Tag Archives | IdeasCampaign

The Irish Government – Lizard Brains

When writing about the current Your Country, Your Call idea generating campaign, I was particularly focused on the fact that out countries leaders (both political and business) have more to gain by maintaining the current status quo than they do in supporting a couple of “truly transformational” ideas that might challenge their comfy position.

Tim Dunne and Maggie Dugan wrote some years ago about what they called “Lizard Brains”. According to them:

The Lizard Brain is concerned with survival. It sits at the base of the skull, at the top of the spine. It’s our old brain. Evolutionists will tell you that we’ve had it since we were – well – Lizards. The Lizard Brain’s reaction to everything, if it has one at all, is limited to the following…eat, attack, run away, or mate.

Recently, on his blog, Seth Godin write about Lizard Brains under the title “Modern Procrastination”:

The lizard brain adores a deadline that slips, an item that doesn’t ship and most of all, busywork.
These represent safety, because if you don’t challenge the status quo, you can’t be made fun of, can’t fail, can’t be laughed at. And so the resistance looks for ways to appear busy while not actually doing anything.

Is there anything more appropriate to describe our current government? And if there was a phrase to best describe the Your Country, Your Call (and Ideas Campaign, and Global Irish Economic Forum) ideas gathering exercise, it’s:

ways to appear busy while not actually doing anything


Idea generating campaigns disconnect – Having ideas versus having a vision

I wrote a fair bit last week, and yesterday as well, about the new ideas generating campaign that’s currently ongoing here in Ireland – Your Country, Your Call.

I’ve tried to portray my own thoughts, particular in the first post – Yet another idea generating campaign – can we see some actions sometime maybe?

Coincidentally then, that it was only last week that I came across this article on the Harvard Business Review Blog – Having Ideas Versus Having a Vision. According to the author of this article:

One consequence of a decade focused on idea generation is ideas are now more easily accessible, which has also made idea generation less of a differentiator in competition than it has traditionally been.

What is in short supply, I’m afraid, are visionary thinkers who will be capable of making sense of this abundance of stimuli — visionaries who will build the arenas to unleash the power of ideas and transform them into actions.

This, I believe, is where the disconnect between these ideas generating campaigns, and the real world as we’re experiencing in Ireland at the moment, exists.

As I pointed out in the previous posts, Ireland at the moment is not short of ideas, and at a macro level, we’re also not short of the cash that could help develop those ideas.

What is damagingly wrong is that there isn’t sufficient vision amongst those who control the government purse strings to see where the money rightly needs to be spent.


The Real Problem with Idea Generating Campaigns

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.

“Truly transformational”

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.


Ideas Campaign and Your Country, Your Call – deja vu all over again

I was quite sceptical of the original Ideas Campaign when it kicked off in March last year – with concerns which proved to be well-founded (e.g. their daily changing of their terms and conditions depending on issues raised). There were plenty other issues, and some of these could also be appropriately be raised with regards to this years Ideas Campaign 2.0, the Your Country, Your Call campaign.

I wrote a little on Tuesday about my concern that these campaigns were actually not directed at what we in Ireland need most – action, rather than simply generating lists of more ideas. I’ll also cover tomorrow where I see the greatest weakness of these “ideas campaigns”, but for now, lets look at the common problems with this YCYC campaign vs the original Ideas Campaign.

Intellectual Property

The first concern that I had was that the Ideas Campaign (IC) initially claimed ownership of all ideas submitted, whether selected to be presented to Government, or not. On the other hand, the Your Country, Your Call (YCYC) campaign only claims ownership of the winning two ideas – but temporarily claims ownership of all ideas during the competition. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the YCYC campaign taking ownership of the winning ideas – for €100,000, that could be considered a suitable payoff for what is effectively still only an idea.

However, unlike the IC, the YCYC campaign makes every idea submitted open for public viewing. While the Ideas Campaign only published a selection of ideas submitted, by having all submissions made public on the YCYC website, they’re now there for anyone else to seize upon.

