What might radical politics look like in an Irish context?

So Renua has been born, a new Irish political party. New ideas and new blood are always good ideas in democracy, and even if there is not a whole pile of it evident so far the principle should be applauded.Their website and documents are full of rhetoric on a new kind of politics and a new set of ideas. Reading them I am not at all convinced that they are anything but a weakly brewed tea party lite, pro business and anti state, with what seem like parroted quasi-libertarian phrases at every turn. Maybe I am wrong.

What would, to my mind, a set of radical ideas look like? Here are some, very few of which I would imagine would be to the liking of the Renualistas. I’m sure that I could think of another 20 or 30 given time but these will do for a start.  A party that stood for these and which wasn’t tainted with decades of reneging on promises at the first whiff of the interior of a government Mercedes would be attractive to me. I have no idea to whom else they would be attractive but…

  1. Secularise the education system. Remove all funding from religious run schools. Have a two-year lead-in, at the end of which all funding would cease. If parents want religious led schools, let them pay for it themselves.
  2. Have school districts (see below) that allow for sensible planning of teacher and pupil numbers on a multiannual basis not the micro enterprises that are each school now.
  3. Link local tax to local activities. Renua want to create a whole new cadre of professional politicians at the county council level. That’s exactly what Ireland needs of course… Instead, give properly elected sensible local regional authorities power to do stuff – collect waste, manage local roads, and run local schools. Give the LPT to them, and a proportion of all other tax raised locally. Some degree of equalization across regions would be a necessity, like the Lander system in Germany.
  4. Lets have no overconcentration in media ownership. Clear “ultimate control” guidelines please.
  5. Local regional assemblies should be unpaid except for vouched relevant expenses. They should meet on weekends or evenings, not in the day, and should be live streamed. Local money is at stake
  6. Rather than making poverty a crime and threatening the rough sleepers with jail, let’s make homelessness a distant memory.
  7. Have both paternal and maternal leave, and make people take them. In fact, if they dont take them, fine them the cost of same. We have to get men involved in childrearing early. 6 weeks paid for each sounds decent.
  8. Make tax credit individualisation real. Give everyone a tax credit and let them decide to whom they gift it.
  9. Legalize, tax and regulate almost all drugs. Make the sale and distribution via a proper system such as pharmacies. Make sale and distribution outside that really risky. Think about that also for off sales of alcohol and cigarettes. Tax to the level of social harm.
  10. Amend the 1947 Seanad act to achieve as close as possible a universal suffrage. Remove the Taoiseach’s 11 and make them representatives of the diaspora elected by those citizens outside the state. Make voting linkage to tax status – no representation without taxation. If you want to vote, make a tax return to Ireland. Yes, we know you pay overseas. This is the price of democracy. It works for the USA.
  11. Amend our tax system to a modern European structure. This will hurt as those at the top and ad the bottom might end up paying more. Our biggest gap is in (employer) social insurance. In conjunction with this reform the social insurance system to eliminate the ragbag of entitlements which leave some in effect uninsured
  12. Mandate all workers to a defined contribution pension. Any tax relief to be at the minimum rate. No early withdrawals
  13. Make all tax returns available online. Norway does it.
  14. Move to a flat tax if at all possible without breaking the bank.
  15. Eliminate the exemption of principle private residences from CGT, and treat it like any other asset.
  16. Single seat constituencies, with the Seanad elected on a fixed 6-year basis, 1/3 elected every two years. All senior public servants, board members of state boards and so forth to be confirmed in open Seanad hearings.
  17. Proper Baltic style electronic mediated voting please
  18. All police to wear vestcams, all interviews to be recorded, all recordings stored by a proper garda ombudsman for 5 years.
  19. A DNA database of everyone. Yes, everyone.
  20. Eliminate imprisonment for non-payment of trivial fines. Automatic deduction from wages or earnings. All fines to be linked to earnings and levied as a proportion. Introduce non prison approaches such as tagging, curfews and mandatory education programmes for as much low level crime as possible
  21. Fund a decent ‘maternelle’ style early school and childcare process.
  22. Move towards a proper state medical system. As with the schools secularise the medical system. A single waiting list based on medical need, online for all in the system to see, no ability to jump queues via insurance.
  23. Move to a no fault third-party motor insurance system funded by fuel usage.
  24. All property tax to be on a site value tax. All planning permission land to be on a three-year use or lose basis.
  25. Either toll all motorways on a per KM basis or none. As it is now it’s a hodgepodge. Use the per KM system for automatic speeding fine payment
  26. Make a modern language other than Irish mandatory for school-leaving. Make philosophy and logic a mandatory second level course.
  27. Fund third level part by the block grant to reflect the social benefit of better-educated populations and part by a graduate tax payable on earnings over the 25th percentile of cohort after 7 y out. Fund as is in the meantime.
  28. Make the Dail and Seanad family friendly. No sittings after 6pm without a 2/3-majority vote valid for a day. No unvouched expenses. No use of government transport for political party or personal activity. Take the bus.
  29. Tax relief on childcare if we don’t put in place a system that reduces its cost from the third most expensive in Europe.
  30. A proper points based immigration system with a clear path to citizenship, individual based not employer based. A green card in other words.
  31. Make it mandatory to hold elections and referenda on a weekend. That saves school days, and allows students etc to vote.
  32. Special political advisors to be appointed via the regular state appointments commissions. That way we get policy advisors, not political antennae. If parties want to have those, then they can pay for them
  33. Move towards a banking system based on the Danish balance model, as proposed by Sean Barrett and agreed as being a good idea but “not now” by the government.
  34. Allow municipal and county authorities (see above) to raise funds via tax exempt fixed rate bonds – an Irish Muni market
  35. Enforce a strict data regime for all Irish based companies. We should value our citizens privacy more than the few bob from companies
  36. Move all state software purchases towards opensource. Why are we, for instance, installing buggy or exensive operating systems (MSoft/iOS) when free alternatives based on Linux exist? Similar for productivity software etc
  37. Make being a judge a career not a political gift. Have a judicial track for people who want to go there.
  38. In electricity generation consider a nuclear plant, such as a pebble bed or molten salt reactor.
  39. The entire economy is being distorted by the very high wedge between GDP and GNP caused by offshore and phantom activities of MNC’s. We need to rebalance towards a more normal level.
  40. We cant have a smart economy with dumb infrastructure. We need to move to have S Korean levels of digital infrastructure before we can think of having a decent system to harness it. And yes, the state will have to pay for that
  41. Anyhow until we get a proper system of mathematical education into the mainstream of the education system, it doesn’t matter. We should be aiming to be in the top5 PISA math scores. That may mean paying math teachers more….
  42. No, we wont have a united Ireland. We might at some stage have a growing confederal one. Stop banging on about it, move on. Ditto we wont restore Gaeilge. Stop worshipping shibboleths
  43. Repeal the 8th. Very very few in Ireland want “contraceptive abortion”. Most seem to want some limited ability to choose terminations in FFA, rape/incest, mothers health manifestly in danger. But, being uterine free, I’m not 100% sure it is much of my business.
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13 thoughts on “What might radical politics look like in an Irish context?

