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 The Food and Shelter Illusion

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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:02 pm

cactus flower wrote:
johnfás wrote:
One you are clearly falling for Very Happy.

Mary Harney may be a wolf in sheep's clothing but it is a Government dominated by Fianna Fáil. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded. Perhaps if you really believe in the issue you should attack them rather than an increasingly meaningless fringe party and Minister who will be all but redundant by the next election. Harney will be collecting her P45 in a couple of years - the policies supported by Fianna Fáil won't.

Not really johnfas, if you look at my old posts on P.ie or here you'll see that we are in one mind on this. The PDs in my view were never anything other than a right wing of FF and both parties have played a clever game with the electorate. Having said that, Harney herself has played an influential and energetic role pushing Ireland's social and economic policies right. She is still at it, and is far from a lame duck at present, busily signing commitments and contracts that will tie us into an irrational and costly semi privatised health system that will be extremely difficult to extricate ourselves from. Her role as a European Council member has been no better.

Bang on cactus. I've said it before, but the PD's are/were the political wing of IBEC and IBEC is more powerful than Fianna Fail ever was. I cannot understand why people dont realise this. IBEC are determining social and economic policy right across the board - everything from employment rights, to education, health, immigration - you name it. They are stuck into every department of government and have reps on committees up and down the country dictating they way everything gets done - solely in the interests of big business. Their focus is on destroying the notion of public welfare and using our taxes to subsidise corporate welfare instead. They want wages cut back to the bone. The current financial crisis is going to be exploited by them to ensure that government policy lurches to the extreme right. 450 billion to subsidise the speculators while medical cards may be taken away from the over 70s. It's disingenuous to minimise Harney's impact - herself and her husband are the Bonny and Clyde of health care policy in Ireland - her husband's management consultancy is stuffed with ex PD people who are crawling all over civil servants on behalf of the pharmaceuticals and health insurance industry. That's one of the most powerful secotrs in our economy and it is no coinicidence that Harney retained the Health portfolio at the last election. She and her husband have been on junkets to the USA together - where they get their marching orders on what to do with the Irish situation to maximise profits for the same firms her husband's consultancy are making a killing out of. From their website:

Quote :
Public Affairs / Lobbying
Communications with the political and regulatory system is an increasingly complex and critical requirement for businesses large and small.

MRPA KINMAN Communications has unrivalled experience in this sector. Two of the firm's partners have worked at the coalface with one of the leading political parties. Stephen O'Byrnes was a Government Press Secretary in the historic first coalition government comprising Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats.

Together with a highly qualified and experienced support team, Stephen has created successful public affairs campaigns for companies and representative organisations from across the economy.


Last edited by johnfás on Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:45 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Personal attacks and vulgar abuse are unnecessary and unacceptable. I have removed it.)
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:52 pm

Can we please refrain from personal attacks and comments which contain vulgar abuse. However difficult that might be owing to the poor policies which many politicians are pursuing.

Cool.

farao
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 5:54 pm

Article on Indymedia from December 2007 - by way of qualification for earlier post:

Quote :
Mary Harney has a case to answer

Mary Harney cannot convincingly deny the serious conflict of interest that exists between her role as Minister for Health and the business interests of her husband Brian Geoghegan, Chairman of the consultancy firm MRPA Kinman.

Amid the current outcry about failures in the health service and calls for Mary Harney's resignation, there is an ongoing situation about which the media have been strangely silent.

In June 2003 the Irish Business and Employers Confederation issued the following press release:

IBEC Welcomes Health Service Reform Programme

18/06/2003

IBEC Press Centre 18 June 2003

The business and employers organisation, IBEC has today welcomed the publication of the Government’s Health Service Reform Programme.

The Programme is a serious effort to address issues of accountability and value for money in the health service. The two reports on which the Reform Programme is based confirm the need for much greater clarity, accountability and efficiency in the management of this major area of public service delivery, said Brian Geoghegan Director Economic Affairs, IBEC. Managers in the health service and hospitals need to be given the power to manage. It is a positive development that organisational structures are being streamlined and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy stripped away.

Health accounts for a quarter of all public spending. Ireland needs a 21st century health service that is delivered in a cost effective, efficient and accountable manner, said Geoghegan. The Reform Programme is a genuine attempt to achieve this goal and should be implemented in a speedy and determined manner by the appointment of a high level leadership team with responsibility to follow through on these Government decisions. The Government must stand firm in the implementation of this important Reform Programme and withstand the inevitable pressure from many vested interests concluded Geoghegan.
[My emphasis.]

The press release reads like marching orders for the government – a stern admonition that it had better do as it is told or IBEC will not be best pleased. A lot of IBEC’s press releases read like that, in fact, and it makes you wonder whether there isn’t something more to their relationship with our elected representatives, in what is supposed to be a democracy, than there ought to be.

