Not so much looking down as across..

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Suffer little children to come to me - later - maybe in 2015

Suffer little children to come to me – later
Welcome to the new children’s hospital
Coming to a town nearish to you, well near enough, well nearly near enough.
A Government which has no money announced today it was going to spend 650m it doesn’t have in closing down children's hospitals so as to build a new one.
Consultants were paid huge amounts of money to come up with some suggestions. Please name one disaster that has not been recommended by consultants. Your answers on a post card.
Why not ask the children or the doctors?
Too simple? Too cheap?
I have previously argued that we don’t need a general election, what we need is a national government.
Reluctantly I have to accept that the present Government is stuck in a time warp.
They have ended up believing their own propaganda.
No one can save them, not even their closest family.
Let’s have an election, and then form a national government.
Let’s buy a ticket to Brussels for every consultant and wish them well.
Let’s give the power back to the people
To the local hospitals and enterprise boards.
Let’s close down the HSE, and when we are at it FAS, and redesign Bord Failte and Enterprise Ireland.
Let’s start all over again.
I was visiting a sick child recently in Our Lady’s Hospital for sick children in Crumlin.
They are in the middle of building a brand new wing – because the need is urgent.
I half suspect they have figured out that the new hospital at the Mater site will never happen.
A little like the Bertie Bowl.
Mary Harney had the good sense to block that piece of political folly by Bertie.
Now someone needs to do the same to the MaterChildren's hospital.
I hear on the grape vine the promoters may struggling to raise a mere 25m for selling the most generous tax breaks I have ever heard of in my life.
If we cannot persuade people to invest 50k to get tax breaks of 180k how do we expect to get private donations of 100m?
It would assume that people still have the money. I doubt it.
It would assume that the new project generates goodwill. I doubt that too. On the contrary, the project seems to generate great reservations on the part of many excellent health professionals involved in children’s care.
The new hospital has a flawed image and no amount of sticking plaster will help it.
The project lost its chairman the past week.
Amazingly no statement has been made by the outgoing chairman, by the minister, by the HSE.
We have to assume the worst - that the chairman saw the game was up and there was no point in delaying the inevitable.
I have heard that the public car park would have to be built underground making it many times more expensive than surface or multi-storey car parks in other parts of the country.
People will not pay parking fees of 3 euro an hour to visit their sick child.
The Government has only shown expertise in closing beds wards and hospitals.
It needs to use the same expertise to keep wards open at a fraction of the cost of building a new hospital.
The world changed when the twin towers came down in a storm of apocalyptic dust.
The world changed far more subtly and far more widely when Lehmans came down.
We will never see the same level of money in our lifetime.
Maybe it is better we don’t.
We will have to learn, like the Cubans, to make old machinery work again and prolong the lifeof many things long beyond their planned obsolescence date.
After Lehmans we are living in the equivalent of a post nuclear financial world. If we don’t change - we will end up in the Dinosaur graveyard, assuming someone is kind enough to bury us.
Our children deserve better........

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Desperately seeking God

To see that of God in everyone

The expression ‘to see that of God in everyone’ is the most famous and most profound Quaker statement and aspiration. It is at once simple and complex, easy and hard. It may be difficult to see that of God in some people – Hitler, Stalin, a rival political party, a driver who has just jumped the lights and so on. At home the challenge can be more acute, a grandparent who is fractious, a sulking teenager, an alcoholic partner, a treacherous friend...

Jesus Christ deserves a paragraph to himself. For me he is the human being who best reflected in his life and teachings the most accurate picture of God. I do not believe he was God. He may well have been. It is not a matter of fact but of belief. I believe he was the special one, the anointed one (Christ), the Son of God. The post crucifixion followers may have overstated his claim, if he did in fact claim that he was God. I believe that Jesus was fully human, that he had a sense of humour and fun and sarcasm. Even the slightly sanitized Gospels bear this out. I believe he was probably celibate but it does not worry me either way. I believe he had doubts and made mistakes. I think it is unlikely that he sinned. Being human he could have sinned and may have sinned but I think it highly unlikely from what we know.

