Anton Savage: A good old-fashioned election remains the only way to check the pulse of the nation

Sending thousands of political representatives to the doorsteps to actually listen to the views and feelings of the inhabitants is invaluable.

13th Jun 2024
Share this blog post:

Originally published in The Business Post.

Like most of Europe, Ireland is now richer, healthier, more equal, better fed, better educated and easier to get around than at any point in our previous history. At the time of the Easter Rising in 196, one in ten kids died before their first birthday.

Six thousand people a year died of bronchitis, another six thousand died of TB. Whatever ended up killing you, it was likely to do it quickly – life expectancy was 25 years shorter than it is now. In the brief period you were alive it wasn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows either, as one in ten people were illiterate and about a third of the population in Dublin lived in one-room hovels. A kip, in other words.

And when you add in the 1913 strike and lockout, a rebellion, a civil war, two world wars and mass emigration, you’d imagine that when the modern Irish compare this century to the last, they’d throw open the curtains, sing a song of joy, and race, skipping and giggling, to their jobs making microchips and drugs for US multinationals.

If you think this, you have never heard of Universe 25, which was one of a series of mouse utopias made by John Calhoun, the behavioural researcher. He built mouse heaven with food, water and comfortable space for up to 4,000 individuals. All the bedding they could want, no predators, the perfect temperature.

For rodents designed for hard scavenging and cat avoidance, this was as good as it could ever get. Into this Valhalla, Calhoun would introduce a few dozen mice and wish them well in their rodentine Eden. And every time he did it, the outcome was the same – within two years all of them and all of their descendants were dead.

Click here for the full article.