The Seanad referendum is drawing near and the campaigns are in full swing. What is interesting is how well mobilised the No side is and the arguments they are using. Rather than a rational debate based on political realities, the No side has resorted to hysteria and fantasy. Even the name of the main opposition group, Democracy Matters, implies that a democratically elected government putting the decision before a vote of the people is somehow engaging in dictatorial actions. The vote is being ridiculously described as a power grab while reform is being held as a panacea that no one seems to be able to describe. Continue reading “Democracy Matters – But The Seanad Does Not”
In Ireland it is common for people to go abroad towards the end of college to somewhere warm and work for the summer. J1 visas are easy to get and it’s a great experience. You get a job for the summer, go drinking and do a bit of travelling. I was no different and this summer I sent 3 months in America with a group of my Irish friends. There were seven of us in a 2 bed apartment house, which was a smaller group than most Irish; it was more common to have 10-15 people in a house. It was a fantastic experience and I don’t regret it a bit, but this post is not about my J1, but rather one part of it, my job. Continue reading “Overworked and Constantly Shouted At – My J1 Working Experience”
The financial crisis and recession has turned economic thinking on its head. Economic textbooks which presume recessions never occur and unemployment is a voluntary decision have failed to keep up. However, luckily there have been a group of economists who have created theories that describe the world as it really is, not as they wish it was. They took key insights from the Roaring Twenties and the Depression Thirties and individually developed theories for how the economy boomed and why it went bust. There is Hyman Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis, Irving Fisher’s Debt-Deflation Spiral, Richard Koo’s Balance Sheet Recession and John Maynard Keynes theory of aggregate demand. Each explains a part of the business cycle, today I want to piece them altogether to create an overarching theory. Continue reading “A Minsky-Fisher-Koo-Keynes Theory Of Boom And Bust”
I nearly fell out of my chair with shock when I read the e-mail asking me to write a chapter for a book on Ireland’s future. Twenty young people from all different areas were to present a vision for Ireland’s future and the wonderful Lou Hodgson thought (for some reason) that I had something to offer. Six months later, the first copy of the book has arrived and it will be in shops next week. Its called “New Thinking, New Ireland” and I still cannot believe I’m part of it. Continue reading “I’m In A Book!”
A guest blog I wrote for Prayson Daniel explaining why I am not a Christian. My reasons are: it doesn’t make sense, God’s lack of revelation plus general lack of evidence, the problem of evil and the general disgrace that is the Catholic Church. Check it, its worth a read if I say so myself.
As an Irishman I am surrounded by Christianity and Catholicism in particular. My family is Catholic as are my friends, relatives, neighbours and pretty much everyone I come across. In fact, throughout our history being Irish and being Catholic were considered the same. The Church traditionally had a major influence on the country and still exerts control over schools and hospitals. I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy and even used to say a decade of the rosary every night. So why I am no longer a Christian?
The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense. This is a point that most Catholics will admit and try not to think about. How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it? Can anyone truly state with a straight face that the Pope is…
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On the weekend I saw the new film “Elysium” starring Matt Damon. I was blown away by it and its social commentary. Although at times it resembles an action film, it is in reality an allegory for our present times. It is a warning of what our future could be. Set in the year 2154, the world looks like Republicans and libertarians won the fight to dismantle the government. The inequality between the 1% and the rest has been driven to its extreme and all the rich people have evacuated Earth and are now living in a space shuttle named Elysium. Meanwhile Earth has descended to the level of an abandoned Third World ghetto.
The crisis has given rise to a range of new ideas and theories to replace the discredited view of the economy. The newest and most imaginative of these is known as Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and is one of the first theories to owe its growth to the internet. Without a doubt MMT is radical and completely turns established economic thinking on its head. If it is correct then it would change the way we think about the economy forever.
Economics is a broad and vast field comprising intricate areas that would take years to master. This makes it very hard to summarise or reduce it to a simple point. However, if there was one simple lesson that I wished everyone knew about economics, one easy sentence or sound bite that could explain the essential core to people who know nothing else about economics, it would be: “My spending is your income”. This simple point, properly understood, explains everything you need to know about the important policy issues of the economy. It doesn’t explain everything, but it explains the important parts.
My Spending Is Your Income
One of the surprisingly popular theories as to why the recession occurred is known as the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT), which argues that not only is the government not the solution to the recession, but in fact, it is also the cause. It claims that the recession was caused by the government artificially lowering the interest rates and distorting the economy leading to a recession. As you can imagine this theory is very popular among libertarians eager for an excuse to absolve the market of blame for the crash. It is promoted by Ron Paul and Peter Schiff who claim to have predicted the Financial Crash (and the next one too). It is also completely wrong and dangerously so. Continue reading “Why The Austrian Business Cycle Theory Is Wrong”
There are a lot of unusual languages in the world from all corners of the globe each with its own sound. There are also invented languages like Esperanto created to be a language to unite the world. However, by far the most unusual and imaginative is the language of Solresol. What makes it so unique is that it is based on the musical notes and therefore can be played on a musical instrument as well as spoken. It can also be adapted to the seven colours of the rainbow making it possible to paint a sentence. Continue reading “Solresol: A Language Of Music And Colour”