Editorial– The Serious Issues, Nationally and Internationally for 2018

By Patrick Brogan

 

Last year and the one before seemed like the dawn of the apocalypse. This has more to do with media hype than anything else. While there is plenty to worry about, it also must be stated that generally speaking the quality of life improved year-on-year for most of the world’s population. That said, there are some serious gross miscarriages of injustice carried out daily and an elite power structure that barely treats its own citizens as human. Here, I will list issues that will impact on 2018, both here and abroad.

 

Ireland-

 

Homelessness

 

This is a continuing disgrace in this country. This is more than a Left-Right issue, these are human beings at the end of the day. The political class is doing very little to solve this problem. The Government has the power to develop social housing, yet, they are doing so little that at current rates it will be near the end of this century before it is solved. This part of the Neo-Liberal world view that Fine Gael holds dear. They believe the open markets will solve everything. This might be true of certain markets, like European air travel for example, but it clearly hasn’t worked for Irish housing. Things like introducing a fixed deposit for buyers has actually made it more difficult for potential homebuyers, particularly those already renting, and just added to the problem. Clearly this issue won’t be resolved under Fine Gael. Another reason to vote them out.

 

Health Service

 

This week saw health in the news again. Part of the reason this has not been addressed is because people just react to the news cycle, the health service problems haven’t been resolved just because there has been no media coverage over an extended period. Until the people of this country unite and start a consistent effort, this is another problem that will not be solved. The Government have earmarked more money, €5.8 billion over ten years, to fox the health service, but money alone is not the issue. Ireland has long been one of the highest spenders in real terms in the OECD on health, but has also been one of the poorest health service nations as this article explains. How come? The structure of the health service is all wrong, not the funding. Maybe governments are the worst possible people to solve health problems as this video explains;

 

Media Ownership

 

This next part was going to focus on giving people more power over the ‘democratic’ process, something like the 1 Year Initiative or a political party like Direct Democracy Ireland, but it occurred to me that there is no point in people having these institutions in place if they are not informed enough to take advantage of them. This is where the media comes in.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Ireland as 14th in its Press Freedom Index. It states the “highly concentrated nature of media ownership in Ireland poses a major threat to press freedom. Independent News and Media (INM) controls 40% of the daily and Sunday newspaper market. The 1937 constitution guarantees media freedom but defamation lawsuits are common. Finally, interviewing police sources has been virtually impossible since the Garda Siochana Act of 2005, which bans police officers from talking to journalists without prior authorization. Officers contravening the ban risk dismissal, a fine, or up to seven years in prison.” When the owner of INM is linked to a number controversial incidents like the Moriarty Tribunal and the IBRC, it’s not too difficult to see this man is trying to control the media by buying it up and then surprising information being released to the public. This is a threat to Ireland as a democratic sovereign nation. Be gone, Dinny!

 

International-

 

Saudi Arabia

 

Saudi Arabia has been in the media spotlight a lot recently because of the actions of its Crown Prince, ibn Salman. While it is easy to welcome his attempts to secularise and modernise the kingdom, we also must be wary. These measures are aimed at bringing in foreign investment and thus lessening the Arab country’s dependency on oil. These measures are financial in nature and don’t necessarily reflect any deeply held belief of the future ruler of the country. He is being more pragmatic than trying to ensure his population enjoy more freedom. If more freedom, on the surface anyway, is a byproduct of a long and fruitful reign than so be it.

Saudi foreign policy is also a major factor in destabilising the world. There is the ongoing proxy war with Iran which has seen conflict in Syria along with the humanitarian disaster that is the war in Yemen. Then we had the tensions between the kingdom and Qatar with the Saudis accusing them of exporting terrorism without a hint of irony.

 

Israel and Palestine

 

The political will to resolve this doesn’t seem to be there and indeed, the political extremists in the Trump administration have made this worse. The Trump White House is littered with Christian Zionists and with these religious fundementalists favouring one side over the other, how is there ever going to be a peaceful agreement? If the US can recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, why not recognise East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital?

 

China

 

As the US under Trump becomes more isolationist on international issues like global warming (a huge issue in itself for 2018), China may be about to emerge as a true world leader. The evidence is there that they are serious about becoming a global leader in trade, too as they seek to build the New Silk Road or the one belt , one road initiative. Indeed, any deal China does it appears to want to benefit both sides. This reflects its own history and “the century of shame”. Many African nations are backing the Chinese for this reason and these deals with resource rich African nations will see the Chinese become the dominant world player if this trend continues.

Last year, we wrote about how China is stepping in to help solve the Lake Chad crisis. While many Europeans complain about Sub-Saharan Africans crossing the Mediterranean, the reality is these people are not going to stay still while dying of hunger or being butchered by Islamic extremists. It is China, and to an extent Italy, seeking a solution, not the US, nor EU.

 

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