 2010. Let?s assume some growth in spending, though during this period it could have easily been cut (Eurostat numbers show a steady reduction of expenditure since 2010 but they have a different method of categorising water expenditure so we can?t be sure if we?re comparing like-with-like). If the cost of providing water services in 2015 is ?1.2 billion, and the ?533 million is ?on-the-books?, then the Government will benefit by ?667 million. Therefore, if there were no water charges, then the deficit would rise by ?667 million. However, the Minister also stated that ?233 million in revenue from non-domestic sources (does this refer to businesses?) counts as Government revenue which wouldn?t be the case with households. I can?t say conclusively how this impacts but if given that off-the-books revenue must be at least 50 percent, and the Government has trimmed this to be as low as possible, we could be looking at a saving of only ?300 million for the Government. And the cost of the child-free water allowances will also count as government expenditure. If the charges were abolished, so would this expenditure. Is this clear? No, but the Government has refused to answer straight-forward questions. To complicate matters further the Government is intending to spend ?223 million in an equity investment in Irish Water. But if we just freeze the situation, this ?223 million wouldn?t arise, so we shouldn?t allow this to be thrown into the pile. So what have we got? On a static basis:
Anne Irwin - Déar DFómh 23, 2014 10:45
Dawn rises grey and slow
over Hill Side
reflecting silver shadows
on the black water of Lough Atailia.
A metronome ticks in drips
as civil war fades
washed down the drain
with Irish water.
Those who try to sell our story,
a story shaping
our ancestral genes,
a story held in
the molecules of water
of river, lake, stream
where Lir?s cursed children dwelt
of Lough Gur, through whose secret portal
Oisin followed Niamh.
of rivers Corrib, Lagan, Liffy and Lee
the umbilical cords of our cities.
Those who would sell our life source,
to untamed corporations
have them steal our dreams
reign us in like sheep
metering out our water
to serve their greed.
Those same men, whose fathers
fought for our freedom, land
our dignity, .
want to turn our water into
and sell it back to us
at fetished market whim.
Dawn spreads gently
over the city, Spanish Arch
St Nicholas, the Claddagh,
and night returns subdued
to it?s underworld.
That day has come
John Ross - Céad DFómh 22, 2014 13:36
This article was originally posted on John's blog Key Trends in Globalisation on the 21st of October.
Inbound investment into China continues to be the highest for any developing economy - US$101 billion in 2013 on UN data. But the pattern of investment in China is changing significantly as the country develops, and this trend will inevitably become more pronounced. China refusing to acknowledge and internalise that only 30% of the world?s population now lives in countries with a higher per capita GDP than China leads to confusion on the key issues in foreign investment.
In the first decades after the start of China's economic reforms in 1978, inward foreign direct investment (FDI) was primarily undertaken by overseas companies to create a base for exports. Although this was helpful in China's early stage of "reform and opening up," the investment was frequently very low value added. For example, a 2009 study found China received only 2 percent of worldwide wages paid for iPod production despite the fact that every iPod, at that time the world's most successful consumer product, was manufactured in China.
As recently as 2010, the majority of China's exports came from foreign-owned companies. Among large exporters, the role of foreign investment was even greater - of the top 200 exporting companies in 2009, 153 were foreign-funded. Only among small and medium size exporters were Chinese companies dominant and Alibaba's original success was creating the Internet systems that connect these Chinese companies to their foreign markets.
But as China's economy has developed, the reason for its attractiveness to foreign companies has radically changed. In comparative international terms, China is no longer a low-wage economy. On World Bank data, only 30 percent of the world's population now lives in countries with a higher per capita GDP than China, and wages will be approximately proportional to this. In Southeast Asia and South Asia, every developing country except Malaysia now has a lower per capita GDP than China.
