Making Housing Work

Immediate and retrospective Site Valuation Tax on all development land; with higher charges on property with which the taxpayer voluntarily absorbed bank debt with a view to providing relief to the wider EU finances.

This money funds an immediate building program, with community owned projects tendering for contractors and arranging planning permission with councils.

The current Central Bank mortgage lending rules are clearly designed to protect it’s stakeholders (the banks) and do nothing to reduce the cost of homeownership; which must be the government policy.  Increased upward pressure will inflate GDP and produce a false illusion of Health GDP growth.

The overheated rental/ownership market is putting pressure on employees to demand reasonable wage increases, and thus pushing some businesses towards a danger zone; with global economic storm clouds gathering (despite best efforts of governments with 0% interest and unprecedented money printing).




Fake money, and a call to just action.

Since the Dutch East India Company of the 17thC, people have successfully organised trade and commerce globally, with wonderful benefits for society.  Population has taken off like that famous hockey stick graph.

But how do the last 50 years compare with the golden age? Since the banks obtained the power to counterfeit money , we seem to have a problem.

Living standards are dropping for most people, many billions (that didn’t just arrive last week) are now struggling for survival, with their health, life span and other opportunities invested into the disposable and polluting items that we purchase in the West with our digital money. This digital money is disconnecting us from real value.

If it did not exist, if we measured value in the only true sense, then an hours work in one country could be equal to an hour of work in another country. If you agree with this idea, then you can literally start to use it right now. You don’t need me, or a movement, or anything else to start.

All you have to do is to set up a co-op, formally or informally, and start to do business with those in other countries and barter time and services fairly.

When this becomes more popular, and when our impotent and hi-jacked global political system (strong words,  but that’s another blog post) is reclaimed, then we will be able to have plebiscites that literally include everyone.

Everyone with a mobile phone votes, and we have random paper votes in some areas for verification. If there is a proposal to decrease carbon emissions by 50% in the next 5 years to preserve the planet for our grandchildren, then that can be passed by global vote, and become binding on all corporations.

The corporations of today have lost the run of themselves. They no longer respect the needs of global society. They are obligated by law to preserve shareholder value, and that often leads to ruinous conditions for the two billion at the bottom. The same people that only get our sewage and waste trickling down to them.

Act now, act fast, and act for a long time.

People that have to move to think

In 2006, Sir Ken Robinson made a passionate case at TED for an overhaul of education.  When I first saw this video, I was working in Suas, a nonprofit working to improve education.  It was encouraging to hear Ken lay out the reasons why this ‘sit down and learn by rote‘ model is failing us, and won’t prepare us for the future.

It’s funny in parts, he tells a great story, and bits from this video will stay with you for a long time.


Volunteering overseas is not a waste of time

(at the outset I should say that I work for an NGO that sends volunteers overseas)

Volunteering is not a waste of time, as long as you choose a high-quality organisation (which I would define as a signatory of the Comhlamh Volunteer Charter). As well as the short term benefits to the community overseas, and the volunteer, the long term benefits are the real story here.

Some criticisms you might hear are that the volunteer is only doing something to make themselves feel better, or that if they really cared so much they would just give the money they had fundraised directly to the community overseas.

Of course the volunteer will feel better about doing some good, this is an important aspect and not to be ignored. But their help is very much appreciated by the communities overseas. For example, here’s a quote from Shubhra Chaterjee, CEO of Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Kolkata, an Indian organisation that receives Irish volunteers each summer:

“The volunteers add more, more and more, to the project; in terms of ideas, in terms of just their presence as role models in these various schools”

Vikramshila receive volunteers that are well prepared, that are available to volunteer full time for 10 weeks and will work as an effective team to solve the problems identified by the teaching staff.  The key aspect in making a difference in the overseas community is ensuring that the volunteers are suitably trained, and that the main beneficiary is the community in which the volunteer is going, and not just the volunteer.  To have that type of volunteering experience, you really have to find the right organisation, and not just go with the one that you see advertised everywhere.  If they are heavily promoted, the odds are that they are running it as a profit-making service, which you need to be aware of.

What of the notion that the fundraised money would do more good if it were just donated to the community overseas? On the surface, this makes a lot of sense, but it is an extremely short-term view. I can only explain how our organisation, Suas Educational Development, operates, but in our case we realise that the solution to the education problem is not just financial.

There are upwards of 70 million school-age children that don’t go to primary school and it will never be possibly to fundraise enough to put them all into school. The problem is far more complex.

There are social and economic reasons why children aren’t in school and, in general, people that volunteer overseas get a deeper understanding of those issues, and are more passionate to do something about it, than people that don’t have the same experience.

After their time as a volunteer, they can get involved in local or international politics, they can talk with their friends and families about the problems (and the solutions) and they will understand that while donations of funds are crucial at the moment, that is not the long term solution.

That is the reason why volunteering is about more than ‘the summer overseas’, because it gives people an experience of a situation that they cannot get any other way. It’s not the only route to understanding, but it is certainly a summer well spent.

To learn more about the organisation that I work for, and to apply (before December 21st) for next summers Volunteer Progamme, visit

The most fun you can have in a field

In July 2007, some friends of mine were playing at a small festival in Wicklow.  We went down for the weekend and were stunned to find this tiny vibrant festival split between a small field for camping and a marquee in a pub car park down the road.

No-one was checking wristbands, in fact no-one seemed to be working, yet everything seemed to be magically happening.   Continue reading The most fun you can have in a field