A 14 year old who should be very proud of herself

I find this story both extraordinary and inspiring.

Ms Fried’s article is published here.

31 replies on “A 14 year old who should be very proud of herself”

We didn’t have to go abroad for this to happen. There are people alive today who remember No Catholics apply for jobs in certain businesses in Sligo and Manorhamilton.

And we won’t even mention the Penal Laws.

It is a lovely story in its own right but I think it has a direct relevance to the story of the last seven years in the Eurozone too.

Jensen (the “historian” who our student hereo refuted) is quite a character (his entry at a libertarian wiki is worth a nervous chuckle) but he’s also an archetype, the reactionary revisionist, a man with a grudge against the reality based community.

The German ordoliberals (also Milton Friedman) who said that the Great Depression was a result of poor monetary policy are in the same camp, people so committed to rewriting the past that they are entirely happy to pretend it happened differently.

Are Alberto “expansionary fiscal contraction” Alesina’s various attempts at denying the effects of austerity so far from Jensen’s attempts to deny historic racism?

So laugh at Jensen’s well deserved comeuppance and applaud Rebecca Fried’s curiosity and gumption but remember that the European establishment is full of similar people to our anti-historian – and when their dishonesty or wilful ignorance is raised everyone looks the other way and pretends the present isn’t happening either.

It’s not that long ago since advertisers in the Irish Times (and other newspapers) would specify the religion of domestic servants and other employees being sought in the ‘help wanted’ columns.

Credit to Rebecca for setting the record straight.

The WASP aristocracy remained powerful in East Coast cities well into the 20th century despite they being run mainly by the Irish. Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of the WASPs and he became viewed as a traitor to his class as president — Roosevelt did however treat Jesse Owens, the black American athlete, shabbily after the latter returned from Berlin with 4 gold medals.

Joseph Kennedy, the father of the president, also had experienced discrimination in Boston.

On the other hand…the Native Americans faced much worse while the Irish supported the pro-slavery Democratic Party. Relations with black people were poor as the latter were competing for some of the same menial jobs. In July 1863 Irish rioters who opposed a Union Army draft, over a 5-day period in New York, killed blacks and burned an orphanage which housed over 200 children.

@ Shay Begorrah

There is seldom one explanation for an economic collapse and Milton Friedman didn’t suggest that there was one for the Great Depression.

He and Anna Schwartz in their book “A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960” said:

The contraction is a tragic testimonial to the importance of monetary forces. Different and feasible actions by the monetary authorities could have prevented the decline in the stock of money…[This] would have reduced the contraction’s severity and almost as certainly its duration (pp. 300-01).

Early morning Monday March 6 1933, 36 hours after becoming president, an executive order signed by Roosevelt ordered every bank in America to remain shut. Saving the banking system was the first major achievement of the new administration.

More identity politics squabbling to keep the plebs from remembering about class politics. The west is drowning in this ideological naval gazing to the point where basic historical facts are being denied.

Noteworthy that it took an undoctrinated teenager to refute academia’s absurd rejection of reality. God help the profession of economics if some bright cailín decides to investigate one of its basic notions.

Thanks for the post. The story itself is probably of equal academic significance as the paper the young lady produced.

@Shay B

Equally, those, such as yourself, who conflate two distinct issues and use the result to make a partisan case, are at fault. In your case, it is to use the obstinacy of the orthodox Eurogroup (German) leaders to justify a case for non-reform in debtor countries. Just because Germany and others deny reality (that fiscal contraction would inhibit growth), does not mean that Greece, Ireland, Portugal etc did not need to get their domestic house in order.

Stephen Collins of the Irish Times had a most intuitive piece some time ago on what unites the far left and far right in Europe.


This contribution by Professor Sinn shows what a game of double bluff it is; during a weekend in which the elements of Syriza ousted from government but not from the movement’s controlling central committee are also putting forward proposals for a Grexit.


By “reform,” what exactly do you mean, ninap?

Because where I’m sitting, “reform” as used in Europe generally means making laws and regulations that make the 1% much more comfortable while making the existence of a large fraction of the remaining 99% much more precarious, through such things as the privatisation of state assets (and the flip side: the socialisation of private losses).

Let us stop using this nebulous term and start saying what we really mean. Only then can an actual conversation start. What do you mean by “reform”?

It was also not very modern to argue Irish people could be subject to racism is since Irish people were white.

Inherent advantage didn’t stack up well in the face of that and intersectionality didn’t provide any answers.

So revisionists who didn’t care and progressives who should have known better all ignored the story.

It was just too hard.

