Michael Ross bites back….
January 27, 2003 at 10:20 am #705955Paul ClerkinKeymaster
after last week’s article in The Sunday Times….. he returns to his themes… i particularly like the bit i put in bold
For more than 20 years, St Michaelâ€™s House in Ballymun, which provides residential care for adults with mental disability, has had a waiting list of about 300 people. At present 345 adults are waiting for places there, seven of whom have parents who are terminally ill. The cost of providing the places has been estimated at between â‚¬11m and â‚¬15m.
Such sums are not trivial: â‚¬15m represents four monthsâ€™ spending by the Arts Council. You could erect three Ian Ritchie spires and still have change; alternatively, you could make a start on the rest of the planned regeneration of Oâ€™Connell Street in Dublin.
The cost of the Oâ€™Connell Street project, and the spireâ€™s small part in it, was made vividly clear on Tuesday morning, as engineers prepared to fit the final section of the new landmark.
City manager John Fitzgerald, interviewed on RTE radio, was careful to put the spireâ€™s â‚¬4.5m cost in context: it represented, he said, slightly more than 1% of the â‚¬400m that will be spent on the regeneration.
It was one of those moments that allow one to understand more fully the term Kafkaesque. For Fitzgerald the spireâ€™s cost was a mere bagatelle. For others, the news that such a sum is to be spent on the trophy renewal of one street, in a period of dire need in essential services, will have come as a surprise. At â‚¬400m it is 10 times the amount spent on Farmleigh, itself a depraved extravagance.
The chattering class, complete with polo necks and VHI subscriptions, tends to sneer at the juxtaposition of spending on projects such as the spire with cutbacks in essential services.
There was a good deal of such sneering in the media last week, and on architecture websites, where debate about the spire predictably stalled at the level of the aesthetic.
Questions of ideology were avoided, with the chattering class presuming, as it tends to do, that the prevailing ideology is simply the way things are, rather than a construct reinforced, in the case of Irelandâ€™s Christian Democrat-tinged liberalism, by 20 years of reification.
The reified wisdom is that projects such as the spire are civilising and worthwhile, as they represent tiny percentages of public spending, and that the problems, for example, of the health system, are structural and cannot be solved simply by throwing money at them.
It is, however, bogus. Over the past 10 years, as spending on the arts and vanity projects mushroomed in Ireland, spending on healthcare bucked the wider trends. Healthcare spending in OECD countries stabilised at an average of just over 8% of GDP; spending in Ireland, 7.3% of GDP in 1993, slipped to 6.8% by 1997.
By 2001, spending on healthcare had fallen to 6.18% of GDP, the second lowest in the EU. Ireland was at the height of an unprecedented boom, while other European economies were cooling, yet we were one of just three EU countries in which healthcare spending was falling.
We get the society we deserve, and the symbols we deserve. In the spire we have a sleek symbol of decadence, a monument to the doublethink perfected in the 1990s, aesthetically vacuous but politically a marvel.
January 27, 2003 at 11:04 am #723983
the health system is underfunded in this country – no doubt (as are infrastructural projects in general)
If you took state spending on health, and on the arts over the last ten years you’d see the insignificance that the arts play in the the states scheme of things. Arts Council funding this year (post ‘shock realisation’ budget) has effectively meant a 30% cut in funding for many organisations/projects. I doubt that any other sector could be whacked with those sort of cuts without much grumbling from the general populace. The arts just don’t figure in the dept of finances gameplan. Sorry, but this is just boogyman stuff, plan and simple.
I’ve not been much of a chatterer, and don’t own a poloneck (but I’m open to offers).
January 27, 2003 at 11:14 am #723984ewParticipant
“architecture websites” don’t get much news coverage normally. Well done Paul I hope you ask him to give the URL next week….
January 27, 2003 at 11:35 am #723985Rory WParticipant
We just have to ask ourselves do we want to pay more tax, then we can have all the services we desire. Compare the rate of tax that I pay 42% (and I ain’t rich by any stretch of the imagination), a friend of mine who lives in France and earns less than I do pays 57% tax. Yes we can have a continental style healthcare system but we’ll have to pay fo it!
January 27, 2003 at 11:40 am #723986
I’ll kill you Paul, I wanted to break this story!!!
