The Cattle Raid of Greeney

Last week this writer pointed out Canada's almost hilarious insistence on following the trail blazed— sometimes literally—by Sri Lanka and the Netherlands before it. Well, now another extremely impressionable nation has decided to follow suit: The Financial Times reports that "Ireland’s coalition government has reached a bitterly contested deal to slash climate emissions from the country’s key agriculture sector by 25 percent by 2030." Bitterly contested because the actual farmers whose livelihoods will be effected by the deal were hoping those numbers would be lower, whereas the government—currently a coalition of the traditionally "rival" parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael along with the Green Party—wanted 30 percent emission cuts by 2030.

This deal is most likely the brainchild of Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, an environmentalist zealot who owes his outsized and wholly malevolent influence on the Republic of Ireland to his party's being the lynchpin of the unstable coalition, formed two years ago:

Members of the environmental party decided by a 76 percent majority to form an administration with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil... It signed up to a programme that promises radical action on climate change... Its deputy leader, Catherine Martin, said: “Now we will move forward together, respecting the democratic wishes of the majority of our party at all times, listening to each other … working in unity to protect our country and our planet.” The two larger parties needed the support of the Greens to have a working majority in the Irish parliament, equating to about 80 seats.

Ryan, who serves as the coalition's Environment Minister (of course), suggested that the cuts outlined in this deal are just the beginning, saying that they represented “a significant step in the right direction.”

For the farmers however, even these numbers are a bridge too far:

Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, called the 25 percent cut a “massive, massive ask” that could cost farmers €2bn a year and said the government had outlined no budget to help them achieve it.... Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association, said the agreement made “whole classes of farms unviable” and would push up prices. He added: “Our livestock industry — both dairy and beef — is the lifeblood of rural Ireland and Minister [of agriculture] McConalogue and the three party leaders of the coalition have struck it at its very heart today.”.... “It’s really impossible to see how we can achieve [these] targets... without reducing herds — and that’s an income issue for us,” said Brian Rushe, a dairy farmer.

Never mind that cattle have formed the basis of the Irish economy for more than two millennia. The most famous Irish epic poem is probably The Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin bó Cuailnge), featuring the legendary hero Cú Chulainn. But modern Ireland is too smart and sophisticated to care about its heritage, one of the oldest continuous cultures in Europe, and so the cows must be sacrificed on the altar of "climate change."

One particular line in this piece is worth considering -- Tim Cullinan is quoted as saying: "This deal between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green party is all about the survival of the government rather than survival of rural Ireland." He is assuredly correct. The priority of these politicians is maintaining power, both by keeping the Green Party on side and by maintaining the good opinion of overseas elites -- rather than defending the interests of their country.

Eamon Ryan: no cow is safe around him.

But, as the uprising in Sri Lanka is showing us, focusing on the former while ignoring the latter is a good way of losing both. While the Irish economy is unlikely to bottom out like Sri Lanka's—Ireland's status as a tax haven for American corporations makes it too important for western governments to allow that to happen—a significant standard of living increase on top of the country's ongoing Covid-instigated recession has the potential to inspire an earthquake in Irish politics. And Sinn Féin, the Socialist/Nationalist party that the coalition government exists to keep out of power will likely be the beneficiary. Judging by their refusal to support agricultural emissions cuts, despite their own environmentalist commitments, they know it.

When the coalition took power after the 2020 election, outgoing prime minister Leo Varadkar famously proclaimed, "today civil war politics ends in our parliament," a reference to the two main parties' beginnings on opposing sides of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which culminated in the country's civil war. Varadkar might have been saying more than he realized — while Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been taking turns in government since the election of Éamon de Valera in 1932, actions like this might ensure they never win another election.

Then again, the "ranked choice" electoral system, known in Ireland as the "single transferable vote" (coupled, by the way, with the equally questionable "proportional representation"), practically begs for rigged outcomes designed to keep the Tweedledum and Tweedledee parties in power forever. If there's one thing the Irish know how to do it's run a racket (see: Hall, Tammany), and in Ireland, it's not who votes, but who counts the votes, and how they are counted, that matters. Amazingly, it always comes out just the way the racket wants it. Here's a taste of how the system works:

From a voter’s perspective [single transferable vote] is very simple. Just rank the candidates in order of your choice starting with 1. The counting of votes is a different matter and can appear very complicated to the uninitiated. The first thing to understand is that a quota is set for each constituency depending on the number of seats to be filled and the number of people who have voted. The quota is arrived at by dividing the number of valid votes by the number of seats plus one, and then adding one to the resulting total.

