A bad plan, and false arguments

If Michael Noonan's aim is to protect the living standards of the highest income groups in the State while making the poorest suffer he's going the right way about it. By Michael Taft.

Michael Noonan’s comments justifying VAT increases are deeply worrying. They evince either considerable unfamiliarity with basic economic facts, or considerable indifference to such facts in pursuit of a particular agenda. Here’s what he had to say on RTÉ (22 minutes in):

They cheer, little realising they are cheering their own failure

Why didn’t the Irish media report this comment by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin?

“Today I am announcing further reductions in Public Service numbers. I expect this reduction to reduce consumer spending by over €1.2 billion, to cut employment by nearly 25,000, and to remove about €2.3 billion out of the domestic economy. Through all this pain I am hoping to reduce the deficit by 0.3% of GDP. As the Government needs to reduce the deficit by 7%, we are hoping that this will make a small contribution.”

Let's put an end to obsequiousness in public life

An insistence on deference - and the inference that some people matter more than others - corrupts our culture and demeans our citizens. By Vincent Browne.

A seemingly trivial edict was issued by an unidentified Fine Gael apparatchik, or, more probably, initiated by some prematurely waist-coated self-important Fine Gael bigwig, and was hilariously lampooned by Miriam Lord in the Irish Times last Wednesday. Trivial in itself but suggestive of a wicked mentality, a mentality that has caused much harm over the ages and that continues to poison our public culture.

Making the case for atheism

Philosopher A.C. Grayling was in Dublin last week to give the opening lecture in a series organised by Atheist Ireland. There he argued that non-belief in God is the only rational choice and that we must create a secular society to protect human rights. By Ed O'Hare.

Nano is the new green

US engineers unveil a new super fast data transmission device 2,000 times more energy efficient than any device in use today, writes John Holden.

Proposal to create 100,000 part-time jobs

Budget 2012 should introduce a new programme to create 100,000 real part-time jobs for long-term unemployed people according to Social Justice Ireland.  “Economic forecasts indicate that long-term unemployment will increase further in the period ahead” according to Dr Seán Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland.  "Action on a substantial scale is required urgently.”

Why don't we mind the gap?

The greatest trick capitalism has ever pulled was persuading the world its effects - jaw-dropping levels of inequality - don't exist. By Vincent Browne.

The triumph of capitalism has been not just its survival and its vast enrichment of its aristocracy but its capacity to generate consent from the peoples of capitalist societies to the huge inequalities it generates.

The scale of inequalities generated by capitalism has been underlined in a number of recently published reports, from inside capitalism’s own ideological powerhouses.

'What about democracy?'

Protesters interrupted a speech by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy on Friday with one simple question: “What about democracy?” Van Rompuy was delivering his speech - on the political and economic challenges facing Europe - at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. The EUI is the prestige university of the European Union. Many of the senior staff are former members or heads of European Union bodies, and a large percentage of the mainly post-graduate student body go on to take up jobs in European institutions.