When I first read about the aims of the countries current idea generating campaign, Your Country, Your Call, I was particularly drawn to one particular aspect. It’s contained in this section, taken from the About page on the YCYC website:
The goal is to pick two truly transformational proposals so big that, when implemented, could secure prosperity and jobs for Ireland. Proposals that could help change the way we do things, allow businesses to grow, employment to be created and prosperity to flourish.
It’s not about growing more trees along the motorway, or gathering rainwater to sell abroad, or even to give Irish passports to the Irish Diaspora and bring them home on holidays on free Aer Lingus sites.
They say that they’re looking for something massive – something that will change Ireland for the better, for good.
A noble aspiration. However, if you really consider what might be needed to change this country at the moment, in my first post in this series, I touched upon why this is really unlikely to come to pass.
Idea generating campaigns, I said, are “where the general population are invited to submit their ideas to an elite group of people who will cherry pick what suits them and ignore everything else”.
Insiders don’t want change
I’ve described these elite as “incumbents” – David McWilliams would call them (himself included) “insiders”. But whatever you call them, and whomever they are, they are the people who were running this country, and running the businesses in this country, during the time that we rose spectacularly and descended even more spectacularly over the past 20 years.
Why then would these people entertain any ideas that come from the general public that would disturb the status quo that exists in Ireland?
For example, as is touched upon in several suggestions on the YCYC website, the most “transformational” change we could probably implement in this country in the morning would be to change the current government, possibly even doing away with Fianna Fail completely. Why not even use the €100,000 and the momentum of this YCYC campaign to create a new political force for our generation?
A new start? Hardly likely
But turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. The Dail could make a significant transformation change to how this country is run for free by instituting the much called for political reforms, but we’re not seeing that any time soon either.
How about bringing about “transformational” change by retiring off all the “incumbents” who got us to this low point? The Government has already failed to do that in the Banks, it’ll never happen in the Civil and Public Service, and despite so many promises in the past, it’s not even happening with the countless quangos set up over the years (in fact we’re setting up new ones rather than getting rid of others).
But that’s not the end of it, the current problems encountered by developers are unlikely to result in any of these being completely removed from the picture? Just as the Corporate Enforcer wouldn’t move against insider dealing in DCC, he’s unlikely to take action against any developer who so badly runs a company and who so wrecklessly incurs debt as to endanger the country, never mind their own companies.
Why nothing will really change?
This YCYC campaign will pick a panel of people who will, without doubt, be a panel made up of “insiders” and “incumbents” – the very same thing happened with the Ideas Campaign – see their Advisory Council members here to refresh your memory.
In fact, they’ve already started by picking David Byrne as Chairman of the Judging Panel – Senior Council, former Fianna Fail appointed Attorney General, former Fianna Fail appointed European Commissioner, and Chancellor of Dublin City University.
These 12-18 members of the judging panel will come from positions and backgrounds as insiders and incumbents where it will be plainly obvious that they will not actually want to see a transformational change the size of which is actually needed to turn this country around.
It won’t be in their own interests, or the interests of their buddies and political contacts to see the “transformational change” that could change how this country is run, how it does business, and ultimately how it looks after all its citizens, not just the insiders and incumbents.