Empire Avenue

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A kick up the Aras

Value politics and the Presidency I have a very simple belief system when it comes to business or life in general. The rules of the game are: You create value You distribute value You capture some of that value for yourself If you live a good life, you create more value than you capture For my children, I want a state that provides the infrastructure physical and cultural that allows them to create plenty of value for their community. I know that if they do, they will capture enough value to make the choices they need, and to offer their children all the choices they need. Let’s leave the physical infrastructure to one side – that job is for government. Let’s focus instead on the cultural infrastructure. This is anchored by beliefs that are shared by the vast majority of a nation. The beliefs we sign up to in Ireland include: Equal rights regardless of birth, gender, race, creed or indeed access to dominant political organisations Practical ethics in business and in private life A commitment by citizens that balances personal liberty with the needs of the Nation and State Its not a long list. There may be more but let’s consider the role of the President in regard to this list. I have had a number of discussions on twitter and offline about Sean Gallagher. I don’t know him from a bar of soap, and I have nothing against the man. One business guy suggested to me that every businessman in Ireland would do exactly what it is being suggested SG did in relation to tax. “Ripping the arse out of the tax code is a key skill in Irish business” is exactly how it was put to me. That is not a sustainable model of business ethics, and that will become clear when the cute hoors not paying their fair share of tax go looking for college places for their kids, or visit their mum as she lies in a corridor on a trolley. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0624/1224299525409.html I don’t want to live in that country. If a President does not sign up to the cultural infrastructure we want for Ireland, how can you expect others to do so. We elect a President to reflect what’s great about our country. Sean Gallagher’s campaign stood for “Hope” and “Positivity”. Its what Ireland is crying out for, and its no surprise that he won a lot of support. It is why Charles Haughey was elected, it is why Bertie Ahern was elected. “Questions are like the knocks of beggarmen, and should not be minded.” ― Flann O'Brien I don’t want to live in that country. I was struck also by the €5k paid by GAA clubs to SG in order to copper fasten grant aid. "He was inside with Fianna Fail and the ministers and (he had) the inside track, he had been (Dr Rory) O'Hanlon's secretary. Once you got him to do it, you were going to get the grant.” According to sources in this article. http://www.independent.ie/national-news/presidential-election/gallagher-charged-gaa-clubs-up-to-euro5000-for-grants-advice-2915300.html That’s the Ireland my Dad grew up in. Access to a small elite – not your ability or your application decided your fate and the fate of your enterprise. I have worked in developing countries where that logic reaches its inevitable end point, where corruption crushes initiative and turns good people into ex-pats. It has a habit of breaking the people who stay and have the capacity to change countries like Ireland – I think of Noel Browne especially when I write this. The human waste of our generations, the ‘40’s, the ‘50’s, the ‘60’s the ‘70’s, my own generation who left in the ‘80’s – is incalculable. In this period, Europe rebuilt itself, America reimagined itself and our best and our brightest built rich lives invested in Nations far from home. Ireland stagnated. I don’t want to live in that country. In business I have found myself in the company of what Flann O’Brien would call sleeveens. I have seen close up the self delusion with regards to their ability; the cuteness built on a presumption that the rest of us are too thick to catch them out; the expectation that even though its wrong, they will get away with it, and there will be a great story to tell about that close brush with moral consequences. Taking these guys down requires a lot of effort and personal sacrifice. On Thursday, all you have to do is vote. A vote for Sean Gallagher is a vote for the Ireland our parents grew up in. I don’t want to live in that country.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Steve Jobs and adoption

Being adopted is a challenge.

Half of those who seek out their birth parents, really wished they had not.

Building a successful relationship with any parent takes decades of trial and error, love and mutual respect.

Its hardly surprising that without that platform, relationships with newly discovered birth parents don't always work out.

I am adopted - my real parents are Betty & Tadhg Hannigan.

My birthparents are very real too - but I have not sought them out.

I respect them and thank them for giving me the life I have.

I don't feel any urge to have a relationship with them beyond that.

It does not feel right.

It seems unlikely we would have the ingredients for a valuable relationship.

I think that's probably how Steve Jobs felt.