New Program for Government

The new agreed program for government (which, along with NAMA, will undoubtedly be passed by the party faithful this afternoon) is available

Among the many things it is planning to achieve is a Smart Green economy, protecting of minks and the trans-gendered, promotion of a rural pubs food trail, prevention of the introduction of university fees, developing Ireland as an international centre for cloud computing, maintaining grants from the Irish Film Board, supporting the introduction of a Language Act in Northern Ireland, and looking into locating the Abbey to the GPO. And integrated ticketing of course—this time they mean it. 

Sounds good, eh?

106 replies on “New Program for Government”

Alan Beattie has recently published ‘False Economy’, a fascinating economic history book. In it, he traces the development of the US and Argentina from the point when they were both economically equal (sic.). A complex story but his explanation for the subsequent growth gap rests principally on Argentina’s social, economic and political capture by vested interests & elites. Nuff said.

What is a “Green Job”. Kevin D and I try to teach several hundred unergraduates the rudiments of optimal use of scarce resources. Sounds just like the kind of war on waste that any sandal-wearing Green should appreciate.

The tricky bit is when you try to tell them that free tuition at University might not be the be either particularly efficient or equitable.

If University jobs are not all immediately re-classified as Smart Economy Green Jobs, are we wasting our time?

@Karl

“protecting of minks and the trans-gendered”

“international centre for cloud computing”

Not much to add really.

Mary White was just on the Radio 1, sounding positively giddy with the whole wielding-of-power thing.

Stag-hunting is gone, says she. Immediately. Oh yeah, it’ll take some messy legislation, but then it’ll be gone. Really.

And fur farming to be phased out over 3 years.

All in return for NAMA. Does anyone care to calculate the price per mink?

I told Ciaran Cuffe at D McW’s Leviathian event in Dunlaoghaire (in front of about 100 of the citizens of Dunlaoghaire) a couple of weeks ago that the word ‘vaporize’ doesn’t begin to describe what the electorate are going to do to the Green Party at the next election.

This confirms my view. The Green strategy is to divide the labour between itself and Fianna Fail along the lines of child and adult-centred activities respectively. FF do the Adult stuff like NAMA and the Greens ban stag hunting etc but they do ask for increased taxes with all the utter economic illiteracy of a 5-year old. (abolition of PRSI ceiling)…. It is pure Marie Antoinette. They are going to be completely and utterly Nuked at the next election. They are playing the role of naive idiot middle-class snobs to FF’s venality. It’s just like Garret and Haughey.

@Joe

Yeah I just heard Mary White on the radio too. My god, it’s chilling stuff. The approach the Greens have taken to negotiating with FF has not changed one iota – they are being cow-whipped again into a corner and nothing will change.

The Greens need to realise that FF cannot bring real reform to the country because they have not got the confidence of the people. The govt has lost its mandate and the only cure is a general election.

All they can do until then is damage.

It’s very chilling indeed. What strikes me from reading (quickly) through the document is the complete absence of any savings or measures to close the fiscal gap. The plans to increase tax will have the opposite effect to that which is intended…. The whole thing is going to be a master-class in why tax and spend policies are a very bad idea – especially in a recession.

@ Paul,

The line “Credit to Irish businesses will be guaranteed…” (page 3) is interesting in light of the Green support for the current NAMA draft in Cabinet: What part of Nama Bill guarantees credit to Irish businesses? Would that be the invisible article 13-and-a-half which restricts and dictates the lending practices of post-bailout participating institutions?

One can only wonder why the Greens did not go the whole hog and try to ban fox hunting also. There is no doubt the Greens will go the same way as the P D’s in the next election. Vincent Browne in his TV program during the week stated that F F would agree to anything just to stay in power.

This is not a modest document, the Greens are aiming for a transformation.
Every minister is a Transformer led by our Optimus Prime, Brian Cowen.
I’m off to join the Deceptocons.
I’d ignore anything except the most specific proposals. All our ministers, Green and FF, have done little for the last two years. Now they have 3 years to do all this, while trying to get the deficit down. With support from 25% of the public.
The Greens are incapable of promising specific targeted proposals, which the public might believe in. Instead they’ve given us the country of their dreams – setting us all up for terrible disillusion. Fortunately, at this stage no one – except party members – believes them.

I don’t see any danger of disillusion. Anybody who believes that there’s anything to be expected by way of sound public policy from the Green document is already living in a secure fantasy land. This document is (to borrow a phrase from the UK) the longest suicide note in Irish political history.

@ Karl/Eamonn

sorry, but is making light of equality for the transgendered now considered fair game for the anti-NAMA debate? Seriously lads, calm down. Stability via a fairly bland renegotiated PfG is a better option imo than a snap election right before the much needed and anticipated budget. Get NAMA and the budget out of the way and we can start to finally look forward rather than backward.

I mean think about it. We have livelihoods being destroyed by the tens of thousands. People without pensions commuting from devalued houses in the fringes of Dublin which they bought because the corrupt planning system gave them no choice. And the Green solution? We need to incentivise you not to use your car. We want more PRSI from you. And, er, we want to ban stag hunting, save the ‘national’ culture etc..etc… The Greens will simply cease to exist as a parliamentary party after the next election.

@Eoin,

That is really a cheap-shot. No one is disparaging trans-gendered people, nor minks nor stags nor any of the other fringe issues addressed by the Greens.

What we are saying is that these issues – however important they might be to those concerned, do not represent priority issues when a country is facing bankruptcy and contemplating handing billions to the shareholders and bondholders whose interests you represent.

@Eoin

I know that the temptation to think that things are under control is very strong – compelling even. But this Green document proves things aren’t under control. This blather about [insert here according to desired effect: 1. the European Commission; 2. the ECB; 3. Goldman Sachs; 4. Garret Fitzgerald (use only if you’re completely out to lunch)] has approved our ‘approach’ in the interests of ‘stability’ is just institution-to-institution diplomatic emollient. if we had taken a more radical approach as recommended by some of the 46 they’d be saying the same thing, believe me.

Even looking at this from the point of view of those who want to ‘wear the Green Jersey’ a.k.a. maintain in the current crisis the suspension of the need to think for themselves that was institutionalized by ‘Social Partnership’ and actually got us here in the first place – the failure to address the fiscal gap will increase the cost of borrowing and force us into a compound debt trap.

@ Graham/Karl

its a 43 page document. I didn’t choose what to put in the 5 line summary at the top of this post. You could have as easily made mention to the line on broadening the constitutional reference to women in the home, but i get it now, references to the transgendered funny, women not so much. My suggestion would be that simply calling the document wishy-washy and with little real material changes or new ideas that’ll affect the economy or the broader taxpayer, in your opinion, would have been a more suitable way of opening up a discussion on the PfG 2.0. But hey, this aint my blog. Taking the p1ss out of the Greens and their priorities simply because you don’t agree with them or find them important doesn’t seem to be the best way of moving the debate on. NAMA is an element of the PfG, but its still only an element of it.

