“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

To Vote Or Not To Vote? I’m Glad You Asked Me That Question, Bob …

We had local and European elections in Ireland last week, while I was washing my hair.
  Shame on me, right? Men and women fought and died so that I could have the right to vote.
  If you don’t vote, you’re not entitled to complain.
  Etc.
  Okay, so here’s how I see it:
  If you do vote, you’re not entitled to complain. If you vote, you’re simply perpetuating the same old rubbish – bland policies that are minute variations on centre-right economics, dreamed up by the scions of political dynasties that have little to recommend them bar their longevity.
  If you want to complain, you have to be prepared to sacrifice your right to representation, stand outside the system, and piss into the tent.
  Because if the best this country has to offer as leaders of its two main political parties are Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny, then there’s a good chance the problem lies with the system itself.
  And if a tent can’t take a good pissing-into once in a while, we’re probably best off without that particular tent. God forbid you’d be camping out some night and the weather would turn rough …
  Here’s the thing:
  You wouldn’t let someone run a McDonald’s without a degree in management. Right? You wouldn’t let someone run a football team without a coaching badge.
  So why do we elect people to run the entire country who haven’t spent so much as a wet afternoon studying political theory?
  Now, you might be sitting there thinking that that’s elitist and anti-democratic. Not everyone gets to go to university and get themselves a fancy degree. In fact, most people don’t.
  Maybe that’s why there’s a resistance in this country to intelligent politicians, while the cerebrally-minded likes of Alan Shatter, Garrett Fitzgerald, Alan Dukes and John Bruton spent the vast majority of their political lives in opposition. And maybe it’s just because they were all Blueshirts, I honestly don’t know.
  Anyway, the point is this: I don’t want ‘most people’ running the country. I don’t want you running it, and I certainly don’t want me. I want the best and the brightest. And I definitely don’t want someone performing heart-surgery on me or mine on the basis that his or her father was a heart-surgeon.
  So here’s a modest proposal. The current government, being composed for the most part of the morons who squandered the wealth of the Celtic Tiger and are now penalising the people for their venal pandering to vested interests, should do the patriotic thing and resign en masse for the good of the country.
  President McAleese should then dissolve the Dail forthwith and turf everyone out on their ear.
  Any TD who wants to apply for re-election can do so, but only after obtaining a degree in political science, a degree that should ideally encompass (in no particular order) ethics, management, economics, accountancy, ethics, political theory, and ethics.
  Just so the politicos don’t miss out on their perks and junkets, the course will include mandatory internships attached to another country’s political system, preferably Sweden’s.
  Of course, this leaves us with a minimum of a three-year gap before there’ll be sufficient graduates to go forward for election, so we’ll have to throw ourselves on the mercy of the EU and apply for a form of bridging government.
  A degree in political science being the bare minimum required, anyone wishing to apply for ministerial posts should continue their studies to gain a master’s degree. This, however, can be achieved by attending night-school and / or the Open University while serving as a TD.
  This might affect the running of a politician’s constituency office, of course, and result in far fewer drink-driving charges being quashed. Still, we’ll just have to hope it’ll all work out for the best.
  Sure, it’ll be chaotic for a couple of years, and the rudderless country might well be devastated by a combination of political stagnation, EU meddling and economic recession …
  Oh.