Independent media must face down Trump’s hate
January 20 is just around the corner and with it the reality of Mr Trump’s coronation and the installation of his reactionary, xenophobic, anti-science and elitist cabinet. As we approach this ominous day, social media circles and letters pages are full of debate regarding the sanctity of the freedom of speech and giving hate a platform. In past times, prior to the advent of ubiquitous social media and ‘fake news’, providing the purveyors of hate a platform was a relatively low risk choice as memories of the second world war and the extremes of nationalism were still fresh. The danger now is that a new norm is emerging in which populist politicians are latching on to the disenchantment of populations who, ground down by years of inequality and austerity, are looking for answers. Right-wing politicians globally are exploiting this frustration to push their own long-standing hate-filled agendas and are doing so with increased confidence on the coattails of Mr Trump. However hate is an emotion that merely provides a quick but temporary fix for despair.
Mr Trump has demonstrated with his cabinet choice that he has no interest in resolving the issues of the ordinary US citizen. Instead he has latched onto the long-standing delusion that enriching an elite through tax breaks will allow wealth to trickle down and that the market will provide for all. He is rejecting the scientific method in favour subjective speculation on climate change and is gambling humanity’s future for a short-term economic boost. He is the antithesis of what is actually needed to improve the lot of ordinary Americans in the long-term. In addition he is acting as a Trojan horse for a racist minority in the US who had until now been successfully marginalised by the success of civil rights legislation.
In this climate, an independent media is hugely important to ensure that critical analysis and accountability is not brushed aside. It has a responsibility in ensuring freedom of speech is reserved for objective critical debate and not for the normalisation of hate. Everybody has a role to play in supporting this aspiration and we must remain vigilant to stop the creeping normalisation of intolerance and ignorance that we are witnessing in the US. Germany went from being a cultured, enlightened country to a dark place relatively quickly on the back of intense hate-filled propaganda in a time of economic turmoil. Who’s to say it can’t happen again.
I was watching a programme the other night that was supposedly about health. All the invited guests were labelled as having something to do with ‘health’ and the discussion was primarily about the appalling state of our hospitals. Sadly for the financially brutalised tax-paying people of Ireland, the whole subject, just like environment, housing and protection has been distorted into the opposite (pollution, homelessness and crime).
This particular programme, just like the pontifications of this and all the previous, highly evasive ‘health’ ministers of the last two decades, was in fact all about illness. Not one person nor the host once even mentioned how to stay healthy. Until we get a government that is actually the slightest bit interested in our future good health, things will continue to get worse. Never has it been more true that our government is a serious illness masquerading as a cure.
Groundhog Day for the health service
Minister Harris should issue a challenge against the long-lasting shibboleths of the Irish health system. Every year is like the movie, Groundhog Day the only difference is the Bill Murray character learned to improve his situation every day until finally getting the girl in the end.
There is an increasingly number of patients on trolleys with no relief in sight… why? It’s because the internal structure of the HSE never changes. They can’t accept that they have no idea what is happening or if they did, they don’t want to offend co-workers by suggesting a plan that might work and make them look bad. Somewhere someone has a solution. I think Minister Harris has the smarts to figure this out… let him.
To take a phrase from The Late Late Show…a bed for everyone in the audience or in this case, A&E.
Harris must open the purse strings for HSE
Simon Harris, our health Minister, promised last autumn 500 extra beds to our health service. They have not yet arrived and now we have a bottleneck in the CUH and Simon is pointing his finger at the management. It’s not their fault; it’s due to shortage of beds and staff and underfunding.
The nurses, doctors and surgeons do a great job in the CUH and deserve every credit due. The problem calls for effective leadership from Simon Harris to address the emergency in a firm and professional way and not kick the can down the road and blame others. This is a tough job and no one denies this and it’s one he cannot fail on, both for the sake of the patients and his own ambitions.
Boom-bust policies help the vultures
Social welfare for the wealthy remains in play. Sited parcels of land sat on by speculators waiting for a building bonanza, even as rents and house prices, as in the capital, are above those of the “stage one” of the boom, make our presentiment seem like a multi-stage potential boom-bust series, and, we seem as if in “stage two” of boom-bust.
With 34,000 homes over two years in arrears of mortgage and 20,000 eviction notices out, and over 2,000 children in emergency accommodation, it may be said – what will the “stage two” bust be like?
There is already a severe housing shortage, and, worryingly, the major pressure remains in the all-engorging capital. Our housing bubble is double- and triple-whammied. It cauterised the social housing supply, ceded for provision to the private sector at the start of stage one of the boom.
Corporations in local government haven’t been providing building blocks of housing. Now some wait for continued rise of house prices and indeed rents whilst sitting on building-ready sites. You might expect, given pressure in many areas, such waited-on sites could be taxed. No.
Moves to evict on boom (stage one) mortgages continue to increase and social welfare from all of us continues to be fed into bailed-out boom-bust banks. Some is going to naught on dead-and-gone banks, and will continue to be. So even dead banks after death get social welfare.
And vulture funds gather up cheap properties sweat rent and sell high in a squeezed property market, the hyper rich at work. They also buy distressed debt bundles from bailed-out banks also in pursuit of distressed personal debt and mortgages.
Our armed forces are underfunded
Comdt Edward Horgan (retd.) is alarmed that so many Irish people are joining the British Army (‘Irish should only fight for Ireland’, 7 January). Maybe they do so because our own Defence Forces are withering on the vine due to a chronic lack of investment?
This is nothing new. Since 1922 Ireland has been a disarmed state pretending to be a ‘neutral’ country like Switzerland or Sweden, although lacking the ability, as required under international law, to defend itself. Lacking mobile artillery, heavy armour and long-range drones, our UN troops on the Golan can only function because of the protection kindly provided by the Israeli Defence Forces. Our Navy lacks modern anti-submarine and anti-ship capabilities. The Air Corps has no fighter aircraft and would need the RAF to intercept a hijacked passenger jet heading for Dublin, Cork or Limerick.
Surely Comdt. Horgan should be more worried about the future European Army that Jean-Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel are planning. Given their record to date, this promises to be more blitzfarce than blitzkrieg.
UCC should offer balance on Israel
Well, to coin a famous phrase, they’ve gone and disgraced themselves again. Who? UCC, that’s who. A three- day conference on whether Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, should even exist is being hosted by the university.
What is going on down there? Professor James Bowen this week praised the decision to host the event, saying “academic freedom is still fairly well protected, unlike in the UK, where it seems to have come to be regarded as a disposable luxury”.
All well you might think but would Professor Bowen be amenable, by way of balance, to hosting a three-day discussion about whether Sharia Law in the Muslim world is little better than a charter for the enslavement of women and whether it’s adherents should be charged with crimes against humanity? If not why not?