Michael Taft - Luan DFómh 20, 2014 16:26
Well, not quite ? but the effect may be the same. Many international commentators welcomed the Irish Government for ending the infamous ?double-Irish? tax scheme. But just as it shut this down, it announced a new scheme: a ?knowledgedevelopment box? designed to reduce corporate taxation to a little over six percent. The ?knowledge-development box? is based on the concept of the patent box used by the UK and the Netherlands to attract multi-nationals with preferential tax rates on income flowing from patenting activity. However, the scope for the Irish box could be wider. After all, what exactly does ?knowledge-development? encompass? In the UK and the Netherlands, companies get a tax break on income generated from inventions. In Ireland, we may see all manner of activities thrown in ? source code, copyrights, patents, branding, trademarks and that expandable concept ? R&D. And we?ll have to wait and see to what extent it facilitates more than just actual activity in Ireland (will it encompass activity ?managed from Ireland?). The Government was keen not only to put in a replacement for the double-Irish scheme, but to reassure key multi-nationals. Government officials briefed ?multinational investors? on the rationale for the Government?s policy (question: were any of you included in a conference call by officials prior to the establishment of the water charge?). The message was clear: the Government may have been forced to abandon the double-Irish due to considerable international pressure ? but don?t panic; a replacement is at hand. It is argued that we need multi-national capital to create high-end employment in the global supply chain. No one disputes this. Ireland?s indigenous economy, even with the best policies in place, would not have created the pharmaceutical sector we have today. However, this common-sense observation is then used to argue that the only way to achieve this is to pursue our current accommodative corporate tax regime (that?s a nice way to describe a tax haven-conduit). Yes, we have another roll-out of TINA ? there is no alternative. But are there alternative approaches to attracting multi-national enterprises without resorting to tax tricks or ultra-low tax rates? Does Ireland benefit more than our peer-group EU countries from multinational employment? This argument ? that we have been more successful than other countries in attracting multi-national jobs ? has been restated so many times that it is taken as gospel. But is it true?
David Cronin - Déar DFómh 16, 2014 15:21
This article was originally published in Electronic Intifada on Tuesday the 15th of October.
Israel?s war crimes sometimes have to be overlooked, according to a senior European Union representative.
During 2013, Israel reacted angrily when Brussels officials issued a policy paper stating that the EU would not award funding to firms and institutions based in Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank. Rather than standing up to Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, the EU?s top figures tried to downplay the significance of the ?guidelines? contained in that paper.
One letter ? not published before now ? shows that some of this downplaying was tantamount to grovelling.
Signed by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU?s commissioner for scientific research, in November last year, that letter states that both the Union and Israel ?are conscious of the need to find flexible ways of implementing the guidelines.? Such flexibility was required, she argued, to ?ensure full respect of the Union?s policy in relation to the territories occupied by Israel, while not deterring Israel?s association to EU programs.?
Don?t be fooled
Her attempt to sound balanced and nuanced should not fool anybody.
The only possible interpretation of her letter (published below) is that although the EU considers Israel?s colonization of the West Bank to be illegal, it is willing to compromise on that position for reasons of political expediency.
The construction of Israeli settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. They involve the tightening of Israeli control on land it acquired by force.
In other words, they are war crimes.
Michael Taft - Céad DFómh 15, 2014 17:21
Headlines and sound-bites abound: ?austerity is over?, ?the beginning of the end of austerity?, ?we beat austerity? and so on and whatever and sure, why not. Let?s cut to the chase: austerity is not over. It is entering a new phase. We will now experience austerity ?below the waterline?. Austerity by stealth, austerity beneath the radar: give it any description but have no doubts. We will continue to suffer austerity, probably up to the end of the decade. You don?t have to believe me ? just look at the Government?s own projections. They clearly show what is in store. And it is not pretty. The following comes from the Budget 2015 Full Report (Table A.2.2, page 99). In this table the Government projects their spending plans out to 2018. You?ll see that spending pretty much flat-lines, with some slight downward pressure, up to 2018. However, this is what?s called the ?nominal? spend ? the actual Euros and cents. To get a real world sense you have to factor in inflation. The Government provides the inflation or deflator figures in Table 5. They estimate that inflation (for the economy, the inflation figure is the GDP deflator) will be over six percent up to 2018. Therefore, public spending ? if it is to maintain its value ? must rise by that amount. If it falls below that figure, we have a real cut; if it rises above that figure, we have a real increase. So what do we find?
It is worse. Now overall real primary spending falls by nearly 10 percent, with public services falling by over eight percent and investment taking an even bigger hit.