First program could not be delivered because it was premised on a growth rate of 5.5%.

Last thursday the Greens told us it was safe to tear up its last Program for Government and presumably deposit it in the Green bin.

Now are informed that the delivery of this program is subject to “Resources”. So, when will it be safe for me to tear this one up? They have premised the delivery of this Program on a verbal rather than a numerical measurement, not that it makes the slightest difference.

I have a suggestion for the Greens don’t bother to print this Program because it is another illusion. In that way, at least another pine tree will live another few years enabling it to recycle some more Co2. If only, it could recycle hot air also. Mr. Gormley, Mr. Ryan, NAMA is a machine for devouring resources!

More measures to erode the incomes of the property owning and buying middle classes
*lifting the PRSI ceiling
*30% standard tax relief on pension contributions-maybe not the worst
*water charges
All of this will limit the ability of people to stay/get on th housing ladder. What will this do to the assets we now own thanks to NAMA. I repeat, NAMA started out as a reasonable proposal but in the hands of idiots it is rapidly descending into farce. We are paying to much. The principal of risk tranferance is being eroded at every hands turn, there is no identified recap mechanism and the value of the owned collatoral is being progressively destroyed.

@Eoin

‘Taking the p1ss out of the Greens and their priorities simply because you don’t agree with them or find them important doesn’t seem to be the best way of moving the debate on.’

What are you five years old or something?

Taking the piss out of the Greens – the Blanche DuBois wing of this vested-interest driven, union-dominated kleptocracy – will have to entertain us coz’ they’ve taken the money we had intended to use for fun.

Besides.

We don’t need a debate.

We need an election.

“30% standard tax relief on pension contributions-maybe not the worst”

I wonder what they mean by *private* pension.

Private as in “private sector”, or private as in “for your own private benefit”.

If the latter, seeing as on average public servants are paying 14% towards their pension (superannuation plus pension levy), this change would have the same impact as a 1.5% pay cut.

@Proposition Joe

They mean personal pension contributions (e.g. PRSAs). It makes it more expensive to rescue your decimated personal pension by increasing the contributions and could prove seriously expensive in the long run. It’s a pure fiscal grab and will hurt those private sector workers on middle incomes with poorly funded personal pensions the hardest. All the measures to grab tax have been aimed at this same group. Anyone in the private sector who votes Green or FF at the next election is certifiable…mind you I’m not impressed with the alternative parties…

@Paul

It might be a little tough to sell such a subtle distinction between the pension contributions of different sectors.

Especially if the tax-free status of the 150% retirement gratuity is maintained.

Well already they impose the 1% income levy on employers’ contributions to PRSA – treating it as BIK. We’d need to wait until the relevant Finance Bill to see what they mean. But it’s widely expected in the pensions industry that the Revenue will try to reduce its exposure to the costs of tax relief for pension contributions. I can’t see how it can affect employer funded Defined Benefit schemes….but we don’t know..what they have in mind until we see the Bill.

Drat my post about Blance DuBois has been deleted. Karl, for heaven’s sake Karl….I was poking fun at the Green Party and not mentioning any names…I mean where’s your sense of humour?

“Well already they impose the 1% income levy on employers’ contributions to PRSA – treating it as BIK”

I did not know that … Interesting (in a bad way).

In all fairness, this BIK should also be applied to the notional employers’ contribution to a public servant’s pension pot. Which for judges would be 2% of 73% of their salary, or 2% of 81% for the hold-outs against the voluntary pension levy.

(Based on an actuarial estimate of 87% of salary being the value of a judge’s pension, whereas for Gardai the figure is 50% and for civil servants circa 30%)

“We are the same people we were a year ago: enterprising, confident and compassionate. Neither our talent nor our determination has been dimmed by our current difficulties.”

And the two parties remain on Planet Bertie.

The word “transparency” doesn’t appear once in the document. So the same Victorian era secrecy will continue to protect insiders including the beneficiaries of €16 billion public procurement.

It’s clear that the Green politicians do not appreciate what remedies are required for a broken political system, beyond headline grabbing window dressing.

“This is an unparalleled programme of reform in all areas of Government activity – in politics, economics and across our society.”

This nonsense deserves absolute contempt.

The laundry list of aspirations which lacks a specific proposal to change a failed political system, is risible.

Outline new electoral systems for Seanad Éireann.”

Ken Whitaker headed a committee on the Constitution that reported in 1996 and recommended electoral reform; so we need a another delaying review 13 year later?

This is typical of the attitude to reform in Ireland.

An OECD report on the public service was commissioned in Jan 2007 and a taskforce is reviewing its propoals almost 3 years later.

If only aspirations and the preface of “”We will…” meant anything.

“We will strengthen our relationship with the global Irish diaspora to ensure those with a strong interest in Ireland can work together and contribute to our overall efforts at economic recovery.”

How impressive!

‘Make recommendations on the feasibility of extending the franchise for Presidential Elections to the Irish abroad.

Examine and make recommendations for changes to the electoral system for Dáil elections, including the number of deputies and their means of elections.”

So the voter franchise may be extended for presidential elections, for an office without power — how obvious is this window dressing?

Beyond all the blather, there is a simple truth; the Greens are pursuing their own individual salf-interest by propping up the builders’ party Fianna Fáil, which has brought ruination to tens of thousands of people.

Shame on the Green party and its Faustian bargain.

http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1017922.shtml

I felt that the Vegetables were nutters but this programme just proves it. This country is in a serious mess and consumers and businesses want a functioning banking system and we get GM crops free zones and protection for transgenders.

Eoin,
Good points.

As for the rest, I’m glad this is an economics discussion site, I’d hate to see it if it was politically motivated.

jms,

I think alot of economists – myself included – would like nothing better than to stay as far away from the political nitty gritty of a PfG as possible.

But circumstances have pushed ordinary economists into this position.

What is happening economically to our country is too big and too important for us to ignore. And it is very bound up with the politics, which is most unfortunate.

The future of our financial system, indeed our entire economy, will be decided today by the Greens and this on the basis of mink farming and stag hunting.

Eoin says we selected these issues out of a hat to make the Greens look silly, but the fact is this is the actual level of debate on which Nama and other issues are being pegged up.

Believe me, no serious economist wants to be where we are right now, but the ruling party has forced the debate into this sad, dark corner.

