Friday, March 13, 2009

Fintan O'Toole wants to know how much money you make...

Fintan has come up with a great idea to raise the standard of debate when it comes to the economy:

Those of us who take part in debates on the financial crisis should declare our incomes

Why? Because apparently everyone else is richer than Fintan. Not only that, but being rich makes them insincere and makes them argue dishonestly. So Fintan's fix is to make everyone disclose their incomes up front so we can tell up front if they are evil rich bastards:

IN A PERFECT world, the journalists, broadcasters and commentators who set the political agenda would be paragons of absolute objectivity. We would be able to completely separate our views from our interests, to put forward ideas that are not, even in their subtlest shadings of nuance or emphasis, influenced by our own private circumstances.

Most of us, I think, genuinely strive for that ideal. Equally, though, we are the first to point out the naivety of similar claims made by, for example, politicians. We never tire of telling Ministers or TDs that they live in a bubble because they earn so much more than most of those they represent.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been fairly prominent in debates on radio and TV about the current crisis in the public finances. I’ve been struck by the stark fact that every single person involved in those debates (including me) earns much more than the vast majority of those who will be affected by our prognostications. Every contributor is earning at least twice or three times the average wage.


All human beings have a limited perspective. We should stop pretending otherwise. In the first place, those of us who take part in debates on the financial crisis should declare our own incomes, and, where relevant, our pension arrangements.

It is not for us to judge whether these facts create perceived conflicts of interest, but for the listeners and viewers. Secondly, the range of voices in this debate needs to be broadened.

So if we want to argue with St. Fintan about why the public sector does rather better than poor schmucks like me when it comes to pensions we now have to produce a P60 and a balancing statement from the Revenue Commissioners. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried....

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