So this morning the news that Irish Water will, in all probability, not be allowed off the state balance sheet. It remains with us, unlike its instigator, Phil Hogan, now off the state accounts (except for his contingent liability of pension) Given that a main, and in principle laudable, aim of setting it up was to allow that, and in doing so allow it borrow away to invest without that borrowing being on the state headline debt burden, this is a major blow. But how big a shambles is it? Lets compare
We have lots of shambles in Ireland. It may be useful to scale them using standard scales. We have standard scales with which we are familiar – kilograms, megabytes etc. These may be useful. This idea of relative messes came from a post on thepropertypin.ie, on postcodes.
Below is a classification. Lets populate the shamblesverse.
1000 kiloshambles : Any state involvement in things IT, such as PPARs.
10002 megashambles : Our transport system, which while improving has been “planned” in a manner that doesnt even reach incoherence. No coherence in tolling, in rail usage, dont even mention the world’s only tram system that doesnt join up, speed limits that are bordering on the perverse…
10004 terashambles : Our planning system for housing or the lack thereof, our general approach to property which is similar to that of a crack addict in an unlocked police evidence locker. We know its bad for us, we still do it…
10005 petashambles : I would put Irish Water here, as it surfaces the inability of the state to take hard decisions. A sensible water charging system, like any utility, would have a small standing charge and a sensible metering, which would have required a rollout of the system and shadow pricing over a long time. But no… We had Phil “Bull at a gate” Hogan..
10006 exashambles : ár teanga náisiúnta.. or more generally our approach to language teaching and acquisition, which has resulted in us being monoglot and not even aware we should be ashamed of it. Its a shambles as when one speaks and reads a different language one sees the world differently. Also, the way we are now really makes us dependent on the AngloSaxon world, which is but part thereof…
10007 zettashambles : Our political system, which is characterised by layers of increasingly powerlessness, now combining the worst elements of fractional representation (from multi seat STV PR constituencies) and diktat (from the Economic Management Committee). Unresponsive, slothful, and utterly incapable of change, it is both the cause and consequence of many of our problems. It is however a perfect representation of Irish society – surface level communitaire and a centimeter down a deeply individualistic tribal system.
10008 Yottahambles : the refusal of the state over decades to take responsibility for the care and provision of its sick, old, and young, instead pawning the responsibility off to charitable groups, many of whom turned out to be riddled with demented perverts and moralising curtain twitchers.