Over the past decade, it was only a matter of a few minutes following the final score before my phone rang. If the victory was particularly impressive, it was a call. If it was a less impressive victory, it was a text. The text read something like “Ye Leinster Langer”! Deductive reasoning told me Munster had won and my cousins in Cork were just reminding their Jackeen relation of this fact. If you are a Dub with Cork cousins, this ritual has been a regular part of the Irish sporting calendar. I’ve had to bear it stoically for some years.
So, the other night when I headed up to watch the game with a friend from Clare — another Munster die-hard — I half expected the same rush of texts and calls at the end of the 80. But they never came. Watching the contortions on my friend’s face, it became obvious that there is something different about Munster fans.
When their team is getting hammered, they can’t believe it. The facial expression changes from disbelief to outrage and indignation.
It struck me that I’d seen this face before. Where was it? I racked my brains as I went up to the bar, just after Shane Horgan had accepted a gift in the middle of the park and raced off under the posts. It was getting embarrassing. My phone was conspicuous by its silence.
Then it came to me. That’s where I had seen it before. The contorted, disbelieving face of the defeated Munster fan was the same face that our governing politicians pull when they are queried about the economy, the Budget or NAMA. It is the face of people who have been living in a bubble for the past few years. The thing about living in a bubble is that you tend to hang out with other people who live in the same bubble so every conversation reinforces the myth of the bubble. This “echo chamber” as the Yanks call it, makes people in the bubble unable to accept any deviation from the creed.
The same bubble thinking, which has made the comedown for the Munster fans so dreadfully sharp, can be seen in many of our senior mandarins. The senior civil servants who run the country and lease it out to the politicians, also get “Munster face” when challenged. These are the guys who come up with policies like NAMA or the one that says there is no alternative to slashing spending.
Down the years, in our various scandals — whether over health or the welfare of children from industrialised schools — they were also the ones who tended to move to limit the damage to the institutions rather than the damage to the individual.
It is the same mentality that overlooked the DIRT scandal and the one that turned a blind eye to the shenanigans at Anglo when it put the parachute for Sean Quinn together and didn’t inform ordinary shareholders. Bubble thinking also characterised the Department of Finance mandarins when they did nothing to rein in the boom and then couldn’t think of anything better to do in the downturn than to cut everything and make the paralysis of consumer demand more, not less, rigid.
For cabinet members, bubble thinking is what makes them defend John O’Donoghue’s expense account, when they should just say this is nonsense and excessive and detrimental to the reputation of the country and the Dail.
They have been in the bubble so long that they can’t see that there is anything they can do which might, while not technically illegal, be reprehensible. Because of the bubble they can’t see the difference between right and wrong, so they cling on, in denial.
After a while those outside the bubble can see the weakness so clearly, yet those inside the bubble remain blind.
Bubble thinking is a form of group therapy and the best way to keep bubble thinking alive and kicking is to make sure that everyone involved has a vested interest in the bubble continuing to inflate.
So, during the property bubble years, those inside the bubble who had just bought property had a huge interest in keeping the whole thing inflated. And this is why when the bubble burst, it came as such a shock to everyone and yet now, with the passing of time, many thousands are asking themselves: “Why the hell did I do that?” or “Why couldn’t I see then what is clear now?”
For fans of all sport, the bubble becomes self-reinforcing. We get carried away by the great moments when the odds are overthrown and our side begins to emerge. We then let the mania of a few victories take over and we start to believe our own propaganda.
Others study our mistakes, our weak spots, players get older and a bit slower and then all these little things which on their own can be fought and dealt with, come together with cataclysmic results.
The denial phase, after a crushing defeat, gives way to depression but in the depression and the slide come the fruits of the next renaissance. Hopefully, Munster will recover from this and rebuild.
The great managers and politicians are those who can see beyond the bubble and do the right thing using a combination of clear analysis, questioning, judgment and experience. This weekend the Green Party has an opportunity to step out of the bubble and see NAMA for what it is. It is an extension of bubble thinking.
