It was 2006 and billions were maturing from the Government's SSIA savings scheme. What to do with the money?
I was making a new TV series at the time and my idea for episode one was simple: the canniest way to invest your SSIA loot was to spend it on a successful election campaign for the Dail. The potential return? Big salary, bigger expenses and no fiddly receipts.
So, I set up my first political party, Me Fein Agus Tu Fein, and went recruiting members on the streets of Naas. The pitch was simple - vote for me, I want to make money. The punters got it. It was honest. They signed up.
Then the TV production company came on the phone. RTE didn't want to start the new series with 'Get Yourself Elected'.
I asked who had made the decision.
At the very top, came the reply. Yes, but who?
So I rang and asked the person if they'd ever presented before a live audience. I said we could work on the script before the live broadcast. The decision was reversed.
A few years later, the standoff with the State didn't matter anyway; Ireland was spectacularly bust and no one cared about the past. It was all about the financial emergency.
We were all in that together, too. Until we weren't. The social contract that emerged could have been written by Voltaire: "The art of government is to make two-thirds of a nation pay all it possibly can for the benefit of the other third."
There is an opportunity not to repeat that mistake - but it involves starting with an inconvenient conversation.
The big majority who pay for everything are workers in the private economy and most of them work for small businesses. They are paid wages years behind what the State pays itself and 92pc of them have no guaranteed pensions. They know that the total tax on the State payroll just about covers its current pensions, and that marrying a State worker is the closest they'll ever get to benefiting from income for life.
Most of them don't rock up to technology or pharma firms with big car parks, global brands and strong compensation. Instead many of them work for local firms with familiar Gael, Viking, Norman and English names.
They look aghast at the State's capacity to protect itself during crises and tire of radio chatter about GTNs (gardai, teachers and nurses). No one shouts up to say that those contracts are the most protected, that mine is the least. They don't count - especially the self-employed whose numbers are as big as the public workforce, but whose voice is weakest.
SMEs are scattered, powerless. Some sectors have their own lobby group, full-time executive, office and website, and chumminess with favoured TDs. But sectoral organisations of SMEs do not form a coherent whole; they are divided, feeble, not at the table. Watch who gets private access to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, who is on video calls to the inner sanctum - it isn't the tradesmen, hairdressers or publicans. They get the nod at the funeral.
SME workers get it. It's how the place works - but what can be done to improve things?
Lots, actually - and it doesn't require a revolution.
Workers in the private economy, just like those in public jobs, want to experience State services at their best for their families. Except the interface between State services and us is not scientifically measured. We have no way of knowing how GDP is translating on the ground in the things that make national life different, like social housing, health, education, public transport, childcare, elder-care, State pensions. I mean really know from independent hard data, soft data from user experiences and big data collated using AI to get live, published results back to policymakers fast.
Instead, we are stampeded through outdated look-backs in C&AG reports, trolley counts, media leaks and talk shows with dreary and rehashed clashes of ideologies and crosstalk.
But why not let the people speak, tell their experiences in numbers, through live surveys and across millions of social media points, gathered, collated, published?
This isn't pie in the sky. It is here.
Ireland can lead the world in the development of a social progress indicator (SPI), according to Professor Cal Muckley of UCD. In February, he launched a paper on how Ireland could make a start. Engineer it to Ireland, take the best in class from around the world and pioneer the rest. We have the expertise in our own data science talent and on our front door, the who's who of the world's big data companies. Join it up.
The data would need to be crafted and overseen by scientists for reasons of trust and integrity, but publish a continuous feed, just like the CSO does.
It means we would no longer broadcast GDP in isolation from SPI. This will tell us on our mobiles, laptops and media how we are translating and distributing wealth in this moment, across the things that most matter to workers and families; what happens when we get sick, need housing, retire, when we can no longer look after ourselves?
Small nations can lead the world: New Zealand on Covid-19, Estonia on e-government, Finland on education. Out of the ruin created by the pandemic, Ireland can lead the world on social progress measurement.
The professor's paper is already adopted policy for Ibec and Isme and now lies before political leaders, trade unions and NGOs.
Let's see if we are all in this together. Really.
PS: Disclosure. I was one of those who helped sponsor the initiative. It had a GoFundMe page for public support and was widely circulated. No think tank or political group was involved