  1. Daniel Sullivan

    You could publish this or a more exnteded version in the lead up to the GE, call it the Sensible or Common Sense Agenda and then ask Parties and Indos to agree or disagree with it. Rate the Indos in particular on how much they bother to either agree or disagree with the points or simply avoid them.

    Reply
  2. Delarivier

    No party that wanted my DNA information would ever get my vote. There is no such thing as a 100% secure database.

    Reply
  3. Niall

    Great ideas though don’t like compulsory defined contribution payments. If I have to pay money I would like to know what I am getting for it. If financial institutions cannot guarantee a return why should we be obliged to give them our money.

    I would also add non-recourse mortgages and making renting or buying a home affordable

    Reply
  4. Teresa Kavanagh

    Some excellent ideas there …who will have the balls to adopt any one of them in a programme for Goverment ,we are crying out for some visionary leadership in this country ,

    Reply
  5. JC Himself

    If I may be so bold as to suggest a few more..
    Impose a two-term limit on local representatives and end the ‘scrappage’ scheme – it just didn’t work. You can be president of the USA only twice, but you can be a county councillor in Ireland for a lifetime.
    Bring an end to the ‘nods and winks’ charade surrounding local government functions like planning, housing and pothole repairs.
    End free travel, free legal aid, free television licenses and anything else paid for by the exchequer. None of those things are free. Along with fines, the cost of public defenders and the prosecution costs should be levied on the income of the beneficiaries on the principle of ‘costs follow the action’, and intervention by charities, who in effect subvert the justice ystem by paying fines, should be illegal.
    Charge any Irish passport-holder who demonstrates a primary allegiance to another state with treason.
    Reduce the number of local representatives to one third of the present number – their policy-mking functions could be discharged by far smaller groups of competent people.
    Link Oireachtas members’ remuneration to GNP, GDP, National Debt etc – make it performance-related.
    Totally reform the Oireachtas members’ pension and post-career perks and mercs scheme.
    Introduce roadworthiness testing for agricultural vehicles, heavy plant and all trailers used on the public road.
    End subsidised fuel in any shape or form, if we are serious about environmental concerns.
    Assign gardai 80 miles from home.
    Open recruitment from the private sector at all senior grades of the public sector.
    Locate 1,000 wind turbines in North Mayo.
    Teach proportional representation, local government systems, public law and the constitution from primary school onwards.
    Bring in chain-gang public humiliation as an alternative to prison – roadway verge maintenance, community clean-ups etc.
    Heavily and criminalise anyone who damages archaeological or heritage sites – compulsorily aquire their land, end their farm payments and confiscate all their diggers and bulldozers. Our cultural heritage belongs to the nation.

    And that’s just off the top of my head…

    Reply
  6. mike flannelly

    Item 12. Brian is right. Pensions and lump sums above the contributory pension amount must only be paid , when contributions similar to private pensions have been paid. This will ensure that the retirement resources of Ireland are for All citizens and Not just select citizens which would be Unconstitutional .
    This should start Today.

