Aleppo and the Media
As ice melts in the face of the rising sun, decent paid jobs are melting with the rise of artificial intelligence and the logic of capitalism. Artificial intelligence [AI] resides in computers and robotics, it is here, it is everywhere. As our society is presently construed it will hasten the growth of wealth disparity heralding widespread destitution, which in turn will promote crime as a natural equaliser. In traditional industry, the workers sold their labour power to those who owned the means of production, this brought the classic division in society, between those who sought to buy labour for the minimum cost and the worker who sought to sell his or her labour power for the maximum price.
However, the future expansion of capital will be driven by AI and robotics, more efficient, trouble and strike free. The contradiction of the diminishing purchasing power of the majority and thus their ability to consume and provide further profits for capitalism, is offset by a few factors; a reduction in the cost of commodities by outsourcing to low cost economies and increasing the flow of credit. At the same time, capital strives to eliminate social organisations and enterprises and to privatise and draw profit from every social asset, media, education, health, roads, parking, water and all avenues of communication. State agencies that enforce the rights of property, and exploitative contracts will, themselves, fall more under the influence of, and into the hands of private interests. While the relationship between those who had jobs and their employers was alienating, a situation where the majority can no longer get any decent work or play any real part in production, will be worse. Without a revaluation of political philosophy, the mass of society is likely to drown in a combination of alienation, stifled media, corporate sport, shallow entertainment and fear. The rise of such a dysfunctional state will accelerate the use of drink, drugs and suicide as a solution.
Opportunities appearing to produce job security are now more likely to quickly turn into false dawns. For example; students were urged to learn to code if they wanted to succeed, a proliferation of coding schools and boot camps emerged However, as the skill became more commonplace, particularly in developing nations like India, much of the work is being assigned piecemeal by computerised services such as ‘Upwork’ to low-paid workers in digital sweatshops, a trend that is bound to increase. It then looked a better to use coding skills to develop an app or platform and sell it in competition with thousands of others doing the same thing on an online marketplace. A forum that is swamped by choice and ruled by the same power dynamics as the digital music business.
While it is essential that many in this digital society should be familiar with how these platforms work, universal code literacy won’t solve the employment crisis any more than the universal ability to read and write would result in a full-employment economy of book publishing. It actually does the opposite. A single computer program written by perhaps a dozen developers can wipe out hundreds of jobs. It has been established that digital companies employ 10 times fewer people per dollar earned than traditional companies. Every time a company decides to relegate its computing to the cloud, it reduces its workforce. Modern technologies, replace more employment opportunities than they create. Those that don’t—technologies that require ongoing human maintenance or participation in order to work—are not supported by venture capital for precisely this reason. They are considered unsaleable because they demand more paid human employees as the business grows.
There are of course jobs for those willing to assist with the transition to a more computerised society. For example, self-checkout stations may have cost supermarket cashier jobs, but provided opportunities for some to assist customers scanning their items at the kiosk, and swiping their debit cards. It’s a slightly more skilled job and may even pay better than working as a regular cashier. But again it’s a temporary position: Soon consumers become as proficient at self-checkout as they are at getting cash from the bank machine, and a checkout tutor will be unnecessary. In another few years, digital tagging technology will permit shoppers to leave stores with their items and have their accounts debited automatically.
Likewise, specialists will be required to fit current cars with robot drivers, engineers to replace medical staff with sensors and to write software for postal drones. There will be an increase in specialized jobs before there’s a precipitous drop. Already in China, the implementation of 3-D printing and other automated solutions is threatening hundreds of thousands of high-tech manufacturing jobs, many of which have existed for less than a decade. Once the robots are in place, their continued upkeep and a large part of their improvement will be automated as well. Humans may have to learn to live with it.
This conundrum was first articulated back in the 1940s by cybernetics pioneers as they studied the “post-industrial economy and continues unabated. Extensive research shows, beyond reasonable doubt, that technological progress, eliminates jobs and leaves average workers worse off than they were before. These developments are not merely the consequence of digital technology, but the realisation of the profit drive to remove humans as much as possible from the value equation. The growth of technology is often equated with economic growth, neither of which mean more jobs or prosperity for the people living in it. As some have said, ‘when all these science-fiction technologies are deployed, what will we need all the people for?”