For instance if 40,000 votes are cast in a three-seat constituency the quota would be calculated by dividing the number of votes by four and then adding one making it 10,001. The formula means that no more than three people can reach the quota.

After the first count when all the number ones have been counted the first thing to happen is that the surplus votes of a successful candidate who has exceeded the quota will be distributed. This is done by checking the second preferences on all the ballot papers of the candidate and distributing his or her number twos in proportion.

When all the first-count surpluses have been distributed the returning officer will then move on to eliminating the candidate with the lowest number of votes. The number twos will be counted and allocated to the other candidates. The next lowest will be eliminated and so on until there are only three candidates left for the three seats.

As the counts progress a vote that was cast for a candidate eliminated early in the count will move on to the number two. If that candidate is eliminated in turn it will go on to number three and so on. If the candidate getting the number two is already elected or eliminated the vote will move on to the next available candidate still in the race.

There is a complication about distributing the surplus of a candidate elected after the first count with the help of transfers. Instead of counting all of the candidate’s votes to allocate the next available preference, only the last bundles of votes received are counted to see where the next preferences goes.

Got that? This crazy system was, of course, foisted on Ireland by the vengeful British, who bitterly hated losing their first and most despised colony:

It was imposed on this country as part of the Home Rule Act in 1912 and later incorporated in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 with the objective of protecting the unionist minority and ensuring they had representation in an Irish parliament. The system was later included in de Valera's 1937 constitution and two attempts to abolish it, in 1959 and 1966, were rejected by the electorate. The same system is used in Malta, the Australian senate and Northern Ireland Assembly.

Malta, Australia and the rump British province of "Northern Ireland," known in Ireland as the Six Counties, or "Ulster" (well, part of Ulster, anyway)—those paragons of democracy. No wonder the livestock is terrified: against crackpots like Ryan and the Greens, they don't stand a chance. And neither do the people, unless they finally wise up.

Nigerian Bishop to Irish Prez: Cut 'Climate Change' Blarney

Besides being the president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins is a published poet with a reputation among the literati for his facility with language. But that didn't stop him recently from really putting his foot in his mouth.

The occasion was his response to a deadly attack at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Nigeria, in which 40 Sunday Mass goers were killed and 87 wounded by Islamist militants armed with AK-47s. Higgins issued a statement lamenting the attack, adding that the violation of a place of worship "is a source of particular condemnation." But then his statement took a strange turn. Higgins further condemned "any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change." He continued,

The neglect of food security issues in Africa, for so long has brought us to a point of crisis that is now having internal and regional effects based on struggles, ways of life themselves. The solidarity of us all, as peoples of the world, is owed to all those impacted not only by this horrible event, but in the struggle by the most vulnerable, on whom the consequences of climate change have been inflicted.

Higgins' meaning is a little opaque, but the statement seems to imply that rising violence in Africa generally, and this incident in particular, is motivated on some level by "climate change" related food scarcity. That is certainly how it was read by Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, ordinary of the diocese of Ondo, the Nigerian state in which the attack took place.

Saying that he felt motivated to respond because of the historical ties between Ireland and his own diocese -- its first two bishops were from Ireland and the work of Irish missionaries in Nigeria is legendary—Bishop Arogundade released a statement of his own. “While thanking the Honorable Mr. Higgins," he said, "for joining others to condemn the attack and offering his sympathy to the victims, his reasons for this gruesome massacre are incorrect and far-fetched":

To suggest or make a connection between victims of terror and consequences of climate change is not only misleading but also exactly rubbing salt to the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria. The victims of terrorism are of another category to which nothing can be compared! It is very clear to anyone who has been closely following the events in Nigeria over the past years that the underpinning issues of terror attacks, banditry, and unabated onslaught in Nigeria and in the Sahel Region and climate change have nothing in common.

David Alton, a Liberal member of the British House of Lords and Human Rights campaigner issued an even more stern and condemnatory response to President Higgins, saying,

It is striking how quickly politicians and commentators trot out the same discredited banal narrative that the drivers for such carnage are climate change and lack of resources. They say that the causes are ‘complicated,’ with hardly a mention of the jihadist ideology that is behind the endless atrocities of ISIS and Boko Haram. And then they say that everyone suffers and there is a sort of equivalence with victims coming from varied religious backgrounds. They should tell that to the families whose loved ones are targeted, day in and day out, and see what sort of response they receive.

It is worth noting that President Higgins has subsequently denied that his intention was to link the attack to climate change. If that's the case, though, why did he mention it at all? The likeliest answer is that, as a dedicated but parochial leftist, he knows that acknowledging Islamist violence could get him accused of racism, but in the globalist circles he runs in, there's no wrong time to lament "climate change."

