Right2Change

I attended the Right2Change meeting at Northern Cross in September of last year and I believe that Right2Change is a progressive platform – in fact I personally agree with about 90% of what it advocates.

However, as the main aspect of my campaign is to open up online decision-making to my constituents, I am refraining from making policy pledges in advance, as it is possible that my constituents will decide to do something different than I would have when they vote. I have posted a bit more about why I’m so into digital democracy here.

I therefore can only commit to things that leave room for me to honour the will of my constituents should they decide differently or overturn me. The Right2Change campaign is a bit of a grey zone in that regard – they are principles, but they are fairly specific in parts, so I decided it would be better in the interests of consistency not to sign up.

However, I’ll outline my policies here using the Right2Change Policy Principles as a guide:

Right2Water

I’m in favour of abolishing Irish Water. I personally have not paid my water charges, nor do I intend to do so. Water is a basic need and should be funded through general taxation. I also fear that Irish Water will eventually be privatized (this is absolutely normal IMF practice that has been used in country after country). If our government needs to raise funds, they should not be doing things like raising the taxable threshold for inheritance tax.

Right2Jobs and Decent Work

At the risk of sounding like an American politician, I met a young woman last week who obtained a first in pharma from Trinity College, worked two JobBridge internships (9 months a piece, I understand) and is now working at a fast food restaurant. As an educator, I abhor the way this government has treated young people, selling them into unpaid, underpaid and precarious work. Clearly they are not the only ones affected, but it always seems to me particularly exploitative to treat new graduates this way.
I am strongly in favour of abolishing JobBridge (it only enables exploitation). I am in favour of banning zero-hour contracts, and I am also in favour of abolishing rolling contracts, whereby people are kept on perpetual contract instead of properly employed. Furthermore, the minimum wage needs to be raised. The problems is our economy stem from a disconnect between labour productivity and wage gains. Labour productivity has risen immensely in the last 30 years and wages have not caught up. The difference between those two items is the profit netted by large firms – and that has gone up.
Minimum wage earners make about 19k a year. In Fingal, you are entitled to social housing if you make less than 35k. That means we have gotten to the point where we explicitly recognize that a person cannot support their own basic needs on minimum wage. That isn’t a functioning economy and means we are de facto subsidizing businesses that employ people on this unsustainable wage.

Right2Housing

Here, I’d part ways with Right2Change a little, in that personally, I like the idea of owning my own home and viewing a house as a personal item, rather than going with social housing for such a large segment of the population. That strikes me as a wee bit grim.
At the point where you are supplying housing to average-wage earners, your economy has a problem.
So, I’d rather focus on making it possible for people to own their own home at an affordable price. In this regard, rent controls are an absolute must (no one can afford to save to buy when paying extravagant rent and it encourages owners to keep renting instead of selling). Rent controls are also the norm in many other developed countries and they work very well to keep housing costs down. A vacant lot levy around Dublin would also help, as the big developers own most of the land by now and they only build when they make extravagant profits. The practice of allowing house-bidding after ‘sale agreed’ should also be prohibited (it just raises prices). And, of course, the minimum wage needs to come up.
I personally agree with the 20% deposit rule that was introduced, as it will contribute to freezing house prices, despite the fact that it literally could not have come at a worse time for me personally.

Right2Health

I’m a little bit fuzzy on what Right2Change is precisely demanding here. For myself, I’m very much in favour of the general-taxation-funded, universal-free-healthcare-for-everyone model. This also includes mental healthcare, which I am a great believer in. Ireland already spends as much on healthcare as other OECD countries – we just have so much waste in the system that we don’t get anything for it. So, we could fix this without having to raise taxes. I’ve spent time living in Canada and Germany before, so I’ve personally seen the benefits of universal healthcare and I know it can be done.

Right2DebtJustice

I basically agree with this.

Right2Education

Again, we basically agree.
I’m for free, universal education, and I believe education should not be segregated by gender or religion. Once again, I’ve personally seen this system at work in other countries, and it is fantastic. I’d ban private schools, if I could get people to agree to the constitutional change that would be necessary to do this.

Right2Democratic Reform

The suggestions here are too soft to really affect anything. Changing the election cycle from five to four years will make no difference whatsoever. Congressional elections occur every two years in the USA, and the USA is probably the most politically corrupt country in the Western world.
Also Right2Change‘s view of NGOs as a positive force here isn’t up-to-date. It is now the norm for NGOs to receive large amounts of corporate funding, when they are not point-blank fronts for big business. This is a particular research focus of mine, which is why I am more aware of it than most.
None of this will make a difference – and that is why I advocate digital democracy.

Right2Equality

I agree with everything said here.

Right2SustainableEnvironment

Here, I agree with banning fracking and encouraging public transport (which has become very expensive). Otherwise I found this a bit vague.

Right2NaturalResources

They are right that TTIP is a huge threat. I’ve personally written two articles condemning it here and here.

Otherwise, I generally agree with this section, except for the trade sanctions bit. I doubt anyone will shake in their boots at the thought of having trade sanctions imposed on them by Ireland. Not unless it’s run by a dictator who is particularly addicted to KerryGold.
Also, that would give the other country the right to retaliate, not to mention itself be illegal in nearly all cases under WTO rules. Sounds like a short path to getting sued without having done any actual good. There are a lot of international laws, some of them quite innocuous, and there is some well-founded disagreement at times on what the content of the law is, so I’d be wary here.
I also note that the ambassadors of countries who commit war crimes will be expelled. I’m not certain which court is going to render these decisions, but I’d be interested to know. I wouldn’t be making decisions of this magnitude on the basis of newspaper reporting. It’s become pretty normal for countries to accuse each other of committing ‘war crimes’ every other day. Why they included war crimes and omitted crimes against humanity and genocide in this section is also a bit beyond me.
International law is my own area of expertise, which is why I’m so touchy about it.

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My Stance on Right2Change