Category Archives: Society & Economics

Society and Economy draws together articles on economics, culture, justice, equality, and human rights.
Although these blogs have a social science focus they involve subjects that are normally viewed diversely, for example defence and culture.
Nevertheless my approach to writing and thinking about these topics is always political and from a rights based perspective, while attempting to understand the reality and complex nature of human behaviour and how this reality shapes society.

budget 2013

This is the text of my speech delivered at Campaign for Labour Policies ‘Post Budget 2013’ meeting in Liberty Hall, on Saturday 8 December 2012.

“While we are here today to discuss Budget 2013, we are really discussing what Labour can achieve in Government.  To be able to say with confidence that Labour has a role in Government, other than being effective administrators, the party has to bring about real reform. Continue reading

the flourishing society

175px-Michael_d_higgins (1)President Michael D. Higgins’ speech at the launch of Task’s The Flourishing Society, expresses with clarity how the commitment to equality has been slowly eroded from the EU.

He said “Previous discourse about the future of the European Union that balanced ‘competitiveness’ and ‘cohesion’ has been systematically discarded with ‘cohesion’ rarely occurring in major statements from those who speak of the future of Europe.”

He developed this theme in his address ‘Towards a European Union of the Citizens’ delivered in the European Parliament, Strasbourg, Wednesday, 17th April, 2013.  The speech was responded with both pride and discomfort amongst media commentators and pundits!

why are fairer societies also better at protecting the natural environment?

Why is it that some of the more equal societies are also better at looking after the environment?  Is it equality in itself that brings a greater care for environmental protection, or it is the other way around?  Do strong environmental policies by their very nature necessitate political and societal reforms that bring about a fairer distribution of resources?

The authors of Spirit Level’, Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett, highlighted the links between equality and environmental sustainability.  Although their evidence focused on a narrow area of activity, if one looks at EU measurements on compliance it is noticeable how the equal societies identified by Wilkinson and Pickett are also good at implementing EU policy on the environment.  This theme of social justice and environment policies is developed by George Monbiot.  In his article ‘Cold Hearted’ he alerts readers to fuel poverty in the UK and makes a strong case for the need for ‘perfect synergy’ between climate change and social justice policies. Continue reading

Irish Sea Region

The Dublin Regional Authority is leading the way on an important initiative for the Irish Sea Region.

The project involves Belfast, Merseyside the Isle of Man, University College Cork and the North West Development Agency in the UK, all are committed to developing a strong Irish Sea regional grouping.

A regional policy emphasising the importance of protecting marine ecology whilst developing economic links will also benefit Dublin Bay. Read more here

Living in an age of corporate capitalism

Bryan Appleyard interviewed Australian author, Peter Carey in The Sunday Times recently.  The article was primarily to promote of Carey’s new novel, Parrot and Olivier, but it also discussed Carey’s writing career and his view that we currently have a ‘..culture produced by merchants..” .

The main character in his latest novel is based on Alexis de Tocqueville,who went to the US in the 1830s to study prisons.  De Tocqueville, a French noble, wrote a book Democracy in America, which apparently is still used as a reference book in US schools. Continue reading