While you and I may understand the dangers of submitting an idea to such a public forum as the YCYC website, there may be well meaning individuals or groups out there who don’t. There may be those who have the unexpected surprise that having innocently and honestly tried to do some good by submitting their idea, they’ve also made their idea public, so it could be seized upon by others.

Who’s idea was this ideas gathering exercise?

The Ideas Campaign was very unclear at its initiation with regards to who was actually behind the campaign – and we’re seeing this again with the Your Country, Your Call campaign. We know that Presidents husband, Mr. Martin McAleese, is the figurehead behind the idea, but it does appear as if he probably wasn’t around at the inception of the YCYC idea. For example, he isn’t one of the registered directors of the company behind the campaign.

We don’t know either who the financial supporters are of this campaign. We’re told that €2m has been collected to fund the campaign and its prize money, yet we’re not told who collected any of this money. Some clues were provided over the past weekend on Twitter – more details here. Apparently some companies like Diageo, Bank of Ireland, Cisco and Allied Irish Bank and some other unnamed “big names” are invested to the tune of €130k.

While Aileen O’Toole of Amas Consulting initially tried to tell us on Prime Time that the IdeasCcampaign was all her own personal idea, for the good of the country, we later found out that it was actually a project sponsored and paid for by Amas Consulting.

We’re now only picking up tit-bits about who is really behind this YCYC campaign. You have to get the company documentation for the An Smaoineamh Mor company to find out the individuals behind the whole thing – chaired by former Bank of Ireland governor Dr Laurence Crowley, Martin Murphy, managing director of Hewlett Packard Ireland, and Eugene McCague, chairman of Arthur Cox solicitors.

You have to further delve behind the registration of the website domains to find out it is Allied Irish Banks who are behind the registration of the .ie domain name.

You have to read the press release from the company, BrightIdea, supplying the Your Country Your Call website software to find out that someone called Austin Hogan is the program director for Your Country, Your Call. I wonder is this the same “Austin Hogan” who’s entry on LinkedIn says they’re the “Head HR Operations & Technology at AIB”?

Further, you have to pick up on a couple of clues dropped around to find out who the “steering committee” for YCYC is. From Twitter we find that Padraig McKeon of Drury, a PR company, is a member. From The Irish Times, we find that Ferdinand Von Prondzynski of DCU is also on the steering committee. And finally then, though it’s not made available on their website, the rest of the steering committee is made up of Laurence Crowley, Martin McAleese, Martin Murphy (HP), Anne Marie Shaw (Cisco).

Finally, if you look at the Your Country, Your Call, you find out a further company that’s probably involved in this campaign. The Your Country, Your Call LinkedIn group is managed by someone called Zara Sheehin – Senior Account Manager at Agency.com/Cawley Nea TBWA, another PR company.

What’s the government involvement?

Similar to the Ideas Campaign, the YCYC campaign is suggesting that they have government support, but they’re not defining what that support is. We don’t know if they Government is providing money, or even if they’re kicking off this campaign at the behest of the government – another, “hey, look over there” diversionary tactic that our Fianna Fail government is so fond of.

Was it just a “nod and a wink” from some civil servant or government minister over a pint in Doheny & Nesbitts that is the support we’re talking about, or is it something more substantial. Only at the end of the Ideas Campaign did we find out that the government were going to take the best ideas submitted and submit them to a special task force. We have no indication yet as to what the YCYC campaign are going to do with their best two ideas.

Why all the secrecy?

Why do I even have to pose these questions about what Your Country, Your Call is really about? What is it about “idea generating campaigns” in Ireland and their promoters, that requires such secrecy and privacy?

When these people are expecting the Irish people to bear their souls for the ultimate benefit of the campaign themselves (either financially or in self-promotion), why don’t they come out with the information up front?

And why is the main stream media so quick to promote these campaigns without first questioning the who is behind the campaign, what their real motives are, and what the ultimately plan to do with the ideas?

The Ideas Campaign did manage to very successfully smack down any of this questioning with their “no whinging” rule, but why should a promoter of an idea generating campaign be given a free pass when it comes to avoiding negative media coverage?