When technology increases productivity, a company can eliminate jobs and use the savings to reward its shareholders with dividends and stock buybacks. What would have been lost to wages is instead turned back into capital, the only ones left making money are those depending on passive returns from their investments. Digital technology accelerates the process where we can all see the change occurring, but due to an endemic poverty of philosophy and the blanking out of such conversations from the body politic, society has not taken notice yet. Productivity is at record levels, innovation has never been faster, and yet at the same time, we have a falling median income and we have fewer jobs. In the previous generation an individual on the average industrial wage could comfortably support a partner and raise and educate a family, this is no longer the case. People are falling behind because technology is advancing so fast and our political skills and organisations are static.
The essence is that a poverty of philosophy exists in the heart of science. This poverty of thought is an objective part of invisible government, the dictatorship of capital reflects its ethos through all the mechanisms of education, information and entertainment media. It does everything in its power to mask out any alternative dialogue.
However, the laws of dialectics, lessons of history and cycles of quantitive and qualitative change are on the side of a resolution, if not revolution. Hope lies in the realisation by the great mass of people that the nightmare scenario of a totally dysfunctional society may be avoided and the social order can move in a different direction. It can and must extend democracy over economics, in fact for the survival of society as we know it there may be no choice. It is now a race between the forces of reason and empathy, organising, against the harbingers of capital concentration and climate change. This is a race that must be won, for the logic of the existing trajectory is war. That would indeed be a tragedy, for with the material and technological advances that our species has achieved, never before in human history have we had the resources and the potential to provide “to each according to their needs and from each according to their ability”.
Europe and its central bank are structured to block the creation of money supply to any government other than for supporting banks and bondholders. A monetary and fiscal straitjacket has been built that obliges the Euro-zone economies to rely on banking for credit and debt. Thus the masters of the financial sector are the economic planners, in charge of monetary and fiscal policy without being subject to any level of democracy. To maintain their position, they breed a belief that they are an essential part of the economy, not external to it. This is precisely the strategy that parasites use in nature to persuade their hosts that they are not external invaders, but part of the host’s own body, deserving careful protection.
These privatised financial engineering corporations, with the law on their side effectively print money. They are enriched solely by interest and profit through the manipulation of money. When a country’s budget deficit deepens they simply issue more bonds to cover the debt. As the debt and interest payments grow too onerous and begin to slow the economy, the financial wizards engage in ‘quantitative easing’ an unconventional monetary policy in which a central bank purchases government securities or other securities from the market in order to lower interest rates and increase the money supply. However, very little of the money created gets to the real economy. It was estimated that £375 billion worth of QE in the UK, led to 1.5-2% growth in GDP. In other words, £23-28bn billion of extra spending in the real economy. It’s incredibly ineffective, because it relies on boosting the wealth of the already-wealthy and hoping that they increase their spending. In other words, the ‘trickle down’ theory of wealth.
As the state falls more under the spell of capital it dedicates itself to gathering taxes for loan repayment instead of investing it, or raising living standards. Prior to the building boom crash in Ireland, the more the finance institutions lent, the higher property prices rose, thus encouraging more lending. As mortgages and rents rose, so did the proportion of household income paid to the financial sector. The market value of property rose to far exceeded its real cost in labour and materials. Everyone was led to believe, that all they had to do was to get to own property by any means and inflation would make them rich. However, when the price of one property fell back, it avalanched, property fell below its labour and materials production value. The bubble had burst. Did the big lenders, the primary bondsmen, the wise financial advisor’s lose their money on their gambling malpractice? No, Jean-Claude Trichet senior bondsman himself and governor of the European Central Bank at the time, issued a direct threat ‘A bomb would go off in Dublin’ if they were not fully compensated for their losses. A screamed financial analogy perhaps, but it worked perfectly on our cowardly conservative politicians who trembled on their knees before the financial god’s threats of a penniless hell. So they did, as bid, cuts and austerity became the order of the day.