@jl
“the value of the owned collatoral is being progressively destroyed.”
Absolutely. And further measures that will have to be taken (removal of tax reliefs for residents and investors) will erode support for high prices aswell. NAMA is buying a bundle of assets that will continue to depreciate long after the ‘market’ has hit bottom…

@jms

There’s no point complaining about the ‘politicization’ of an economics blog when what is being discussed is the direct outcome of the politicization of the economy. This latter is what social partnership is and it’s what NAMA is or, at least, will be. I am personally opposed to politicizing of economics – I’m an 18th century classical liberal myself. BUT if we are countering naked politicization of our economy then, unfortunately, we have to get our hands dirty by saying things like ‘We disagree with the FF / Green policy….’ Ugh. I hated even typing that. It makes me feel so dirty.

Graham,

You’d know your own position better than I would, but that’s not as it seems to me. I believe, as a group, you have pushed yourselves into this sad, dark corner (30 billion valuation on 120 billion assets at peak, anyone) by losing objectivity on this a long time ago.

Thanks for the reply anyway.

The notion that economists can make arithmetical measurements and arrive at an objective recipe for economic progress is sadly delusional – all the more so in a crisis.

We are in the midst of a political dogfight in which the aim is to grab what can be grabbed. The protagonists represent a variety of forces and factions. It is inevitable that even the most fairminded economist will be more disgusted by one faction than by another.

@Eoin
“But hey, this aint my blog”.
Bondholder.com Eoin, that’s your natural home. The Green leadership insisted on having their deciding vote on Nama on the same weekend as voting on the PfG. Pfg vote first, PfG released on day of vote, 2/3 needed to vote down Nama, official motion requires Greens to vote against in Oireachtas, market value motion ruled out of order, hour and a quarter for party members to debate and decide on Nama (Athlone meeting just discussed the options)…
How could we possibly be cynical?
Nama has been a charicature of proper policy making.

Jms wrote about the 120bn peak asset valuations.

Hmm, remember the 120bn guys? The 75% LTV ratio on the loans we were buying? Whatever happened to that? It’s off somewhere in the same resting home for defunct talking points where you can find “Bo Lundgren is fully behind our plan”.

@jl

Your post nails it. Their plans will screw up the economy even more and – that’s going to throw the NAMA assumptions out of whack. What’s really scary is that – even from their own point of view – assuming their point of view is political survival, or saving lesbian seals or some such (or for FF, survival of the vested interests) – this doesn’t actually work. ON THEIR OWN TERMS it’s going to fail. It’s like they’re opening a department store where they plan to overcharge all of the customers – only it’s in Hiroshima and it’s 5th August 1945…..

jms,

What with the new blasphemy laws, I would not dare insult anyone’s belief system. But as for objectivity, all I can say is the Nama Bill on the table proposes to commit more than EUR 50 billion of taxpayers future earnings to the purchase of assets with virtually no transparency, no accountability, and no precise details of what will be bought and how it will be financed.

Is it really me who has lost objectivity here?

One member of the party is on radio saying that every euro invested in education brings 17 euro in return. This is the level of economic literacy we are dealing with. Education now a ponzi scheme.

I remember telling a third year class rep who had a poster with ‘no fees,tax the rich’ that he could easily have had ‘subsidise the rich. Tax the rich’. That is the illogicality of things now. Total contradictions on policy direction. Mad concepts of the returns to investments. Wooly stuff about things that just don’t matter.

So now to add to McCarthy, OECD public service and Commission on Taxation we get the strategic review of higher education in the bin too.

Protecting the mink – protecting their asses more like.

On irishtimes.com @ 4.52:
“Because of the delays the party has decided that the debates will be slightly truncated”

After the conference the leadership will put on a special performance of the complete works of Shakespeare in two hours.

“and that both votes will be taken at the end of the second debate”.

Amazing. They’ve managed to tie Nama even tighter to continuing in government. And the Nama debate will now be right after the stay in government debate.

Getting back to economics it does make the budget all the more interesting.

No university fees – Can’t raise money there. That would have been a good stealth tax. Good news for the middle classes! My son started this year. Being selfish that’s one less year for fees. Wonder if we can hold out for another 6 (I have another one to get through the system), then I’m all in favour of university fees!

500 more teachers. That’s not going to help the public expenditure arithmetic.

No increase in taxes. But of course PRSI is not seen as a tax. Removing the ceiling will hit the higher income earners hard but if I remember rightly the US multinationals are always threatening armageddon if the government does this.

So where are the cuts to come? Health? Social welfare?
Perhaps we’ve decided we don’t need them at all and the hoped for world recovery will raise income enough. The only thing is that recovery is looking a bit fragile and here at home the news on the jobs front this week was decidedly bad (hopefully one off). Don’t forget sterling, it’s heading back to where it was a year ago just before Christmas.

Lisbon voted through, Greens on board, next Nama and finally the budget. Never a dull moment.

I have been reading through the document.

1. almost nothing in the document addresses the serious risk that kids are facing growing up in what are becoming increasingly disadvantaged neighborhoods. taking fees off the table is a shrewd political stroke for the Greens but the consequences of growing up in neighborhoods where perhaps every young male is not in the formal labour market need to be looked at head-on. We need some people with courage and forward thinking to put this issue center-stage.

2. for reasons outlined at length in many contributions in this blog, the green initiatives look dangerously undercooked with the exceptions of the carbon tax. I can’t add much to what has already been said on the blog other than to say we better continue to seriously debate this stuff.

3. The active labour market initiatives amount to a wooly promise to make FAS accountable and some schemes that are reasonably expensive but far too small and unambitious to make any dent in the unemployment problem. Indeed, I have little doubt that they will make it into a paper at some stage arguing against active labour market policies just as we have seen the 1980s documents.

4. “Making the banking system work for people” amounts to NAMA plus a couple of tweaks, all of which seem to be prefixed with the word green. There is nothing of substance in the document about how individual and houshold debt will be dealt with. The current system is creating zombie households along with zombie estates. It has to be looked at urgently.

Overall, we still lack a coherent recession response, one that seeks to minimise the damage that such an economic fluctuation can create for households. Young male unemployment is nudging 30 per cent and that is an average figure masking substantial heterogeneity between regions. It is a matter of absolute urgency to systematically map out the knock-on consequences of this and to examine remedies for regions in danger of collapse. It is a matter of justice and economic common-sense that dealing with the intergenerational consequences of such large unemployment rates cannot be postponed to be dealt with later. We need serious and forward looking thinking now. There is nothing resembling this in the programme for government. Nor is there anything resembling a policy that will deal with the car-crash that negative equity is becoming.

The GP have just voted for Delayed Political Extinction.

How long the delay is the only question.

Well good luck to the Greens. They’ll need it.