Rather than learn from the mistakes of the past and say never again, the Greens have been duped into bubble thinking by the mandarins, a thinking which says that the solution to our uncompetitive economy is more bank lending, more money going back into land and a higher tax burden on people for useless land that we are now supposed to want to buy with money we don’t have.
Let’s hope that this weekend, the Green management listens to the Green players.
Because, as in sport, the players on the ground know what went wrong on the pitch. I’m sure around Thomond Park there is some serious talking going on with players giving their opinions and solutions. Only the most arrogant management would not listen to them.
By the way, I never did text the cousins on Saturday. Leinster Langers don’t behave like that!
I’ve a big Munster face on me :-( but seriously this goes to the heart of our (citizens’) responsibility too. We ask ourselves “who’s the best person to represent me” at the expense of the more crucial “what’s the process that breeds good government”.
Very good David. Prompted this ‘mental jazz extemporisation on a bubble theme’: Picture the scene. Ireland is covered in a giant perspex cover, as a financial jacuzzi wherein the bloated bodies of the body politic recline blathering in indolent unconcern. There are bubbles everywhere, including some sulphurous ones emerging from the nether orifices! Everyone is talking out of their hat, their gob and their ass. The soundtrack is a classic Pink Floyd track. But look closely and see those strange cannisters next to the pool. Hmmn. That’s unusual. What could it be? ….aaargh, yes! They picked this habit up whilst… Read more »
A very good article…. explains a lot….I’ve wondered myself as to how people in charge are acting the way they are…. It cant all be corruption or extreme stupidity…. They have came to believe in the Celtic Tiger economic model… Not the export drive early Celtic Tiger, but the property renting later version. When the powers that be talk about the Celtic Tiger, they are only talking about revenues from stamp duty, VAT from house building…. They actually believe 1) this was a perfect system… 2) That it was only stopped because the Lehman Brothers bank failed in the US,… Read more »
An excellent piece of work. You have hit the nail on the head. I’m wondering this morning whether in failing to put his hands up to the mistake he made in praising Mr. Molloy, the mistake he made in not getting together with other party leaders to unanimously ask John O’Donoghue to resign, and the mistake in not asking Ms Coughlan to resign for her disgraceful handling of FAS, Mr. Cowen hasn’t sealed his own fate. There is an incredible lack of leadership which must now be called to account by his party.
my compliments to david’s article and all the above bloggers – well done
Hi David, I wouldnt go too far down the line of the Munster rugby analogy due to “analogy breakdown”. What is clear is that ‘bubble think’ is group-think. However, we also create systems and embed “culture” (the way of doing things) in our society and its workings and management, such as in politics, our ‘mandarins’, processes, etc. The Irish way as it were. You ask the Green Party ‘grass roots’ to think outside the box. However, the Green Party is stuck between a rock and a hard place, of their own making. They have gone ‘to bed with the devil’… Read more »
Is there an anology between ‘thinking within the bubble ‘and ‘cute hoorism’? And Kerry pillars of society living within D4?
Also are there any kind of bubbles between ferris , healy rae and o’ donoughue?
David – your assumption that the GP bosses will listen to the GP activists is bordering on the naive. The GP bosses are keeping the GP activists satisfied, the same way that the PD bosses, and the ILP bosses did it before them. By putting their mates in state jobs. The GP have spent a lot of time during their spell so far in government, looking into the public sector, trying to recruit members, trying to stick their own activists in quangos, etc…. Apart from that, from listening to the GP main economic architect, Boyle, I am convinced that the… Read more »
Looks like it is up to the greens to decide the fate of the country. watching Front line with pat kenny, they seem to be divided, for some it is all about NAMA for others it is animal rights, planning, and local government. It will be a very intersting weekend weekend. for whats it is worth i think there will be an election soon, either the greens will pull out or the next budget will cause it. Hopefully this start a cleansing process for the country, a new government with a new mandate, and hopefully the banking system will be… Read more »
Who knows with Gormley ? He can back flip from his planet Bertie speech to actually moving lock stock and barrel to Planet Bertie . Ryan is becoming more FF by the minute . This is Ireland and therefore normal rules of logical government thinking do not apply . FF may be economic muppets but one thing they are really very good at is spin . The Green leadership will reveal a new amendent to NAMA . It will have been negotiated at late night meetings with the Green leadership and the top brass of FF . Cowen will give… Read more »
I would be interested to see how many newspapers reported the interview with economist Joseph Stiglitz on RTE regarding NAMA. I would say very few, as he called it like it is, completely CRIMINAL !. This story will be swept under the carpet. I think RTE may have been shocked too, I am sure they did not expect him to be so honest. Honesty is a rare commodity in Ireland. I fear that the Green Party will not come out of the bubble, instead, they will follow the old Irish political rules of, self first, party second, country last. Which… Read more »
The greens and a bubble, hmmmm. Given that they came out of one bubble to enter the FF one, the only way I can see them coming out is if there is another bubble they can enter.