Just as mortgage lenders assess the potential maximum flow of money they may extract from a client and offer the highest amount of loan they believe the client can afford, likewise, international banks assess the earnings of countries to see how much debt service they can pay. They then organise to capture the entire economic surplus of that country and eventually, every country, into debt service payments. They offer loans to gullible politicians who are then in a position to induce their electorate to return them to political power. If and when countries get into difficulty with interest payments, further creditors and the IMF offer the indebted countries even more money at higher interest rates to pay the outstanding interest, the debts spiral out of control.
Current economic theory is simply a mechanism for transferring wealth from the mass of people to the wealthy, it pushes countries to service the huge debts by lowering domestic wages to pay creditors. This is the policy being imposed on many countries today, it is the basis of the IMF’s structural adjustment or austerity programs for dealing with debtor countries, essentially a form of looting that transfers national resources to private lenders. It concerns itself mainly with wages and consumer prices, not with the inflation of property and stocks. It serves as a cover for the polarisation of the world economy between rich and poor the opposite of what might have been assumed with the promises of globalisation. The main form of exploitation is shifting from wages to the financial system’s extraction of value into interest payments.
This dictatorship of capital demands loyalty from the political parties it supports and persuades that the needs of people will only be served by trickle-down economics. As capital further concentrates in the 21st century and it becomes more apparent that its wealth is not trickling down, protest and street action will intensify. To counter the protests of citizens, attacks on their constitutional rights and protections will occur under the guise of some terrorist threat, for fear, is the best instrument to subdue a people and concentrate power. To-day western economies have been financialised in a predatory way that sacrifices the public interest to that of the financial sector. Finance is no longer a positive productive part of the social economy it has become its parasite.
Click on the above and open the argument;
Since our species discovered that eating, drinking or inhaling some substances provide a feeling of euphoria, a diminution of inhibitions, a stimulant or relief from pain, we have individually and collectively being doing just that. From the glass of wine to the pint, the cigarette to the joint and the long list of medicines, relieving and treating pain from the minor discomfort to the most severe.
Some drugs are illegal, but the demand for them is just as widespread, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy tablets, the list is long and expanding. Huge money is made from their importation and sale to satisfy the market which ranges from the sprawling estates of deprivation to the fashionable houses of the bourgeois. The importation and distribution of drugs is a risky business and like any it requires greed and competition. Where normal legal business depends on contracts and courts to regulate their affairs, drug gangs operating as they do outside the law have to maintain their position and contracts with violence. The most ruthless rise to the top where money and power concentrates. Once large sums of money are involved law enforcement is corruptible, very little of the drugs are intercepted or recovered.
For over a hundred years the ethos of the law has struggled with the complacency of the population, thousands have died in this pointless battle against the nature of our species. The war on drugs requires a huge expenditure on resources and finance and has totally failed. It is time to apply reason and change, plenty of evidence exists to support a new direction. When prohibition on alcohol existed in the United States, gang warfare raged, speakeasies thrived, poisonous hooch was produced by the ton. Once legalised, the wars stopped, tax revenue to the state flowed, its sale to minors became easier to control and the quality of the alcohol was monitored.
A growing consensus of people now see the only sensible direction is to legalise the possession, use and distribution of all drugs. The reality of how that is done would be subject to discussion and evolution. Some categories, like cannabis, could be sold through regulated shops such as chemists, harder drugs through a self-financing state company. The drugs would be clean, free from destructive additives, carry health warnings, have selling age limits and be taxed. Intravenous drugs would be taken under supervision with clean equipment.
Such an approach would see the collapse of the drug gangs and an end to the associated warfare. It would take the addicts off the street and keep them in touch with state services who would provide counselling and care. The whole notion of addiction was challenged during the Vietnam war, tens of thousands of unfortunate US soldiers were sent to kill millions of people they had no grudge against and for reasons they did not understand. The Vietnamese resistance killed 57,000 of these young people in defence and to persuade them to leave. The stress amongst the US troops provoked drug use on a massive scale. It was predicted that when they returned home, the USA would be filled with drug addicts. It never happened, when the troops got home the majority left stress behind and stopped using. For some, residual stress and circumstances conspired to ensure continuing pain and drugs provided relief from that pain. An excellent explanation for the relationship between deprivation, pain and drug use comes from ‘The Rat Park Experiment’, see: https://youtu.be/sbQFNe3pkss
This post, arguing in favour of the legalisation of drugs, is far too brief to cover all the issues. A comprehensive book on the subject and essential reading for anyone concerned with solving the drug problem is: Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari, the first and last days of the war on drugs. The ongoing struggle to develop a sensible drugs policy can be followed at; www.chasingthescream.com
A complication to an international solution to the war on drugs arises when one asks the question ‘Cui Bono’ apart from the drug gangs – who else might benefit: Michael Hudson, in his book, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy, found a strange money trail and a huge amount of money from crime going into Switzerland’s secret banking system. He discovered that under US State Department direction, banks had been established in the Caribbean for the purpose of attracting money into dollar holdings from drug dealers to offset Washington’s foreign military outflows of dollars. If dollars flowed out of the US, but demand did not rise to absorb the larger supply, the dollar’s exchange rate would fall, damaging US power. By providing offshore banks in which criminals could deposit illicit dollars, the US government supported the dollar’s exchange value.
