Quality of our debate determines outcomes

The title of this post may seem esoteric and academic but it is one of the most important factors in determining our quality of life in Ireland. And I don’t mean some intellectual or abstract quality – I mean things like the lifestyle we live, the quality of our health service and the rights we enjoy.

In Ireland, debate for its own sake has always come second to winning the argument. The loudest, shoutiest, most insistent voice gets its way almost all the time. Making sense does not have to be part of that volume of self-righteousness.
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Jail sentence for Cannabis cultivation is wrong

It was that great American patriot and atheist,Thomas Jefferson, who is credited with the saying “When the law is unjust, resistance becomes duty”, and recent events in Ireland demonstrate that if we want a sane, caring society, we need to resist unjust laws as much as corruption and the lack of accountability in politics.

Is our judiciary really separate from their political masters? Were the acts of civil disobedience by the three water protesters really grievous enough for them to warrant an on-going prison sentence? Is it really appropriate to jail people so frivolously for what are essentially non-violent crimes?
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The Business case for Cannabis legalisation

The political process in Ireland is as prone to mendacity and falsehoods as anywhere else, but one of our most obvious flaws is the failure to think of new ideas. Every business in the world tries to innovate and to come up with new ideas in order to gain a competitive advantage, but in Ireland, at least from a national perspective, nothing can be done without someone else’s example.

From transport to health to same-sex legislation, the standard questioning in the media revolves around where the idea has been tried before and how that has worked out. If something hasn’t been tried, the standard argument against it is that ‘nobody else has done this’.

This circular argument compels us to take our cues from others, and while it is often a reasonable approach, in other cases it prevents us from acting in this country’s best interests. Continue reading »

Hostages to pharma fortunes

It would seem that if the moral dilemma between death and life-saving drugs can be made acute and public enough, the government is compelled to pay any price charged – even if it means reducing other health services to other vulnerable people.

After the Health Service Executive agreed this week to provide the Soliris drug to patients suffering from rare blood conditions at a cost of €430,000 per patient per year, the HSE’s chief executive Tony O’Brien called the cost of the drug ‘astronomical’, while the Minister for Health, Leo Varadker, has said that the drug is ‘not cost-effective’ at that price. Continue reading »