Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Irish Politics — Tittle-tattle and soap opera

June 27, 2020: Micheál Martin, following his election as taoiseach (prime minister), meets President Michael D Higgins (r) at Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin.

Kathy Sheridan, the Irish Times columnist, puts the so-called Golfgate firestorm in perspective stating facts that counter those who falsely blame the current Irish government or tar all the parliamentary representatives of the two biggest coalition parties for breaking national Covid-19 rules by attending a dinner following a golfing event in County Galway on August 19, 2020.

The event was mainly attended by former politicians and it has been discovered that Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Trade, an attendee, broke Covid-19 quarantine rules when he returned to Ireland from Brussels, in recent weeks.

What is more striking is an Irish Times report this week that less than 10% of passengers who were obliged to self-isolate for 14 days on their arrival at Dublin Airport in recent weeks were contacted by officials.

Department of Justice data show that between July 1st and August 18th, 272,845 passengers arrived from high-risk countries; about a third of these were exempt as they were travelling to Northern Ireland or were planning to be in the Republic for less than two days. Of the 177,350 new arrivals that were to quarantine, phone calls were made to 33,021 and only 16,180 passengers answered their phones.

Only 22 full democracies

In recent decades in Europe, public participation in political parties has plummetted and the numbers voting has also declined with the exception of Nordic countries.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy 2019 Index, the world has only 22 full democracies. Ireland has the 6th ranking while the United States is in the 'Flawed Democracy' category — see chart below.

In the Irish general election of February 2020, the voter turnout rate (% of registered voters) was 62.8% and the VAP rate (% of the voting-age population that voted) was 56.6%. The Irish VAP rate was at 58% in 2016 and below 70% in every general election since 1997.

In contrast, Denmark and Sweden had elections in 2019 and their results were: 85%/76% and 87%/82%.

Based on data from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) in Sweden, every election since 1945 has had a voter turnout above 80% while in Denmark the lowest turnout since 1948 was in 1958 at 77.4%.

Sweden's VAP (voting age) rate has been above 80% in 17 of the 22 general elections in the period 1948-2018.

From 1948 to 1987 every Irish general election had a registered turnout rate above 70% with a record 77% in 1969. Every general election since 1989 has been below 70%.

Janan Ganesh, the Financial Times columnist, wrote in May 2017 in respect of British politics:

"The problem is not them. The problem is us. Our apathy has inescapable consequences. The smaller politics becomes, the riper it is for capture by ideologues and second-raters (and ideological second-raters). In my role as a commentator, I encounter just two attitudes to politics: indifference and obsession. A civic culture needs more hobbyists, engaged enough to scrutinise the news and join a party, but removed enough to bring a perspective born of civilian life."

Irish politics in common with other leading democracies has its share of tittle-tattle and soap opera which often dominates in the media while issues of policy for the short, medium or long term are ignored.

As to the rule of law, it is, for example, convenient to ignore the facilitation of massive tax avoidance but there are also ethics or the lack of them involved.

Cute hoorism is a euphemism for political corruption, lack of transparency, a system where the buck stops nowhere or choosing the path of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds when it suits. The cute hoor is essentially Irish slang (not to be confused with ‘a right hoor’ or ‘whore’ — although the Wycliffe series of English translations of the Bible in the 14th century did use ‘hoor’) for the crafty scoundrel that can be a pejorative or a compliment in politics and business.

When people argue that it's the US should get the tax on foreign affiliates sales, they do not know the facts or are engaging in cute hoorism.

In 2016 — the latest period for which destination data are available — 11% of affiliate sales went to US parent companies, while 59% of sales went to the local market of the host country and 30% went to other foreign countries.

In 2018 US affiliates in Ireland had sales of $436bn and 135,000 employees; Germany had $373bn and 675,000 employees.

Total affiliate sales in 2018 were $6.8tn in a total of $14.3tn in sales of US multinational enterprises.

The Irish-based affiliates had the highest net income in the world, which accounted for 50% of revenues!!

This accounting is a fraud.

Worldwide employment by US MNEs was 43.0m workers in 2018, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Employment in the United States by US parents rose 2.1 % to 28.6m in 2018. US parents accounted for 66.5% worldwide employment. Employment abroad by majority-owned foreign affiliates of US MNEs was nearly unchanged at 14.4m workers and accounted for 33.5% off employment by US  MNEs worldwide.


US foreign affiliates sell most output outside the United States