Irish Left Review - Céad DFómh 15, 2014 16:24
This article was originally posted on the Trade Union Left Forum on the 14th of October. A new kind of trade unionism is emerging and consolidating itself within the right2water campaign, led by Mandate and Unite and supported by OPATSI, the CPSU, and the CWU. These unions are bringing the broader social and economic interests of their members to the fore and committing resources, time and effort to support mobilisation not only of members, but also the working class and communities more generally. By viewing their members as workers (as opposed to people paying a subscription for work-place representation services) these unions are placing the workers? immediate social demands alongside, and equal to, their immediate work-place concerns. This is crucial if the trade union movement is to really represent its members and to recover its power and leverage in society. Wage increases alone will not improve the lot of workers while the political economy of the country is being restructured from one made up of citizens to one of customers in a toll-booth economic and political structure. The TULF on many occasions has suggested that the trade union movement has a unique position in Ireland in having the resources and channels of communication to support the mobilisation of working people in a way that no left party can. And now it seems that some unions are realising this potential, which is both necessary and welcome. The right2water alliance is a genuine alliance of union, political and community groups, making a clear demand and statement, ?calling for the Government to recognise and legislate for access to water as a human right. We are demanding the Government abolish the planned introduction of water charges.? As well as the five unions mentioned, community groups and parties have signed up to the campaign. Some 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for the scrapping of the water charges, close to 100,000 marched at the demonstration on 11 October, and more local actions are planned for 1 November. The right2water campaign is not dictating tactics to communities or individuals but is building and growing a broad campaign of groups and people based on the principle of water as a human right and as a publicly owned utility and resource. Some on the left have attacked the campaign for not demanding non-payment; but at this moment building the biggest, broadest alliance against water charges and privatisation is the priority. A turn towards direct non-payment may be necessary in the future, but right now the campaign?s strength is in growing and building the alliance rather than splintering over tactical matters.
Irish Left Review - Máirt DFómh 14, 2014 15:50
An Open Letter to the Dublin City Council, Real Estate Agencies in Dublin, the USI, the PRTB, the HEA, Department of Education and skills, the NAMA, Landlords, the Citizens and Students of Dublin City on the Housing Crisis in Dublin. As well as being sent to all of the above today it was also published on www.increature.com issue 4 on Sunday the 12th October Dear all, We are two final year university students who live in Dublin and wish to express our profound discontent with some of the situations we found ourselves in during the housing crisis that took place this summer in the Irish Capital and the clear discrimination against students which is common practice in the rental market. Between June and September, we were actively looking for private accommodation in Dublin. We sent several hundreds of emails, made hundreds of phone calls, many of which were from abroad, went to numerous viewings and spent a lot of time, money and energy looking for a place. This house hunt was long, stressful and, overall, a very unpleasant experience which resulted in us sacrificing a large part of our summer, spare time after work, family time and the possibility to advance with college work (readings, dissertation, etc). We finally found a place two weeks before the start of the academic year. A place that we are not entirely satisfied with, but had to take because we had no other decent offers. We are somewhat relieved that we were lucky enough to have found something, as we are very aware of the fact that many students were not as lucky and are therefore forced to commute, live in hostels or even have to take a year out of college. One of us is a final year Student in the faculty of arts and humanities who worked the whole summer in a well-respected office in Dublin and will continue to work part-time throughout the academic year. The other is a final year Political Science and Geography student who works during the summer months and is financially supported by her father who works in one of the European Institutions in Brussels. Both of us have letters of references from all our previous landlords stating we are responsible tenants, that the rent and all utility bills have always been paid on time and that we left our previous flats in good condition. Furthermore, we both have good work references from well-respect institutions. Having such documents, one must wonder how it took us three months to find a mediocre residence. To us, the answer is very simple. The housing crisis meant that it was hard for everyone to find a place in Dublin due to the fact that this year there was a 43% drop in supply in the rental market and a 7.5% increase in rental prices, but in particular students have a clear disadvantage and are discriminated against.
Michael Carley - Máirt DFómh 14, 2014 10:18
Book Review: Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin, Karl Whitney (Penguin Ireland 2014) Dublin, perhaps uniquely, has suffered mythologization by genius and by sentimentality. Caught between Leopold Bloom and the Leprachaun Museum (yes, there is), the city of Dublin, the living breathing people and the physical structures they live in and on, has fallen out of sight. Joyce and Flann O?Brien caught its speech, but the one did it so perfectly people are afraid to read him, and the other was so accurate they think the humour is a laughing matter; James Plunkett wrote Dublin on a human scale and gave it flesh and blood characters, but is little known outside Ireland. We have ended up with Bloomsday and Paddy?s Day, the first now more kitsch than the second. Karl Whitney has now written a book that gives us back Dublin as a city, not the set of a novel, or the battlefield of dreams of some misty eyed tourist in search of their heroic and downtrodden ancestors. While some of the tourists might be inclined to follow Whitney?s Joyce trail?visit all of Joyce?s Dublin addresses in order (the Trieste equivalent includes his favorite knocking shop)?or even his Liffey descent?from where the river becomes tidal to the last bridge before the sea, crossing every bridge on the way?his bus game would be a bit too Situationist. In this one, you take buses for ninety minutes, changing bus every fifteen, crossing the road if a coin comes up tails. The first time he tries it, he ends up in an area with only one bus. A later attempt is no better. Taking a bus in Dublin has no element of play, but only `the extreme frustration familiar to the demoralized commuter.? Whitney would not be the first artist crushed by the inadequacy of Dublin?s infrastructure.