Cleary Mr Geoghegan does not mean to imply that he might have a vested interest in the matter himself. Within approximately 12 months of her husband’s statement, and after a surprise announcement that she was resigning as the Leader of the Progressive Democrats, Mary Harney was appointed Minister for Health - in which role she has since been directly responsible for implementing the controversial and largely unpopular programme for reform of our health service - very much in line with her husband's recommendations as outlined in the press release above. Harney has evidently heeded her husband's call and stood firm both in her tenacity about retaining the health service portfolio and in her determination to push the reforms through.

There has been an unusual degree of overlap in the personal life and professional careers of Mary Harney and Brian Geoghegan. In 2000, it was Mary Harney who appointed Geoghegan Chairman of FAS and in the same year he took up his position as Director of Economic Affairs at IBEC. Their personal relationship began sometime after that and they were married in November 2001. Over the next four years they frequently encountered one another in their professional lives and it must have been difficult to keep work matters appropriately separate.

In January 2006, however, Brian Geoghegan resigned from IBEC and took up a position as Chairman of MRPA Kinman – a private consultancy firm - and it might have been that the potential conflict of interest ended there. But that's is not how it worked out.

MRPA Kinman is a consultancy firm that prides itself in its access to government for lobbying purposes and counts among its government and commercial clients the Health Information and Quality Authority, a body which was set up for - and which is very much involved in - implementing the sort of reforms which Brian Geoghegan was anxious to see - and which his wife is now responsible for carrying out:

This means that the consultancy of which he is now Chairman are retained by a newly created division of the government department for which Mary Harney is responsible. Moreover, Kinman are the point of contact on behalf of HIQA for many of HIQA's reform activities so that interested stakeholders must apply not to HIQA itself for information about what is happening, but to MRPA Kinman.

http://www.hiqa.ie/news_releases/news_press10.asp

On its website, HIQA describes itself, among other things, as follows:

The Health Information and Quality Authority was established in May 2007 as part of the government's health reform programme...

We are an independent Authority, with broad ranging functions and powers reporting to the Minister for Health...

We have been set up to drive quality, safety, accountability and the best use of resources in our health and social care services, whether delivered by public, voluntary or private bodies...

We will help deliver value for your money by monitoring that the resources in our health and social services are used in a way which delivers the best outcome for the patient or service user...

But how independent can HIQA be, in the circumstances?

Other clients of MRPA Kinman include pharmaceutical companies and private hospitals – business sectors which have benefited from government investment courtesy of Minister Harney’s Department. In 2003 at a Biolink conference in New York the then Tanaiste announced that the Irish government was investing 2.75 billion dollars of taxpayers money over seven years in the biosciences business sector. Fellow speakers at the conference included representatives from the pharmaceutical giant Wyeth who have a significant operation in Ireland - and who are also clients of MRPA Kinman.

http://www.biolinkusaireland.org/content/view/69/97/

http://www.mrpakinman.ie/services.asp

Political Lobbying: ‘Unrivalled Experience’

MRPA Kinman’s relationship to Mary Harney goes further even than all of this. Managing Director, Richard Gordon is a former Press Officer and Spokesperson for the Progressive Democrats.

http://www.mrpakinman.ie/about_ray.asp

Director, Stephen O’ Byrnes was National Press Officer and Policy Director for the Progressive Democrats and also PD Government Press Secretary in the coalition government.

http://www.mrpakinman.ie/about_steve.asp

What need have these Progressive Democrat supporters to trouble with elections and the democratic process when they can have access to the health service via a commercial back door, to the Minister's husband and directly to the Minister herself via their role at HIQA? How can opposition parties, to say nothing of the majority of the electorate whose wishes are being resolutely disregarded - and who are opposed to the privatisation thrust of reforms which Harney and her husbands firm are pushing through - not be up in arms about this? MRPA Kinsman have more influence on the matter than the elected representatives of far more popular political groupings than the PDs - especially pertinent in the light of the electoral drubbing the PDs suffered at the election. We should be told the full extent to which the consultancy has benefitted commercially and the nature and extent of it's influence on health and other policy. When all of this is considered against a background of massively increased spending on these reforms and on private consultants, private hospitals and others employed to put them into effect, the continuing service failures and their serious impacts on patients call the Minister's priorites into question.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:07 pm

More discussion and information about Harney/Geoghegan and the health service at this link:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85212
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:16 pm

Aragon wrote:
More discussion and information about Harney/Geoghegan and the health service at this link:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85212

An interesting read, Aragon. I see you were also writing last November on Roubini's forecast of economic meltdown.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:37 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Aragon wrote:
More discussion and information about Harney/Geoghegan and the health service at this link:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85212

An interesting read, Aragon. I see you were also writing last November on Roubini's forecast of economic meltdown.

Nouriel Roubini is brilliant - a journalist at the Real News Network (Pepe Escobar) told me they are trying to get an interview from him asap so that will be interesting whenever it happens.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:05 pm

Some very fine posts on this thread, from both sides of the divide too (if there is such a thing as a divide with regard to the subject matter at hand).

