Do you remember when you gave the Bin Man his “Christmas Box”? Your mammy would send you out to the happy lads, sometimes in Santa Hats, with a £10 note and tell you to tell them “Thanks very much and Happy Christmas”.
I remember one of the Bin Men had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier riding along in the Trucks Cabin with him; a breeze block of a dog, with a metronomic tail and a fondness for a scratch on the back of his ears. I’d always help carry the black bags, trying to prove my strength, up to the back of the trucks compactor. The lads even let me press the big buttons a few times, simpler times. I know I sound like a cantankerous old man, but sometimes progress means a regression of humanity.
Today, we are constantly told (lied to) that the changes to our waste management legislation are to ensure that the “Polluter Pays”. From water charges, to the new pay-per-weight domestic charges, we are told these are to encourage more responsible behaviour. The legislation, we are assured, is designed to safeguard our environment. Really? Who do you think you’re kidding?
This Government give less than a shit about the environment. They’ve already committed to NOT reaching our Carbon Emission Reduction 2020 Targets. They’ve made it clear that any steps made to reduce Carbon Emissions must not impact Business or Agriculture. They’ve priced in the fines we are going to have to pay for not tackling the main Polluters of Business and Agriculture. (Note: They are very concerned about possible fines for not enforcing water charges)
So every time you hear Far Right Minister Coveney, or one of his mouthpieces, tell you that they want to ensure the Polluter Pays, understand what he really means is the Citizenry must subsidise Business and Agriculture.
Is there nothing we can do about this; is there no way we can stop the march of privatisation and profiteering? Well, you know me; I always like to look to history for solutions that worked before…
Back in the early years of the Roman Republic, (after the “fall” of the last king in 509bce) the city was divided into the Have’s (Patricians) and the Have Not’s (Plebeians). Much like today, the Plebs were left paying the price of the New Republic. Crushed by debt, unemployment and the burden of carrying the New Senatorial Elite, they decided enough was enough.
Instead of taking up arms, the Plebs decamped from the city to Mons Sacer (the Sacred Mount), leaving the Patricians alone to rule an empty city. The cloak of their power exposed as threadbare, the “Elites” set about negotiating a solution.
The Plebeians didn’t settle for a few trinkets either. They established the role of the Tribunes, two positions that would represent them in the Senate. The Tribunes had powers to veto legislation deemed not to be in the interests of the people. They could pass legislation granting protections to the people, legislation the Senate was powerless to block, as the Tribunes powers were sacrosanct. To defy a Tribune was punishable by death.
The establishment of the Tribunes gave unprecedented protections to the people from the greed and mismanagement of State Power. A protection we do not have today. In our Fianna Gael Right Wing Government, we have an administration that has not a shred of authority. They do not represent us Plebeians, they serve the Patrician Chumocracy.
They have no real interest in tackling inequality and they most surely don’t give a damn about the environment. They’d rather leaves us in the hands of “Free Market” forces. They don’t dare meddle in the Markets gouging of the public sphere. But they’re no different from the Senatorial Class of 494bce. Their power comes from us. Their authority needs our acquiescence. Without our support and consent they are powerless.
So write to your local representative (contact details here) and tell him/her we will pull the plug on this little exercise in “New Politics”, let them know we demand a Dail that operates on the premise of People First. Explain to them that we care about the environment and not about profiteering from it. Tweet them reminders of their responsibility.
They are either Tribunes, Representatives of the People, or they are Polluters of Democracy. Make no mistake, we can make the Polluters Pay.
Tony Groves June 2016
image courtesy (again) of the excellent @feckthelottom