Erin Go Bragh?

For reasons that are mysterious to those who know Irish history, the Irish think of themselves as an almost uniquely virtuous people. That self-appraisal first became evident when Irish nationalist history began presenting the nation as—in the words of skeptical revisionist historian Ruth Dudley Edwards—“the most oppressed people ever” or MOPE. Since the present age is one that worships the cult of victimhood, the most oppressed people ever have morphed easily into the most virtuous people ever. And because today’s dispensers of accolades of virtue are overwhelmingly woke progressives in politics and culture, the most virtuous people ever were soon encouraged to think of themselves as the most progressive people ever. (Those who would like a bracing corrective to this sentimentality with an edge of amnesia are advised to read the columns of Kevin Myers passim).

Currently essential requirements for internationally virtuous progressivism are a patriotic devotion to the European Union and a passionate attachment to all forms of Green politics. The Irish seem to score higher than anyone else by these tests. Indeed, this last week has seen the Irish government—composed as it is of Ireland’s two major “legacy” parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail—demonstrate a bipartisan conversion to the E.U.-backed international consensus that all governments should adopt a minimum corporate tax rate of fifteen percent.

Love it, hate it, tax it.

That conversion represents an astounding reversal of Ireland’s long-term economic strategy of attracting investment from multinational corporations with much lower rates—an economic strategy that has been largely successful and been declared irreversible by both parties many times. Yet it was abandoned with almost no prior debate and almost no subsequent controversy, as Irish Times columnist David Quinn has pointed out.

“Roma locuta, causa finita”—Rome has spoken, the debate is settled—used to be quite literally the motto of Irish governments in the bad old days of De Valera’s Catholic Republic. In the new modern progressive Ireland, however, an almost identically rigid rule—Brussels locuta, causa finita—applies to decisions of the European Union. And that includes decisions that the Brussels bureaucracy has taken but not yet formally managed to get into European law. Why bother when the subject nations prevent their own oppression “by a timely compliance”?

Superficially at least the same seems to be true of Green politics. In the run-up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, few peoples are as pleased with their own deep-green commitments as those governed from Dublin. As political editor Pat Leahy reported in the Irish Times: Ireland’s Parliament “has passed legislation requiring the Government to reduce carbon emissions by 7 percent a year, leading to a reduction of 51 per cent by 2030.” That’s a massive commitment—one that would impose real sacrifices on ordinary Irish people—but a massive poll last year showed that the voters thought climate change posed a catastrophic threat to them and their way of life. A massive threat justifies making massive sacrifices to keep it at bay, right?

Well, as it turns out, no.

Mr. Leahy reports that according to a very recent Irish Times poll, when you break down massive sacrifice into specific burdens caused by policies the government may soon introduce, people become much less willing to bear the pains. Its general import can be seen in the following examples. Large majorities opposed higher taxes on energy and fuel (82 to 14 percent), making it more expensive to buy cars (72 to 23 percent), higher property taxes for homes that are not energy efficient (69 to 23 percent), reducing the size of the national cattle herd (60 to 25 percent), and running the risk of interruptions of electricity supply (81 to 13 percent.) Even higher taxes on air travel were firmly nixed (53 to 40 percent.) In fact the only proposal for greater sacrifice that got an actual majority (60 to 24 percent) was “allowing more land to be used for wind energy/turbines”—and it’s likely that this idea was supported by landowners who expect to be well-subsidized for their sacrifice and opposed mainly by wildlife enthusiasts. It doesn’t directly affect many other people.

Despoiling the Irish countryside in order to save it.

I don’t suppose that most of my readers will be too shocked by this. Most polls in other countries have similar results, confirming that people’s willingness to make painful financial sacrifices declines in proportion as the reality of the sacrifices increase. Why did the government not notice the same thing?

My guess is that they knew there’d be trouble—just not quite so much trouble—for an understandable reason. When all the major institutions of society (including both major parties and the media) support even a painful policy, controversy over it gets damped down. The voters aren’t alerted to what’s coming down the pike. That’s what happened when Ireland abandoned its lucrative low level of corporate taxation, and government spinmeisters may have calculated it would happen again with Green taxes and higher energy bills.