    Item 33. The immediate banking problem is the complete refusal by Irish banks to Restructure the overvalued mortgage debt products of 2004 to 2008, based on the Central Banks guidelines for “Sustainable Mortgage Arrears Solutions”.
    These guidelines clearly state that restructures must be sustainable for the life of the mortgage and the best economic solution for BOTH parties. This is NOT happening.
    Irish Olympic Standard Banking Failures ( employed by pillar banks) are Forcing fire sales to crystallize a loss for the customer. Industry best practice split mortgages and interest only payments would suit customers that are lumbered with products that ignored the basic principles of banking, destroyed their finances and Often mental health. Vulture funds associated with some of the same Banking Failures of 2004 to 2008 are buying up these distressed bogus mortgages.
    In 2015 Cowardly Irish Journalism refuses to ask Core Questions/Causes that would help put manners on Irish Banks and force them to do the right thing. There are enough Embarrassing Facts ( Not Speculation) to do this.
    The IBF ( Responsible for Irish Banking Strategy during the abuse years) has been disbanded in 2014.
    Lucky for us, its CEO Pat Farrell is now a decision maker in a PILLAR BANK, along with the guy in charge of Land
    Banks and Development loans from 2006 to 2009.
    Core questions would include
    FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING/REPORTING 2003 TO PRESENT

    MISSELLING MORTGAGE PRODUCTS

    DID MORTGAGES MEET THE NEEDS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE CUSTOMERS?

    IS UNFAIR GAIN (BONUS) FOR IGNORING BASIC PRINCIPLES AND SELLING OVERVALUED DEBT, FRAUD?

    WHY HAVE IRISH POLITICIANS, JOURNALISTS AND COURTS OF JUSTICE DONE NOTHING FOR “SEVEN YEARS”?

    It would be great if in 2015 OBVIOUS questions and facts were explored by our Economists that refuse to tackle causes of Irish Banking Abuse( 2007 plus Present) and Irish Retirement Apartheid.
    You are the man Brian.

    Reply
  7. Ted Murphy

    Hi Brian,

    But why no mention at all of the powerful farm sector?

    The dependency narrative of rural Ireland is largely driven by the farm unions and rural politicians who have no interest in national affairs.

    Is it just that we get a tax return of 100m per annum from a heavily subsidised industry with e14trillion of land assets?
    Have you anything to say about the “family farm” shibboleth? Rural Ireland is more than farming.

    Urban Ireland and the PAYE sector is expected to subsidise farming indefinitely, aided and abetted by the likes of Billy Timmons (who thinks rough sleepers should be jailed). The conflation of the food industry with the farm sector in terms of jobs and industry size needs to be picked apart.

    Isn’t it truly extraordinary that the Troika never had anything to say about agriculture reform? Were they warned off politically from farming, told to keep the blade sharp for a somnolent urban PAYE sector?

    Our farm industry is secretive, politically powerful, and economically moribund. Radical politics surely would include an overhaul of sector with 6,000 self-professed lobbyists? If nothing else but to make room on the desks of incoming TDs for other issues apart from the demands of farmers.

    What have RENUA got to say about farm sector reform? Not a lot. They want radical change only for the usual scapegoats: the low-paid, public-servants, and “under performing” workers of every hue and shade.

    I suspect that RENUA’s “managerialism” is just the usual bullying you get from the landed, renter class of irish business and politics. From what I can see, none of them has any qualification whatever to pass remarks on the management of large organisations.

    Flanagan didn’t have a “brain freeze”, he choked because he was confronted directly with a question about a sector his party has implicitly set its guns on (PAYE workers).
    Business won’t be paying for Renua’s programmes, farmers won’t be paying, landlords ditto – so that leaves PAYE, Lucinda – public and private sector.

    Let’s keep asking Renua direct questions about farm subsidies, local taxes, and PAYE workers’ taxes being filched for projects and industries that refuse reform and won’t stand on their own feet.

    Ted.

    Reply
  8. JP Dara

    Totally agree with some of your points Brian . Brave stance for a public sector worker to recommend the abolition of state guaranteed pensions and moving everyone to a fairer DC system.
    The removal of funding from religious run educational institutions may prove difficult – they own most of the schools, but the state could buy them out. Unfortunately 70% of parents still want a religious education.
    Better to have education and health systems with funding mechanisms that follow the recipient rather than the institution.
    Regarding competence in mathematics, and other subjects – we need to first ensure that teachers are competent – let’s make sure they’re qualified in the subject as a minimum – and pay them more for postgraduate degrees and performance.
    I would have issue with your final point (43) – are you suggesting that only women of child bearing age are fit to make a moral decision on the life of an unborn child? Should there be a fertility test for this moral and ethical state policy?

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Defending Renua’s Education Policy | J.P. McCarthy: Math Page

  10. Pingback: Defending Renua’s Education Policy – jpmccarthypolitics

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