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
“We’ve given the word ‘mob’ a bad name”, says Dr Hibbert sadly in one of the Simpsons’ episodes. It’s knowing irony, because the type of mob in which he is participating – armed with pitchforks and burning stakes – is a throwback to medieval times and the worst of group-think and public shaming. We don’t have those angry mobs anymore, randomly imposing vigilante justice on their neighbours, and when we do, the police intervene.
But the human tendency for public shaming and victimisation goes on. We do that now – as we do many things – on social media. And when that victimization happens, it can be devastating for the individual involved, and totally out of proportion to their ‘crime’.
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
The radio show ‘Liveline’ is a barometer of the Irish day. Sat snugly in the after-lunch snooze period, it either facilitates that slumber, or raises the eyelid of the nation with indignation or empathy. It has achieved enough fame (or should that be familiarity) for parody, and yet it sticks to the same formula every day. There is no attempt to think of anything new on the ‘Liveline’ – the gameplan is the plain people of Ireland, speaking their minds, on the issues of the day.
And yet. And yet. There is a large and growing constituency of people living in Ireland who would consider themselves to be average and normal, but they are not represented in the national conversation, as it is conducted by the presenter of Liveline, Joe Duffy. That group can be classified in various ways, but the simplest and crudest would be those people that don’t find Brendan O’Carroll to be particularly funny, or those that don’t spend their days longing for former great days in the poverty-striken tenements of ‘Dubbalin in the rare ould Times‘.