Lush green pastures studded with white sheep. Heaps of rain, of course, and therefore lots of time in pubs with warm fires in the corner to snuggle up to and ballads sung by the regulars to listen to.
The land of romantic ruins by the side of the road.
The land, drenched by centuries of fare-well tears, shed when yet another generation of young and hopefuls left their families to find a better life abroad.
For Ireland is poor. And always was.
No money to fill the potholes in the roads. No money for re-forestation – and every downpour is threatening the rivers to flood the pretty pastures, the old towns, and the water works, as well. Leaving more poverty in their wake. And polluted drinking water.
In comes Apple. And that’s my shining example for neoliberalism.
Attracted by the tax-lift of the Double Irish, Apple (replace that brand with any other! like Google, Facebook, VMware, Trendmicro, HP…) set up shop in Cork to grow its wealth and the wealth of its shareholders.
Pretty soon, the employees were in the thousands. And not – by far! – all Irish nationals from Cork.
On the contrary.
Helped by the neoliberalistic idea of Europe’s open market and the ease for workers to cross former borders, Apple was able to fill the multi-lingual need of its technical support callcenter with French, German, Italian, British, Spanish … the list goes on.
Oh, and some Irish for administration and the small manufacturing plant.
These employees drove on the potholed roads – which made them worse – and complained about them to every ear they could find – except to Apple.
The employees had their apartments flooded and had to queue up in front of water tanks to fill their bottles with water for cooking and drinking.
They complained that the council had not properly protected the water works against flooding. They complained that the water tanks set up by the council were too far away for their convenience. They eventually stopped complaining about the regular floods – nothing was done about them so why keep complaining.
They did not complain, however, that Apple did not chip in. All, the employees at Apple came up with as helpful in that situation was: paying for and setting up port-a-loos in the campus’ yard when the water was turned off in Cork for a few days.
The people working at Apple had no further inclination to reach out and help the community.
They didn’t even remotely brush the idea in their tragically brainwashed minds that Apple, the rich and powerful global player, could share the load of the community council and help people, employees or not .
It is always people who come up with ideas, you know. Not some de-humanized robot called “Apple”.
The people did not come up with the idea of “company responsibility”. Because the people are utterly convinced that Apple should grow the profit for its shareholders while the government takes care of the rest.
So potholes in roads, flooding and polluted water…and?
ah yes: in comes the latest complain:
the housing situation in Cork.
Apple employees and their families need roofs over their heads, of course.
Landlords are totally happy that the property market is met by comparably rich tenants: the Apple employees. The Irish can go f* themselves if they can’t afford any longer to rent or buy. That’s the social darwinism, a result of neoliberalism, all individuals are educated to and never really doubt. Greed is okay. Greed fosters competition. Competition is the base for a healthy economy. A healthy economy enables growth. Growth satisfies the greed of the rich entrepreneur who then invests a little more to harvest even more. Growth is good. Competition is good. Greed is good.
Now there’s a new kid in town: some other big company also sets up shop in Cork.
I think I read about 1000 new jobs are being created. Again filled with international / EU citizens.
And what do Apple employees complain about?
The government’s failure to provide affordable housing.
Does anybody at Apple have an inkling that may be, only maybe, it would be within the responsibility of the company to provide housing options? Especially since the company brought in all the non-Irish employees to fill its business needs?
No. Of course not. Because neoliberalism says outright: the infrastructure has to be provided by government and paid for by the general society.
The rich entrepreneur should not be taxed for it.
The rich entrepreneur should be left to strive freely for more growth and wealth.
Tax the workers instead. They get paid salaries, don’t they? Their salaries enables them to pay for the roads, the re-forestation, the houses they live in and everything else.
It is not the responsibility of companies or their share holders to deal with such trivia. Their duty is to compete with each other, make their employees compete with each other, hone individual greed – and ultimately make the rich richer.
Oh, and pay a salary to a worker. If it can’t be helped, that is.
So it’s clear, isn’t it? How neoliberalism is perverting how we live together in communities?
How neoliberalism has been hammered into our brains so we don’t even consider the possibility that things could run differently?
How about Apple employees scout for building sites and start building affordable housing for the community? (No, not only for the Apple employees, luv!)
How about Apple employees begin re-forestation projects around Cork to mitigate flooding?
Filling the potholes in the roads?
How about that?
And how about that: the name of the brand suddenly stands for justice, for accountability and social responsibility. Pretty cool, aye?
I wrote: “It is always people who come up with ideas, you know. Not some de-humanized robot called “Apple”. ”
Unless, the system we all live in, sort of dictates the ideas we produce. If it were common sense that multinational shareholders should directly intervene and help shape for the better the living space of the communities they operate in,
if that were common sense, if that were a specified KPI for the success of a company,
then every company in every location would have a dedicated department to look for opportunities and come up with ideas and see them through to realization on a regular basis.
As opposed to the unexpected charity runs PR departments organize once in a while and make a big hype about.
Let’s end this bit with an uplift:
Every company in every location will have a dedicated department to look for opportunities, and come up with ideas, and see them through to realization on a regular basis to help shape for the better the living space of the communities they operate in.
P.S. Of course, Apple in Cork is a mere example. Replace with Google, Facebook etc in Dublin, or HP or TrendMicro and VMWare.