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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 15, 2009 @ 11:17 am

    Fact and Prediction

    Harry McGee

    I often wondered about the meaning of the Chinese curse that went: ‘May you live in interesting times…”

    Now, I no longer wonder.

    Politics is as interesting as it has been since I started writing about it full-time over five years ago.

    But it’s also truly frightening. The prospect of half a million people out of work would have been inconceivable only two years ago. But then a lot of unpalatable things that are occurring before our eyes were unimaginable two years ago.

    One of the exercises I conducted during the course of the weekend was a comparison between the notices of liquidation in current isues of the State journal Iris Oifigiúil  and those last year and in 2007. Of course there was an increase of almost exponential proportions in the numbers of suckers walking the plants. The names of many screamed  property bubble and naive hope that a ballon had been found that could never be burst no matter how much hot air you pumped into it…

    We got a little taster this weekend of how thin the gruel is going to be. The book value of the distressed loans held by the bigger financial institutions is in the order of €80 billion to €90 billion. Two stockbroking companies (connected, in every sense of the word)  have said the discount that NAMA pays should be no more than 15 per cent. Dan Boyle is the only Government figure to hazard an educated guess, saying the discount should be at least 50 per cent.

    This is mainly development land and commerical property that’s at issue. If you look at the precipitous fall in residential property, you would have to say that Boyle is on the money and is probably being conservative.

    The counter argument is that if the Government does apply a severe haircut (economist speak for discount – oh how exciting their use of language!) it will leave the banks in such an under-capitalised position that almost complete nationalisation will be inevitable.

    I’m sorry but I have little symathy for the teachers. Just look at what’s happening in non public-sector land. The black tide of recession is lapping at everybody’s shore. Look at the 100 high-end jobs that were lost in a high-tech company this morning that was promising expanision last year. Look at the redundancy programmes and pay cuts that have been introduced in so many companies. View the devastation that has wreaked across many sectors.We have already had a voluntary redundancy programme in this newspaper and we are currently voting on proposals for 5 per cent and 10 per cent reductions in salary. Sorry, secure, well-paid jobs with long holidays and guaranteed pensions means something in these days. Whatever about cutbacks in educations, the teachers will not get much support for their stance on pay from people in wider society.

    There was a lot of commentary at the weekend claiming that the budget was ‘soft’ because it didn’t effect cutbacks in public services (and that’s social welfare folks, no matter how you look at it) and concentrated on taxes. However, when people see the massive gouge it has taken out of their pay packets in May, its true savagery will become clear.

    Will it work? We just don’t know. Anybody who predicts what’s going to happen now has been – or needs to be – lobotomised. If it does work, Cowen and co will get the order of the boot. If it doesn’t work, ditto.

    Cowen said earlier this year that he will get no thanks for any measure he takes, no matter how successful. On that, he is 100 per cent correct. He is a one-time Taoiseach. That’s for sure.

    Prediction One: FF will get anihilated in the June 5 elections.

    Prediction Two: Declan Ganley may nip in to win the third sea in North West.

    I know. I know. My predictive powers are as good as BBC weatherman Michael Fish who said nothing to worry about in 1987 a day before Britain was battered by the worst storms in a generation. But, hey, it’s what we do.

    • Tony S says:

      Is there a section missing in your piece? It jumps suddenly from your financial analysis to an overview of the teachers.

      Other than that, excellent as always. I like to honesty and openess of your blog, D.

      My two-pence worth – the day that all of us take collective responsibility for the mess and also take collective unselfish action to get ourselves out of it will be the day that we’ll begin to see the end of this and the beginnings of a mature political democracy where we’ll have real choices in terms of poltical vision. One of the most depressing elements of the current situation is that there’s no real alternative to current government ‘policy’

      The banks are beneath contempt (and it always has been so) so are not even wrth commenting on – it’s not for nothing that a slickly-exceuted bank heist remains the most popuar form of cimema thriller, but i’m very disappointed with the stance of the teachers – they are just today’s representation of the continuing self-interest of too many of us.

