I have touched on some of this thinking in the Education thread …
I personally believe that the Sacred Heart lamp in the hall for those growing up in the 60s/70s/80s - and long before - has now, in the roaring 20s (and what a fcukin roar this year is!) been replaced by the one and only global God …money. And long before 2020 too.
Our whole social, political and economic existence is now guided by money. You bloody genius I hear you say … that was always the way. But it wasn’t. It was never solely a question of money that guided Govt policy on all matters … but as the late Kenneth Wolstenholme said … it is now.
Another thread mentioned airlines and in particular Aer Lingus. Once a jewel in our crown but now privatised - and doing quite well … until this virus. But it was somewhat understandably privatised as it was haemorrhaging money - the same as many other State/semiState bodies … due to lack of accountability, bad practices and basically no real consequence for poor governance.
This is a real issue with our infrastructure as such. If it’s essential you can’t really privatise it (see electricity, health and yup …water) - therefore often having to endure ridiculously high cost bases, bad practice and an uneconomic service. But if you can offload the ‘loss’ then Government policy has consistently been to get shut of it - get rid of the headache, let the private sector smash the eggs, take the heat and ultimately, make the profit.etc.
It’s part of what we are …
Governments have been unwilling and/or unable or have lacked the political stomach to reform key services, choosing instead to offload and sometimes retain a shareholding. That’s politics. If the problem can be offloaded, then …
Take our roads - no take them - but not beyond 2km. But here have been massive improvements in my lifetime - EU money and latterly our own. The M50 (mainly) and some others, are gold mines. What do we do? Flog their maintenance/management to private companies who then go on to cream it. Why would the State not manage an asset - a vital piece of infrastructure - that more than pays for itself. It makes no sense.
Take NAMA. We pay ultra billions and end up with a massive portfolio of gold, silver, bronze … and shite. What is the key criteria for disposal? Money - pure and simple - money. Our little country had become so corrupt that NAMAs remit was basically to ‘maximise the return to the taxpayer’.
Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to say of a site in Blanchardstown or Rathfarnham that ‘yes we can sell it for €16m but if it is given to the local GAA/soccer/rugby/sports club then the return will be multiples of €16m’ … but it never happened. John Costello was blue in the face looking for some kind of weighting for social capital. We still don’t have any such thing. Absolutely no value, no worth, no sense of the real benefits of certain investments. The real social dividend. The dividend that builds communities, cohesion, solidarity and physical and mental wellbeing. Well its only 2020 I suppose.
Surely we can move past Key Performance Indicators and the likes? If the government gives €1m towards mental health we should not have an official in the background looking to see how that returned €1.01m or better. Surely we can weight investment in terms of the societal good it does. Surely we can invest in people and communities. Never mind people before profit - it should be people before everything.
This bast*rd of a virus has taught us quite a few things - mortality probably first. Family. What we really need. What’s important. What matters. If we don’t change now it will never happen.
We can’t come out the other side of this catastrophe without real change. Let’s start valuing people, communities. Let’s value life. Together.
Post corona should be a whole lot better - but that is down to everyone.
So what should it look like?