There is, however, one major problem with all of these idea generating campaigns – and more particularly, how the supposedly “best” ideas are chosen. I’ll cover that here tomorrow.


Yet another idea generating campaign – can we see some actions sometime maybe?

I feel like it’s 2009 – March approximately. It was back then that I first wrote about the original Ideas Campaign. Some of my comments back then weren’t taken too well by some people – mainly though, they offended Aileen O’Toole who was behind that campaign.

And now, almost exactly 1 year later, we have the Ideas Campaign 2.0 – or as this one is known, Your Country, Your Call. I would love this time around to be able to say that this is a great idea and that it’s just what our country needs, but unfortunately it’s same bad idea gathering exercise, different promoters and a significantly worse website.

As a rule, who in their right mind could say that they’re against any of these kinds of ideas campaigns, but as has been pointed out on many occasions by me and others, what Ireland actually needs at the moment is action, rather than ideas.

Ireland as a country has significant funds available, and significant numbers of valuable ideas, that would help us out of our current predicament but unfortunately there isn’t enough real action to make things happen.

It seems like it could be a truly Irish unfortunate phenomenon to have these ideas generating campaigns – the Ideas Campaign, the Global Irish Economic Forum, and now Your Country, Your Call, where the general population are invited to submit their ideas to an elite group of people who will cherry pick what suits them, and their own elite purposes, and ignore everything else.

And too often we have people finding all sorts of reasons – real, or imaginary – which prevent them from taking their own ideas, accessing funds and turning them into action.

Ideas aren’t enough – will is important

Despite what could be the common perception at the moment, this country has plentiful available funds for investment, but unfortunately those in charge of the purse strings are ensuring that the finances don’t go where they’re truly needed.

Look, for example, at this article on The Story website, Enterprise Ireland Visualisations and Analysis. This excellent article tells us that over a certain period of time, only 5% of Enterprise Ireland grant recipients received 50% of the money available. The massive Glanbia organisation took 2.66% of the money available, more than the bottom 1000 recipients put together.

And given what we’re seeing at the moment, we definitely have the ideas – we need only look at the outputs from all previously mentioned ideas campaigns, and what’s being submitted to the Your Country, Your Call website at the moment. However, given the quality of some of these ideas, it’s sometimes debatable if we actually have the people necessary to progress any good ideas from germination to fruition. This was only recently worryingly emphasised on the the recent Frontline “young persons” programme on RTE, referred to so eloquently here by Twenty Major.

I have an idea for an ideas campaign submission?
How about an “actions campaign” that invites Irish people to get up and actually do something and where the rewards will be for achievement – creating a business, earning money for themselves, and providing employment – rather than for simply filling in a website form?
I have two more posts to publish on this issue in the coming days. On Thursday, I’m going to look at the uncanny and worrying comparisons between the failed Ideas Campaign and the current Your Country, Your Call campaign.
On Friday then I’m going to propose what I think is the single greatest problem with any of these campaigns – the Ideas Campaign, the Global Irish Economic Forum, and now Your Country, Your Call.

Aileen O’Toole and the National Consumer Agency

In doing the research for this post, I was looking for links between Aileen O’Toole and her nominees to her IdeasCampaign Advisory Committe.

One piece of information I found at the same time was this little nugget that I suppose I should have been aware of previously.

In 2005, Aileen O’Toole was nominated by the then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Harney as a member of the Consumer Strategy Group back.

The key recommendation of the Consumer Strategy Group was the formation of the National Consumer Agency.

Following the setting up of the National Consumer Agency, who do you think the online consultancy services contract for the newly set up agency went to?

Yep, you’ve guessed it, Amas and their managing director Aileen O’Toole.


Supposed “whinging” clarifies Ideas Campaign for those submitting ideas

In the few days following the launch of the Ideas Campaign on PrimeTime on RTE1, I published a couple of posts highlighting my concerns about some of the terms and conditions imposed by the campaign on anyone who submitted an idea to the website.