    • Harry says:

      No, I haven’t blogged in a while and there were a number of disparate things running round my head for offchesting. And that’s how they came out. Not my most arty contribution ever! And thanks for the kind comment Tony. I could not agree more about the banks. And it’s crazy too that we are still so obsessed with the judgement of the markets and rating agencies (co-authors of the misfortune- the three main rating agencies gave triple A plus ratings to dodgy derivatives).

    • Peter B says:

      I’m really fed up of reading about the tough decisions and hard economic choices and the fact that ‘we’ must all take our share of the burden, like true patriots! What makes me truly sick is the fact that these platitudes are issuing from the same shower of incompetent politicians who facilitated most of the current fiasco. Brian Lenihan, Cowen and the other miscreant politicians have been in Government for the past decade or more, and speak as if they had nothing to do with the creation of this debacle. Their arrogance is breathtaking, their failure to apologise contemptible and the fact that they remain in government unbelievable. Could this happen in any other democratic country, one wonders? They have rolled out one half-baked recovery plan after another, we’re now faced with the creation of an asset management agency, the developers and financiers remain untouched, there isn’t a worthwhile reform in sight and the ‘ordinary’ people are expected to valiantly, stoically and with patriotic fortitude, step up to the plate and take the rap for all of this? It’s an outrage and the current government must regard the citizens of this Ireland as being morons – and indeed it could appear that way. The quiet resignation to last week’s budget and the fact that FF was re-elected less than two years ago, despite their penchant for corruption being well known, would suggest that there is a willingess, by the majority, to accept just about anything, or maybe it’s just plain stupidity?

      The obsession with economics, property prices and so forth has, in my view, gone too far and is becoming the sole pre-occupation of government and many citizens. During the so-called boom years the good of society was completely forgotten about and neo-liberal agendas allowed gain momentum at the expense of health, education, housing and social welfare services – not to mention sustainable taxation policies.

      Ireland needs a new government, a new framework or basis for economic and social policy-making, that is ambitious, forward-looking, innovative and courageous. A government that honours the citizens it serves, legislates for the good of all and contains the required competence – something glaringly absent among the present incumbents. Part of this will have to be a change to the electoral system, a move away from parochial politics, with local interests prevailing over national interests. The current system may have been fine in its day, but its day has long passed. The media, modern communications and so forth, eliminate the need for locally-elected politicians and the constituency system that currently operates. To hear Mary Coughlan in a recent radio interview state that her priorities were 1. To her constituency 2. To Fianna Fáil and 3. Her portfolio as Minister – summed up an approach that is clearly no longer effective.

      The people of this country need to stand up and to speak up – the ‘fighting’ spirit of the Irish needs to re-emerge. The ‘tail is wagging the dog’ and has been for far too long – the tail being the government and the dog, the people. This is a very limited form of democracy.

      And for once, I do agree with the points being made by the teaching unions!

    • brian says:

      Possibly a silly question relating to Brian Cowen/Lenihan’s (not so much BC/BL as BS) insistence that the banks and property developers are not being bailed out. If the toxic debts are bought at a significant discount so the banks are not recouping their full book value, does this not imply that developers are being bailed out in having their loans reduced?

      I understand that a developer’s loan repayments would be subject to the normal market fluctuations but this has a nasty whiff of the sequel to Fianna Fail going into cahoots with property developers at race meets. Now, if it’s an established fact that sequels are worse than the originals and we can agree that it was the Irish Grand National over the weekend, does this mean I have finally crossed the line into the realms of tabloided, blood-letting, conspiracy theorists? As I said, possibly a silly question….