I'm afraid I'm quite clueless of the inner workings of national and international finance. I just know the results of it, and from this alone I can form an informed opinion and label the whole process as "evil," and I can disregard the intent and words of those who inflict this system, in their totality.

I must say this 'economic bubble' bursting is very interesting stuff. As is the alleged attempt to keep the bubble inflating by introducing more debt to the bubble that's made of debt to begin with. Anyone see the problem here? The debt cannot be repaid and no exercise in enlarging that debt will solve this.

This bubble was born to explode. What our puny States are doing now is an attempt at ensuring that the folks who hold the clean end of the stick are still holding it when the shite stops flying. All in all, the bubble is an illusion. Our growing world can only potentially produce so much, this is the bubble that nobody's looking at, imaginary bubbles are so much more interesting, until the pinhead of reality is inserted.

Mankind has a real chance here. But I think we are neither wise enough nor courageous enough to seize it yet. It'll come at some point, but not today I fear.

If everyone told their bank managers to "fuck off... Sue me!!," it would be problem solved. Afterall, banks etc. lend money they do not possess. Any such loan is arguably a void contract as one of the parties has not provided a tangible product to legitimately facilitate a cycle of debt. One need look no further than the bursting bubble itself to see the truth of this. It is only fair afterall, that if a bank can ignore its debts, so can we. Let's bail ourselves out for once, screw the banks. On top of this, even if one doesn't agree with my reasoning, it must be admitted that it would be impossible to bring everyone to court.

Some might suggest that my view is immature. That's fine. My only answer to this is a question itself: Was it maturity that got us where we are now? If so, I never want to become that which is described as being mature.

Will my method of solving the bubble annihilation result in war and misery?

Yes.

But it's coming anyway. At least this way, I get to fight in my own cause and not the cause of some scum who's not fit to exist on the sole of my shoe, nevermind existing like some cancerous growth inhibiting and attempting to direct my every move.

My right to life is absolute and there is no right for anyone else to profit from this. Profit is debt and it is created from nothing. I see no gods before me.

Debt is murder. Slow and painful murder.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:18 pm

You forget the existence of the law Hermes... Wink

In the case of unregistered land, which is most land in our towns, you don't own the house you are paying off. It is conveyed to the bank via mortgage and the legal owner of the house until you have paid off that mortgage is the bank. A mortgage isn't based on the law of contract.

If you fall into arrears they can kick you out but you keep your equity of redemption. That is, you get any profit which they make on their sale after the outstanding loan value, interest and all appropriate fees on behalf of the bank are paid off. If you all tell the banks to get lost, they get all your property. It is as simple and as efficient as that. It is not the case that somehow if everyone said get lost we would be ok. Although if everyone did said lost we'd probably end up in some sort of civil war.

Your idea is, whether unfortunate or not, in the clouds.

The law might be a pain in the neck but it is a necessary one.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:41 pm

johnfás wrote:
You forget the existence of the law Hermes... Wink

In the case of unregistered land, which is most land in our towns, you don't own the house you are paying off. It is conveyed to the bank via mortgage and the legal owner of the house until you have paid off that mortgage is the bank. If you fall into arrears they can kick you out but you keep your equity of redemption. That is, you get any profit which they make on their sale after the outstanding loan value, interest and all appropriate fees on behalf of the bank are paid off. If you all tell the banks to get lost, they get all your property. It is as simple and as efficient as that. It is not the case that somehow if everyone said get lost we would be ok. Although if everyone did said lost we'd probably end up in some sort of civil war.

Your idea is, whether unfortunate or not, in the clouds.

The law might be a pain in the neck but it is a necessary one.

Whilst I don't disagree with your point per se, I do disagree with your conclusion.

Paper etc. is all well and fine. Possession on the other hand takes manpower and no amount of paper will change this. The banks will always have lots of paper. They don't got the muscle to back it up. If a civil war started tomorrow between the people of Ireland and the banks, it'd be over in a few minutes. Debt is always backed by the threat of force - ultimately that's what it comes down to. The threat of force is a two way street. Now that those who were formally mesmerized by the insubstantial bubble have time to look around, it might be realised who it is that has the muscle to carry out the threat of force. Though I'll not hold my breath waiting for that improbable outcome presently.

The law is necessary, that's a given. This does not make it correct or equate it with justice. In this particular case the law has been demonstrated to be an ass, enforced and enacted by assholes.

With regard to ownership of land. Title deeds do not confer ownership, they confer tenancy. The proof of this is simple. One cannot declare one's land a separate entity to the State. The whole thing's a load of bollocks, including the law, which in this instance, obscures reality and enslaves people. It needs to be changed. The law can be changed, that too is the law. Any change in the law which would further the interests of justice, should be facilitated and enacted. Otherwise the law exists to perpetuate injustice. And that, in and of itself is more than enough moral justification to throw it aside.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:51 pm

My posts consistently highlight that the law and justice are very different things.

