Nov 2007

News round

My favourite headline of the past few days, though I was rather disappointed that the actual content of the story wasn’t what I’d hoped for, is: Prince quits as head of Citigroup (Update: like so many news sites these days, the FT appears to revise published stories rather than publish a separate update, making illustrative links rather hit & miss. In this case, the headline has changed, but remains funny).


The former head of Citigroup chooses his successor

Sadly it appears that it’s not a story about The Artist Once Again Known as Prince stepping down from his position as chairman of one of the world’s largest financial conglomerates in order to spend more time touring.

€38,000 – a token amount of money

Meanwhile here in Ireland, recently re-elected Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has accepted a €38,000 pay rise. This represents an increase to his salary greater than the average working wage and brings his total income to €310,000 per annum. He defended this by pointing out that the body that sets his salary “is an independent organisation and its recommendations will be implemented by the Government”. One wonders just how independent the review board would remain had they recommended a significant pay cut for Bertie and his cronies, and whether or not the government would be so keen to implement that recommendation.

To add insult to injury, however, Bertie dismissed the furore that inevitably followed the announcement of his 14% pay hike. Apparently it would be “pure tokenism” for him to refuse the increase. Maybe it’s just me, but when the leader of the nation can describe the average national wage as “a token amount of money” then he’s clearly lost touch with reality. It’s also worth bearing in mind the fact that Bertie’s team recently dug their heels in, and watched the nurses vote for industrial action over their “unrealistic” demands for a 10% pay rise.

Still, in his defence, there are those who would argue that the Taoiseach’s pay-hike should be even bigger. After all, 38 thousand is the sort of paltry sum that Bertie simply wouldn’t remember ever having received.

It’s no sacrifice

Meanwhile we hear that despite massive increases in fuel prices, Ryanair’s profits are soaring on a 20% increase in passenger numbers. At the same time Thomson Travel Agents have started up a new low-cost flight service between the UK and Israel. All the while, pretty much every relevant agency and government that expresses an opinion tells us that the battle against climate change is “too little and too slow“. And whenever the public are polled they insist that stringent measures need to be taken and sacrifices need to be made.

My own view (which I’ve expressed on numerous occasions here) is that catastrophic climate change is an inevitability and that in tandem with resource depletion we will see the collapse of industrialised civilisation (and a consequent large loss of life) within the next couple of decades. The process has, I believe, already begun.

So while I don’t believe that being an active consumer of low-cost flights will make a practical difference at this point, I do believe that it’s an offensively tasteless activity to be involved in. Just like the ex-soldier who urinated on a dying woman in the street, his actions had no discernible effect on whether the woman lived or died, but he’s still a nasty scumbag and should be vilified as such (link via PDF).

Posted in: Opinion