@ Ernie

You are right to ask for specifics, and right that in some instances, ‘reform’ is a phrase used to justify changes that are of benefit to a minority. But there are real reforms that are necessary and that would benefit the majority. For example, creating a welfare model that encourages people to work (and the current government has made some good progress in this regard, but we still have Europe’s highest proportion of single parent non working households, to take just one issue). Most countries have long ago concentrated their efforts on labour activation policies, which we are belatedly introducing; the negative effects of our unwillingness to ‘reform’ have been people trapped in long term unemployment, and large welfare bills for the Exchequer. Did FAS need to be reformed, or was that just fine and dandy. Is it right that no one can be fired from the public service for underperformance? Who pays the price for, e.g., bad teachers? A call for ‘reform’ here means giving head teachers more managerial responsibility. This would reward good teachers, and provide more opportunities for career progression. i fear you will dismiss all such talk as just a right-wing plot to reduce workers’ wages, but that is not the case. Many workers are vulnerable in our economy, while some are protected unduly and face no sanction for bad performance or bad decisions which impact on others.

I know from direct experience that there are few incentives in the Irish public service to save money, to perform to a high level, and, equally, few sanctions for poor performance.

Reforms of pensions, education, health, planning, regulation and many other areas are overdue in Ireland, and are nothing to do with attacking the poor, but would result in a more sustainable and fairer economy.

The shorter DOCM: up is down, black is white, the left and the right are the same and a “spectre is haunting Europe” but it’s not German ordoliberal hegemony, it’s the prospect that nominal democracies might have to listen to their people.

The very idea that a party not participating in the groupthink might get elected gives the likes of our DOCM and Stephen Collins the vapours. Gene Kerrigan has it right: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/gene-kerrigan/gene-kerrigan-the-parties-have-become-so-alike-that-elections-change-nothing-except-the-personnel-31437460.html


I stopped reading at “bad teachers,” for it was then that I knew exactly what I was dealing with. Maybe you ought to just have a look at what most teachers are dealing with and the “bad system” that your ideology has saddled them with: an ideology that insists that no amount of “reform” is enough, that there is always more fat to be squeezed out of the system, and that “efficiency” (aka 33 to a classroom in primary schools) can always be increased.

“Bad teachers” are a bogeyman. There is absolutely no reason to believe (other than ideology) that there are more “bad teachers” than there are in any other field of human endeavour. “Oh,” I hear you say, “but bad performers in the private sector are disciplined by the market.” To which I say: poppycock. There are timeservers, dogsbodies, and morons in every field of endeavour. Not only do they not get sh*tcanned in the private sector, they often get promoted. The problems in Irish schools have nothing to do with mythological “bad teachers” and everything to do with control of schools by a religious organisation that has only a tenuous grasp on the difference between education and indoctrination; chronic underfunding and overcrowding; the wasting of hours every weak on a moribund language and more hours on the “teaching” of mystical nonsense; a leaving cert exam that encourages the worst sort of rote learning and teaching to the test.

But the market fundamentalism has reared its head. That’s all I need to be able to pin the neoliberal badge squarely to your lapel. Wear it with pride.

Jeremy Corbyn is certainly putting the cat among the pigeons in Britain. The Tories’ victory in May could be the high water mark of the rent-capturing centre-right and the ‘aristocracy of labour’ they indulge in the public and parastatal sectors (with their support mainly coming from those older than the median age).

The number of young people who have finally woken up to some understanding of the extent to which they are being dispossessed – and by whom – and who are flocking to his banner are forcing a number of the ‘crusties’ to do a bit of hard thinking – and it is generating a new discourse.

For example, Richard Murphy, (no crusty he) who has provided Jeremy Corbyn with some policy ideas, provides a forum to further the policy debate:

And the chances of something like this happening in Ireland…Yeah, you’re right…zero.


You are nothing if not predictable Ernie. There is apparently nothing wrong with any aspect of Irish public life that cannot be solved by throwing money at it. And your unwillingness to identify any area as ripe for reform (other than paying those working in it more money) leads me to conclude that you are far more doctrinaire in your beliefs than I am.

A few small anecdotes, if I may (and hopefully the mention of bad teachers won’t cause you to stop reading prematurely). Many moons ago, i was myself a temporary teacher, getting paid by the hour. Most of my work came about due to the absences of a senior teacher (who was on various additional ‘responsibility’ allowances). There was no reason, by the way, for this teacher’s absences. He just didn’t fancy coming in to work, and nothing much could be done about it.

Meanwhile a close friend in academia worked with a colleague whose last 5 years on the payroll as a Senior Lecturer were marked by no research whatsoever, and lengthy absences from University, meaning he didn’t even fulfil the basic few hours of lectures he was supposed to. Again, no sanction, and a large pension.

Finally, compare the experience of those in the private and public sectors following the financial crash. True, many bankers sailed off
into the sunset with their large pensions. Others, though, were ruined and some have ended up in jail (or awaiting trial). Meanwhile, those in the Financial Regulator’s office, the Dept of Finance, the Central Bank etc have been completely unscathed.