Hudson discovered that the US balance of payments deficit, was entirely military in character. The US Treasury and State Department supported the Caribbean safe haven for illegal profits to offset the negative impact on the US balance of payments of military operations abroad. When it came to the economics of the situation, he claims that neither trade flows nor direct investments were important in determining exchange rates. What was important were “errors and omissions,” which Hudson discovered was a euphemism for the hot, liquid money of drug dealers and government officials embezzling the export earnings of their countries. Such revelations might explain why moves to legalise drugs might bring opposition from a source, one had not bargained for.
As we approach the anniversary of the 1917 revolution and the foundation of the Soviet Union, the rewriting of history pertaining to these interesting times continues unabated. The “Cold War” is not over and it won’t be—until the very last memory of an alternative to the society of capital is deemed eradicated. But every now and then, the light of an idea returns to bring discomfort to the existing consensus. One of these is the spectre of VKhuTEMAS.
I began my studies of Architecture in 1965 and have practiced as such all my life, I had heard of, studied and admired the Bauhaus movement in Weimar and Dessau and the part it played in the development of modern art and architecture at the beginning of the last century. Only recently while researching my book, ‘The Republic of Reason & The Poverty of Philosophy’, did I uncover the existence of a larger but similar school that emerged in revolutionary Russia.
On December 19th 1920, Lenin and the Soviet government established the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops — VKhUTEMAS. The aim was to use the visual arts in the training of technically, politically and scientifically educated architects and designers in all disciplines. In the ten years of its existence, VKhUTEMAS became a laboratory of modern architecture and art, in which diverse artistic ideas and methods, such as classicism, constructivism, psychoanalytic approaches and even futurism came together.
Lenin wanted art education to be scientifically based, but he was unwilling to force what he admitted were his own conservative tastes in art. Just how true this is, can be seen from the private discussion he was keen to have with VKhUTEMAS students. Alexander W. Stepanov recorded the following:
“After the founding of VKhUTEMAS Lenin took the opportunity to meet with the students, despite the serious political situation in the country and its claims on his attention. Lenin did not want an official talk with the students and took advantage of his acquaintance with the family of his comrade, Inessa Armand, a very well-educated woman who spoke various languages and served the revolution faithfully until her death. Armand had two daughters, Inna and Varya, the latter being a student at the VKhUTEMAS. Late in the evening of February 21, 1921, Lenin and his wife Krupskaya arrived in the VKhUTEMAS student dormitory in former Myasnitskaya Street. There they talked together for about three hours”.
In 2014/15 an exhibition dedicated to VKhuTEMAS opened in Berlin, its catalogue stated that during its heyday, the works of the students and teachers were “unmatched, and later often served architects as templates and sources of inspiration.” The sheer scope of the training and the vast number of students and teachers make it clear that the Moscow workshops mark a unique stage in the development of modern architecture. Some 2,000 students enrolled in the first year alone, while Bauhaus trained about 150 at the same time. Irina Tschepkunowa, curator of the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, writes in the introduction to the catalogue, “that one can scarcely any longer imagine in today’s ‘pragmatically oriented’ Russia the enthusiasm that broke out after the revolution. Hunger and destruction during the war, communism, the ongoing civil war in the country’s border areas and the impoverished everyday life provoked in young people — as strange as this may seem today — not dejection, but an unprecedented creative enthusiasm and willingness to work.”