The difference between the two cases isn’t that abandoning Ireland’s low corporate tax strategy won’t hurt multinational investment, Ireland’s economic growth, and thus the voters’ prosperity. It will hurt all three, but it will do so gradually, moderately, and above all imperceptibly. Higher electricity and property taxes, electricity supply interruptions, and unaffordable vacation flights, on the other hand—well, people notice that kind of thing. And when they do, they conveniently forget that they had once expressed a noble willingness to endure pain to avert climate catastrophe. Instead they doubt that the catastrophe is as urgent as the need to keep their homes heated, their cars running, and their tax bills moderate.

In the next two weeks we’ll have the run-up to COP-26 in Glasgow. We may then see how much raw virtue democracy can take in any country. The Irish are unlikely to feel ashamed by comparisons.

Trudeau Loses Bid for Security Council Seat

I must say that I find this hysterical:

Canada loses bid for seat on UN Security Council

The Liberal government lost a four–year bid for a UN Security Council seat Wednesday, a humbling experience after a high-profile campaign led by the prime minister. Canada finished third, behind Norway and Ireland in the race for two seats on the Security Council. After the vote Justin Trudeau... said it had been a worthwhile exercise. “We listened and learned from other countries, which opened new doors for cooperation to address global challenges, and we created new partnerships that increased Canada’s place in the world,” he said.

Uh-huh. As if, had it gone the other way, we wouldn't all have been subjected to the incessant bleating of "Canada's back!" from the loyal Trudeaupians in the Canadian media, like Rosemary Barton?

Now, as Matt Gurney points out, Canada's losing this contest doesn't really matter. Unless...

Unless you count the millions of public dollars that Trudeau eagerly spent in campaigning for the seat. And the fact that he compromised Canadian principles, breaking a longtime pattern of not supporting anti-Israel resolutions at the UN while sweet-talking some pretty unsavoury world leaders in an attempt to win their votes. Not to mention the vast government resources he marshalled in pursuing his vanity project, even as Canada was dealing with a pandemic crisis of historic proportions.

Which is to say, Trudeau expended a lot of political and actual capital to demonstrate that he's beloved throughout the world and he ended up with egg on his face.

Even funnier, remember last week when we discussed Greta Thunberg's letter encouraging the UN electorate to lean on Canada and Norway for emission reduction concessions in exchange for votes? If it was actually leaned on, Norway has apparently ignored it, as it's just announced that they are full steam ahead on oil production since the price-per-barrel is on the rise.

What's next for Justin? Well, he'll probably get back to kicking the oil and gas industry for a bit, to vent some frustration. And then maybe he'll turn his focus to a snap election in the fall. Hopefully the Conservatives will have an actual leader by then.

First They Came for Your Hearth...

Lovely essay here about the simple joys of a warming indoor fire -- you know, the kind the climate nuts want to outlaw --  by a writer named John Pollock in the British on-line news and commentary site, ReactionPlease click on the link for the full story, but here's a taste:

Fire – and warmth and the hearth – are literally elemental ingredients in the quality of life. For a little while longer, before the authoritarian ban on burning domestic coal and wet wood kicks in, you can still walk into a British pub and warm yourself by an open fire, and via the bar. In Ludgershall’s Queens Head, you can sit under a 13th century fireplace mantel, rescued from the nearby castle, before which King John and Henry III once huddled after the hunt. In Richmond’s White Cross, you can take the chill off in front of one of the tiny number of fireplaces under a window left in the country.

You can still hunt and gather wood, pile it in the boot of your car, and build a bonfire on the beach. Or, as my father did for many years, carefully bank the coal overnight, ensuring at least one warm room in the house (even if that meant wearing my overcoat inside as a general precaution). Still, for those who called for the Brexit-voting elderly to die off as soon as possible, the likely spike in excess winter deaths consequent upon the ban will be celebrated, I suppose.

Here in Ireland, where I live part-time, an indoor fire is an essential part of life in the British Isles. We've just had three ferocious storms in a row hit the country's west coast, with pelting rain and hail and even some snow, coupled with gale force winds that blow for days. In such a climate, there is nothing like entering a pub or a private home and warming oneself by the fire. But a faddish adherence to an obvious anti-humanistic fraud -- man-made "climate change" -- is simply the wedge to destroy all the qualities of life we in the West have long held dear -- and for what?

Why a ban, why this peremptory and rude removal – or at least severe curtailing – by Ministerial fiat? Why end this ancient delight to all the senses, one of the most singularly atavistic pleasures known to mankind? [ A ban] is something I associate with the censorious left rather than sensible conservatives, with their better instincts, as the philosopher Michael Oakeshott put it, “to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.”

Whenever significant social change is proposed -- nay, demanded -- by the no-fun Left, the burden of proof should always be on them.