Your ideas seem to be based on the premise of a total revolution of the social order. How are you going to achieve this - through arms? I don't think you would have the enjoyment of sitting writing on message boards if that were to be the situation. Order in a society is necessary for it to function adequately.

Whilst we need to gradually reform law, what is to say that your ideas would in fact lead to justice? Justice is the recognition of competing interests and the fair compromise between them. For example, the seizing of property from those who have rightly purchased it, even if they can afford multiple properties is unjust. Equally the lack of provision of services to poorer people is unjust. That does not mean that it is just to sieze the man's properties and give them to the other - that is clearly unjust. What is justice is a fair balance between their competing rights. What we need is a fair balance based on order, not an anarchical situation where anything goes.

Besides which, how does this anarchical situation solve anybody's woes - in reality? If you do what you propose, or anything like it you would have a rush of capital from Ireland which would be seen as an entirely insecure place to do business. The consequence might be that we all get our 2.5 acres of land each but it would be unproductive, we would have nobody to sell the produce from it to, we would have no money to purchase anything from overseas etc. So where would the justice be.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:54 pm

cactus flower wrote:
This has been on my mind a lot in recent months. The idea of privatisation of water still seems alien to most people in this country. There seems to be some residual social recognition that no one should die of thirst for the lack of money. In theory at least households don't pay for water. Most restaurants will give you a glass of tap water for nothing.

The whole push of free market advocates is not ensure that nothing is provided in a collective and social way and to ensure that private profit can be made out of any form of service to the public.

To have a society that has enormous wealth, but that knowingly allows people to die of hunger and thirst for the lack of money, seems to me to be inherently and profoundly wrong, as well as disfunctional and inefficient.


Absolutely. But with respect to your water privatisation comments, and how the arguments for it seem innately alien (and not just here I believe) here's an excellent debunking of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ (something which is already contradicted by empirical studies).
Also the short-term gain point wrt capitalism is also interesting.


The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons
http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/angus250808.html

Quote :

......Garrett Hardin hatches a myth

The author of "The Tragedy of the Commons" was Garrett Hardin, a University of California professor who until then was best known as the author of a biology textbook that argued for "control of breeding" of "genetically defective" people (Hardin 1966: 707). In his 1968 essay he argued that communities that share resources inevitably pave the way for their own destruction; instead of wealth for all, there is wealth for none.....

[....]

....Where's the Evidence?

Given the subsequent influence of Hardin's essay, it's shocking to realize that he provided no evidence at all to support his sweeping conclusions. He claimed that the "tragedy" was inevitable -- but he didn't show that it had happened even once.

Hardin simply ignored what actually happens in a real commons: self-regulation by the communities involved. One such process was described years earlier in Friedrich Engels' account of the "mark," the form taken by commons-based communities in parts of pre-capitalist Germany:

"[T]he use of arable and meadowlands was under the supervision and direction of the community. . . .

Just as the share of each member in so much of the mark as was distributed was of equal size, so was his share also in the use of the "common mark." The nature of this use was determined by the members of the community as a whole. . . .

At fixed times and, if necessary, more frequently, they met in the open air to discuss the affairs of the mark and to sit in judgment upon breaches of regulations and disputes concerning the mark."
(Engels 1892)

Historians and other scholars have broadly confirmed Engels' description of communal management of shared resources. A summary of recent research concludes:

"[W]hat existed in fact was not a "tragedy of the commons" but rather a triumph: that for hundreds of years -- and perhaps thousands, although written records do not exist to prove the longer era -- land was managed successfully by communities." (Cox 1985: 60)

Part of that self-regulation process was known in England as "stinting" -- establishing limits for the number of cows, pigs, sheep, and other livestock that each commoner could graze on the common pasture. Such "stints" protected the land from overuse (a concept that experienced farmers understood long before Hardin arrived) and allowed the community to allocate resources according to its own concepts of fairness.

The only significant cases of overstocking found by the leading modern expert on the English commons involved wealthy landowners who deliberately put too many animals onto the pasture in order to weaken their much poorer neighbors' position in disputes over the enclosure (privatization) of common lands (Neeson 1993: 156).

Hardin assumed that peasant farmers are unable to change their behavior in the face of certain disaster. But in the real world, small farmers, fishers, and others have created their own institutions and rules for preserving resources and ensuring that the commons community survived through good years and bad.....
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:16 am

johnfás wrote:
You forget the existence of the law Hermes... Wink

In the case of unregistered land, which is most land in our towns, you don't own the house you are paying off. It is conveyed to the bank via mortgage and the legal owner of the house until you have paid off that mortgage is the bank. A mortgage isn't based on the law of contract.

If you fall into arrears they can kick you out but you keep your equity of redemption. That is, you get any profit which they make on their sale after the outstanding loan value, interest and all appropriate fees on behalf of the bank are paid off. If you all tell the banks to get lost, they get all your property. It is as simple and as efficient as that. It is not the case that somehow if everyone said get lost we would be ok. Although if everyone did said lost we'd probably end up in some sort of civil war.

