Thursday, December 15, 2005

Election Day

June 12th, 2009 is the probable date for the 2009 local elections

So, as of December 15th that would be only 1275 days to go!

And as for New Year's day 2006 that would be only 1258 days to go! Just to leave it nice and round I'll officially start campaign from 1200 days to go and then do regular campaign updates every 200 days or so until we're down to 400 day. I'll update the frequency at that point.

I will try to use this blog as a sounding board for some ideas as and when they occur to me. I'm genuinely interested in peoples comments.

Some Posts I made elsewhere

This is from a while back and refers to a taped conversation with Pres. Bush.

Pearl's a Sinner.

In a recently released, secretly taped conversation with a friend, Pres. Bush spoke of how he wouldn't fire gays because he was himself a sinner. The nature of the remarks themselves did come in for some comment in the media, and to be honest the ‘I’m a sinner’ defence is a little too much of a catch all. For example one might just as easily say “I can’t fire homicidal maniacs from the cabinet because I’m a sinner”. Not that I’m personally implying that being gay is equivalent to being a homicidal maniac. Still, it occurred to me that one aspect of the President’s behaviour was not as widely commented on. The consistency between what he had said in that conversation and what he has done in office, and how rare such consistency appears to be in public life.

Odd as it may sound he was saying something in private and demonstrating in public something that we could do with seeing more of in public life. Consistency is sadly lacking in the practice of modern politics. In part because too many people are primarily, indeed we might say solely concerned, with ‘winning’, even if that means completely changing their own expressed views in order to do so. For me this can only be possible with a complete denial of that which a person should be in politics for. What I believe people should be in politics for is the furtherance of ideas they actually believe in. Politics is meant to be the contest of ideas of how we can live our lives, and it is up to the voters to decide which ideas are most appropriate, or which sit most comfortably with them. The voters should do this after being presented with these ideas by people of ability who have given their all to show why these ideas that they have chosen to articulate are the best and most appropriate to a given situation. If the person presenting the ideas simply changes their mind in order to get themselves into a position of power or influence then what is the real difference between they getting elected and someone else who originally held those beliefs? Being a partisan politician and expressing at the limit of your voice, to stretch your abilities to attain a position to be able to do what you hold in your heart to be true and to use your mind and your skills to defend those same beliefs is part of what constitutes the democratic politics of the republican model we have.
Hypocrisy is often mistakenly identified in people who say do as I say and not as I do. In actuality true hypocrisy is to expect people to do something that you do not believe to be the right thing in the first place. If the President was being properly hypocritical he might have commented that he saw nothing wrong in being gay but that he was going to fire people to assuage the Christian right or that he thought being gay was a terrible thing but than he wouldn’t be taking any action because it was likely to be politically dangerous to do so. I seem to recall Neal Stephenson making a somewhat similar point in The Diamond Age. He probably made the point a lot better though.

Kevin Myers and babies

Earlier in 2005, Kevin Myers put his foot in the whole single parent discussion with predictable results.

It might be possible, if we examine the broader picture, to drag the discussion, began by Dr. Ed Walsh, out of the mire that Mr. Kevin Myers comments dragged it into a few months back. Much has been written about the specifics while missing some of the elements of the broader picture. It is often overlooked that the overall increase in percentage terms that lone parents constitute of the national birthrate is as much due to increased numbers of people in relationships being unable to afford to have children due to burdensome mortgages and insane commutes, as it is to do with an increase in numbers of people having children alone. Article 41 of the constitution states "The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home." This would appear to be part of the reasoning behind having specific payments for parents that are caring for their children who are not married. Society and parents would be better served if we removed the distinction between parents that the One-Parent Family Payment creates by removing this payment completely. In turn we would increase the payments available to all families by way of moving the money currently given directly to the unmarried parent to child benefit. This change would at a stroke remove the opportunity for abuse inherent in One-Parent Family Payment, whereby a couple pretend that one parent is raising the child when both parents are in fact together. This increase in child benefit being means tested in incremental steps if necessary to ensure that it is targeted at those who need it most. People who have made a public commitment to each other and who take the responsibility to provide a secure home for their children are both forced out of that home to work in order to afford it, to spend increasing amounts of their lives commuting to work, and to spend mortgage payments levels of money on childcare. We should be able to rebalance the state incentive to those who are prepared to make a commitment to each other and to their children without leaving anyone in poverty as a result. Parents are parents and children are children. It is unclear why the state should give money to some and not to others based on factors other than economic circumstances.

The Hokey Cokey and other tales.

Back in April 2004, there was an attempt to ban coke products from the UL campus, below is just one perspective on what was involved.

