How Much Is A Degree Worth?

Even if you think that universities should be purely a place to learn and expand your mind, it is surely obvious that we have a system which does not encourage students to learn well.

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This post originally appeared on the Irish Times Student Hub

When you graduate from college, you feel like you should be qualified for something.

After all, you spent three to five years reading, cramming and studying. All of this knowledge should be useful, otherwise what was the point of learning it?

For better or worse, going to university has always been considered necessary in order to get a good job. The corollary of this is going to university should in fact lead to a job.

It used to be the case that having an undergraduate degree would make you instantly employable. However, now that the number of people with degrees has increased this no longer seems to be the case.

You leave university and realise that while education may be a prerequisite for certain jobs, it certainly doesn’t assist you in getting them. All those years of study haven’t prepared you for the ‘real world’.

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Young, Well-Educated, and Offended for a Reason

This article originally appeared on Campus.ie.

The Irish Independent is the latest in a series of publications to publish an article on how millennials hate free speech.
The writer asks “just why are millennials so sensitive?”
It follows the pattern as described by Medium of the various articles on how our young people are stifling free speech because they need to protected from opinions they don’t like.
Katie Byrne first begins by talking about how public figures like Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel were disinvited from giving talks at universities because of transphobic views.
Apparently people who call themselves feminists can’t be transphobic.
She mentions Trinity College banning BNP leader Nick Griffin from speaking a couple of years ago after student backlash.
She also talks about cultural appropriation, trigger warning and micro-aggressions, which have become go-to examples for those pointing at our out of control PC culture.
I have three main responses to these articles which purposely miss the point.

Continue reading “Young, Well-Educated, and Offended for a Reason”

A Defence of Millennials

This article originally appeared on Independent.ie

Hands up if you can’t stand the word ‘millennial’.

There’s a good reason to. Books describing our generation also call us “Generation Me” , “Excellent Sheep”  and the “Entitled Generation”.

The best summation of why millennials suck was a viral blog post that circulated a couple of years ago called ‘You Are Not Special’ by Wait But Why.

The post argued that the reason we are unhappy is because we all think we are special and expected to find our dream career the moment we leave college.

So basically, we’re entitled.

It is frankly ridiculous to generalise about the largest generation in history, spanning millions and millions of people born between 1982 and 2000, all over the world. Are some young people narcissistic, lazy and entitled? Absolutely. But so are people in every generation.

However I could maybe think of a few reasons that millennials in Ireland might be unhappy, apart from the fact that not everyone realises how special and amazing we are.

How about the fact that most people in our generation will never own a home?

 

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No Safe Harbour

What is ‘safe harbour’ and what does overturning it mean for our data?

The European Union has struck down ‘safe harbour’ rules which allowed the transfer of European data to the US

A decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union will lead to tougher privacy laws for EU citizens.

Previously, US companies such as Google and Facebook would transfer data received by their European headquarters in Ireland to data storage facilities in the US.

This data could be accessed and searched by the US Government through laws such as § 1881 FISA, which let them target data of “persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.”

However, under EU law data could only be sent to another country if they provided ‘adequate protection’ of this personal data.

Max Schrems, an Austrian law student, brought a case to the Irish High Court arguing that the transfer of data by Facebook to the US breached EU law.

Schrems took the case in the aftermath of the revelations by Edward Snowden that the US had engaged in mass collection of personal data of both US and foreign individuals.

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Why a 23 percent Flat Tax Leads to Inequality

An examination of the economics of flat taxes

RENUA propose introducing a single 23% tax on any income over €8,000, including welfare payments, and abolishing the Universal Social Charge (USC) and Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI).

 

Currently Ireland has two basic rates of income, 20% and 40%. Depending whether you are single, a lone parent or married the higher rate of tax kicks in between €33,800 and €42,800. Everything below this amount is still taxed at 20%.

 

Therefore you won’t take home less because you’ve moved into the higher bracket.

 

This is called a progressive tax system. The idea is that those who can afford to contribute more to the public system should pay more.

 

Proponents of the flat tax model argue that it is a fairer system to charge everyone the same rate, and that the progressive tax model essentially penalises those who work.

 

They also suggest that a simpler system of tax would free up resources to tackle those trading on the black market, such as under the table cash payments for services, which currently totals over €20 billion a year.

 

RENUA leader Lucinda Creighton also argues that the lower tax rate would mean that there would be 20% more in disposable income which people would reinvest back into the economy by increasing spending on goods and services.

 

However there are two specific issues with the idea of a flat tax. The first issue is the unequal impacts of having the same rate of tax regardless of earning.

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The Political Correctness Police

It is not just derogatory words that are at issue. It is assumptions as to how the world works without taking into account other viewpoints. The idea that you might define “opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate” perhaps might be because those views are, in fact, bigoted and illegitimate.

Johnathan Chait recently posted an article about the oppressive nature of political correctness. He defines political correctness as “a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate.” The examples he uses of current day political correctness range from invocation of the term ‘mansplaining’, the use of ‘trigger warnings’ and the emergence of ‘micro-aggressions.’

His final conclusion is that political correctness is an ‘undemocratic creed’.

It is important to make a distinction at this point. Political correctness does not mean that certain types of speech are illegal. Yet, certain people are diverted from making certain statements for ‘fear’ that they might invoke the wrath of the political correctness police. Essentially he wants to live in a world where people can say what they want without facing criticism.

The basis of so-called politically correct speech is the idea that you have to be sensitive of other genders, races, sexualities and distinguishing characteristics. It is not surprising that these issues have emerged today given our growing awareness that society is not as binary as it once was.

When you have grown up in a world where you did not face societal boundaries, where you had more opportunities and did not have to worry about systemic discrimination you don’t need to worry so much about how things like speech can reinforce an unfair system. However, when you belong to any group of people who are treated as less than, language matters.

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Why Access to Justice Matters

If you took a poll of people on the street and asked them if access to justice was important, the overwhelming majority would probably say yes. But ‘access to justice’ is one of those ideals that we take as a given, like democracy or freedom of expression, without really thinking about what it means in practice and how it should be implemented.

One of the most visible aspects of the right to access justice is the court system. This could vary from getting compensation from the person who crashed into you while driving, to holding the government to account through judicial review. Without access to the courts it is often difficult or impossible to ensure that your rights are being upheld.

However, the right to access the courts does not just include a literal right to bring a case. Access remains an issue if you are unable to understand the court system or adequately represent yourself during your court case. This is why the right to access the courts is often indivisible from the right to legal representation.

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