Your idea is, whether unfortunate or not, in the clouds.

The law might be a pain in the neck but it is a necessary one.

(If your house plot is not registered, it would be a good idea to make sure it is done, but it is a cheap and straightforward process dealt with by the Land Registry. http://www.landregistry.ie/eng/Land_Registry_Services/ It is sometimes overlooked by Solicitors, so it is as well to check that it has been done, if you are in any doubt, and keep a copy of the Land Registry map in a safe place).

I think Hermes is talking about a situation in which there is a breakdown of the financial system. In the US, where thousands are losing their homes, and where homes are being bulldozed, one Sheriff has refused last week to evict any more people.

In the event of a financial meltdown, if there was any attempt at mass evictions, I would be in favour of resisting that comprehensively, keeping people in their houses and looking for the support of all right-minded gardai and bailiffs.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:23 am

Well, really the term unregistered land is a misnomer, cactus. We have two concurrent systems of land registration in Ireland.

Land in cities is 'unregistered' because it falls under the Registry of Deeds system rather than the Land Registry system. Most land in the cities in Ireland (particularly Dublin) fall under the Registry of Deeds which is housed at the Kings Inn. This land is colloquially referred to as 'unregistered' within law. It is however, registered in the sense that it is registered at the Registry of Deeds and so are all encumbrances on the land.

The one exception to this is new housing developments because it is cheaper in conveyancing for a developer when doing a scheme of development to partition and register with the land registry than it is to deal with the Registry of Deeds. There is only compulsory dealing with the land registry in about 7 counties and if you want your land registered with them (which is unnecessary) from outside these counties it will take you over a year. That said it will probably make future sale of your house a bit cheaper.

The reason they haven't implemented compulsory dealings with the land registry on a wholesale basis (as they have in the UK) is that it would cost an absolute fortune. It would give solicitors something to do though Very Happy.

When dealing with a mortgage over 'unregistered' land, that is land registered in the Registry of Deeds, legal title to the property is passed to the bank until the mortgage is redeemed when it is conveyed back to the mortgagor (the borrower). In the case of a piece of 'registered land', that is land registered with the land registry, there is strictly speaking no such thing as a mortgage. It is rather a legal charge over the property.

Anyway that is merely legal mumbo jumbo. You don't need to be worried if your land isn't registered in the land registry though. Just as long as it is registered in one or the other!


Last edited by johnfás on Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:28 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:25 am

cactus flower wrote:
I'm taking the liberty of quoting this by Aragon, from another thread, as it seems so relevant:

Quote :
A fair product or service for a fair price. The rest of it is bullshit. Aybody anywhere who wants to live a lifestyle above and beyond his or her fair share of the world's resources should be put in stocks and have tomatoes pelted at them. I can never for the life of me understand why equitable distribution of resources should be a hindrance to invention, ingenuity, creativity, personal freedom or whatever. You don't sit down to a table and help yourself to half the food when there are five other people at the table. How and when did the idea take root that being good at something could only be reward by indulging your greed? If I invent a cure for cancer, goes the thinking, the whole world will indulge me in becoming fat, greedy and owning 20 cars. Why? Isn't it enough to have done good and to enjoy the appreciation of people around me? Why turn myself into a resource pig???

I would sincerely love to see Rachel Allen feed a family of six on Social Welfare money for six months.

Combat Poverty says that independent research shows that 80% of allowances is needed for a healthy diet -

Food Affordability and Welfare Adequacy

The adequacy of household income to provide for a healthy diet and the other components of an acceptable lifestyle is a core concern. This issue is central to the National Anti-Poverty Strategy5, which seeks to ensure that income levels (welfare and wages) are adequate for people to live in a manner compatible with human dignity. Recent independent research6 has shown that up to 80 percent of welfare payments would be required to provide a healthy diet.

http://www.cpa.ie/research/foodpoverty.html#INDIReport


From the report you quote:
The impact of socio–economic variables on obesity may be mediated, in part, by the low cost of energy dense foods. The
observed inverse relationship between energy density of foods, defined as available energy per unit weight (kilocalories per gram or megajoules per gram) and energy cost (dollars per kilocalorie or dollars per megajoule) means that diets based on refined grains, added sugars and added fats (
e.g. doughnuts) are more affordable than the recommended diets based on lean meats, fish, fresh vegetables and fruit.


On low incomes, people can't afford a healthy diet. That is what a low income means.

Sorry about the formatting, but I think you misread the figures in the report. The healthy diet cost between 40% and 60 % of income. Combat Poverty said 60%.
Table 1. Cost of a healthy eating (HE) diet (€) and percentage (%) of welfare allowance spent
Large Supermarkets Large low cost
stores
Medium sized stores Convenience stores
Brands
Market Own Market Market Own Market Own
Cost of HE diet € 59.38 47.58 40.38 59.07 53.34 63.6 56.87
% of allowance spent 36 29 24 36 32 38 34

From January 2006 the minimum weekly social welfare allowance for a single person is €165.80.


