It seems that every six months, the secret powers that run the country’s public transport system conspire together to raise the cost of getting places by a few cent. This has become an accepted nuisance of living in Dublin, like the constant protests blocking off parts of town or giving directions to Americans.
The reason that people usually give to explain why the cost of public transport is constantly rising is that companies like Dublin Bus need to make money. I used to agree with this wholeheartedly, but I have changed my mind over the last few years.
Why should our public transport make a profit? Surely the whole point of getting the government to organise public transport rather than hand everything over to a private company is so our public transport can focus on being a service, not a business.
Quite frankly, €3.05 for a single bus ride into town is ridiculous. It feels like only yesterday that people were outraged about the maximum fare going over €2. Despite what some might say, these price increases are not in line with inflation. In fact, they are one of the main contributing factors to inflation.
People with lower incomes tend to rely more heavily on public transport than higher earners. This means that price hikes in this area disproportionately affect low-earners. Once again, the system works by picking on the marginalised and hoping that they are too disillusioned to fight back.
This brings me to a certain video that has been making the rounds on the various social media platforms over the last few days. If you haven’t already seen Russell Brand’s chat with Jeremy Paxman, it basically involves Brand listing off the many things that are wrong in our society today.
Although I agree with many things Brand says, there is one part that stands out to me that I cannot get behind. Brand admits that he has never voted, because he believes to do so would be to tacitly endorse the current system, a system he feels is entirely corrupt.
For all the intelligence Brand appears to have, it is amazing that he sees abstaining from voting as a way to voice his anger, and not as the tacit endorsement of the system that he so heavily criticises.
Back in the year 2000, American author David Foster Wallace wrote a rebuttal to people like Brand, who don’t vote because they think doing so somehow shows acceptance of the system. In fact, Wallace says that it is the complete opposite.
“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched establishments of the two major parties, who rest assured are not dumb and are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV Spring Break on Primary Day.
“By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”
Brand wants us to join him in revolting, yet gets visibly annoyed with Paxman when pushed about the specifics of his plan. This is a frustrating problem with leftist politics in Ireland. It’s all bark and no bite. Sometimes, it feels like the left are more interested in achieving martyrdom than any sort of real change.
It is quite a sight to see someone who claims to be speaking for ‘the people’ imply that the majority of people are too stupid to be trusted with their own decisions. It is also curious that Brand calls for the mass redistribution of wealth, yet he lives a lifestyle that is so far removed from the average worker.
I’m afraid that I don’t quite share Brand’s certainty that there is about to be a revolution. It’s hard enough as it is to get people to show up to a march, let alone an overthrowing of the government, and it’ll be especially difficult now that the bus is so expensive. Who knows, maybe this is just Russell Brand’s attempt to Andy Kaufman us all.