For what its worth, in my fairly extensive discussions with Green Party members over the past few months, I never got the impression that more than a tiny minority of them understood even the very basics of how the NAMA project was going to work, i.e. the mechanics of what was being purchased by the government, who was issuing bonds, what the role of the ECB was and so on.

Lesson learned on my part.

@ Karl W

I feel we must give credit to the GAN people.

Their on-line campaign was pretty good.

They just left it too late.

I bet Ryan and Gormley both end up as FF candidates.

Browsed through the document only. The usual combination of pious waffle, smart ideas, and daft plans.

The thing that struck me is that a number of areas are selected for extra support (to the tune of about 1 billion euro), and there is a commitment to maintaining current levels of support in other areas. All this, of course, while sticking to the required fiscal consolidation. That can only mean that anybody who is not mentioned explicitly in this document is well and truly screwed.

This includes hospitals, universities, pensioners, jobseekers.

Among the daft plans is 500 million euro for an Innovation Fund, with spending to commence no later than April 2010. The Fund is to act on the recommendations of the Innovation Task Force. Said Task Force has spent the last four weeks worrying about the intellectual property rights of the submissions to this body. Methinks they won’t be ready to sensibly spend any money.

The only substantive “achievement” of the GP is the dropping of the return of fees. The GP TDs calculate that this will play well amongst their electorate in leavy midddle class suburbia. However the bill for this will be paid for by increased taxe on the middle classes -PRSI, Carbon and water & by undermining the remaining equity in thier homes. This is precisely the element of the elctorate that can figure this out. This is also probably the segment of the populace that can work out that NAMA is now circling the drain.

Mink are vicious little brutes. And if they’re released into the wild, as some nutters did a few years ago, they will wipe out pretty well all wildlife in the area. So if you’re going to save the environment, the only options are (a) an adopt-a-mink scheme, allowing Green Party members to keep mink in their baths and (b) gassing the beasts.

Of course, if you’re going to do that, it would be wasteful not to use the fur ….

“Among the many things it is planning to achieve is … developing Ireland as an international centre for cloud computing ….”

Shouldn’t that be cloud-cuckoo computing?

bjg

@Karl W

I don’t think many Green members understood it either. The lack of understanding of the ministers is as negligent as anything we have seen in our financial crisis.

The academic economists have been one of the few groups to emerge from our financial crisis with their reputations enhanced, greatly enhanced I believe. At least someone shouted stop. Please do your best to try to improve this proposal. Very difficult to drastically amend it now though.

I live in Eamon Ryan’s constituency and I gave him a fairly high voting preference. Any views I had on him, the rest of the leadership and the party membership before Nama were fairly positive. During the course of the debate I lost all respect for the leadership. The overwhelming backing the party membership gave to Nama (with the exception of the brave GAN dissidents) has made me lose respect for them. I was hoping for at least 51% against Nama.

My impression from the debate it that the closest comparison to the Green party is one of the religous parties in Israel. They are deeply suspicious of outsiders. They are narrowly focused on their own movement’s goals. They deeply trust in their leaders. And with the appropriate leverage they succeed in extracting a large amount of taxpayer money for their personal causes. The emphasis on Green jobs is now taking on a distasteful appearance. Perhaps it is all about creating a belief community.

Given this, perhaps your noble efforts were always doomed to failure.

@Richard Tol
I think you hit the nail on the head, if the spending commitments in the document are taken at face value, it means either cuts in SW, cuts in public sector pay, cuts in the capital budget & further significant increases in taxation. Our only recreation will be mink hunting or posibly we will need the little critters for food and warmth. Last one out please turn off the lights please.

As i noted elsewhere, we save 140k mink for 54b – a mere €385,000 per mink. Great value. KW suggested to me that we could give each mink a house of its own at that cost. Expensive little fur-weasels. And insensate killers to boot….

@Eamonn76

“The emphasis on Green jobs is now taking on a distasteful appearance.”

One hears on the grape vine that “environmental entrepreneur” is one of the more common occupations among the party faithful. No doubt all well placed to “bid” for a taste of that 500 mill.

Ethical pork anyone?

Eamonn76 Says:
October 10th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

“protecting of minks and the trans-gendered”

@ Eamonn 76,

Have you completely lost your mind?

I’m disappointed you didn’t see it.

All together now ……

“PROTECT THE TRANS-GENDER MINK OR THE PLANET GETS IT”

Shame on you Eamonn 76

There obviously isn’t a trans-gender mink cell in your patriotic body.

From the Program for government.

“The most eye-catching of the commitments is the decision to conduct a feasibility study into converting the GPO complex into a new Abbey Theatre by 2016, in time for the centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising”

The first play to be performed there should be “NAMA and The Tragedy of the Green’s”

Any suggestions!

It’s pretty revealing that many of the supposedly austere economists who hang around the water cooler on this site, choose to lampoon fu farming rather than offer any sort of rational analysis of the new programme for government. Other Irish forums also sport this sort of chat, but they’re usually home to enraged adolescents.

@Michael Hennigan “The word “transparency” doesn’t appear once in the document.”

Did you base that line of argument on a word search? If you’d widened it even a a couple of characters to ‘transparent,’ you’d have got three hits. Imagine what you might find if you consulted a thesaurus and used your imagination?

• Introduce on a legislative basis a more open and transparent system for
appointments to public bodies. The legislation will outline a procedure for the
publication of all vacancies likely to occur, invite applications from the general
public and from the responses create a panel of suitable persons for consideration
of appointment. The legislation will also specify numbers of persons to be
appointed by a Minister and will facilitate the appropriate Oireachtas Committees
to make nominations to the panel.

• Further reform the system of expenses for members of the Oireachtas to ensure
the system is transparent, vouched and open to scrutiny, including the regular
publication of such expenses. This system will be verified and verifiable.

• We will deliver a transparent, faster, more integrated, efficient system for granting bus licences.

@ Paul McDonnell

“What are you five years old or something?”

No Paul, but even a five year old could see that your ideas for letting the banks go t1ts up & bust would be among the more insane ideas suggested on this site. Remind me again why the Open Republic didn’t ever really get off the ground?

I’ve been reasonably civil in our previous discussions, but if you’re going make comments like the above i don’t see why i should remain so.

@ Damian
Yes – – guilty as charged but my excuse is that it was close to midnight where I’m currently based!

The baby steps you list will have an insignificant impact on the culture of Victorian secrecy.

NAMA is carrying on the tradition of secrecy on the contracts it is agreeing with insiders.

On public spending transparency, the only significant advance in the 22-year span between Bord Snip 1 and Bord Snip II was the FOI route but cost factors limit its value – – wonder what it costs to get cross-departmental data via 15 FOI requests, which may involve a wait of 6 month?