The miserable thing about that report was that it was drawn up at the behest of Mary Harney to justify taking away extra nutrition allowances for people with ill health. The idea was that since Social Welfare was being raised to reduce levels of poverty, the extra nutrition allowance could be pared back.

With regard to the lack of affordability of fresh fruit and vegetables. One of the main reasons for the use of so much processed ingredients is agribusiness lobbying and money and the affects on policy. It should not be surprising that most of the foods that act as bulking agents and preservatives (sugar, maize etc) receive most subsidies in comparison to healthier fruit and vegetable options.
There are countless examples but a recent example is the US sugar lobby in the US trying to prevent/stymie a WHO report which recommended a maximum daily consumption level.

Lets not forget the growth of 'ghost towns' where low income groups find it hard to source quality ingredients at a fair price. The reasons behind this are similar to the agribusiness lobbying above you just need to sub in the supermarkets for the agribusiness. The Uk's New Economics Foundation have done some great work in this area, also the books of Felicity Lawrence ('Not On the Label' for one) and Monbiot's Captive State.

http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/local_ghost.aspx
http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/felicitylawrence
captive-state-
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:33 am

tonys wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
tonys wrote:
johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.

Surely it isn't an either / or question.
For me it is. If you want a society where everyone has the opportunity of an equal start, but at the same time a society that rewards effort, within limits, it’s the only way to go.

So you think people should be rewarded according to the effort they expend? I'm afraid you couldn't support capitalism if that's the case.

And if you support 'equality of access to a quality education' within a capitalist economy then you would still be justifying the denial of the equal economic and social opportunity rights of younger generations. Which means it's a non-sequitur.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:41 am

Pax wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
This has been on my mind a lot in recent months. The idea of privatisation of water still seems alien to most people in this country. There seems to be some residual social recognition that no one should die of thirst for the lack of money. In theory at least households don't pay for water. Most restaurants will give you a glass of tap water for nothing.

The whole push of free market advocates is not ensure that nothing is provided in a collective and social way and to ensure that private profit can be made out of any form of service to the public.

To have a society that has enormous wealth, but that knowingly allows people to die of hunger and thirst for the lack of money, seems to me to be inherently and profoundly wrong, as well as disfunctional and inefficient.


Absolutely. But with respect to your water privatisation comments, and how the arguments for it seem innately alien (and not just here I believe) here's an excellent debunking of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ (something which is already contradicted by empirical studies).
Also the short-term gain point wrt capitalism is also interesting.


The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons
http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/angus250808.html

Quote :

......Garrett Hardin hatches a myth

The author of "The Tragedy of the Commons" was Garrett Hardin, a University of California professor who until then was best known as the author of a biology textbook that argued for "control of breeding" of "genetically defective" people (Hardin 1966: 707). In his 1968 essay he argued that communities that share resources inevitably pave the way for their own destruction; instead of wealth for all, there is wealth for none.....

[....]

....Where's the Evidence?

Given the subsequent influence of Hardin's essay, it's shocking to realize that he provided no evidence at all to support his sweeping conclusions. He claimed that the "tragedy" was inevitable -- but he didn't show that it had happened even once.

Hardin simply ignored what actually happens in a real commons: self-regulation by the communities involved. One such process was described years earlier in Friedrich Engels' account of the "mark," the form taken by commons-based communities in parts of pre-capitalist Germany:

"[T]he use of arable and meadowlands was under the supervision and direction of the community. . . .

Just as the share of each member in so much of the mark as was distributed was of equal size, so was his share also in the use of the "common mark." The nature of this use was determined by the members of the community as a whole. . . .

At fixed times and, if necessary, more frequently, they met in the open air to discuss the affairs of the mark and to sit in judgment upon breaches of regulations and disputes concerning the mark."
(Engels 1892)

Historians and other scholars have broadly confirmed Engels' description of communal management of shared resources. A summary of recent research concludes:

"[W]hat existed in fact was not a "tragedy of the commons" but rather a triumph: that for hundreds of years -- and perhaps thousands, although written records do not exist to prove the longer era -- land was managed successfully by communities." (Cox 1985: 60)

Part of that self-regulation process was known in England as "stinting" -- establishing limits for the number of cows, pigs, sheep, and other livestock that each commoner could graze on the common pasture. Such "stints" protected the land from overuse (a concept that experienced farmers understood long before Hardin arrived) and allowed the community to allocate resources according to its own concepts of fairness.

The only significant cases of overstocking found by the leading modern expert on the English commons involved wealthy landowners who deliberately put too many animals onto the pasture in order to weaken their much poorer neighbors' position in disputes over the enclosure (privatization) of common lands (Neeson 1993: 156).

