Just taking a few minutes from the Dail debate on the country’s Macro Economic and Fiscal Outlook. The more I listen, the more convinced I am that the only realistic option is the implementation of Green Party / An Comhaontas Glas policies in the quickest time possible. Enda Kenny tells us he will provide ‘a new start and open the books’. Eamon Gilmore plays the ‘FF too long in Government ‘ line and a few ideas to cut out waste from public expenditure.
Only the Green Party seems to see the whole picture. International confidence in the capitalist system and in the old Left / Right Governments is low because the basis for that consumption-based economic system which Kenny, Gilmore and even Brian Cowen take for granted, is collapsing before our very eyes. The inconvenient truths cannot be glossed over by an election to put Kenny and Gilmore in charge. Neither opposition party has mentioned in this debate that handy (much cheaper than labour) oil is no longer plentiful. Also printed money is no longer backed up to any extent with anything valuable and tradable like gold. Therefore the international markets are unlikely to swallow ‘a new start’, until a more resilient society which largely moves beyond oil dependency and which creates sound sustainable communities is in the process of taking shape.
Green politics takes the blinkers off the old Left / Right outlooks. Greens naturally question the equating of trade with wealth creation. Greens question the equating of wealth creation with accumulating paper money. Greens question the presumption that equates the ownership of money (and other stuff) with general well-being. The spawning and nurturing of healthy communities is to me a core objective of Green politics. For a community to be healthy in the long term, it must be resilient to changes near and far which are beyond local influence or control.
I’ve just returned from a weekend visit to Salone del Gusto and Terré Madre, the International Slow Food Festival, held every 2 years in Turin, Italy, where our own Bord Bia hosted a very talented and tasty artisan producers’ stand from Ireland. I returned an optimistic Irishman having seen what Irish producers are capable of doing. For example our climate, soil and traditions suit us to outdoor rearing of cattle. In Italy it is rare to see cattle out of doors, they live their lives indoors a bit like battery hens. If we put more effort, pride and encouragement into adding value to the raw materials we sometimes take for granted, our €8 billion food sector could be earning €80 billion I estimate.
However, the Italians take more interest in community, healthy food, staying healthy and not drinking too much. Even to get a cold in Italy is a tragic turn of events. Coats are buttoned up, scarves, hats and gloves are donned to get about by foot, bike, tram or bus, if even a breeze gets up outdoors. A sniffle brings talk of the cause, most likely ‘colpa d’aria’ (a belt of air). The Italians can learn from us but in the focus on staying healthy, the Italians have much to teach us. Ironically the more sickness in society, the greater the number of jobs created in ‘healthcare’. I’d like to hear more about the practice in India where a doctor is paid in respect of the health of his or her community and LOSES a portion of salary according to the number of his ‘patients’ who get sick. We need incentives in every way to maintain good health and well-being.
Earlier, I had a discussion with Senator Niall O Brolacháin, the Green Party Spokesperson on Health, about what needs to be done to stop this oil dependent, consumption based economic system from collapsing. Climate change cannot be ignored. The former supplies of fossil fuel (even if desirable) cannot be cheaply replaced. This gave rise to the debate which is to me at the heart of what brought me in to politics. Have we any option but to accept the old (or not so old) age of oil is on its last legs? Rather than trying to pretend it will come back Lazarus-like, is it not our exciting duty to set about creating the safety net society which will be resilient enough to nurture a civilized quality of life, as we wean ourselves off the ‘societal energy drug’ we call ‘black gold’.
We have little choice but to cut back on unaffordable Government expenditure as those lending to us €2 out of every €5 we spend on schools, hospitals, Gardaí etc have a financial ultimatum on the table. However, they also expect us to not advocate a variation on ‘business as usual’. The Green Party needs support to create the resilient communities and supportive Government which finally gives us the freedom for which the leaders of 1916 thought they were fighting.