Anyway, Mr Ross, since we know you’ll be on the site scouring for reaction, I’ll address this directly to yourself. Please excuse any mispellings and grammatical errors, as my polo neck is restricting the oxygen flow to my brain.
The reason the ‘juxtapositioning’ was continually raised was simply in reaction to the endless, mindless criticisim from the public over the project, the continual jibes that the money could be spent elsewhere, that at a time of cutbacks this amount was being spent, and that the sculpture dos’nt help Aunt Mary off her trolley in Tallaght Hospital. Of course reactionary comments are going to be made, relating to ‘the way things are’, that ‘the 4.5 million would never filter down to providing better services’ and so forth.
I would presume that most contributers to this site would fully accept that ‘the way things are’ does not have to be the case, and that such juxtapositioning comments reinforce and consolidate the culture that we’re in.
However, change is impossible, the same politics, the same beaurocracy, the same politicians handing over the reigns to their next generation, and fundamentally, the same attitudes and culture of the people. Perhaps in next week’s Comment, you could offer solutions to this ‘construct reinforced’, which would be interesting.
In relation to the Spire, you use your thesaurus well, the Oxford Dictionary descibing ‘vacous’ as ’empty, unintellegent, expressionless’. Does every sculpture demand a meaning or a purpose? Can it not just exist for it’s own sake? For it’s beauty? For it’s optimisim? For it’s renewing and regenerating properties?
The only thing that actually annoyed me about your piece however, is your deliberate ditching of the Spire’s capital S. Such pettiness speaks for itself.
January 27, 2003 at 11:48 am #723987
If we are playing the juxtaposition game, why not compare the outlay on the Spire with the outlay on the Abbotstown project, and compare value for investment? The Bertiebowl plan didn’t have the poloneck angle, but it impresses in every other aspect.
January 27, 2003 at 12:04 pm #723988Rory WParticipant
I think – to paraphase Sam Stephenson – Mr Ross would prefer “self effacing buildings like VD clinics” than a work of scupture that will put something good into the decaying O’Connell Street.
All this “chattering class” stuff is just another lefty swipe – oh the middle class like it so it must be shite – pathetic!
January 27, 2003 at 12:09 pm #723989
nothing wrong with taking a swipe at the middle classes. It’s just the lazy selectivity that bugs me.
January 27, 2003 at 1:09 pm #723990fjpParticipant
400 million is certainly a crazy amount of money (where’s it all going??), but this guy’s attitude is appalling. Maybe somebody should tell him that being a snobby wanker actually goes both ways.
The bypass down the road from me cost far far far more than the Spike ever did, will never make a profit, and only really helps people in cars (ie, people with money). If he’s got a problem with wastes of money he should take it up with a stretch of road that simply moves you from one traffic jam to another. Picking a current news article and bitching about its cost is a lot less informed than actually sitting down and finding out where the wastes of money really are. But then that wouldn’t have suited the convenience of his article, and perhaps he would have had to do some investigative journalism that didn’t involve a Google search…
Nice plug though…
January 27, 2003 at 2:52 pm #723991
Ooooh. Someone got out of the wrong side of bed this morning! Not like you to get nasty fjp!
Still, he needed telling.
January 27, 2003 at 3:03 pm #723992fjpParticipant
The problem was that I got into bed at 4am (from work) and so any side of the bed seemed grossly inappropriate for exiting. But that guy could have just made his (valid) points without resorting to silly name calling. I can resort to silly name calling since I’m on the web, but I generally expect more from professional journalists. unless he’s just one of those people who like to be “controversial” (yawn).
January 27, 2003 at 3:17 pm #723993RSJParticipant
Er…who is Michael Ross? You must excuse me, I’m from London.
January 27, 2003 at 3:19 pm #723994Paul ClerkinKeymaster
RSJ he’s the guyt who wrote the article from The Sunday Times that we discussed in the “Spike” thread.
January 27, 2003 at 4:12 pm #723995RSJParticipant
Yes, I know he wrote that piece. My question is – who is he? Is he considered some kind of authoritative cultural commentator, or is he just another opinionated hack?
January 27, 2003 at 4:19 pm #723996-Donnacha-Participant
“debate about the spire predictably stalled at the level of the aesthetic”…
Stalled? It’s a sad, backward little country we live in if we can’t talk about a piece of art on its aesthetic merits without constantly asking ‘what’s it for?’, ‘how much’ does it cost?