Many in the West see the Bauhaus movement as a model for the Russian architectural avant-garde. However, this concept is now challenged and although VKhuTEMAS had close ties to Bauhaus and the latter held some concepts and ideas in common with the Soviet workshops, the relationship can be seen to be otherwise.
However, over a period, revolutionary fervour came under stress as external military pressure grew against the revolution in Russia, internal defensive militarisation brought autocratic power. The ideals of the soviet, ‘power from the bottom up’ began to corrode. [See; Struggle & Defeat in ‘The Republic of Reason & The Poverty of Philosophy’]. From the late 1920s, the nationalist policy of “socialism in one country” eventually strangled revolutionary innovations. In architecture, as in the other art forms, “socialist realism” became the only acceptable doctrine. In the west the rise of fascism in Germany suppressed the Bauhaus movement. But, while the legacy of the Bauhaus is regarded as a cornerstone of the modern movement and features in every modern art history book, VKhuTEMAS was air brushed out of history.
My wife, Katherine and I have located the treasure trove that is VKhuTEMAS and with the anniversary of the 1917 Russian revolution approaching are attempting to bring an exhibition of the work to Ireland where it could inspire a stimulating and necessary debate! If this could be achieved on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution and at a time of mounting anti-Russian propaganda it could provide an objective assessment of the cultural achievements of the first years of the Soviet Union. This would of great importance as the exhibition would speak for itself. It would refute the lie that the October Revolution inevitably led to oppression, and would demonstrate that the first attempt to create a more humane egalitarian society and unite our species across national, religious and racial divides, retains all its fascination.
For any one wishing to understand the vagaries of economics and to extend democracy over capital this book is essential reading. It plain cover belies it rich and well researched interior. As Michael Collins said of war, if you wish to defeat an enemy first you must completely understand all that makes him tick. It painstakingly defines the inbuilt dynamics of wealth, it details the concentration of wealth in the hands of shrinking elite and underlines the rise of inherited wealth where birth matter more than talent or effort.
I have never been a fan of conspiracy theories, but reading the Shock Doctrine has to a large extent altered my opinion. It is a well written horror story of the ‘Washington Consensus’, gone berserk, the plundering of international resources on behalf of a very small international elite, now rich and powerful enough to sideline democracy in their home country and run the most powerful military force in the world in their interests. Any country that does not fall on its knees and allow the the total freedom of capital is likely to be destroyed. The only deterrence might be the power of its army and the determination of its people.
Drug addiction is not what it seems and the war on drugs stems from motives different from what we assume, a war that sees thousands rot in prison and die needlessly. This book makes an excellent case for the legalisation, control and taxation of all drugs. He connects the demand for drugs to human stress, self esteem and place in society, thus it is the most abused socially isolated that seek solace from the pain of life in the most powerful illegal drugs. An egalitarian society based on respect for all, coupled with legalisation- as with alcohol is the road forward.
Societies with a bigger gap between rich and poor are dysfunctional and provide a lower standard of well-being for all, including the wealthy. Every aspect of society from life expectancy to violence and illiteracy is affected not by now how wealthy or otherwise that society is, but by how unequal it is. The book is packed full of solid research and hard evidence to support the proposition. Essential reading for anyone engaged in building a better society. See also the equality trust website: equalitytrust.org.uk[/fusion_text]
Health care of the country’s citizens is the responsibility of the collective community supported by a duty of self-care that applies to all responsible citizens. In Ireland it would be rational that the health service be a single national organisation funded through progressive taxation. Some who see health as a platform for selling a service for profit, contend that it is more efficient, privatised. However, they recognise that difficulties arise in attempting to make profit from a section of the population that is without surplus and agree to let them be cared for by the public sector, so at present, we have both. While overall the health of the nation and the longevity of its people has improved, we can do much better. One of the main criteria for judging society is how it cares for the health of its citizens.