I also pointed out some inconsistencies in the campaign itself and its then constantly shifting focus. I highlighted a couple of issues that I had with how the campaign was being run, and published a few questions that in the interests of the same transparency espoused by the campaign could have been answered.

Last Friday morning, my concerns were highlighted in an article published in the Irish Examiner, written by Jennifer Hough.

The article was referred to on the Morning Ireland “It Says in the Papers” just after 8am. Subsequent to that, I was contacted three times each (phone, e-mail and text) by two RTE1 radio shows – Drive Time and The Marian Finucane programme – both asking that I speak to them about my concerns about the Ideas Campaigns Terms & Conditions.

There was nothing untrue or inaccurate in the article as published, nor in anything that I’ve published here on ValueIreland.com about the Ideas Campaign. This article was available on the Examiner.ie website until some time mid-morning when it was removed, and it is still unavailable. (A response from the Ideas Campaign is still available on the website, unsurprisingly!)

I am guessing that the article was removed from the Irish Examiner website at the request of the Ideas Campaign – presumably because in their mind it went against their “no whinging policy”. And as Friday went on, after their initial keenness to discuss the concerns regarding the Ideas Campaign, the RTE1 programmes no longer wanted to talk about the negative aspects of the Ideas Campaign that I was highlighting.
You can read the Irish Examiner article that the Ideas Campaign didn’t want you to read here. See anything bad about any of that?

As I have always done here on ValueIreland.com, I was merely bringing my concerns to the attention of the readers of this site, and then Irish Examiner readers by extension, so that they could act on the basis of having more information about the implications of submitting their ideas to the Ideas Campaign – information that wasn’t being highlighted anywhere else in the only positive media coverage being provided about the Campaign. There was an unquestioning, and still is, promotion of the campaign from many areas of Irish society – despite the dubious terms and conditions.

The validity of my concerns has since been vindicated because the Terms & Conditions page on the Ideas Campaign web page has changed at least twice since I originally wrote about it. Some, but not all of the items of concern have been removed. Some pretty harsh conditions still remain.

Also, since the Irish Examiner article some extra clarification about what the Ideas Campaign is actually looking for has been added to the T&C’s page and to other new pages added to the site as a whole. This is obviously a good thing.

I am concerned however, that the text of the website still doesn’t match the e-mails being sent to interest groups around the country asking for submissions to the site. While the site confirms that it is not seeking business ideas, I have seen one e-mail sent on Thursday seeking to “encourage members to contribute ideas targeted to preserve and hopefully grow employment, stimulate new economic activity, create business opportunities or bring about policy changes to rebuild the economy”. Still looking for business ideas then?
I have never been negative towards the hopes and aspirations of the Ideas Campaign, despite assertions to the contrary. I merely wished that the manner in which they went about their business was more transparent and not so punitive to those who submitted their ideas. But since I raised my concerns, some of these issues have been addressed, though still not all – but still, some good has come from it.

It’s with a little tongue in cheek that I describe ValueIreland.com as Ireland’s only truly independent watchdog, but here’s perfect example of the independence of the site. Despite the overwhelming efforts of the campaign to stamp out any questioning or negativity regarding their campaign (through their “no whinging” policy), ValueIreland.com was the only place to highlight the particularly stringent terms and conditions that were eventually changed.

As the original slogan for this site said (slightly paraphrased), “better decisions through better information”, and at the end of all this, that’s what ValueIreland.com has provided for those using the Ideas Campaign website.


IdeasCampaign – Advisory Council Named

I’ve written a couple of times so far about how I’m not convinced about the IdeasCampaign that is being promoted by Amas and Aileen O’Toole.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m all in favour of anything that can help this country out of the trouble it’s in at the moment. I’ve commented before that entrepreneurship in this country was in trouble during the Celtic Tiger once people realised it was easier to provide for their retirement by buying and renting property rather than setting up businesses and employing others as my own parents did in the 1980’s.