Besides, it appears that the Dept of Finance itself would have a big task figuring for example how much many categories of spending cost across the public sector.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said and he wasn’t talking about soap.

http://www.finfacts.com/irishfinancenews/article_1017081.shtml

You’ve got to hand it to Cowen, as reluctant as I am to do so…..

but for someone who appears to have no real mandate and only some 23% (or so) of the country supporting him, he looks like he’s got Lisbon, has the Greens, will get NAMA over the line soon and then will stuff us all with the budget in December……………. and he will still be in power come the New Year.

Could something like this happen in any other democratic country?

I guess last night at the GP party was one hell of a lesson in hanging on to power whatever the cost.

To the principal contributors/administrators on this blog and to those who initiated and posted on this thread (Karl Whelan, Liam Delaney, Richard Tol) I would like to express my gratitude for maintaining and developing this forum with such a focus on the highest quality of theoretical and evidence-based economic policy analysis. (I am sure this would be echoed by many other posters and readers.)

I do detect a note of understandable exasperation. It is probably to be expected when, as so often happens, the best of economic policy analysis founders on the rocks of the naked desire for the retention of political power at all costs.

I realise that this isn’t politics.ie, but this latest cynical political deal should probably be a salutary reminder that rational economic policy formulation, scrutiny and implementation can only take place when the framework of democratic governance facilitates this. It’s also probably time that we recognised that this framework is irrevocably broken in Ireland. This hasn’t happened overnight – failures have been evident since the 1937 Constitution – but numerous malign factors have coincided at this point. And to some extent these failures are shared with systems of democratic governance in other countires that are based on “government-in-parliament” – although many of these countries have developed mechanisms to remedy or reduce the impact of these failures.

We now have the spectacle of a party comprising 6 TDs and 700(?) activists which would struggle to muster 2 or 3 constituency quotas determining the short and medium future of the Irish people and economy. Potentially economy-damaging policies will be formulated and implemented simply because the Dail arithmetic may be maintained – while, at the same time, there can be no doubt that a significant majority of the electorate views itself as being effectively disenfranchised.

Any amount of commentary on this blog – or public debate interventions – will have no impact. I believe we need to focus on repairing the framework for democratic governance – if only as a means of ensuring rational economic policy formulation and implementation.

I have no wish to come across all apocalyptic, but I fear that a failure to tackle the current failure of democratic governance runs the risk of undermining the democratic stability of the state.

@Eoin I don’t need to remind you why the Open Republic didn’t get off the ground because I didn’t tell you in the first place. But it’s a very, very good question. And since you ask it here’s why.

The Open Republic Institute was promoted on the basis that it would only accept funding from business or private individuals. It was designed on the model of the UK’s IEA or Adam Smith Institute or the USA’s Cato or AEI.

No business in Ireland was willing to support it because the Social Partnership system functions on the basis of Omerta when it comes to criticism of public public policy. No business leader (with the exception of Michael O’Leary) is willing to offend the government. This is because the social partnership system is deemed to comprise vested interests and ONLY vested interests and the common denominator of these vested interests is deemed to be a reasonable mean and therefore acceptable to all.

When I met with David Dilger of Greencorp he said – when I had finished my pitch – ‘Yes, Paul, but what’s in it for YOU?’ I’m never at a loss for words but I was then. I think if I’d said ‘David I want 50 grand a year and my own car’ he probably would have understood and immediately coughed up. The truth is that Ireland has no tradition of liberalism.

My view of the banks is broadly similar to many of the 46 and is driven, like the 46, ultimately by the fact that NAMA is a moral hazard engine. The 46 were not arguing for the banks to go ‘tits up’ as you put it but for an orderly failure that imposed losses on bondholders and shareholders rather than on taxpayers.

I was somewhat impolite about your pulling up your skirts and jumping on to a table about comments on the Greens because I thought it’s just another of the infinite variants on that Irish theme of closing down debate – Omerta. The truth is that the Irish don’t do transparency or accountability. You need to be living in a rather twee fantasy world if you think that ‘politeness’ about the green ‘principles’ is some kind of gentlemanly code of conduct without which we are all lost to barbarism. Such attention to conduct on your part requires an heroic blindness to some more obvious problems that will arise from the Green policy ideas.

Don’t take my word for it. Watch the results of the next election. They will be destroyed – utterly.

Another thing about the social partnership system is that treats anything that’s not social partnership as, by definition, extreme. In other words it redefines political extremism as anything that isn’t part of the consensus. That explains the relationship between this blog and the Greens. The fact that the Greens have gone along with it proves my point about its enormous power. It is the ultimate Montezuma-scale monument to Group Think.

There are many – perhaps even you – who have mistaken the group-think of Social Partnership and its various policies – including NAMA – for the wisdom of crowds. They are different. Social Partnership is a system of agency that stands between individuals and policy. In other words it is DESIGNED to obviate the need for individual citizens to think for themselves.

I witnessed the other day a life insurance executive praise the Minister for Finance for ‘all his hard work’ – even though it’s clear that government policy as currently practiced and envisioned will do grave – and I mean GRAVE – damage to the life and pensions industry in this country.

It’s not that people are afraid to criticize. It’s that they can’t conceive of a world where such a thing is even possible. It’s very comforting to live in that world. But it’s group think. It’s led to this Green nonsense. The Green document must be seen as nothing other than a bizarre and insulting taunt of those who are really, truly in harms way now.

@ Karl Whelan

Is that supposed to be your professional opinion on the programme for government document? Really more of an insight into your own prejudices I would have thought.

As for “greens not understanding how NAMA works”, that is code for “didn’t agree with me on all of my blindingly brilliant insights”, right? As a green member (and an LSE graduate in economics with distinction), my opinion would be that Greens understand NAMA much better than any other non-expert party or grouping in society. Are you suggesting that Fine Gael or Labour understand it any better?

You seem to have enjoyed the spotlight over the last few weeks. I must say it is refreshing to see the academic economists finally playing a roll in public life. Pity it wasn’t before Fianna Fail/PD economically illiterate government destroyed the public finances and economy. (incidentally, are you on the record anywhere once over this 10 year period warning of the imminent disaster?) Where were the economic economists then?

I’ll engage with the topic on Richard’s thread where he has at least offered some sort of constructive analysis.

@jc

“As for “greens not understanding how NAMA works”, that is code for “didn’t agree with me on all of my blindingly brilliant insights”, right?”

No, not right. Genuinely, most GP members I spoke with, including some pretty senior ones, didn’ understand how the thing was supposed to work, never mind my arguments (brilliant or otherwise) about its merits.

