Sod You, Dick Roche

Roche CartoonDick Roche, the junior minister who claimed €50k in mileage in two years, has reacted to the defacing of his posters by overlaying it with a sticker saying “This Poster Was DEFACED By People Who Oppose Democracy”.

No Mini-ster. Come here, let me explain something to you in the eccentric capitalization you understand.

That Poster Was Defaced By People Who Oppose YOU.

That poster was defaced by people who are outraged at what you and your party have done to their democracy. By people who are going to rid their democracy of you and of the likes of you.

That poster was defaced by voters.

Fifteen Billion What!?

Fifteen billion. Fifteen frigging billion¹. Where the hell are we supposed to find that, between the couch cushions? We’re already putting lives at risk, we’ve mortgaged the next decade, our banks are owed billions they’ll never recover. How can we spare that kind of money?

The blunt answer is we cannot. It’s pious fiction, intended not so much for domestic as international consumption. We’re beholden now to the bond market for the cash we need just to keep things running, so they’re the real audience for everything government says. We need to get that good review in Standard & Poor’s, the Michelin Guide of money. You have to remember here that the bond market is a market – what’s more, a seller’s market right now. There are a hell of a lot of countries desperate for loans and we’re competing with them for the limited cash available. So essentially a declaration like this is advertising, a way to say “Look, we’re a good bet! See how unspeakably ruthless we can be to our own people!” Rival money-buyers like Britain say they’ll make cuts of £81 billion, we double that. It’s competitive cruelty.

Yes; in per capita terms we’re losing twice as much as UK citizens – in this round of cuts alone. So don’t let anyone (in Fianna Fáil) tell you that we’re just like any other country in this world recession.

But will advertising alone be enough to convince the markets? I doubt it. Understandably, political pronouncements have little impact on market sentiment. What’s needed here is real, spectacular evidence – such as actually shutting down institutions of education and of health. That way investors know government is not squandering money on inessential fripperies like people, but is concentrating on the main business: being a cash cow for the money-owners of this world. So the sooner we have bodies on the streets the better frankly. If anyone feels like volunteering – and I think many must these days – that would be very patriotic.

Or we could try out Senator Donie “It’s not easy on €65,000” Cassidy’s idea. What he wants RTÉ to do is talk things up, stop dwelling on the negative side of the fact that greed and mismanagement have cost us another €15 billion. As there clearly is no actual positive side to this, what he obviously means is that we should invent one. Tell the world that tractor production is rising, that the four-year plan is bearing fruits for the people and all is well in the best-run of all possible countries, that sort of thing. Oppression, I think it’s called. God bless him for trying, but somehow I doubt it’ll fool global investors.

I have a third idea. It may sound a little bit crazy, but if you think about it I believe you’ll see that it just might work. If we really want to convince international markets that the economy is being run in a sensible and competent way, shouldn’t we get rid of the incompetent idiots who are running it?

  1. The amount the government says we need to cut from the budget.

Set Your Child to ‘Record’

Ho Ho. Time again for one of my jolly Christmas tirades. About now it is as seasonal as robins roasted on an open fire to advertise toys to kids. Is Wrong. It’s like marketing flight to penguins. Children cannot actually buy toys, no matter how hard they try. These commercials should not be shown until the kids are in bed, like those for other drugs.

Not all toy adverts are aimed at children though. I saw one for a vast Fisher-Price toddler entertainment unit, obviously aimed at parent rather than off-sprog. Its slogan was “Oh the possibilities!” It didn’t really mean “Think of the possibilities of the great big shiny  thing with loads of knobs to push!” It meant “Think of the possibilities for your little baby if you buy them all this crazy stimulating plastic shit they’ll grow up to be something clever and successful like a surgeon or a lawyer!”

Or even an advertising executive. Give the kids enough brightly-coloured stuff that makes noise, the sales pitch goes, and they’ll grow up to be hyper-intelligent Übermenschen. Bollocks. For once I agree wholeheartedly with Steven Pinker, you can’t stimulate kids into brilliance by throwing money at them. The difference between ‘to play with’ and ‘to understand’ may just be a matter of degree, but what is there in a baby-crawler to understand? Nothing. Kids learn not by twirling pointless plastic things but by interacting with others. These so-called ‘educational’ toys though are often put to quite the opposite end – keeping kids out of adult hair. You can’t help but wonder if they have anything to do with the apparent rise in autism.

So toy commercials should perhaps be kept away from the more impressionable parents too. Thankfully the technology now exists. Hard disc video recorders can serve up your evening’s viewing with all the adverts edited out. (No you can’t buy the TiVo here, but you can set up just the same thing using a computer.) At last, commercial-free viewing will be a possibility. All channels will be like the BBC. Except without all the adverts for the BBC.

Unless the advertising industry ban it. They’re trying. The ads, they say, pay for the programs. Therefore if you’re editing out the commercials, you’re watching the programs without paying for them. Not watching adverts, they’re trying to argue, is theft. Hmm. Gives the phrase ‘Pay attention’ a whole new meaning. By the same logic, channel surfing or turning the sound down during the commercial breaks is also stealing from the broadcasters.

So you won’t be able to protect your kids from the toy adverts. In fact unless you want them to be criminals, you’ll have to force them to watch. Don’t look away dear, you’re stealing from Barney.

See you next week. Don’t touch that dial! (Under penalty.)