How many jobs does Ireland need?

November 27th, 2013

Drawing on the recent piece by Michael Taft, assessing the proportion of emigration for which the recession/response is responsible, and on some CSO estimates for population, we can see the following:

The Irish population has grown by 108,000 between 2009 and 2013.

Taft estimates a net 136,000 Irish aged 15-29 emigrated due to recession over the period from 2008 to 2013 .

That clearly leaves out those over 29 who emigrated due to the recession, but it gives us a floor.

Thus, to keep up with natural growth, the Irish economy would have to have grown by 244,000 over this period. Instead, FTE employment has dropped by 303,000. That’s a net difference of 547,000 between what would be required and what we actually see. The 300,000 the CSO reports as unemployed only tells a small part of the story. (Note, that’s partly because the FTE figures will capture the ‘underemployed’ figures, which are hidden by the simple employed/unemployed summary.)

It’s great to see increases in net employment – I’ve been seeing for the past week or two the press releases touting an increase of something over 50,000 in the last year. However, let’s not kid ourselves: we need ten times that to get back to pre-recession levels – and that’s not even accounting for the loss in purchasing power of those who are in employment. A back of the envelope estimate – assuming that population growth continues at the same pace – would suggest we’ll need another 250,000 jobs to keep up with upcoming population growth over the next five years. So, if we wanted to get back to ‘normality’ over a five year period, we’d need about 160,000 net jobs a year over that period. To put it another way: 50,000 is just about keeping up with natural population growth. Any fall in unemployment in the past year can be attributed wholly to emigration.

Primary Care Fallout

September 28th, 2012

The scandals around the Irish health minister are a constantly shifting landscape at present, with recent news including the resignation of Labour’s junior health minister, Roisin Shortall. Prior to Shortall’s resignation, I had submitted a letter to the Irish Times. Since they declined to publish it, I’m sharing it here:

A Chara,

It is unusual for a minister to come under such sustained attack, on such a wide range of fronts, as the minister for health has over the past several months. His personal judgement, conflicts of interest, and his competence in managing his brief have each been challenged by significant revelations.

Now we learn that sites in the minister’s constituency have mysteriously jumped up the priority list for primary care centers. This at a time of straitened circumstances, when the government claims to be making hard decisions in the national interest.

As a Labour Party member, too often I find myself gritting my teeth at many of the compromises of coalition. The premise of uno voce means that Labour ministers are implementing and defending decisions that often bear the imprimatur of Fine Gael far more clearly than the trace of social justice and intergenerational solidarity. Such, we are told, is the nature of coalition, of compromise. Perhaps so.

Corruption is of a different nature. The stench of personal self-interest, disguised to a greater or lesser extent, echoes through the scandals emanating from the department of health. The minister should resign. The Tanaiste must insist upon it.

Is mise,

Stephen Colbert’s lawyer, Trevor Potter, analyzes the Citizens United decision

May 27th, 2012

One of the strongest elements of Colbert’s coverage of the post-Citizens United era has been the inclusion of Trevor Potter. It’s been fun seeing just how much Potter clearly enjoys his role as real lawyer to Colbert’s fake-character-having-real-impact. This piece by Potter, originally a speech, shows his deep engagement with these issues:

I do not pretend this is a simple constitutional issue, precisely because this is where two important Constitutional values meet, sometimes head on: the First Amendment, the quintessential individual right to free speech, which we know about, and the important collective right to a functioning, representational government, which we sometimes forget is the whole purpose of the Constitution. But the Supreme Court has until now recognized repeatedly that the legitimacy of government is threatened at its core when it is corrupt, or even appears to most citizens to have a serious conflict of interest.

Compare and contrast

April 20th, 2012

People think I’m completely evil and what I’m doing is completely immoral, but at the end of the day I feel like I’m just educating people on technology.

That’s Hunter Moore, founder of ‘revenge porn’ site IsAnyOneUp, as quoted by the BBC. Compare that with the rationale provided for an ‘art’ exhibition currently showing in London:

Two Italian-born artists are showing off more than 10,000 private photographs they claim to have stolen from random people’s hard drives, part of an exhibit that also features fragments cut, torn or chipped off of iconic works by Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons.