We just have to let the Greens know that their jobs are on the line if the stay in with FF. Use the same fear tactics on them they used on the general public in the Lisbon Treaty campaign.
Bubble thinking ? I completly agree and totallay disagree at the same time . In Ireland I used to think that I was the only person in the country who had not won the lotto . In 2000 I was in Heathrow airport in a cafe . I overheard ( ok I was earwigging ) these two English businessmen discussing the world of business and the conversation turned to Ireland . It went something like . ‘ Have you seen the price of houses in Ireland ? ‘ ‘ Yeah I was there 2 weeks ago , its mental ,… Read more »
David said “The thing about living in a bubble is that you tend to hang out with other people who live in the same bubble so every conversation reinforces the myth of the bubble. This “echo chamber” as the Yanks call it, makes people in the bubble unable to accept any deviation from the creed.” You are referring to politicians here, but according to Wikipedia ‘Echo chamber (Media)’ it is the media, not the politicians who live in the echo chamber. ‘The overall effect often is to legitimize false claims in the public eye, through sheer volume of reporting and… Read more »
Gormley did everything in his power through the local authorities to keep affordable housing prices up! It was and is a disgrace, a certain county council on affordable housing open evening were encouraging me to buy a apartment for 250,000 euro in Cobh, Cobh a place with a 40% higher cancer rates than any other part of the country. Imagine what that poorly built, two bedroom apartment junk house is worth now, that was my local government, with Gormley at its head, working for me!!!! They aren’t in a bubble, they are members of an elite inner circle – a… Read more »
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.
They fly so high, nearly reach the sky,
And like my dreams they fade and die.
Fortune’s always hiding,
I’ve looked everywhere …
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
pretty bubbles in the air.
“It struck me that I’d seen this face before. Where was it? I racked my brains”
Quite incidental to this discussion but reminds me that Dr Jerry Epstein has a technique for figuring out what someone’s facial expression means: – http://www.drjerryepstein.org/science.html. Maybe it’ll be a useful personal arsenal as the economy starts to unravel !!
Folks, Some links you may be interested in:
First, The IT report on Stiglitz calling NAMA “Criminal”:
Second, the Spanish economic cover-up, mentioned on this forum many times, particularly by Deco, I think:
And, finally, though it is too late for us, since “we” voted YES to Lisbon2, The European “Super-power” plan:
Let’s keep at it!
Where is wills?
Hi Tim, always lurking, I am! “The great managers and politicians are those who can see beyond the bubble and do the right thing using a combination of clear analysis, questioning, judgment and experience.” David, I’d love you to apply some of the Art of War to the current debacle. It is CLEAR that in all crises there are opportunities. The question is though, for whom? It is obvious that NAMA is not for the great unwashed. It is obvious that the present Cabinet are more concerned with window-dressing than structural change. Fancy lightbulbs instead of real sustainable (internationally competitive… Read more »
Something that we can look forward to from our friends in the UK or is that the UssrK??