But you seem to bridle at even the suggestion that change could be for the better.


You underestimate the extent to which a majority of British voters support many of Mr. Corbyn’s proposed policies – on renationalising the railways, on bringing the price-gouging energy companies to heel, on abandoning Britain’s nuclear deterrent in the context of an international agreement to reduce the stockpile of nuclear weapons, on requiring MNCs to pay a fair share of tax, on reducing tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, on shifting the fiscal balance to tax the better off more and to rely less on public expenditure reductions, on requiring firms to pay a living wage, on creating the conditions for political negotiations with factions with whom one profoundly disagrees, but which have secured a measure of democratic legitimacy (rather than bombing them from on high) and on a host of other issues. The Tories’ victory in May could be a high water mark for the centre-right.

Already The Economist is talking about how he will be ousted by elements within the Labour party, but fears that those who elected him will not be so easily ousted. If he remains leader until the next election, a combination of corporate capitalists, hedge funds, private equity and wealthy individuals (ably assisted by the highly-paid army of advisers and lackeys they retain with suborned politicians and ‘public’ servants) will whip up a storm using the media organs in their control to frighten the wits out of the British public. And if this fails they will seek to deliver chaos by targetting bond yields, the exchange rate and capital outflows. I have my grave doubts that the British ‘deep state’ will accept the writ of a democratically elected Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Isn’t it hugely regrettable for the whole concept of academia that no academic with an interest in the subject had bothered to do that?

Jeremy Corbyn: teetotaller, veggie, and anti car (green). But in case you think his moral compass is entirely straight his second divorce was coz the wife wanted their son to take a deserved place in grammar school.
Makes you thankful for our own relatively mild strain of looney.
He is no longer euro skeptic, he now wants to work with like minded looneys to take over the asylum.
Although the chances of this guy ever getting elected are extremely slim, nonetheless we are in a safer place with Britain out if the EU just in case.


You are also predictable: there is no aspect of any field of human endeavour that cannot be solved by “reform,” by which you apparently mean: greater precarity for those working for the state. Indeed your motto seems to be: Precarity for All (except our billionaire betters).

As for “throwing money” at things: you do realise that the Irish state is a laggard when it comes to public spending, right? Meanwhile, it is a reality that class sizes average 33 in this state. But you’re sending your kids to private school, right?

I, frankly, don’t believe your anecdote about the teacher who “didn’t feel like” coming in or the lecturer who didn’t fulfill his basic responsibilities. In the former case, you wouldn’t have been in a position to know anything about the real situation. The latter is just third-hand gossip that flatters your prejudices.

I have compared the experience of those in the private and public sectors after the crash. And what I see is this: some private sector workers lost their jobs as did some public sector ones (you don’t hear about them). The vast majority in each area did not. Some (very few) private sector workers had their wages cut. [b]All[/b] public-sector workers had their wages cut by draconian amounts ranging from 10-30% and have had none of it restored. In addition, because their retired and departed colleagues have not been replaced, their workloads have increased in an entirely unsustainable way such that the entire process, at least in education and probably also in health, only functions at all because of the commitment of staff to do things above and beyond what their contract says.

But then, bean counters like you come along to tut tut about how the terms of the contract aren’t (or so you’ve heard) being fulfilled by this one and that one here and there and then insisting that every-greater-precarity is the answer. The fact is, if work-to-rule were ever introduced in any part of the public sector right now, the whole thing would collapse.

Lastly, it’s a fairly lame rhetorical manoeuvre to try to bolster a case for making teachers’ jobs more precarious by pointing to those in the Financial Regulator’s office and the Department of Finance, as if “reform” of all these things were really just one thing.

But that’s typical of how your side operate:

Pre-crisis: “We need reform of the public sector! Enough of this heavy-handed regulation from timeserving bureaucrats! We need a light touch from the state to free up the productive forces of capitalism!”

Post-crisis: “The public sector has failed us again! Where were the regulators! Why weren’t they doing their job and stopping us from trashing the economy!”

Oh, and by the way: most of the “reforms” of education that I endorsed had nothing to do with “throwing money at the problem” (to use that hoary old cliché): an end to obligatory Irish and religion classes, removal of religious patronage for most schools, abolition of the leaving cert in favour of the compilation of student dossiers.

But the one that would require spending–reducing class sizes from the unsustainable current levels–you characterise as “throwing money at the problem.” Typical.

@Paul Hunt

Of what possible relevance would it be to the likes of tull and DOCM if a majority of British voters supported the policies of Jeremy Corbyn? Haven’t you heard? Democratic plebiscites are only to be heeded when they endorse the desires of capital. How else to explain the fact that Ireland was forced to re-vote both the Nice and Lisbon treaties? As Schäuble put it with a gleam in his eye: “elections change nothing” (I paraphrase but only just).