OK it’s public money, but in the context of DCC’s budget, it’s not a lot. Aesthetics will never win the (grossly simplistic) moral argument. Of course hospitals are more important than art.
So why do we continue, publicly and privately, to spend money on nice-looking but non-essential things? Because we’re human.
Unless Michael Ross lives like a monk and donates his disposable income to charity, I think he should stop flogging this dead horse.
January 27, 2003 at 4:19 pm #723997
Michael Ross sounds like one of those bleeding hearts….you know the type; they complain about the homeless etc…. but ask him to take one home with him do you think he would?
As about the health service….the health sevice is strained due to a lot of these dependancy culture hyperchondriacs going in complaining with the slightest of pains and taking up the much needed space and attention which is much needed by those who are seriously ill.
Remember just recently the casuality wards ask such wasters to stay away…and they did!
If we as a society cut down on the cigarettes, were more responsible drinkers, ate a decent diet and took some regular excercise it would cut the hospital waisting lists by half I bet.
Na, but such would rather sit on their fat arses drinking in pubs, eating sausage & chips, watching the English footy and smoking to their hearts content while they whinge about the Spire and money spent making their environment better. Beliitling f**kers.
Here’s to the Spire.
Here’s to the National Stadium. Maybe when it’s built such people should be made to go for a few laps around it to clear the muck out of their systems and veins.
January 27, 2003 at 4:32 pm #723998
Sometimes I despair for you greg.
The health service is underfunded (as compared to other european countries). The problem lies there, not with some rash of hypochondriacs as you suggest. The hospitals asked people to stay away if they had flu symptoms, since they can’t help once you are infected, and all they would do is spread the flu to sick people and hospital staff. Nothing to do with time wasters.
Of course we could have an excellent and affordable health service like the cubans if we just didn’t pay the doctors/nurses/ health board staff a decent wage and clamped down on litigation. The canadians seem to have worked it out mind.
January 27, 2003 at 4:48 pm #723999
It’s mutual …I despair for you as well Alastair……why must you always be so pedantic.
I have a mate who happens to be a doctor….ye wanna hear the stories he could tell ye about the time wasters and injuries caused by sheer bloody neglect. Don’t nit-pick for the sake of it.
January 27, 2003 at 4:58 pm #724000
no nit picking.
I stand over my point. we don’t fund a decent health service, so we get the one we deserve. From first hand experience I can assure you that the french love to make use of their system at the drop of the hat (trivial cause), and their system doesn’t fall over.
January 27, 2003 at 5:14 pm #724001
Well let’s put up the taxes then so as we will have a more than adequate service. I’m sure McCreevy, (sleeveen and all as he is) & Co allots enough capital for what they can afford out of the annual budget.
4 miserly Euro for the Spire, surely you are not a begrudger too….aka in the Michael Ross camp. Don’t tell me you can’t see the bountiful benefits for the city and nation that this rejuvenation plan will bring.
My liver is falling out of me arse from the drink but I’m not complaining …I’ve only myself to blame. I cough up sputum regularly from smoking 80 a day….but I’m not complaining, I’ve only got myself to blame.
But sure maybe then I’ll join the hospital waiting lists and hopefully I’ll get a liver transplant before that young innocent child…..I could do with a coronory bypass as well …..and but of course I’m not gonna change my lifestyle. Why should I…sure can’t they do wonders today.
(By the way Ireland has one of the highest rates of heart desease and related illnesses in the world)
‘Responsibility’ is the keyword……a word that a part of society fail to understand.
January 27, 2003 at 5:28 pm #724002
I’ve always been in support of the spire. I do begrudge the waste of money on abbotstown, and all the other drains of resources that we love so much (tribunals etc). I would like more money put into healthcare, childcare, and public transport infrastructure. I guess that makes me a bleeding heart, but having seen all these work effectively abroad I hanker after something similar here. I don’t smoke, drink very much, or eat sausages, but am well aware I’ll rely on the health service whem I’m a coffin dodger (if not before), and I’d like a better one.
January 27, 2003 at 5:31 pm #724003
Well look forward to a long and healthy life then!
January 27, 2003 at 5:38 pm #724004
To be fair, Michael Ross’s articals on broadcasting etc are always perceptive and balanced, maybe he should stay in that area.
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