    • Harry says:

      My understanding is that the outstanding amount will remain the same for the developers who took out the loan. It will be interesting to see if the €90 billion figure comprises the rolled-up amounts (ie the repayments that developers have not been making, in cahoots with the banks).
      NAMA will have power to take possession of the asset and presumably will also be allowed to chase other collateral that has been offered (though I suspect a lot of that is also property-related or boom-relating – shopping centres and retail parks come to mind).
      To Peter, yes, those who got us in to the mess, partly at least, are now in charge of getting us out of the mess. We did vote them in in 2007. And yes, the apologies have not bee very full or very forthcoming. But they’re hardly the only Government doing it. Look across the water to Britain, where the situation is almost identical (sub-prime and financial service over-expansion over there: pure property bubble here.

    • Tony S says:

      Peter B

      Didn’t Coughlan say in that interview that in fact her no. 1 priority was FF, no. 2 her constituency and no. 3 the country? Which makes it even worse …

      Sorry to say this, but presented with the same period in power and the same set of circumstances FG would have been little better (with a slighly more cultured air about them, but don’t forget that nasty right-wing streak that was coming to prominence with FG just before the current crisis broke) while Labour have essentially been in bed with the public service unions (and would go/would have gone into coalition with FF in the morning if they could have).

      The realignment of Irish politics, if it ever happens, will take at least a generation, and that’s the depressing reality in my view. The only thing that might move it more quickly is if the whole ‘Green’ agenda became suddenly urgent, but the Greens have just committed PD hari-kiri and (unfairly in my view) will be crucified for their identification with the current FF governemnt at the next election.

      The problem is essentially the lack of maturity in our political system – whoever coined the phrase ‘messenger boy politics’ hit the nail on the head.

      And typical media coverage is no better (present company excluded of course) Just listen to the level of your average political discourse by the media – glib analysis of problem, followed by ‘internal’ blame allocation, and let’s move on to talk about Munster or the Champions League before it might get too complicated

      The only mitigating factor in our government’s favour is that worldwide there is a collective lack of political thought and will, as a result of 30 years of monetarist supremacy – the holy grail of growth, consumer and the market making it extremely difficult for independent political theory to make inroads. Add to that the relative unattractiveness of a political career monetarily, as well as the unrelenting voyeuristic media pressure has meant that, by and large, politics has attracted ‘managers’ rather than ‘leaders’ over the period. At the moment, leadership talent is missing, and let’s hope the democratic system produces some leaders before long – otherwise the demagogue option could become dangerously appealing again – the parallels between what’s happening now and what happened in the 1930s are a bit too close for comfort …

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Harry, I agree about the teacher lack of sympathy for the position of the teacher’s union.

      I saw a clip on the RTe News last night April 14 including a young female teacher saying that after doing her budget she was left with €94 per week to live on, really I thought to myself only €94 per week to live on? I mean what kind of salary would give you that? The dole gives you 200 plus and minimum wage would put you around 300 plus. Or could it be that after deduction her tax and levies (including the public sector specific one for the pension that no private sector worker or employee could afford to buy) and then deducting her mortgage or rent, and then her car loan and other loans and deducting money for her groceries and bills like ESB/Gas and insurance for the car/house. that she was then left with under €100 per week to spend on everything else. Like say clothes, a holiday, savings etc. Oh and let’s just ignore the fact that many teachers take part time jobs during the summer and have done so for decades.

      I wonder is this sort of like the woman on Liveline last week who caused the thread on p.ie about supposedly living on €50 per week on social welfare and was apparently bemoaning that her daughter had to take a packed lunch to school the shame, the shame. There are people who are really struggle but there also appear to be people who think any minor inconvenience at all is a struggle.

      Also, we have a problem in the public discourse in that when someone in a public sector union thinks and talks about the private sector they are only thinking about senior bank execs and when people in the private sector think of the public sector they can think only of teachers and pension civil servants retiring in their 50s with pensions that increment with all future pay increases and then starting to work in 2nd jobs.

    • Ray D says:

      Prediction 1 The bailout will be a disaster and tghe fat cats that got the loans that are now toxic debts will run away with the cream – such as their mansions and other properties..

      Prediction 2 The budget will be an abject failure. All it will do is deepen the recession. Instead useless public spend should be cut and pay increases granted.