As for the absence of my warnings of imminent disaster, my employments at the Federal Reserve and Central Bank for almost all of this period precluded me from playing a Cassandra role. Beyond that, my own research specialities have never been focused on the Irish economy.

But, look, lots of people warned that house prices were over-valued, that the tax base was becoming far too narrow, about wasteful public spending. It’s not like any of these warnings by economists were listened to, just like the PFG document consistently runs counter to what the vast majority of mainstream economists would suggest. As for constructive criticism, I posted the document about ten minutes after it was released, primarily to open discussion on it (I don’t think my summary of it is particularly misleading as to the nature of the document.) But I will be along later to offer more detailed discussions of the PFG.

Congratulations on the LSE distinction by the way.

This site is fast becoming a parody of politics.ie

NAMA has become the Irish version of the US debate on abortion or gun control.

If the Greens had decided to vote down NAMA we’d be hearing how brave, wise and forthright their decison making was, and how we respected them all along. They are a great example of how the political system can work in an honest and transperent manner.

Now that they’ve decided, after months of listening to all the arguments, to go with NAMA and the new PfG, well it appears they’re all psychopaths, criminals (per Enda) and lunatics who are going to bankrupt the nation, and indeed they are proof positive that the political system in this country is broken. They want to protect the transgendered for God’s sake. Kill ’em all.

‘Now that they’ve decided, after months of listening to all the arguments, to go with NAMA and the new PfG, well it appears they’re all psychopaths, criminals (per Enda) and lunatics who are going to bankrupt the nation, and indeed they are proof positive that the political system in this country is broken.’

Eoin, the new PfG seems to prevent / reduce cuts in public spending and seems to wish to raise taxes further – ergo – it’s catastrophic nonsense.

The POLICY is bad. Not only will it not work. It will make things worse.

The fact that it’s been deliberated and decided upon by well-meaning middle-class types who ‘love’ the environment doesn’t make it any better. If they had decided to embrace fiscal restraint they would not have contradicted their green values.

In fact the contrast with with British is interesting. All major parties in Britain have said they need to close the fiscal gap and they appear to mean it. Britain has that survival gene that will cause them to grope towards the right approach.

The Irish are cargo-cultists waiting for help from the sky.

As Eoin above might ask ‘Take any measures ourself to help matters? Why you just hate gays, don’t you?’

@Eoin
No, we wouldnt. We would critique the POLICIES of parties, not the parties themselves except in so far as the structures lead to policies. I think.
I think Nobel Laureate Joe has the patent on “criminals”.
The issue of protecting ungenetically modified transgendered mink is to highlight the “issues” that the GP think are paramount RIGHT NOW.

Paul Hunt
The banksters need countries that appear legit. They will maintain order etc. The standard of living will fall further than necessary and crime will boom.

The Greens
They are not a party. They are a bunch of individuals! Think of defanged mink! Those involved will be punished electorally, but others who care for green things will come along and ensure that they get a vital seat or two.

Nama
Lobby the president! Dissolve the dail and if the new bunch are bought off, then lobby the President to refer to the Supreme Court.

@ Paul

you’re missing the point, and by quite some distance. This thread isn’t really about the PfG, its about NAMA. Everything is now about NAMA. It now dictates how we view the sanity and competency of everyone involved in public life. Per most of the posts on this site:

Anti NAMA: all your policies are sane, coherent, and level headed.

Pro-NAMA: cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo.

Give credit and bravery awards to the Greens Against NAMA (GAN), sure the rest of them were probably out back smoking hemp…

At no stage do i remember there even being a discussion about what the Greens would or would not look to put in the new PfG prior to the last couple of days, but now everyone wants to tell anyone who’s listening how batsh1t crazy the whole party is. Thats the whole point of this thread, and its 95% based on NAMA and about 5% or less on the PfG.

Eoin
No, one can be pro-nama and lauded IF one has coherent policies. Calling for the economic equivalent of a rain of frogs if we dont do it is not a coherent economic policy.
I could have cared less what would be in the PfG – it was clear to me that they would do what was needed to stay in power. Thats what political parties do.

@ Brian L

Joe’s got the copyright, but Enda has obviously licenced it.

“”As a result of the decision today by the Green Party, it is the Irish taxpayer who is going to be the victim of this “criminal” policy,” he said”

The whole point of this thread has been to discredit the Greens and the policies they have included in the PfG, not because of the policies themselves, but because they voted for NAMA. You said it yourself:

“I could have cared less what would be in the PfG”

At least your honest about it. Not so a lot of others on the thread.

@ Eoin

‘you’re missing the point, and by quite some distance. This thread isn’t really about the PfG, its about NAMA. Everything is now about NAMA. It now dictates how we view the sanity and competency of everyone involved in public life. Per most of the posts on this site:’

– It’s about the Greens sense of priority. NAMA for the left / Greens who support it etc.. is a way of faking ‘hard-headed’ realism. It checks that box which the Greens probably feel self-conscious about. The box that says ‘economically literate’. The Greens who support NAMA are like an illiterate / uncultured millionaire stuffing his library with great books to prove how clever he is.

You say – ‘Anti NAMA: all your policies are sane, coherent, and level headed.’

Pro-NAMA: cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo.’

Yes. That’s right. And with evidence to prove it.

‘Give credit and bravery awards to the Greens Against NAMA (GAN), sure the rest of them were probably out back smoking hemp…’

Sure the Greens who opposed NAMA deserve lots of credit.

Are you complaining that the Greens in general are being dissed for what the majority have decided??

‘At no stage do i remember there even being a discussion about what the Greens would or would not look to put in the new PfG prior to the last couple of days, but now everyone wants to tell anyone who’s listening how batsh1t crazy the whole party is. Thats the whole point of this thread, and its 95% based on NAMA and about 5% or less on the PfG.’

The PfG as outlined is beneath contempt. Which part of the stupid, arrogant, feckless cocktail of government waste do you want us to discuss?

It’s no use telling us how ‘long’ they spent ‘thinking’ about it – or how ‘democratic’ was their process. NAMA is a virtual parody of everything they have spent their entire lives standing against.

The sad irony is that many on the left who support NAMA have built careers / identities out of attacking ‘corporate greed’. Almost always ‘corporate greed’ is an ideologically-driven figment of the leftist imagination. And on the one occasion when an exceptionally rare and huge example comes along, they choose not to see it for what it is but instead to label it ‘necessary and realistic’ – or some such.

In their endorsement of NAMA and the simultaneous promotion of their vacuous, gratuitous tokenist agenda, the Greens are like a paranoid schizophrenic who having decided that everyone is trying to kill them actually befriend the only person who really is trying to kill them.

You couldn’t make it up.