Hardin assumed that peasant farmers are unable to change their behavior in the face of certain disaster. But in the real world, small farmers, fishers, and others have created their own institutions and rules for preserving resources and ensuring that the commons community survived through good years and bad.....

That is very interesting Pax. It is very well refuted and the illusion that it is only private ownership can provide good husbandry is shown up. I've seen this in action in different ways myself, on land and sea. Riadach quoted an old Irish saying today praising "fewness of cows on grass". Surprised The most commonly quoted supposed example of the "Tragedy of the Commons" is the destruction of fisheries. This ignores that overfishing comes about when people fish for profit, rather than for community needs.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:44 am

johnfás wrote:
My posts consistently highlight that the law and justice are very different things.

Your ideas seem to be based on the premise of a total revolution of the social order. How are you going to achieve this - through arms? I don't think you would have the enjoyment of sitting writing on message boards if that were to be the situation. Order in a society is necessary for it to function adequately.

Whilst we need to gradually reform law, what is to say that your ideas would in fact lead to justice? Justice is the recognition of competing interests and the fair compromise between them. For example, the seizing of property from those who have rightly purchased it, even if they can afford multiple properties is unjust. Equally the lack of provision of services to poorer people is unjust. That does not mean that it is just to sieze the man's properties and give them to the other - that is clearly unjust. What is justice is a fair balance between their competing rights. What we need is a fair balance based on order, not an anarchical situation where anything goes.

Besides which, how does this anarchical situation solve anybody's woes - in reality? If you do what you propose, or anything like it you would have a rush of capital from Ireland which would be seen as an entirely insecure place to do business. The consequence might be that we all get our 2.5 acres of land each but it would be unproductive, we would have nobody to sell the produce from it to, we would have no money to purchase anything from overseas etc. So where would the justice be.

This is why I like MN so much. Elsewhere we'd be questioning the legitimacy of each other's parentage at this stage. Whilst that methodology may have its own curative properties, it seldom leads to folks sharing their truths. This way, our truths remain for others to judge, whilst we may just lick our wounds. For what it's worth, I enjoy talking to folks who disagree with me more than I enjoy swapping different versions of the same opinion with others. I learn more and in truth, I do enjoy the cut and thrust of debate that's unmarred by needless bloodletting.

My ideas are premised on a total revolution of the social order. Whether this happens peacefully or not is not up to me. I'll participate regardless. Though I should point out that I'd prefer the peaceful approach and I set my stall in that camp. If I ever have to move my stall to the violent side of the field, it will be a reaction to violence, not a wish to perpetrate it, that will facilitate such a move. The right to self defence is absolute and I reserve the right to do so when and if I decide it is necessary. I've been writing and talking this way for a long long time and I'm not doing anything illegal or morally wrong.

I think we understand the term "anarchy" in different ways. That's fine. No need to debate it, I'll accept your meaning so that we don't muddy the terms of reference with regard to the subject we're discussing.

If I considered the assumption you make to be a reasonable assumption, in as far as it justifies your position, I'd not be disagreeing with a single point that you've made. The assumption you make, in my opinion, is that our social model exists to exhalt mankind as a whole. There are many sweet words available that seem to prove this view. However, the soured fruit is what we have. Debt and poverty have always increased. You ask would I risk everything on the possibility that things might turn out better. My answer is a resolute yes. Even a dim possibility is better than the no possibility we have at present.

I disagree too with the idea that justice is about the reconcilliation of competing interests so that compromise may be reached. That's business law, and it exists solely to disenfranchise human beings of their natural rights.

Justice to me, is about recognising something that pre-exists the the search for it. It exists to rule out the necessity for righteous parties to have to compromise. Compromise via law, in my opinion, tends to recognise justice, but avoids it because of some dated notions about the concept of 'the greater good.'

The preamble to our contract that we don't sign (the Constitution) clearly spells out the intent of the contract. It is my position that this contract is null and void until it begins to reflect this description, though I do and have, reserved the right to use it as a tool as I see fit.

I'd be happy with my 2.5 or so acres. I could decide myself what happens next. I don't have that right and luxury presently. I say the anarchy you forsee and describe, exists presently and it exists in spite of the fact that the reason for the existence of the system itself is often offered as being to avoid this 'anarchy,' to begin with.

My anarchy does not exist to diminish or extinguish woes. It exists to ensure that those who are visited by woes are themselves equipped and responsible for diminishing and extinguishing them. Currently my unrepresentative government is writing cheques that I'm not willing to underwrite. If I'm to be visited by woes, let them be as a direct result of my stupidity or fate. Nobody else has a right to create a problem whilst pretending to fix another and stick my name on the name tag.

Yup, social revolution. And then some...
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Sun Oct 12, 2008 1:24 am

Quote :
Besides which, how does this anarchical situation solve anybody's woes - in reality? If you do what you propose, or anything like it you would have a rush of capital from Ireland which would be seen as an entirely insecure place to do business. The consequence might be that we all get our 2.5 acres of land each but it would be unproductive, we would have nobody to sell the produce from it to, we would have no money to purchase anything from overseas etc. So where would the justice be
.