A ce propos here’s an interesting study:

Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics—which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism—offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

Is there any reason to suspect that things are any different on this side of the pond, given that absence of democracy isn’t a “bug”; it’s a feature?

Why the pessimism and nay-saying, Ern? Is Jeremy not hard left enough for you? Or are you upset by his ability to move on from out-dated ideological clap-trap and reflexive Dave Spart-speak and to engage with the hopes and fears of not just young people – even if he is energising so many – but all of us who are fed up with the dishonesty of career politicians, clientelist gobshites and die-hard ideologues and the BS they spout? Is that why you appear to want him to fail?

@Paul Hunt

I guess I didn’t make it clear enough that I support Corbyn (or would if I were British). I hope he wins. If you read my post again, you’ll see that it’s an attack on the current state of European “democracy” as endorsed by several posters here.

The centre-right hegemony in most EU parliamentary democracies is unwelcome and damaging, but it is the outcome of elections that have been free and fair – and are generally recognised as such. It’s totally disingenuous to refer to the re-votes on the Nice and Lisbon treaties. If Ireland had a properly functioning parliamentray democracy there would be either no requirement to put these issues to the people or, if they were, there would be a properly informed consideration of the issues. In Greece we’ve seen a power-grab by a new set of left-wing politicians that required the effective elimination of PASOK – and this has been achieved with minimal consideration given to the damage inflicted on the Greek economy and its citizens.

There are left-wing factions throughout the EU that would love to replicate what Tsipras’ faction in Syriza has achieved. And they exist in Ireland as well – though, in Ireland with the first item on the agenda being the split, they fight like cats to preserve their doctrinal purity and, inevitably, fail to secure sufficient voter support to have any real impact. In addition, many voters, while they might despair of the dessicated hulks of centre-left parties and remain keen to overthrow the centre-right hegemony, appear less willing to support Syriza look-alikes in their own countries now that they’ve seen the economic costs incurred by the Greeks to secure Syriza’s position.

In contrast, what is remarkable about Jeremy Corbyn is that he is re-invigorating the dessicated hulk of the British Labour party from within. This is causing as much grief to the purist left-wing ideologues who have always considered the Labour party an anathema as it is to the moral-free greasy pole-climbing careerists that have emerged from Labour’s spadocracy. In particular, his proposals for People’s Quantitative Easing are causing some palpitations across the political spectrum – and is dividing economic opinion.

@ Paul Hunt

Plans for UK renationalisations seem like small beer when foreign-owned firms control about half the activities in the city of London and the manufacturing sector.

Corbyn is likely to be less radical than some other far-left leaders unless he is going to propose programmes that require big tax hikes that would hit many people.

Richard Murphy’s QE plan will apparently only apply if George Osborne fails.

Alexis Tsipras has found that campaigning is easier than governing and Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, is struggling to provide the basic essentials of modern life as inflation exceeds 300% in a country with the highest proven oil reserves.

Corbyn has more smarts than Maduro, who drove a bus before being appointed foreign minister by Chávez in 2006.

However, while desperate caricatures and misrepresentations are inevitable no matter how disingenuous, Corbyn himself engaged in similar exaggerations in the past.

What is the alternative to a mixed economy that is open to FDI? — a 1979 nirvana with the “commanding heights of the economy” in state control.

Renationalising energy companies would involve a lot of choreography initially and investment would have to be funded by the government or the consumer.

There would be no free lunch.

I am puzzled by this bit: ‘the parallel between Jensen’s arguments and the tone of anti-Irish propaganda after the Irish Civil War. “This was a period dominated in Irish writing by dominated by those who collectively came to be known as ‘revisionists’.”‘

Does he mean American Civil War? And I also thought Irish revisionary history got going properly in the 1980s with writers such as Roy Foster (who I remember devotes a whole chapter to Georgian Dublin, as I remember).

What interests me here however is the girl’s conviction that somebody must have done this before. This is the case with so many planks of conventional wisdom that there is a pattern. Take for example the explanation that Britain joined WW1 because of the 1830s guarantee of Belgian neutrality. When you look at the document and also debates in Westminster in Gladstone’s time this is doubtful. Or John Water’s reading that candidates for the Irish presidency have to be 34 not 35.

My own interest is an extraordinary insight by the Australian psychologist Dorothy Rowe which I was sure others had followed up on. I have, but I have come across nobody else who has (this again by searching on the internet).

Cliff is one of the best commentators. He must be doing something right to earn the admonition of the rent extracting one per centers from the groves of academe.
It would be great to see Corbyn win even if only to see you condemn him as a sell out red Tory within a year.

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