At present the mechanism driving our economy is competition and greed, this ensures that those possessed of the most competition and greed, a toxic combination, will rise to the top of many organisations. I do not contend that all executives of the HSE are driven by such motivation, but these imperatives, can and do pervade all aspects of society causing contradictions in motivation, a situation that flourishes within a two tier health system. When a private section of the health service is structured to serve the wealthy it attracts better funding which in turn attracts the best health care workers and resources away from the public system. For those on the borderline of affording health insurance, the media highlights hundreds of unattended people lying on trolleys in the public sector, but during commercial breaks… soft and friendly voices urge people to drop in and be cared for in their various extensive, well equipped emergency private clinics.
Overcrowding, trolleys and chaos in public hospitals is excellent for selling insurance and making profit. It is not surprising that tragic stories have emerged from this cocktail of overcrowding, long waiting lists and exhausted staff. The public health system is without an ideological focus, what should be a pervading feel-good factor amongst the staff for their public service is undermined by negativity. Firstly the cultural connotation of ‘loser’s’ that is given to any beneficiary of the state, be it social welfare or health and secondly the constant publicity given to its failures. The entire scenario contributes to the objective interests of capital.
The NHS in the UK had its roots in the aftermath of two World Wars. Millions of men were arriving back from the front, organised and proficient in the use of arms. Socialist ideas and dreams were rampant throughout Europe as was the perception that a socialist society was emerging in the USSR. It was a dangerous time for capital. These men and their families had to be placated by the state, and persuaded away from any thoughts of socialism. That consideration ensured a transfer of health care, education and housing to the people on a massive scale. However, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent collapse of socialist ideals, trade unions and the confidence of the working people, any threat to economy or political power from the bottom faded. Confidence returned to the ideologies of free market and capital, wealth began to transfer upwards, privatisation grew, wages and job security fell. All things social were denigrated by the establishment media, society became something that was seen as whose sole role was to serve the economy. This poverty of philosophy pervaded the public health service.
The public health service is funded by taxation and such a collective resource of the people is seen as fair game for the vultures of profit. The soaring costs of technology and specialist medicines are part of the problem. Susan Mitchell of the Sunday Business Post 27.12.15, in an interview with HSE executives revealed that the drug Soliris was being supplied at about €400,000 per patient per year, and that the HSE had spent €483 million on high tech drugs last year even though that represented only 1% of the items dispensed. Another huge drain on resources highlighted was the amount spent supporting private nursing homes. The legal profession maintains a corrosive presence around the fringes of the health service waiting for the inevitable mistake, it sucks money which should be spent on care into crippling legal fees, €69 million in 2014. Litigation introduces a culture of fear which in turn clogs the service with a huge amount of unnecessary work as doctors, forced to practice medicine defensibly, refer patients on to multiple tests and specialists. There can be no doubt that any plan to introduce a no-fault compensation scheme would be vigorously opposed by the legal profession.
An immediate and simple step to ensure parity of interest between those who run and are cared for within the health system would be to prohibit all responsible for public health care, the Minister for Health, all within the Department of Health, hospital management, consultants and staff, from holding private health insurance.
To make real progress health care needs the following;
• Expansion and large scale investment.
• A no fault compensation scheme.
• Long-term planning
• The integration of all existing private care systems under one national body to establish a single-tier egalitarian system.
• A seamless integration between agencies promoting prevention and care.
• A dispersed home care and hospice system.
• The resources to meet the health care needs of all our people and full transparency on how they are being dispersed.
• But more than anything else it needs the national philosophical commitment to enhance the most important requirement in any health service, morale.
This is an draft of of questions to put to candidates and canvassers in the coming election…any additions, subtractions or comments would be greatly appreciated
Are you in favour of extending democracy over economics?
Are you in favour of a society striving towards equality of
income and opportunity?
Notes: If personal greed and competition are the only way to drive the economy then it is unsurprising that many organisations will be run by the most competitive and the most greedy. From the IFA to the CRC, the media and big business, those with the worst motivation get to run the organisations in their own interests. Societies with higher levels of equality have less crime, less prisons, less drugs, less obesity, less alienation. The Spirit Level
At present we have;
Protestant schools for Protestant children.
Muslim school’s for Muslim children.
Catholic schools for Catholic children.
Jewish schools for Jewish children.
Are you in favour of this system? Yes…… No…..
A national secular system Yes….. No…..
Notes: In Northern Ireland, divided, sectarian education was a large contributor to sectarian hatred. With regard to the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, it is imperative that the children of Muslim refugees be educated in a national secular school system to encourage a seamless integration into the social society of the Republic of Ireland.
