Friday 14 December 2018

O'Brien lulling us into false sense of security on the economy

The Amazon store allows shoppers to use an app at a turnstile, pick out the items they want and leave. Photo: AP
The Amazon store allows shoppers to use an app at a turnstile, pick out the items they want and leave. Photo: AP
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

I would like to reply to Dan O'Brien regarding his article about the present economic situation in which he said there is no evidence that technology eliminates jobs ('Ignore the doomsayers - there is little evidence of robots taking over our jobs', Irish Independent, January 18).

I wonder how he reconciles such confidence with a warning from a senior OECD executive, Professor William White, that "the world financial system is as stretched today as it was at the peak of the last bubble, but this time authorities are caught in a policy trap with few defences left".

I wonder if news of Amazon's technological supermarket where people just pack their shopping bags and walk out without a checkout in sight is evidence of anything changing on the job front?

Whenever I read Mr O'Brien and his colleagues predicting employment of the technological future or enthusing about the giant debt-laden so-called recovery since 2008, I think of Michael Fish, an expert meteorologist, assuring a caller to the BBC who had heard warnings of some wind, that calm and tranquillity would prevail, only hours before the worst storm for three centuries savaged southern England.

Mr Fish was an expert in his field and usually most reliable but who, for one reason or another, made an enormous mistake in October 1987 and issued a disastrous prediction.

I fear economists, worthy experts in their field, are at this time making disastrous mistakes about the power of technology to eliminate work.

Unless new policies are devised and applied, this will push unemployment to unsustainable levels that will challenge and pose serious risk to social order, democracy and civilisation itself.

They lull us into complacency, just as people in southern England were, to be rudely awakened to a devastating development they were entirely unprepared for.

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo


Pro-life or pro-choice? It's simple...

Tim Maher claims that it is possible to be pro-life and pro-choice (Irish Independent, Letters, January 23). I cannot see the logic in this claim. Anyone who is pro-choice is willing to allow the choice for abortion, the deliberate killing of the baby in the womb, and cannot in all seriousness contend that they are pro-life.

Regarding abortion, it is not just a 'moral issue' but a matter of life and death. It's simple, really - choose life or choose facilitating the taking of life, that of the most vulnerable of all, the unborn baby. Unlike Mr Maher, I will not be voting for Fianna Fáil if Micheál Martin continues as its leader.

Mary Stewart

Donegal Town


Save buyers from themselves

The story about the housing crisis ('More houses won't bring down prices as developers will seek higher profits', Irish Independent, January 24) notes that Irish mortgages are among the most costly in Europe, and reasonably supposes that if rates come down, buyers will simply borrow more and will in the process fuel further increases in house prices.

An obvious solution would seem to be to limit the amount people can borrow, and force people to spend their own money, as opposed to the banks' money, which they consider is on the never-never. How about a minimum 20pc deposit required on all lending?

Oh yes, we tried that, and look where it got us. I guess buyers will just have to put up with rocketing prices (at least until the next bust) and a lifetime of financial indenture instead, which they seem to prefer.

S Grimmer

Kinsale, Co Cork


Minister, seize the day on surgery

What an important article by Eilish O'Regan on Cappagh Hospital ('Hospital beds lie idle as patients languish on public waiting lists', Irish Independent, January 23) and what a generous gesture by the CEO and staff of the hospital to offer to perform an extra 100 joint replacements per week.

And all this with a view to reducing the waiting list of 3,000 by half, within six months, all for a mere €7.5m extra per year. The minister should seize the day and accept the offer.

This should be viewed as a pilot study which, if successful, could be applied to other waiting lists, particularly cataract surgery.

Those who require surgery for benign diseases (joints, cataracts, prostate, gynaecology) are a silent majority who get a poor share of the overall hospital budget, particularly as this is one of the few areas in medicine where value for money is assured.

Dr Michael Foley

Rathmines, Dublin 6


SF's new generation is tainted

Some people seem to think that the younger generation of Sinn Féin members are untainted by the past activities of the IRA. Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty rose through the ranks at a time when outrageous acts were still being carried out by the republican movement, including the mutilation of children through kneecapping and punishment beatings.

Their credibility will always be questionable unless they clarify their stance on these matters and call them what they were, ie criminal brutality. The usual weasel words such as 'it was wrong' or 'it was unhelpful' are meaningless.

Pat O'Mahony

Dalkey, Co Dublin


Courts set the tone for gardaí

The treatment meted out to Joanne Hayes by some investigating officers of An Garda Síochána during the Kerry Babies debacle was heinous.

The Hayes family were exposed to appalling conduct by an aggressive Garda questioning regime, the roots of which could be traced back to the establishment of the 'Heavy Gang' in 1976. This 'Heavy Gang' were gardaí who specialised in the extraction of confessions amid claims of ill-treatment while in custody. Members of the then government were made aware of these allegations yet decided to ignore them.

Speaking in 1998, Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien, a former government minister, revealed that he had in 1974 supported police brutality by a group of gardaí that went on to beat confessions out of, and obtain convictions against, innocent people.

Dr O'Brien and the government, by their inaction, set a standard of behaviour among gardaí that was damaging not only to civil liberties, but to the reputation of the force.

Despite trial by jury being a bulwark of our Constitution, the government sanctioned the use of special legislation by the non-jury Special Criminal Court which was repugnant to the basic principles of justice and liberty.

As the behaviour and attitudes of courts are a determining factor in the behaviour of the Garda, it was perceived that if the courts were taking short cuts to get convictions, then gardaí could do the same.

And they did.

Tom Cooper

Templeogue, Dublin 6W

Irish Independent

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