Jesus Christ deserves a second paragraph because I have totally failed to say what he does stand for and the relationship we can have with him. Because there is that of God in him so much more than any other human being, God shines through him and we can try and make out the outlines of God and move towards God. It is a God who is merciful and kind, the God of the prodigal son and the healed lepers. I don’t feel comfortable with Christ’s description of the God of hell which is a carry over from his Jewish upbringing. Hell is a wonderful symbol of how we can really mess up our lives on this earth and to the extent there is a life hereafter we may end up living in the straight jacket of our own making. This indeed can be loosely described as hell, but not literally. I believe over the past two thousand years through science we have been in a better position to say what God is NOT. God continues to reveal himself to every human being and in am improved way to the entire human race.

Jesus may have been restricted by the times he lived in and by his upbringing, as all humans are, but his reflection of God has never been equaled or bettered. He suggested that we should pardon our enemies and offer the other cheek, that we should enter the kingdom of God like children; that we should pray at the back of the Church; that we should engage with the foreigner; we should aspire to the joy that purity alone brings and above we should be of service to all men.

God reveals himself most fully in Jesus. God is also revealed in all other human beings, in some more perfectly than others. I see God in Buddha and Mohammed, in Darwin and the Aborigines. I do not believe in the concept of ‘being saved’ or the need to convert others to a particular religion. The only message of Religion should be to remind us that we are each a child of God. Our ability to find God is matched by our ability to loose him in the day to day tasks and preoccupations. The task of religion is not to form cliques of competing sects but to encourage people to find the keys that best open up for that individual the joy and love of God for them.

We have no particular need for priests or other vested interests to sell their ‘special’ or ‘unique’ way. Every human being is called to travel towards God and every one of us will die and revert to God irrespective or religion or lack of it. I have great empathy with humanists who despair of the competing religions who squabble among each other.

God is indescribable. We try through religion to paint a picture of him but often confect a distortion, and with every brush stroke we show less and confuse more. In those precious moments when we commune with the God within, all words and images fail, love and joy take over. Full stop. Very little more can or should be said.

Can we explain evil? Well I cannot. I have never used prayer to try and change outcomes, just to accept life and improve the world where I can. Prayer is losing ourselves and losing our demands. There is no need to tell God anything – he must already know it. There is no need to ask him to do a favour – he is infinitely merciful. When a child is killed or tsunami drowns thousands, I have no answer, no clever words, and no cooling balm. I am not convinced it is God’s will. How can we claim there is a god when there is so much evil? Very difficult.

However how can we explain love and joy without God – very difficult too?. God is the only explanation for me and for millions of others.

My human experience has shown that there is far more good than evil; that evil is the exception, not the rule. Most human beings are good and try to be good. Most of the time I try to be good. So while God seems to be absent in time of pain and suffering he is fully there in times of happiness and contentment.

Theology is a very inexact science, but so then so are economics and psychology or indeed any reflection on the human condition.

Anyone who says he has it all sussed is either mad or lying. If he asks for money he is lying, if not, he is mad. Some things are simple after all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pole-axed? You2?

A New National Government – the poleX Factor

Is it too much to hope that politicians might for a day cease being politicians?
Is it possible that from the ashes of the rag bag of cliché spewing politicians with a very small ‘p’ we might find a few Statesmen with a very big ‘S’?

The political party system which for many years served our country well is within months of destroying it. We are almost certainly going to get a General Election within 6 months which will provide us with more questions and no answers.

We need a General Election as badly as a man bleeding to death at the side of the road from a car crash needs another consultants report from the HSE. The poor dying man needs a doctor or a nurse who knows what they are doing. The last thing he needs is a detailed report, color coded, expertly produced in ten volumes in six months time to tell him exactly how the car crash happened and how he died.

What we need is a National Government to be selected in the most democratic way by way of a Poll, along the lines of the X Factor. We don’t need any more politicians, in fact we need less. We don’t need any more policies – we all know what we have to do in our heart of hearts. Now we have to get the best team on the field dressed in the Irish shirt.

Here are my picks 90% on personal ability 10% on political party legitimacy

Taoiseach Brian Lenihan (FF)
The most important job in the country needs the most able and committed person in the country.
Tánaiste, F. Affairs Enda Kenny (FG)
The nicest man in the country doesn’t mean the ablest
Community, Equality Eamonn Gilmore
My TD, very proud. Lovely man but keep him away from Finance!
Finance Ruairi Quinn (Labour)
One of the best Finance Ministers we ever had, time to bring him out of ‘retirement’.
Health James Reilly (FG)
My head ruling my heart on this one
Enterprise Richard Bruton (FG)
The only man to call it right.
Education Eamon Ryan (Green)
Hard working and well meaning.
Justice Dermot Ahern (FF)
Cool hand, steady nerve.
Transport Michael Martin (FF)
Ability and genuine likability.
Tourism Fergal Quinn (Ind. Senator)
We need someone who can genuinely sell.
Culture Michael D O Higgins (Labour)
A man at home in an Aran Sweater
Communications Michael Noonan (FG)
Communication? Straight talking? You got it.
Agriculture Caoihin O Caolain (SF)
We want a national Government? Then Sinn Fein must be there. Otherwise it lacks universal suffrage.
Banking Joan Burton (Labour)
A new post for a new national priority.