    • Kynos says:

      You’re dead right about the forthcoming savagery for one thing mate. Gonna be a long hot summer and not one particularly notable for lurrrrve. “But then a lot of unpalatable things that are occurring before our eyes were unimaginable two years ago.” - oh I don’t know about that. But then I’ve been writing on politics on here a bit longer than you Harry ;) Would you like someone to wish you live in BORING times? I know I wouldn’t but then I’ve also lived in China …
      Remember, the book value of 90 million in now-toxic assets once represented objective value, in that the money paid out for those properties at the top of the market was borrowed by a seller who knew (or should have) known he was paying too high a price for the economic goods concerned if it were based upon the subjective utility valuation which is what he would pay for it if he were to live in it himself and have the economic clout to bargain in a disorganised market as any big-league developer in the Tiger had.
      But it was instead being paid to a seller of land who was selling to a buyer who wasn’t buying it to build a house to live in himself, but rather 14-to-an-acre houses for others to live in. Or 20 to an acre or however many they could squeeze into a brown envelope paid to some corrupt county councillor. Thereby hangs the Celtic Tiger’s tale.
      All that toxic debt represents real money paid out, in real cash, to someone. Very few someones, relatively speaking. My only question is, where has it all gone? Mr Obama will find out in the USA’s case. Because the United States levies taxation in a unique way; based upon US citizenship. Nowhere else does this.
      The G20 have inter alia resolved that tax havens which do not report have a world of pain coming. Result. Tax havens which do not wish to report to the IRS in general, but will do so on the holdings they maintain on behalf of US citizens have started bouncing the accounts of said citizens into newly formed and separate institutions which WILL report on the doings of US citizens whose accounts they now hold. The alternative is a cheque for the full amount which the US citizen has hitherto maintained in said tax haven.
      They know, you see, that the US if given all data on Her citizens isn’t in the least concerned about anyone else’s (no money in it for the US) so won’t press the issue of non-reporting of other countries’ citizens if the tax havens tell the G19 to go hang. Which they will. That’s my PRediCtion.
      If Ireland made Her citizens taxable based inter alia on Irish citizenship and passports being held, ye might get a fair few bob out of the rattle of the bag if you could get Uncle Sam to help you squeeze a few…bags. Of tax havens now holding offshore enormous amounts of money lent to developers who set prices way higher than the subjective utility value of what they would pay having huge economic clout and able to bargain, and repaid via even huger aggregate mortgage borrowings from Irish banks, each in itself a relatively small loan, but huge to the ordinary working JO ultimately who was forced to buy a place to live that was being sold in a disorganised market freely setting but which he, being small, could not bargain in; and represents a fair bit of the 90 bill that we’re now being asked to make good to the banks in effect.
      That 90 bill having for a goodly part been booked a first-class ticket to Sandy Lane long before the “crash” became visible to every one else. Bar the dogs in the street who as usual saw it all coming long since. If you can wink at torture and illegal war you can wink at anything and the situation we find ourselves financially in had everything to do with nods and winks and scratches and people not seeing stuff that their salaries depended very much on their not seeing. Natch. as in one thing so in all. Like your writing too Harry.

    • Kynos says:

      Sorry if all that sounds a bit grassy knoll but there we go it’s how I see things quite a bit round here and with good reason imo

    • Kynos says:

      The scariest thing about Michael Fish getting it wrong wasn’t that he got it wrong off the top of his head but that he got it wrong with billions of pounds and dollars worth of technology. Which throws the global warming debate into scary focus one way and the other.

    • Peter B says:

      Tony S – I do agree that FG and Labour may not have any significantly different policies. These parties do seem to have higher levels of integrity and transparency and I do believe they would represent the interests of society more honourably and fairly. At this stage Ireland needs an alternative government, for PR purposes if nothing else. I am inclined to think, however, that a FG/Lab/Green coalition would bring some fresh energy and ideas – starkly contrasting with the threadbare, jaded offering from FF.