The IdeasCampaign today isn’t what it was announced as last week on PrimeTime on RTE. On that programme, we were told that Aileen O’Toole was almost assuming a “social entrepreneurship” role by promoting this as her own personal idea for the public to get involved in. This week, however, the IdeasCampaign is a public relations campaign being promoted by a public relations company – Amas.

We don’t know why the campaign has changed direction, or why lots of behind the scenes changes were made to the website have been made without any explanation – such changing the original terms and conditions.

My post here asks some of the key questions that I’d like to see the people behind the IdeasCampaign answer.

In my mind, the IdeasCampaign has nothing to do with the public apart from the expectation that us poor unfortunates should hand over our ideas for free to a group of high up connected business people who would make money off the back of those ideas, according to the original terms and conditions.

And to further enforce that belief, have you seen the Advisory Group that Aileen O’Toole has appointed to sift through the ideas and prepare a report that will ridiculously be presented straight to Cabinet. The usual suspects that Aileen O’Toole has brought together are:

Frank Gallagher – Property developer and drinking buddie of Bertie Ahern.

Moya Doherty – Multi-millionaire, though an unfortunate shareholder in Anglo Irish Bank

Alan Gray – Economist who’s company works for the government

Kieran McGowan – Associated of Aileen O’Toole through Business in the Community board membership

Tina Roche – Employee of Business in the Community, where Aileen O’Toole is board member

Ian McShane (no relation) – Aileen O’Tooles company Amas works for his company, and they’re connected through the JNIR

Dr. Don Thornhill – Board Member of Forfas, for whom Amas and Aileen O’Toole work (here)

That leaves Sean Gallagher of Dragons Den fame and Paul Rellis of Microsoft Ireland and American Chamber.

This is the “in crowd”. There’s nothing new or innovative here. These Advisory Council members, I guess, have always had direct access to the powers that be, but now they’re just doing it off the back of the ideas of the general public.

There are no members of the public on this Council. The members of the public who submitted their ideas have been completely forgotten now that their ideas have been collected and collated.

All I’m hearing when I see these names and hear about Advisory Councils providing strategic advice and shaping an action plan are the words “useless quango”.

I personally have no faith in this campaign. I sincerely hope that something good comes from it, but I’m not holding my breath.


I’m still not convinced by the IdeasCampaign

I’m looking forward to this morning to seeing the usual suspects on the IdeasCampaign “Independent Advisory Group”. The whole thing strikes me as very Fianna Fail in execution. Next, we’ll be having a Tribunal to get everything implemented. In about 10 years time.

To my mind, there should be no doubt as to the political involvement in all of this, remember – we’re expected to believe that a regular mary public, Aileen O’Toole, has set up a campaign to collect ideas from the general public that, according to the Taoiseach, “will be fast-tracked to the Cabinet sub-committee on Economic Renewal for assessment and implementation”. The Green Party can hardly get their ideas put before Cabinet most of the time, yet Aileen O’Toole gets her ideas “fast tracked”.

So, I’ve seen enough so far to still not be fully convinced about the motives behind this campaign. There was the Terms & Conditions changes, the fact that the ideas aren’t being shared with the key stakeholders (us, the general public), and the fact that an unnamed committee was formed to review the ideas rather than opening them up to the public for comment, enhancement and ultimately, support.

Apparently, there are now more than 1200 ideas that have been submitted to the site, of which the “best” will be put forward directly to cabinet. But where’s the transparency here? Brian Cowen has a serious problem with Declan Ganley using his money to try to influence things just because he’s rich, saying of the political fundraising issue that it would be “undermined by those who only pay lip service to transparency”. So far, I fear that we’re facing a similar hi-jacking of the democratic process and route to cabinet here with the IdeasCampaign. Who’s to say that the ideas put forward don’t come from those behind the campaign, claiming to have the backing of the public, when it’s actually them bypassing the public to get their ideas to cabinet?

This campaign started as a personal idea from Aileen O’Toole that she was doing (with a little support) from Amas. This was to be a public ideas gathering exercise, for the public and of the public. Yet, so far, apart from handing over any good ideas that they may have, the public have been completely excluded. Why?