@eoin
So NAMA isn’t a policy in bond-land then?
“The whole point of this thread has been to discredit the Greens and the policies they have included in the PfG, not because of the policies themselves, but because they voted for NAMA”.

As a self-appointed defender of the bond-holders in Irish banks you cannpt blame us tax-payers if we complain about being ripped off by you and the NAMA policies you support. My vested interest group is a tad larger than yours.

In fact there is a fecklessness about Green politics that has simply been seamlessly extended from their Tolkienesque environmentalism to NAMA. Not seeing NAMA for what it is but, instead, using it as an opportunity to ‘prove’ how ‘realistic they are on the economy’ is simply the same fecklessness.

It’s just that people who understand the numbers and the moral hazard issues have their hands over their faces and they are murmuring – ‘No. Please. This is not like saving lesbian badgers. This is actually serious. Find some other example to prove how ‘economically realistic’ you are. But not this…’

@Eoin Bond
you misread me – i care less about the PfG BECAUSE its irrelevant ; they would have gone for bbq mink if that would keep them in power. Dont misquote please.

@Eoin
What I said was , for those too lazy to back up ;
“I could have cared less what would be in the PfG – it was clear to me that they would do what was needed to stay in power. Thats what political parties do.”
IE the PfG had feckall to do with economics and all to do with politics.

@ Eoin

BL said:

“I could have cared less what would be in the PfG – it was clear to me that they would do what was needed to stay in power. Thats what political parties do.”

You did not even quote his full sentence, and context is everything.

I think we should not misunderestimate each other:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHy6IZcleic

🙂

@ Brian L

you’ve clarified what you were trying to say. But i didn’t misquote you.

Your cynicism, possibly completely correct, meant that you never really cared what was going to be in the pfg, right? But that doesn’t make the Greens all of a sudden a bunch of whack jobs, or this thread any less about NAMA.

Brian, Karl

Your mockery of a commitment to secure the rights of transgendered people is nothing other than disgusting. Whatever about your views on the Greens decision on NAMA, if you have nothing better then to denigrate the situation many transgendered people find themselves in, you should say nothing. I am genuinely disgusted.

I just find the hypocrisy on this post amusing. For months everyone has tried to bring the Greens round to the anti-NAMA viewpoint, gone out of their way to inform and discuss with them, treated them as having a hugely important role in the medium term economic outlook for the country (i assume KW doesn’t give up his personal time to just any random group of people), and generally shown high levels of fairness and respect to them.

Now that they’ve voted for NAMA, well sure we knew all along that they were f***ing insane organic gardeners and transgendered-minkophiliacs who couldn’t even get through a junior cert economics module without scratching their heads. They’re a danger to the entire political process to be sure.

The new found honesty shown in the wake of the Green’s decision is just as worthy of the political process as the Green’s input into the PfG is.

(Note: i obviously exempt Paul MacD from this, his virtiolic contempt for the Greens has been reasonably obvious from a while back)

@Barra\Eoin

The claim that this post mocks transgendered people is patently ridiculous. I am not mocking rural pubs, films, or the Irish language either. The repeated attempts to personally attack me are unfair and it’s hard to view them as anything other than comments designed to damage someone that you view as an opponent to either your favourite political party or your favourite banking policy.

I’ll delete any further comments that engage in this kind of thing. And spare me whinging about clamping down on “free speech” — we’ve been over this many times. I’ve allowed all of your original disparaging comments to stand but these things need to have a limit.

The long list at the start of the post makes it clear that the document is largely a wish list of small initiatives designed to keep Green Party members happy. That’s the only point being made in the summary — no Eoin, it’s not about NAMA.

As for some notion that I have somehow radically changed my opinion of the Green Party because they voted for NAMA, Eoin I really have no idea what you’re talking about (note the post was written before the NAMA vote and I have believed all along that the Greens would vote for NAMA.) You don’t know me from Adam, so I’d appreciate laying off with the consistent accusations of hypocrisy and acting in bad faith.

I have clearly allowed you guys far too much freedom here and will be watching carefully. You can discuss the PFG and its various proposals but other stuff has to go.

@ Karl

Fair enough (and apologies for personalising the debate). If you want serious discussion, however, you have a responsibility to lead by example.

@ Paul McDonnell

Have you read the PfG or just the Sunday Independent??? The PfG states that “the public finances would need to be corrected by €4 billion in each of the next three years (2010, 2011 and 2012).” With regard to the tax raises – these moves are implementation of Commission on Taxation recommendations, and in line with principle of keeping labour taxes to a minimum and providing more stable tax base in future.

@jc

I don’t even care much about whether debate here is serious or not — I’m not going to delete comments because people are a having a joke nor do I worry about the usual personalised cut and thrust that goes on here all the time. But I simply don’t see why people need to frame their disagreements via accusing others of “prejudice” and “hypocrisy” and all that other stuff.

As a final point on this (not addressed at jc specifically) I would note that people might want to take into account that nobody knows who the anonymous commenters are but those of us who write posts here do so under our own name. So remember that it’s easy to sling mud when you know that your own reputation isn’t at stake but think for a second whether you’d like these kind of accusations thrown at you in public.

Some people respond to this by saying that you can’t expect to make statements in public and not have people respond, and to a point that’s fair enough. Clearly I adopt a very permissive approach to criticism here (as Eoin and others can agree to — I have never deleted or edited any of Eoin’s comments for example).

But that’s not the same thing as saying there is a public right to anonymously slander someone. And, for sure, one should not expect this same person to agree to publish this material.

@ JC. The PfG may state this but in so doing it’s paying lip service o existing policy. There’s no specific recommendation as to how the government will get the deficit under control. Tax raises are not in line with anything. All tax is, at the end of the day, income tax. Property tax will be paid out of my income as will any carbon levies. The country needs to lower spending. Repeating the platitudes in the PfG as if they amount to concrete policies doesn’t constitute a valid objection to my observations about the – er – disordered nature of Green ‘policy’. Here’s the guts of what they say and why their thinking is wrong.

1. Correction of the public finances
We will take into account reports and existing aspirations. We will use GDP as a frame of reference (not a good idea given the GDP / GNP gap and its reasons)

2. Restoring our damaged banking system.

NAMA will help get credit flowing again….- no it won’t. Period.

3. Regaining competitiveness
‘The future of the economy lies in exports’. …..No it doesn’t. It lies in improved productivity and better marketable skills..and fiscal restraint and lower taxes….

4. ‘Protecting jobs and investing in retraining those who have lost jobs
The number of people in employment has fallen sharply and we must take all possible and sensible measures to protect and support existing jobs.’

Drivel.

If anything the Sunday is too kind to this nonsense.