    • Niall S says:

      The teachers are more than justified to take action, in my opinion. It is not just self interest, on their part. Larger classes full of children with special needs (who used to have additional help) can only lead to all children receiving a poorer education. Schools, in Ireland, were already grossly underfunded and much of the monies needed by them were funded by raffles & draws in the local community. Where they will get the money from now on is a significant cause of concern to many schools. In fact, it is we the parents who should be out on the streets demanding resources for the teaching of our children. Well done to teachers, I say…..and thank you for thinking of our childrens future.

    • Tony S says:

      Dan

      Your point about the ‘€94 to live on’ is very valid – what exactly does that mean? If I take away all my deductions in theory I have nothing to ‘live on’. If she means ‘disposable income’ surely that’s something you only have in your youth and which you leave behind once you begin to assume responsibilities?

      As for the ‘packed lunch’ comment, well that sort of caving-in to peer pressure is exactly what has got us into the mess in the first place – the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality that was rampant through the Celtic Tiger years

      Peter B.

      On FG ‘integrity’ – just two words for you – Micheal Lowry. He is also, by the way, yet another example of how supporters of the main two parties vote for reasons of personality rather than principle – to quote Wikipedia – “In the general elections of 1997, 2002 and 2007 Lowry topped the poll in his constituency”

      I would say ‘slightly higher levels’ – and the reason they are higher is simply because they haven’t been in power and FF has.

    • eric says:

      To [unidentified who made earlier comment which I have deleted because he/she represented themselves as someone else]
      “One way to cut back on education costs would be to stop giving free education to tens of thousands of foreign children. Why should their parents, and their parents’ employers, pass the tab for paying for this to the rest of us?”

      By your post I assume you’d happily see all irish Diaspora and their offspring return to the homeland to claim their right to free education?

      What Problem our schools would have then! Not to mention the health service, the welfare system, and as for unemployment.. well you can see where this goes.

    • fiachra says:

      The teacher bashing is amusing. It amazes me that the one area where the media like to back the government is in the ‘underfund education’ campaign. The pension debacle is getting by far the most air time, as it is very convenient to demonise teachers as greedy at a time when restraint is needed. The fact is that many children will be returning to classes of 35+ in September, and their classrooms will be populated by children with special needs whose only source of badly needed one to one education will be the class teacher. To cut to the chase, we have the 2nd largest class size in Europe. The public are ignorantly haranguing teachers for standing up for their children, who will wind up suffering badly in the global market place in 10 years time, as our EU neighbors continue to place their value on their greatest resource – young people. We will not be competitive in this market place as things continue this way.

      As a teacher who taught 35 last year, including 2 travellers with 3 settled children all of whom had behaviour disorders, I felt deeply sorry for those 5 and the other 30 in the class who were being robbed by our government. Those who feel that teachers get too much leisure time, I would be in an asylum if I did not get time to recover from the mental fatigue involved in being the primary educator for these 35 for 10 months. I can not take fag breaks, coffee breaks, personal calls for a chat etc., the 6 hours direct teaching time are incredibly intense, plus a mininum of 1 hour extra per day on preparation, sports coaching. I worked for 3 years in the private sector, and it does not compare. You teacher bashers know this, or you would be teachers too.

      Get real people, stand up for standards in Irish education. Why isn’t the government’s colossal waste of money on prefabs not being pursued with the venom that the teachers’ working conditions are being criticised? This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of WASTE, paying teachers properly and providing proper learning environments for our children should be the bedrock of our education system.