David, Needless to say, excellent article. “Let’s hope that this weekend, the Green management listens to the Green players.” Since its a preferendum, the management have no option but to listen to their players. I think the anti NAMA wing of the Greens will win the day, and we can then look forward to an upcoming general election where we can have our voices heard on all these goings on (NAMA in particular). I’d guess Green members have more integrity than other party members, even though I think they’re completely wrong on things like nuclear power and road infrastructure, so… Read more »
…..and finally, those who are looking for a laugh, here’s a quote from the chief bubble blower
“He was a fine minister, a fine politician, a very hard-working person and I know that John O’Donoghue was one of those ministers who was reluctant to travel,”
“In so far as one gets something, I think that is an expense” reputedly said by JOD. Hmmm, I think therefore I am.
This will give the greens the opportunity to move away from being seen as a one dimensional party, focused only on enviornmental issues.
Hi David, A suggestion for an article: How do we create jobs? Your ‘diaspora’ idea was an activity which aimed to create jobs, so well done on that. Lets look at our problems in order of scale and importance: 1. Whats most needed? Jobs. Private sector jobs! 2. Next: balance the government income v spending ‘conundrum’ 3. Repair our banks, and headaches from our property frenzy/credit bubble Now these are inter-related to some extent, of course. But the thing that drives our economy are jobs. One simple suggestion I have for our next budget is this. We are seen as… Read more »
BrendanW, Ahhh, thanks for putting me straight about the productivity of teachers; and there I was, believing all those pesky OECD PISA reports that say teachers in Ireland deliver “the highest educational dividend” in the whole OECD area.
Thanks for the correction.
I realize this is off topic, but it is important. To anyone who wishes to take the flu vaccine, please don’t. It contains mercury, cancer viruses and other toxins. This has been admitted by the UN. I want to see as many of my fellow people alive and not dead from eugenics.
Please, don’t just label me as a nutter and look it up. Look up eugenics and its history and research the New World Order (NWO)
Thanks for your time and be safe,
WAKE UP so we have a fighting chance!!!!
David. ” … every conversation reinforces the ‘myth of the bubble’.” “..living in a bubble.” “..bubble thinking.” And then, “..because of the bubble they can’t see the difference between right and wrong.” and, “..then bubble bursts and there is shock.” And, “..learn from it , and never make the same mistakes again.” (i presume you mistakes are bubble mistakes), and, then, whammo,.. “..the greens have been duped into bubble thinking by the mandarins” and then you break it down what this bubble contagion is.. you say, “…thinking bank lending is a solution to an uncompetitive economy, more money back into… Read more »
Other than Social Morality which went out the window when they teamed up with FF, what incentives do the Greeens have to pull out of power? They have FF by the (rugby) balls for the first time since coming to power. Now is probably their best chance to force some Green policies between here and the next election which could also help them gain public support. Staying put may leave a bad taste in the members mouths but If they pull out, they may never see government again for decades. If you were a power hungry political party faced with… Read more »
Interestingly, when Fulgencio Batista, the brutal and vicious dictator of Cuba fled the country after the Revolutionary forces rolled into Havana, he loaded his plane with bars of gold and bags of cash, the amount is not clearly known but it was enormous sum, (his personal fortune of more than $300,000,000 amassed through graft and payoffs Critics accused Batista and his supporters of taking as much as $700 million U.S. dollars in fine art and cash with them as they fled into exile.) Not too dissimilar in style then to the golden handshakes that we have been witnessing with the… Read more »
Tim, Tim says Colin_in_exile, please quit taking everything I say as partisan politics and address the point: Why set up a new bank when we already have one with huge deposits, no loans, no debts and branches all over the country? I’m not a banker, so I don’t know how feasible it is to organise the post office into a fully commercial bank. I’d be glad to hear from people who know something about this. I wish it would be possible. I’m sure even Richard Bruton will remain open minded on the idea. I just get the impression from you… Read more »
Instead of creating a toxic bank, why not create a good state bank, let the other banks worry about their debts with property developers, put 3-4 billion into the good bank and let it lend to small businesses in the real economy who actually employ people who make a valued contribution to the State, unlike stock brokers, hedge fund managers and property flippers who simply make money off other people’s misery!!
