Posted by TheYank at 9/25/2009 10:20 AM EDT
If you're an avid New York Times or Washington Post reader you'll be aware that Ireland is going to have a referendum a week from today. We are going to the polls to answer a simple a question: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?"
Simple enough because all you have to do is decide whether you want to put your X in the 'No' or 'Yes' box. Simple. Right?
It gets a bit complicated if you want to read the "undermentioned Bill" before you decide to say Yay or Nay. The "undermentioned bill" is the Twenty-Eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Treaty of Lisbon) Bill 2009. It runs to about seven pages of legalese, but fortunately the powers that be have provided an official Explanatory Memorandum, which is only 5 pages long.
However, the bill and the Explanatory Memorandum both refer to the Lisbon Treaty, which is really what we're being asked to approve (or not). And that is about 230 pages of the most turgid language anyone could ever have the misfortune to read. And to really understand the Lisbon Treaty you really should have a good grasp of all the other EU treaties that have led up to Lisbon. The EU helpfully provides a consolidated version of all those prior treaties. Another few hundred pages of legalese.
Nobody bothers with any of that, of course. We're all too busy. For Pete's sake, the dead are too busy to read all that. No we're all just going to go to the polls next week to vote 'Yes' or 'No' to Lisbon with only a vague idea as to what we're voting on.
What's interesting about this vote next week is that - in theory - we few million Irish people are deciding whether the Lisbon Treaty comes into effect for the 330m people across the European Union. And we've actually already done that in June of '08.
However, because we voted 'No' - and, thus, frustrated the intentions of the big EU powers - we're being asked, "Are you serious?" The rest of the EU is giving us a do-over because they're not sure if we were really just having a bit of fun at their expense.
Of course it's not really just a bit of fun and those who are campaigning for a 'No' or a 'Yes' are prone to lapses into non-parliamentary language if you start questioning or doubting they're on the right side.
The 'Yes' people believe a second 'No' will be catastrophic: Ireland will be side-lined in the EU; American companies will no longer want to locate their European operations in Ireland; the cost of our exploding national debt will go stratospheric as lenders worry about our future; wokers' rights will be under threat; etc.
The 'No' people believe a 'Yes' will be catastrophic: Ireland will be forced to send our sons to wars at the behest of the British, French and/or Germans; ungodly practices will be forced on us by pagan Europeans; we'll be forced to raise corporate tax rates that help attract American companies to locate in Ireland; a tidal wave of E. European and Turkish workers will come into Ireland, undermine workers' rights and force down wage rates; etc.
Last time out the 'No' votes were 53.4% of the total. A good portion of those who voted 'No' the last time are annoyed at the fact that we're being asked the same question again. However, since the last vote the economy has collapsed and as of right now it looks like that fact might change a sufficient number of people's minds to secure the result that the government & the rest of the EU wants. Yeah sure, we were just kidding.
Why Martin McGuinness will be remembered for hundreds of years to come