From something that started off, apparently, as a personal idea, it has now very definitely been recategorised as a PR campaign from a PR company. Even the posts on the blog are being changed to remove the personal aspect to redefine it as a campaign.

Originally posted on Friday morning:

The Ideas Campaign was featured on this morning’s edition of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship news programme “Morning Ireland”. Aileen O’Toole talked about the campaign and the huge response since last night’s launch.

New Version, updated over the weekend:

The Ideas Campaign was featured on this morning’s edition of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship news programme “Morning Ireland”. Campaign director Aileen O’Toole talked about the campaign and the huge response since last night’s launch.

Now, you may ask what’s the big deal. Well, to my view, there’s a whole lot more going on in the background here that the public are not finding out about. In marketing terms, after less than 5 days of the “campaign” it’s been repositioned already – from personal to professional. In marketing and PR terms, I would have thought that such a change in tack after such a short period of time would be seen as a spectacular failure. Why the changes?

If the public are to have much faith in what’s going on, then full information needs to be provided.

  • Who’s actually behind the campaign? Who’s funding it?
  • Who really convinced RTE PrimeTime to take the unprecedented step of launching a professional organisations website on their programme? PRIMETIME ffs!
  • If the ideas submitted were sold (according to the original T’s & C’s) then who was going to get the money?
  • Was it to be Aileen O’Toole in her capacity as the original promoter?
  • Or now that it’s a “campaign”, would the money have gone to Amas, or someone else?
  • Will the public get to see all ideas submitted, or just the subset submitted to cabinet?
  • Will we be told who originally submitted the ideas?

Don’t get me wrong here. An IdeasCampaign it to be recommended and supported. In fact, two of them is great. Maybe even three. How about four ideas campaigns? Lots of ideas campaigns out there – it’s a pity only David McWilliams’ site is sharing the ideas submitted. Unfortunately though, for David, no one in Govenment listened to him for the last 5 years, so they’re unlikely to start now. Maybe he could submit them anonymously on the IdeasCampaign.ie website and actually get the government to listen to him.

But as I saw from quoted by Joe Drumgoole yesterday on Twitter, “An idea is so small a part of a business that it’s almost a rounding error”. He went on to add “Value of idea = 0. Value of idea + execution plan = 0.001, Value of idea + evidence of execution = 0.01 etc. etc.”

An “action campaign” anyone?


Ideas – Here’s one for the Government and their mini-budget

I’ve written a bit about my scepticism regarding the recently announced IdeasCampaign here, and posted some extra speculation in the comments of that post.

I have an idea here for the Government when it comes to their mini-budget at the end of March or early April.

We all saw the ructions over the over-70s medical cards in the October Budget, and the subsequent embarassing climb down by the government.

This idea will mean that the government might get their wishes (though over a longer period of time), but they could make more cuts in one fell swoop in this way if they wanted, with not even close to the amount of opposition you’d think.

Instead of cutting benefits for everyone in one go, why not cut the benefits for anyone who doesn’t have them at the moment? Remove the entitlements to benefits for anyone may in the future who expects to get something rather than taking it from someone who has it already.

So, cut child benefit, or means test it, or whatever is being talked about, for anyone who has a child after April 2nd plus 9 months. After that, you chose to have a child in the full knowledge that you’re not automatically getting childrens allowance.

If the over-70’s medical card controversy was handled in this way, I don’t believe the uproar would have been as big. If you’re over 70, carry on. If you’re under 70, you know you’re not getting the card automatically so you make alternative plans.

Note: I’m not advocating any cuts in either of these areas – I don’t know enough about them. What I am advocating is a way for our government to think about how they go about making any decisions that they tell us they need to make.

To my mind, this is a simple way to get something accepted by the government without so much opposition, but I obviously accept that it’s a longer term thing. However, with less opposition at the time of making decisions in this way, it’s alternatively possible that they could make cuts across a wider range of areas in one go – without the piecenmeal tinkering about the edges they’ve been involved in for the past 6 months.

It would also show that they’re actually thinking properly about what their doing, and planning, rather than just reacting.


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