As Stiglitz says, play by captialist rules, you f**k up, you go down!
Folks, you may be interested in this review of a new book on macroeconomics; it is being hailed as “Brilliant”:
The Green Party will not pull out of Government, primarily because they are dreamers & they don’t live in the real world. We are all likely to learn how very destructive living with dreamers actually is. They are not the cuddly, dreamer, dozing under an apple tree, but rather the destroyers of lives, homes & business. The road to hell is paved with [their] good intentions. (Trying not to be too negative about it, but) rather to be realistic: if the proposal re bail out of those in Negative Equity were to happen, or if NAMA goes ahead; we would… Read more »
Folks, while the Greens are thinking outside the box, it seems David Drumm of ANGLO thought he was doing so, but got rumbled:
He seemed surprised that his movements were being tracked;
Could it be that we are witnessing a rare “flash” of true investigative journalism from the Irish Times?
Folks, I heard something very interesting tonight about the Green Convention on Saturday; it seems the leadership has put a “spin” on what is to be decided; something like a reversal or a double-negative (but correct me, if there are any greens here, please), like “Do you disagree with the Green Party not supporting NAMA”, or some confusing wording like that.
A Mr Dohan, of the Green roots alluded to it very briefly on The Right Hook.
Anyone have the exact quote, please?
T K Wittaker will be 93 years old on Dec 5th.
Why has he not been asked anything until tonight, with Vincent Brown?
We have always been told that he was some kind of DoF wizzard……..
We need some wizzardry…..
Below are the Green Party’s Special Convention Timetable for Saturday 10/10/2009
1330 Debate on Motion 1:
“The Green Party / Comhaontas Glas will continue to participate in Government on the basis of the new Programme for Government presented to this meeting.”
1545 Debate on Motion 2:
“The Green Party/Comhaontas Glas rejects the National Asset Management Agency Bill 2009 and requires the Parliamentary Party to reject it in the Oireachtas.”
On NAMA. I’ve uncovered a chink in the NAMA masterplan. The clause in the European treaty prohibiting monetary financing is Article 101 of the Consolidated Treaty of European Union. This has two paragraphs and both read as follows: 1. Overdraft facilities or any other types of credit facility with the ECB or with the central banks of the Member States in favour of community institutions or bodies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of member states shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the ECB… Read more »
heres link for Treaty on European Union. See for yourself.
For those of ye bored with extracting fluff from yere navels here the DOF published accounts for 2008. http://finance.gov.ie/documents/publications/reports/2009/Financeacce.pdf
Greens against NAMA with the included video of Peter Matthews, Banker and critic of present Gubberment proposals. http://greensagainstnama.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/gan-hears-from-peter-mathews/
Seems like a bunch of our furry friend lovers (anti fur farming ye perverts ) have joined the Green Party over six months ago and now say they have some 100 votes up for grabs on Saturday , for Nama ,against Nama ,they dont care as long as they get Fur Farming Banned.
In 48 hours the fate of Ireland will be decided by the Green Party.If Nama is approved then Cowen,Linehan et al will launch the “echo bubble” for thats what its called ,Google it . As the World Economy recovers,Irelands best and brightest will leave in droves.The aspirational “smart economy” will be still born as there will be nothing left behind to support it ,only old people,the very young,economic migrants,disillusioned Public Servants etc. crippled by a massive debt overhang. If the Greens pass Nama they will pass the Budget and the Government will limp onn ,rudderless ,clueless until the day of… Read more »
Wonderful retort to Martin Cullen, who was wittering on yesterday about ‘the profession of politics’ and ‘we professional politicians’ …being beyond reproach, etc.:
Someone texted Newstalk “Yeah, politics as as a profession is like prostitution as a profession …they get paid handsomely for screwing us”.
Call of Duty to Furrylugs :
Your Country Needs You
The Greens will help pass NAMA, and we will have more generations of forgetten Irish, or as we used to call ourselvs back in the 80’s “rejected Irish”. The cycle just continues, and the politicians dont give a damn, they have their snouts in the trough. “Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow”.