There is no way that a social revolution would happen just because a few people thought it was a good idea. Social revolutions happen when an economic system is historically outworn and unable to continue, and/or is evidently holding back better ways of delivering human needs.

Nationalising the banks was for many years a slogan of what you might call the "far left". Now it is happening and not because anyone chose it. In Iceland they have had to also nationalise some basic industry.

There is a general discussion going on about the viability of capitalism in the most peculiar quarters and a wide acknowledgement that at present the system is not working and is an enormously destructive mode. There are broadly, so far as I can see, only two other alternatives if this system was to be replaced - a right wing dictatorship of one kind or another, or a social revolution and social ownership in some form of banks, land, and essential production.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:10 pm

I came across a line in a film last night that I have to share with you.

Quote :
They say time is money, but they're wrong. Time is the absense of money.
Wim Wenders. In weiter Ferne, so nah!
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:11 pm

floatingingalway wrote:
I came across a line in a film last night that I have to share with you.

Quote :
They say time is money, but they're wrong. Time is the absense of money.
Wim Wenders. In weiter Ferne, so nah!

Wim Wenders "Der Amerikanishen (?) Freund" - one of my top five films of all time.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:22 pm

Wim Wenders rocks. Wings of Desire - what a work of art. Did you know he filmed that with his granny's silk stocking over the lense?
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:07 pm

Pax wrote:
tonys wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
tonys wrote:
johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.

Surely it isn't an either / or question.
For me it is. If you want a society where everyone has the opportunity of an equal start, but at the same time a society that rewards effort, within limits, it’s the only way to go.

So you think people should be rewarded according to the effort they expend? I'm afraid you couldn't support capitalism if that's the case.

And if you support 'equality of access to a quality education' within a capitalist economy then you would still be justifying the denial of the equal economic and social opportunity rights of younger generations. Which means it's a non-sequitur.
Quick answer. Me arse.

Contemplative answer. To follow.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:13 pm

tonys wrote:
Pax wrote:
tonys wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
tonys wrote:
johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.

Surely it isn't an either / or question.
For me it is. If you want a society where everyone has the opportunity of an equal start, but at the same time a society that rewards effort, within limits, it’s the only way to go.

So you think people should be rewarded according to the effort they expend? I'm afraid you couldn't support capitalism if that's the case.

And if you support 'equality of access to a quality education' within a capitalist economy then you would still be justifying the denial of the equal economic and social opportunity rights of younger generations. Which means it's a non-sequitur.
Quick answer. Me arse.

Contemplative answer. To follow.

Love that - we get the passion and the promise - look forward to the next post! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:43 pm

Pax wrote:
tonys wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
tonys wrote:
johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.

Surely it isn't an either / or question.
For me it is. If you want a society where everyone has the opportunity of an equal start, but at the same time a society that rewards effort, within limits, it’s the only way to go.

So you think people should be rewarded according to the effort they expend? I'm afraid you couldn't support capitalism if that's the case.
I do, I could, it is and why not?

pax wrote:
And if you support 'equality of access to a quality education' within a capitalist economy then you would still be justifying the denial of the equal economic and social opportunity rights of younger generations. Which means it's a non-sequitur.
If I understand you correctly and I'm not at all sure that I do, I wouldn’t be denying anybody anything. The choices of some of those who would have had the benefit of equal access to a quality education may put their “younger generations” at some disadvantage relative to others, but that would be as a result of their choices not as a result the education system, even then, the “younger generations” would have their own opportunity through an equal education system.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:15 pm

tonys wrote:
Pax wrote:
tonys wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
tonys wrote:
johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.

Surely it isn't an either / or question.
For me it is. If you want a society where everyone has the opportunity of an equal start, but at the same time a society that rewards effort, within limits, it’s the only way to go.

So you think people should be rewarded according to the effort they expend? I'm afraid you couldn't support capitalism if that's the case.
I do, I could, it is and why not?

pax wrote:
And if you support 'equality of access to a quality education' within a capitalist economy then you would still be justifying the denial of the equal economic and social opportunity rights of younger generations. Which means it's a non-sequitur.
If I understand you correctly and I'm not at all sure that I do, I wouldn’t be denying anybody anything. The choices of some of those who would have had the benefit of equal access to a quality education may put their “younger generations” at some disadvantage relative to others, but that would be as a result of their choices not as a result the education system, even then, the “younger generations” would have their own opportunity through an equal education system.

Without wanting to speak for Pax, capitalism rewards people in accordance with the extent to which they hold capital, rather than in accordance with effort. Most people will never earn much more than it costs to live and will never accumulate capital. There are not enough hours in the day for Bill Gates to earn by his personal efforts the amount of money that comes his way. There are people who have never done a days work in their lives who are multimillionaires.
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