Are you in favour of a single national
health system where all citizens are
treated on an equal basis?
To ensure parity of interest; are you in favour of prohibiting all those involved in public health care, the minister for health, the Department of Health, hospital management, consultants and staff. From holding private health insurance.
Notes; The best advertising for private health insurance is hundreds of unattended people lying on trolleys…….. The more trolleys , the better the profits. In a two tier health system; wealth and health lie at the top. The better funded private section will attract the best health care workers and resources away from the public system
ON INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
Are you in favour of Ireland taking a courageous independent neutral stand and not follow the ‘Washington Consensus’ ?
Do you believe we should close Shannon Airport to military aircraft and personnel?
Yes ….. No……
Notes: Ireland has due to lack of courage missed hundreds of opportunities to play a positive role for peace, the stabilisation of populations and the future of mankind in Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Iraq and the containment of NATO.
ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Do you believe that we can reduce carbon emissions and still grow; population, production and agriculture.
Notes: The plan to expand the grass fed beef cattle sector and substantially expand the dairy herd, contradicts any commitment to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions
Do you believe that the housing needs of society can be provided by the private market?
Should a home be a constitutional right to all citizens of the state?
Notes: 25,000 houses per annum are required, 9,000 built. Mainly by private enterprise.
Only a public housing programme can solve the problem. Ireland has the materials, the land and the workers. All that is required is the will – but a solution to the housing crises would damage the profits of the private sector.
The angelus bells as tolled on RTE are to some people the ‘chimes’ are a treasured piece of Ireland’s national culture, to others like myself they are a manifestation of catholic triumphalism. As my female children grew and matured, the full meaning of the angelus became apparent. The iconic symbolism of a virgin conception laid down an impossible role for females and motherhood for real sexual conceptions were implied to be impure and therefore reduced. Symbolism such as the angelus and the vast amounts of virgin images and plaster models which infest schools debase female reality, providing a philosophical foothold for misogyny.
There exists a thin argument that the angelus is only a bell and not a prayer. However for over sixty years of my life, it was this bell that tolled from every Catholic Church steeple. It came to symbolise the ethos of that religion as during those dark years, it drowned out the cries of so many abused children. I cannot see the Angelus as a ‘treasured’ piece of Ireland’s national culture. We have to only look at Northern Ireland to see the power of symbols such as flags, bells and the lambeg drum.
It is easy to understand why other religions do not object to the angelus, they see it as a time for prayer and worship drenched in the symbolism of misogyny and division, practices which they too hold in common. The main division arises between the cultural practices of faith based beliefs and the growing number of people searching for a more robust human based morality and a society bereft of division and superstition. For such people periods of contemplation based on the human intellect would be delightful. Thus if we look, we can find shared ground for the one uniting feature of all parties and listeners, our common humanity, Christian, atheist, Muslim, agnostic and Jew. The emphasis on inclusiveness can be found in the last three verses of ‘my great poetic work’! I accept our society does need more time to “Go placidly amidst the noise”. Such contemplative space must be drenched in harmony and not carry within its heart the obvious division which the angelus does, it must not divide or aggravate the heart of those who listen. It must be the essence of inclusiveness.
The bell, the bell, the Angelus bell.
Ring out; Ring out, the Angelus bell
Drive down, the Protestant boys to hell
Ring out, Ring out, triumphant scream
Down the orange and up the green.
Three times three, that raucous bell
On stony ground, a young girl fell
How glad a virgin – men may boast
Submit to the sperm, of a holy ghost.
Her husband cried, its hideous fun
To see thy holy will being done.
By force of deep religious faith
Celestial royals, must replicate.
Ring out; ring out, the Angelus Bell
Drive all dissenters down to hell
BUT-BY the flame of reasons light,
The bell did change and set it right
An exultant peel of celebration
Ringing clear, throughout the nation.
Unite with joy all human kind
Divisive bells leave far behind,
Ring louder bell, now with a plan
To celebrate, collective man
Ring out; Ring out, Beethoven’s bell
Renaissance man arise from hell
Now and on, the joyful sound
As mankind’s knee lifts from the ground.