      Fiachra in Wicklow.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Fiachra, we do indeed have one of the highest class sizes in Europe in primary level but why? Is it solely because of lack of money (though our spend on primary per student is markedly lower than on 2nd and 2rd level) or are other factors at play here. For example the pupil teacher ratio is somewhere in the mid to high twenties say it’s 27 which means that for your class of 35 there is either a corresponding class of 20 or less out there or a lot of classes (say eight) just under the average at 26. Could it be that one of the reason for such large classes is the spread of population across the country and the nature of our housing development and the fact that we’ve so many schools per head. We have about 3,300 primary schools and England has just under 18,000 serving on average 239 per school. Now England as opposed to the UK as a whole has somewhere in the region of 50 million people, we have 4 million a ratio 25:2 but we have just shy of a fifth of the number of schools they have. Why? In large part because we have indulged for too long the idea that you live where you please and that you must have the same access to all services as everyone else at the same cost. That is one large reason why the pupil teacher ratio is so immobile but no one will ever mention because it’s political dynamite in rural areas to suggest that people should have built and bought their houses closer to existing substantive centres of population.

      Numbers from

      http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/ete/agencies/primaryschool/

      In January 2004, there were 17,762 primary schools in England, with an average of 239 pupils per school. The average class size taught by one teacher in maintained primary schools at Key Stage 1 was 25.7. The average class size at Key Stage 2 was 27.2.

      http://www.schooldays.ie/articles/primary-Schools-in-Ireland-by-County

    • Jennifer says:

      there are plenty of us in the teaching profession who do not have any measure of job security. i have been teaching in my current school for 5 years, am not permanent and with cutbacks could be unemployed in september. get your facts right before making generalisations,.

    • Peter B says:

      Tony S – two words for you in relation to Lowry and FG – immediate expulsion! The fact that he was so subsequently so strongly supported by the electorate says little about the irish voters – the same with Beverley Flynn.

      Treachery, cronyism and corruption are hallmarks of FF – this cannot be said of any other Irish political party.

    • John Brandon says:

      An unbalananced perspective is what has us where we are. A total facination with the accumulation of wealth and this faciniation is throughout our society – public and private sector alike.
      Collective acceptance of this and collective acceptance of the consequences are required. Second and third homes were acquired throughout our society – I know plenty of teachers and guards that bought second properties just as many in the private sector did. This faciniation with wealth its accumulation lead to a multitude of people pushing for better pay, less taxes, better services and as we live in a democracy the elected representatives fought with each other to give us what we wanted. WE created the bubble and its burst and we don’t like the consequences. So like the alcoholic or the gambler we refuse to see it as a problem of our own making and prefer to seek others to blame. Bottom line is WE created the mess and WE need to accept responsibility. teachers decry the actions of governement and wish to forget the reduction in class size over the past 20 years, the huge increase in other resources and the massive pay increases received. Not that long ago teachers were demanding even bigger increases on the basis they had taught the entrepreneurs that had built the celtic tiger – now they wish to forget this contribution to its collapse, how conveneint.
      The one great reality I remind myself of when problems emerge is scale – I remind myself of Richard Attenboroughs attempt to put things in perspective by comparing the life of our plant to a calendar year and reminding myself that mankind only appears late on December 31st and each of us represents less than 0.5seconds. If you have your health enjoy it and appreciate the one true wealth.

    • John Doe says:

      The teacher bashing only occurs because their whinging is out of all proportion to their relatively secure position as well as the other usual reasons. If the vast mass of the unemployed had even a sliver of the representational organisation (and media coverage) of the teaching bodies then we would start to hear what the word stuggle really means.

      In the current economic climate if you have a job at all you are one of the lucky ones. And that’s it.

      Instead we have to listen to a sob story of a 26 year old teacher on 40,000Euro complaining about her 300,000Euro mortgage, over 7 times her basic salary! Clearly somebody not listening during economics lessons. Property owenership is not a right, the value of your poperty can go up as well as down – dont these people ever read the small print?

    • philip o sullivan says:

      To all the teacher bashers. When the economy turns around, Im sure you will all be first in the queue to train for 4 years so as you can take up a job in the ‘cushy’ profession. When times are bad, teachers are meant to wear sack cloth and ashes. When times are good we should put up and shut up.
      I do not hear the same criticism of the IMO and the Doctors when they complain, as vociferously as the teachers, about the underfunding in the health service and the reduction in their salaries, which are considerably higher than teachers.