The loot from the art-minded crime spree is intended to raise questions about what’s private, what’s public, and what makes art “art,” said curator Barbara Rodriguez Munoz, who gave The Associated Press a tour of London’s Carroll/Fletcher gallery on Thursday.

The Moore defense is one of several rather random claims made – that he avoids passing judgement (just as his most recent hosting company claims to ‘remain neutral’ on their clients’ activities), that while some are upset it provides entertainment for others, that if he weren’t doing it someone else would, and that he’s ‘just a businessman’ exploiting a market opportunity.

The artists are making a more targeted claim – that framing the project as ‘art’ with the purpose of ‘making us think’ excuses the illegal and unethical methods used to obtain their content, and the arguably voyeuristic nature of their product. But is there really that much of a difference between their claims and those of Moore, or are they both self-serving excuses for ‘doing what I want, for my benefit’, whether that benefit be advertising revenue or an artistic profile?

From O.J. to Trayvon –

April 8th, 2012

This isn’t 1995. This is the good fight. This is about restoration of faith. Until there is a trial for George Zimmerman, the whole justice system is on trial.

via From O.J. to Trayvon –

Twitter / @markmackinnon: At press conference at her …

April 3rd, 2012

Twitter / @markmackinnon: At press conference at her ….

At press conference at her house, Aung San Suu Kyi was asked where Burma was as a democracy, on scale of 1-10. “On the way to 1,” she said.

Mobile operators seek to block Skype in Sweden – The Local

March 31st, 2012

VoIP software, like Skype, is a challenge for traditional telephony operators, who now have income from providing digital bandwidth, but are losing higher-margin operations, such as voice calls. Good to see the European Commission stand up for network neutrality on this one:

According to the European Commission, maintaining “net neutrality” – whereby all internet traffic is treated equally – is important and companies shouldnt be able to control how customers use the network.

via Mobile operators seek to block Skype in Sweden – The Local.

From the archives – divorce referendum coverage

February 7th, 2012

I’ve been ‘rescuing’ various pieces from my (primarily cassette-based) archive of content from my days at Flirt FM. One little nugget is this compendium of interviews and audio from the count following the divorce referendum in 1995. As a recap (or tutorial for those not in the know), divorce was illegal in Ireland until 1996, and deemed unconstitutional under the language in the 1937 constitution that gives special status to marriage:

The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack. (Article 41.3.1 (as amended))

A previous attempt to amend the constitution in the 1980s, to allow for divorce, had failed, and the 1995 referendum was carried by a margin of only 9,114 votes, out of 1.6 million cast. The voters in Galway-West voted against the proposal by a margin of about 52:48.

Divorce referendum 1995 – Galway-West Count

New research survey on community radio in Ireland

February 6th, 2012

CRAOL, the Irish community radio organization, has sponsored a survey investigating how the public views the mass media, and exploring their knowledge of community radio. Among the key findings (with both positives and negative implications for the sector):

  • Nearly 80% of all adults in the Republic of Ireland agree that news and current affairs is sometimes biased towards the views of its owners
  • 3 in 4 adults worry that individual people or businesses have too much ownership of the media.
  • 84% feel that community radio would add to the diversity of content available to them as listeners
  • Only 39% of those surveyed were aware that communities can set up their own community radio station.

News – Current Story in Full.


February 5th, 2012

The people have been touting a Nicholas Kristof piece about successful petition drives on their site. His first example is of a petition by a fourth grade class, looking for changes in how a movie (of a Dr. Seuss book) is promoted – “Don’t lose the environmental message!” A great example of the importance of action – the class petition ‘gained legs’ and garnered over 57,000 signatures, leading to action by Universal, including some of the specific actions requested by the class. A good example, too, of a teacher who helps his class learn, by doing, about engaging with the world.

Environment Petition: Universal Pictures: Let the Lorax Speak for the Trees! |