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Our Anti-Science Government

Our Anti-Science GovernmentGerry OShea
A major debate is underway in America about how best to deal with the greatest crisis faced by the country since the Great Depression almost a hundred years ago. Two clear positions can be identified in this national discussion, each one representing separate belief systems and values about how to deal with the current pandemic.

It brings to mind the fault line in the 19th century between Enlightenment thinkers for whom scientific results were sacred and conservatives who wanted to hug the accepted traditional wisdom of those times.

The life and work of Charles Darwin come to mind. His researchculminated in the great scientific manual, The Origin of Species, which claims that humans evolved from lower forms of life over many millennia. This thinking ran smack into serious trouble because of the seven-day creation story in the Book of Genesis.

Today the Vatican has no problem accepting the results of Darwin’s scholarly research, but some fundamentalis…
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From Patrick Pearse to Brother Mick

From Patrick Pearse to Brother MickGerry OShea
Most Irish people would name Patrick Pearse as one of the greatest Irish heroes. He led the Easter 1916 Rebellion in Dublin that lit the flame for the Irish War of Independence which led to the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty. This was considered a successful outcome by most nationalists, even though they had to accept that six of the Irish thirty two counties remained under British control.

Some commentators question the wisdom of the 1916 Revolution, arguing that, considering the bloodshed and division that it caused, we might have been better to settle for the watered-down version of John Redmond’s 1912 Home Rule Bill. Following that line and letting the imagination ramble, a Home Rule parliament might have invited Pearse, a prominent nationalist and educator, to serve as the first Minister for Education in a Dublin administration.

Such imaginary ruminations allow us to focus on his commitment to progressive educational principles, which were sad…

Neoliberalism

NeoliberalismGerry OShea
The story is told that shortly after the great trade union leader Mike Quill arrived in New York, he inquired about what kind of government existed in America. After someone gave him a brief explanation, he replied “well we are against the government anyway.” Mike had just come from a family that fought the British in the Irish War of Independence and that was equally hostile to the Free State Government which took over in Dublin in 1922, four years before he left for the United states from his home in Kilgarvan, County Kerry.

President Reagan’s oft-quoted statement that “the most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I am here to help” always evokesloud applause from conservative audiences. His words encapsulate the belief that the less state involvement in all aspects of life the better. They always make one exception for military spending, and so they endorse the present defense budget in the United States which exceeds the…

The Biden Candidacy

The Biden CandidacyGerry OShea
How do you explain that a 77-year old former vice-president who finished way down in the voting in the early primary elections in Iowa and New Hampshire and came in a distant second in Nevada is now a virtual certainty to get the Democratic nomination?

Senator Sanders performed very well in those first states, winning two and ending up a close second in the third. He had a seasoned organization consisting mainly of enthusiastic young people, many of them supporters from the 2016 campaign, and plenty money, raised in small donations.

Steve Kornacki the accomplished predictor of political trends on MSNBC summed up the situation before South Carolina by saying that even allowing that Biden would win that state in double digits, he still faced a steep mountain to be in contention for the nomination. All the polls had Sanders ahead by a mile in delegate-rich California on Super-Tuesday and there was a real question about Biden getting to 15% without which he cou…

Universal Basic Income in America

Universal Basic IncomeGerry OShea
“Let us place a floor under the income of every family in America, and without those demeaning and soul-stifling affronts to human dignity that so blight the lives of welfare children.” You might think that this progressive political statement emanated from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in one of her commendable flights of oratory in Queens, but, surprisingly, the man who spoke those words was President Nixon, the leader of the Republican Party in the sixties and early 70’s.

Income inequality in the United States has expanded greatly since the Nixon years. In 1980, the bottom half of earners in the United States took home a modest 20% of all income generated in the country; in 2014, thirty-four years later, that percentage had collapsed to a measly 12%. During the same time period the richest 1% in America went from earning 12% of all income to 20%.

Why has this dastardly situation been allowed to prevail in a country with a supposedly educated workforce? Pro…

New Models of Leadership in the Catholic Church

New Models of Priesthood in the Catholic ChurchGerry OShea
Kilcummin is a substantial village with a population of close to 3000 people, located about eight miles from Killarney in my home county of Kerry. It has a thriving community with three schools, two retirement homes, a fine football pitch, and according to the village website, just one pub.

Most of the people living there share the Catholic faith, and Our Lady of Lourdes Church always has a good crowd at weekend masses. The only problem is that they no longer have a resident priest. Last June, Bishop Ray Browne, after a number of clergy retirements, announced that Kilcummin, the second largest parish in the diocese, would no longer have a resident priest.

This brought to eight out of the fifty-three parishes in Bishop Browne’s jurisdiction that do not have a local pastor. The people in Kilcummin pleaded with the bishop not to take this severe action against their community but to no avail. He pointed to the serious shortage of pr…

Democracy in America Today

Democracy in America TodayGerry OShea
The French aristocrat, Alex de Tocqueville, visited the United States in the 1830’s and wrote about his experiences in Democracy in America. Although very liberal for his time, he worried whether what he called “the tyranny of the majority” would bring down the whole American experiment with democracy. He feared that allowing all men to vote (we were still seventy years from women getting the franchise) would lead to the untutored masses introducing some of the revolutionary ideas that were percolating all over Europe in those years.

He needn’t have worried because America never embraced any kind of proletarian agenda. In fact, for the last half century immense power has been garnered by unrepresentative special interest groups who often thwart proposals favored by a majority of the people.

This recent type of governance in America is aptly called a plutocracy, a system where rich people dictate public policies that largely benefit their own intere…