The Right To Employ People

Differences in national income equality around...
Inequality - Apparently There's Not Enough Of It

I just heard someone called Jackie Lavin on the Pat Kenny radio show say that unemployment benefits interfere with “the employer’s right to employ people”. That’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? I remember when right-wing lunatics used to just call social welfare an interference in the sacred free market. Now it’s an abrogation of their rights. They are actually being oppressed by social welfare.

I hadn’t known that the wealthy had any special rights – at least not officially – but according to her, one of them is to have other people be poorer so that they’re more affordable. That’s kind of mind-blowing, isn’t it? The rich have a right to poor people. It makes a strange Zen-like sense.

This Jackie Lavin is on the radio because she’s a “Business Personality”, best known for appearing in the Irish version of The Apprentice as mentor to her real-world business and life partner Bill Cullen. Also, for appearing in and writing for glossy Hello!-style magazines, like the one owned by Bill Cullen. He’s an entrepreneur, Fianna Fáil donor and I suppose our nearest equivalent to Donald Trump. These are important people then.

Why not apply this entertainment paradigm to the country as a whole? If the unemployed don’t shape up, we can fire them from their homes – from the whole country indeed. ‘Firing’ is much sexier than that dated emigration idea.

I mean. Fuck this.

Humour Politics

Introducing Approval Cat

King CartoonAnother weird thing about broadcasters in Ireland is the ‘moratorium’. Under this rule, they’re not allowed to discuss tomorrow’s election today. They still broadcast the political shows though, so right now we’re witnessing the unedifying spectacle of hot leftish forum Tonight with Vincent Browne studiously ignoring the most important ballot in living memory.

But what is there that doesn’t relate to the economic and political train wreck we’re living through? The only even vaguely topical issue they found is the mooted visit of the reigning British monarch, an idea so disconnected from current reality that you wonder if the media started it just so they’d have something to talk about tonight.

I couldn’t bear to watch. For the sake of TV, the argument had to be over whether we should actively despise or be really quite fond of royalty. Both unreasonable positions to my mind; I would prefer to simply not give a flying fuck about the British or indeed any monarch. I am a republican.

Not in the usual Irish – and certainly not in the American – sense, but in that I am opposed to inherited respect. So I would prefer if persons holding office simply by privilege of birth were not fawned upon by our leaders. On the other hand, she’s the symbolic head of a country with which we are trying to heal and mature our relations. If we do this right (as in polite and dignified, NOT flattered and awestruck, monarchophiles) it could – could – help improve life for people in Northern Ireland.

So I’m in a bind. In these situations, I’m forced to defer to Approval Cat.

Approval Cat, where do you stand on an official visit by the UK’s Head of State?

Approval Cat

Guess that’s settled then.

Politics Technology

Fine Gael to Tax Freedom

Barring a miracle of the ballot boxes, it looks like Fine Gael are going to be our masters for the next few years. So I guess some people will have to actually drag their eyes through the bloody manifesto and see what may be in store. Friend and fellow cartoonist Allan Cavanagh alerted me to this gem:

TV Licence: We will change the TV Licence into a household-based Public Broadcasting Charge applied to all households and applicable businesses regardless of the device they use to access content.

Do they really mean to charge all households for RTɹ, whether they watch TV or not? That would be a new general tax, just one that’s collected through its own separate – and therefore ridiculously wasteful – system. Further, it forces me to pay for something I don’t want. I do not own a TV, and one of the reasons for this is that I don’t think what RTÉ broadcasts is worth paying for. If you saw it, you wouldn’t too.

RTE ThumbnailBut perhaps they mean you will be charged if you have any device in your home capable of viewing RTÉ ‘content’. (Do you get nervous whenever anyone uses that word?) They’re hardly going to come round and check what sort of phone you have, so unless they go the unthinkable² route of tracking all internet activity to make sure no one secretly watches television, the logical and simple way to do this will be to charge a tax on every broadband connection or data tariff.

So in the guise of a TV licence, they introduce a tax on freedom of information and of expression. No way, Fine Gael.

  1. RTÉ is the publicly owned broadcasting service, funded in part by a television license fee in a similar fashion to the BBC. In a highly dissimilar fashion, it also has commercials.
  2. Please God they do realise this is unthinkable, don’t they?
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