Possible Junior Ministers

Noel Dempsey (FF)
Probably worthy of a top seat but we ran out of chairs
Pat Rabbite (Labour)
Bursting with ideas, at times trips over them.
Eugene Regan (FG Senator)
Possible Attorney General
Leo Vradkar (FG)
Like a puppy, lots of energy but needs some training.
Dan Boyle (Greens, Senator)
Very possibly heaviest intellect in either Dail or Senate
Trevor Sergeant (Greens)
Too nice for politics?
Olwen Enright (FG)
Attractive AND intelligent, might reconsider resigning
Ivana Bacik (Labour)
We need a lady who thinks.
Simon Coveney (Green)
Potential to be top at the top table

What do you think of my choices?

Who would you choose?

Would Simon Cowell act as judge?

Could Facebook handle 3.0m votes?

I would like to pretend it’s a laugh, but it’s really deadly serious…..

Its now or neverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Don't be silly Noddy!!

Noddy Rides Again association (NRAa)

We represent a middle income, midlands based group of economists, bankers, lawyers, consultants and politicians who failed to see the recession coming but feel we will be in a much better position second time round to assist and advise.

We are happy to give of our time for a modest fee to advise the National Roads Authority (NRA) in their strategy going forward.

The purpose of this kwango – not to be confused with ‘quango’ – spelt (and pronounced in some parts of the country) differently – is to further develop the marvelous NRA decisions to their illogical end.

In this regard we note the recent suggestion by the NRA to have multiple tolls on the M50, Dublin's orbital road and only thing that seems to work these days. This excellent idea, if developed, would see nearly all the cars currently using the M50 use the alternative routes through house-friendly areas and pram-littered suburbia. To accelerate this process we suggest closing down the M50 completely. Studies by some of our experts show that if there were no cars at all on the M50 the number of accidents might reduce significantly going forward. The cost of building the M50 could be recouped by selling it to countries with significant infrastructural defecits – like Afghanistan – or countries in immediate need of bridges – for example Pakistan, at a discount of course.

The excellent initiative of the NRA to often refuse planning for petrol stations and rest areas on our Motorways could be further developed illogically to all main roads ensuring there are no unsightly queues outside petrol stations that might unnerve the odd tourist who has got lost on a badly signed main road. By closing down petrol stations on all main roads it is likely that local and community petrol forecourts will thrive – which has to be a good thing going forward.

NRAa recommends courses for graduates who cannot find jobs elsewhere in a brand new Petrol Pump Attendant University somewhere in the midlands – anywhere will do. Here academics who have nothing to say on other subjects can say nothing on this subject. The NRAa sees these courses as a drive to boost the SMART economy both here and abroad going forward. The NRAa is not quite sure how many petrol stations there are in the world but has retained a group of consultants to unselfishly criss cross the world for the next five years, travelling in first class, to bring us back the numbers and the export opportunities. Our first meeting with the Minister for Cul de Sacs was successful, we guessed, as our suggestions brought tears to his eyes.

In a further revolutionary development the NRAa is recommending the abolition of rear view mirrors in all cars driven by kwango members or their extended families. As all these drivers have perfect hindsight a fortune can be saved on the import of these mirrors and old mirrors can be recycled under our Green initiative – ‘Let he who looks in the mirror cast the first stone, and the second and third too’.

The NRAa questions the wisdom in having all roads lead to Dublin. We feel that perhaps all roads might lead to Athlone where most of the Kwango members live. We feel this initiative would be in tune with the Governments spatial strategy which almost no one understands and the few that do, avoid it.

No animals were harmed in the production of this review just as no expense was spared either. Your comments on a post card please to ‘The Kwango, NRAa HQ, Athlone Bypass, Middle Ireland’. We do not expect to be in a position to read your comments for some weeks as we are out for lunch with Big Ears.

Our mission statement – Ireland is different – let’s keep it that way!