    • fiachra says:

      John Doe, you are completely missing the point as to why teachers ‘whinge’. They are ‘whinging’ on behalf of your children, if you are fortunate enough to have them. This is the point that the general populace misses over and over, and the finger can only be pointed at the media for this, or are people that foolish?

      On the question of why many classes of 35+ will exist. Currently a school may have 16 mainstream classes, with 27 children on average in each class. With the allowance for a teaching post now 28 children per class, there are no longer enough children in that school to support one teaching post. So do you fire your junior infant teacher and spread the 27 children across the school, raising each class by around 2? No, obviously. It means that three classes of 27 (81 children) becomes two classes of 40 and 41, with one of them a mixed stream (ie, a 3rd and 4th class mixed). That is to explain what is happening, obviously school managers will endeavour to ensure that classes don’t reach those sizes, but it is creating a MESS! Batt O’Keeffe’s assertion of ‘sure what difference will one more make?’ is nonsensical. I hope that makes things clearer.

      To those who point continuosly to the fact that teachers are relatively secure, good conditions, etc., remember that anybody in this country has the same options open to them, and teachers have anything from 3 to 5, and more, years done in college. Their similarly-educated buddies milked the Celtic Tiger for all it was worth in the past 10 years, while teachers fought, yes for better pay, but also for a better deal for our country’s children. That is all being steadily undone, and that is what has our hackles up. To my mind, bankers and developers who broke the law should have all assets seized, and that should be used to pay the shortfall in our taxation system.

    • daidinanollag says:

      I’m not a teacher, but I am interested in education. I am also fascinated by all of the ‘teacher bashing’ that finds its way into public discourse. Where does all this bitterness towards teaching as a profession and teachers in general come from; I wonder is it from those who failed to achieve enough points in their Leaving Certificate to secure a place in one of the colleges of education? I did, but I still recognize that everyone’s job has its benefits and its drawbacks – teachers included. Despite the fact that I might work longer hours than the average teacher, and while I certainly do not get two or three months’ summer holidays, I would not be so self-righteous as to argue that I necessarily work harder than the average teacher – something that is implied in the majority of the comments made.

    • Ray D says:

      Teacher bashing is a media generated thing. Much of the media have jobs for life that are significantly funded by taxpayers. These are parasites on society and offer nothing to the public good. Contrast that with teaching.

    • Peter B says:

      Philip, who are you trying to kid here? Teachers ‘putting up and shutting up’ – that will be the day!! I recall in 2001/02 teachers striking and demanding an outrageous 30% pay increase. Teachers have never been quiet; always whining and moaning and looking for something or other. All they were interested in then was getting their bite of the boom and when they were on strike they didn’t seem too worried about the welfare of their students!! Their motives were as capitalist as any other sector. Teachers have no system of performance measurement or accountability for results and certainly, while the majority of teachers do their job very well, there remains a cohort who do not and would be better off engaged elsewhere. I suspect it’s this cohort who do most of the moaning and crying!

      To compare a teacher to a doctor in salary terms, is hardly a valid comparison. The academic requirements to enter medicine, the training, the hours worked, pressure, responsibility and so forth, are in no way comparable to teaching. And I would suggest the the IMO has never been as vociferous or militant as the teaching unions – the ASTI in particular. Finally I have no recollection of Doctors striking at the expense of their patients!

    • Peter B says:

      “Much of the media have jobs for life that are significantly funded by taxpayers.” Ray D, apart from RTE, I’m not aware of any other media form funded by the taxpayers, significantly or otherwise. Perhaps you might clarify?

    • Ray D says:

      RTE is much of the media

    • Peter B says:

      “These are parasites on society and offer nothing to the public good.” RTE staff presumably?

    • Ray D says:

      You can parse and analyse as you wish. RTE’s extremely well paid staffers (they are no doubt the highest paid media persons in the world related to audience) lead and orchestrate the public sector bashing. RTE itself is dependant on the public purse to survive.

      I believe that the licence fee should be scrapped and RTE left to survive without it but that is another matter.


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