5 - The Hokey Cokey
You can get some feel for the campaign so far at MGB's Blog of illusions. All in all, the "YES" to a coke boycott campaign has rested on the fact that people who work for Coke and are union activits get murdered by paramilitaries in Colombia (presumably by right wing ones, but since no one has been nicked for it, it remains a presumption). What is unknown is do non-union Coke employees get murdered in Colombia at all? Or at a higher/lower rate than the union members? What is the murder rate for other union members in other companies in Colombia? My sources suggest that the turnout will fall short of what is needed for a binding referendum. In UL, this figure is about 1800, it has to be 20% or more. With only one sabbatical officer position up for contest, interest is very low in the elections in general and the "YES" campaign have not made the necessary efforts to educate or enthuse the electorate. I'd reckon it will fall well short of reaching 1500, and also that the YES campaign will struggle to get 35%. Following on to the NUIM rejection of this issue and NUIG decision that it wasn't worth putting to the student body; it may be that the folks outside the pale are less willing to indulge their inner flake.

Cats chase mice, report reveals! Fantastical nonsense from Hibernian Insurance today about the accident rates on bank holiday Friday and the number of men compared to women that make claims on their insurance. This delight piece of opinion is available here 'Road traffic accidents increase by more than a third on the Friday of bank holiday weekends, according to a leading insurance company. Hibernian Insurance says it receives on average 35 per cent more claims on bank holiday Fridays that on an average day. The Hibernian "Crash Report" contains for the first time a detailed examination of the company's claims records over the past four years. The report also adds fuel to the age-old battle of the sexes about who is the better driver. It says: "Men are also more likely to have an accident, and make 24 per cent more claims than women." ' Also, male claims are for a higher value than women! A fact buried in main report is that Friday are the highest claim day of the week anyway. There is no reference to how much more traffic is the road on bank holiday Fridays. If traffic were up by 50% and claims by 40% then it could be said that accident rates actually drop on these busier days. Sadly, the report doesn't bother to tell us this. As for male claims being of a higher level to those of females, that couldn't have anything to do with the fact that male earnings tend to be higher for men than women. So, loss of earnings claims will be higher. Something the Equality agency could have told them. We really should get these two together. Also, men's cars will tend to be larger and more expensive. There is no reference to what impact the proportion of females drivers tend to be on provisional licenses and the attendant impact that has on women not claiming as it would have a significant impact on their premiums such that it is not worth claiming. And of course, there will be a greater proportion of male drivers in their 40s/50s/60s who are more comfortable with making claims. The report doesn't mention at all the proportions of male/females drivers on the road, nor the amount of miles the two genders do respectively each year either. Of course, you know that the more you drive has no impact on the likelihood of you being in an accident. I believe the media has a role to play here, instead of just spewing out this stuff for the insurance industry. Why not do some investigation of the figures and then look for some really interesting stats. Such as when time on bank holidays do the accidents occur, on what type of roads, and compare those figures to other Fridays not just 'an average day'? where was the driver coming from? how far from home were they? Do many people have crashes down the country late in the evening after spending 5 hours getting out of Dublin for weekend? Might they have not been better off getting the train? What next, Amber Solaire reveal 'Sunburn occurs mainly during the daylight hours.'?

Bringing up baby I would like to say that I support the introduction of common, national program of sex and relationship education in all Irish second level education providers. However, I would allow parents and schools to have an opt out on the single proviso that they sign a consent form exempting their offspring / pupils from lone parent support while they are under 18. In other words, if you don't want your child to receive such information in school, and if you believe that it is your role as parent to provide such information and advice for your child and that you should take full responsibility for doing so and that includes the consequences of your failure to do so. If as a result of your decision that your child should learn about sex and relationships from you they later become pregnant then you and not the rest of the public should shoulder the burden of that decision. Once your child is 18 and an adult in the eyes of the state then they can avail of the same provisions as everyone else. Until that time you as their parent should take care of them. After all, you decided they didn't need to know about 'that sort of thing' and as their parent you know best!

Thursday, May 19. 2005 Cleaning House Some may notice and others may not, that I've deleted my original entries and reposted them. I say that these are the same as what was originally posted. The purpose was to get rid of those rather nasty trackbacks. Some people may think I talk a lot of crap but that stuff was nasty. I've suggested in the forum and I'm going to outline it in greater clarity here that we need to ensure that parents take greater responsiblity for their offspring. With this in mind, I suggest that we create a license for the purchase of alcohol and cigs. To get this license you need to be over 18 / 16 in the case of cigs, and have attended an education course ( a couple of days, which should be part of a civics course in the secondary education cycle). These licenses are then issued in the form of an id card. You would not be required to produce this id card for any other purpose than the purchase of alcohol or the consumption of same on a licensed premises. And intriguing possibility that would arise from having such cards is that parents could lose their drinking privileges for the misbehaviour of their offspring while they are minors. Another proposal is that we appoint the Finnish model of progressive fines, whereby fines are linked to income so that richer groups don't feel that they can buy their way out of the sanctions of society. However, this would also mean that irrespective of your financial situation you must pay something.