Look I don’t know what your problem is.

1. Left of center Green party produces anti-enterprise, big-government plan, stuffed with token ideas to ‘help’ the economy.

2. People who don’t confuse press release boilerplate with real analysis say it’s bullshit…

…and suddenly we’re into ‘you hypocrite..’….. ‘don’ be nasty to the poor old Greens’……

Really. It brings my inner Alex (Clockwork Orange). One just wants to take a baseball bat to this document.

@ Karl

“So remember that it’s easy to sling mud when you know that your own reputation isn’t at stake but think for a second whether you’d like these kind of accusation thrown at you in public.”

Point taken.

@Barra
Im not mocking TG/TS people. I am wondering if, important as their rights are, its something that is more important than, say, ensuring that we have enough cash in the kitty to enforce said rights, or do we foother around for a while more. To denigrate the putting forward of something is not the same as denigrating the thing itself.

I am aware that in its recent submission on the Proposed EU Directive on Equal Treatment regardless of age, disability or sexual orientation the Irish gov’t has said that it would not wish to see Gay and Lesbian Choirs outlawed. I did not see a commitment to this policy in the PfG.

@BL, KW,

do not feed the troll. Eoin started as a person with a reasonable point of view that NAMA was a responsible soulution to the situation we were in becasue it provided for risk transfer, liquidity injection and capital provision to the banking system. As such it had the tacit support of the ECB/EU. It might work if it was combined with a fiscal strategy to put the Irish economy back on a growth path so underpinning value of the assets taken on. However, his writings have got more despairing as NAMA has evolved & he has resorted in time honoured FF fashion to playing the man and not the ball. Why is this the case-possibly because it is becoming increasingly obvious that the version of NAMA that is go down the slip way is bent out of shape in compairison with the original design
*we are overpaying for an even more toxic collection of assets
*public policy through taxing the collatoral and reducing the incomes of the property buying class will erode the value of the collatoral
*instead of true risk transfer, we have some cack handed subbies and levy at some indetermined time in the future-this will hurt the brains of anybody trying to figure out if the Irish banks are profitable
*We have no new regulatory framework
*we have no road map for recapping the banks.
In short we will end up with an undercapitalised banking system, dependent on ECB liquidity, with an unxceratin business model and no capacity to lend. The taxpayer will end up with a heap of overvalued dirt and a national debt that will strangle the private sector in this country for decades to come. I suspect that is why Eoin has to resort to the off the ball stuff.

By the way Michael Hennigan has pointed out the GM ban on another thread. I mean is ANYONE here willing to defend such garbage – for even a nanosecond.

@Paul MacDonnell
I think there are a couple of reasons to be nervous of GM in Ireland. Prevailing winds mean that anything planted in the west would leave pollen trails across the country. So the genie would be out of the bottle and would be pretty much impossible to put back in. Some of the GM developments have been designed to allow greater use of stronger pesticides and herbicides. Others are designed to allow crops to grow in marginal conditions. Neither of these things appear to be ‘required’ in Ireland.

There appears to be a market for GM free food across Europe. In addition, there appears to be a move against GM food for economic reasons. This is along the lines that cheap imports of food may be GM contaminated and so should be labelled. Therefore GM-free gives european farmers an advantage in provision of components to agri-business. Put simply, it is a protectionist measure.

Finally, I’d see it linked in with the desired increase in horticulture and particularly organic. As far as I know, you can’t be certified organic if there is a GM crop grown within a certain distance. Given the fragmented nature of Irish farms (something NAMA might sort out 🙂 ) the two are somewhat incompatible.

It is easier to say no now and yes later than vice-versa. I am reasonably sure that this will be the FF take on it! If I see a constitutional amendment, I will start to get worried, but until then it will be legislation that a simple majority can remove.

@ yoganmahew

Thanks for that considered and informed reply. I was under the impression that GM crops were more likely to be engineered so that they require fewer pesticides or pesticide in lower quantities (to save money).

In any case your outline as to the future seems very cogent.

Of course the fact that the US is not being plagued by giant Triffids and has been eating GM food for years will start to make EU protests look a bit thin.

Thanks for your considered post.

@Paul

Some indeed have been engineered to provide greater pest resistance (i.e. incorporating ‘natural’ pesticide genes from other crops). They were the subject of a big fuss a while ago where some chap claimed that they could kill rats (i.e. the ‘natural’ pesticide treated humans as pests!), but I believe he was debunked to some degree.

A greater danger of them is perceived to be the effects they have on beneficial wildlife (bees in particular).

A particularly beneficial development was, I believe, the crossing of vitamin A producing genes from daffodils with rice? Or some such. A Swiss chap developed it to cope with vitamin A deficiency in Asia/Africa.

But as far as I am aware, much of what is developed is done so that broad spectrum pesticides and herbicides can be used. Monsanto make no bones about it:
http://www.asgrowanddekalb.com/web/
“The Most EXCLUSIVE Genetics and INCLUSIVE Risk Reduction Seed Choice. DEKALB® brand Genuity™ SmartStax™ combines the newest exclusive DEKALB DKC genetics and the most all-inclusive trait technology ever – all in one seed bag.”
“Spectrum

* The absolute broadest spectrum of above and below ground insect protection
* Roundup Ready® 2 Technology and Liberty Link® herbicide tolerance for broad spectrum weed control”

Actually I should correct myself, it is, I think, more herbicide, but less insecticide (the insecticide being generated internally in the plant).

I don’t consider myself anti-scientific in any way. I’m happy for human/animal genetic experimentation to take place, for example, but the thought of random effects in wild insect and plant populations gives me the willies!

It is not triffids I’m worried about, it is pesticide resistant insects, herbicide resistant weeds. The economic costs of buying differently engineered seed each year and the specific treatment that has to be applied to it to kill off the superbugs and superweeds. The same sort of thing we have seen develop over the last seventy years of feckless antibiotic usage.

I see on Page 12, they mention “We will encourage and support the development, through BIM, of innovation, product development and high value-added branded seafood exports”.

All product development should be market-led and this remit now lies with Bord Bia. There is therefore a disjoint between what BIM and Bord Bia and duplication of roles. Furthemore, BIMs activities in the area of product development and innovation in the past has been non-existent and limited to a small amount of microbiologocal analysis at the Headquarters in Dublin. Their current interest in product development and innovation is a self-preservation attempt to ensure continued support for the new facility in Cloankilty. Value-added and innovation are words thrown around by many government agencies these days however in BIM’s case, they have no proven track record in this area and other agencies and third level institutions (e.g. UCC) have more expertise and dedicated programs in these areas.

Do the Greens now support duplication of services? I think the green values have been compromised by supporting this backwards initiative.

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