Saturday 03 Dec 2016

A Piece of Cake
David Simmonds

After writing on the world pecan shortage, I feel more than qualified to suggest how the Irish debt crisis resolved.

Now I grant you that paying off the EU and IMF the more than $100 billion they are putting into Ireland is a tall order, but what the heck, we must got to start somewhere. My theory for raising the first five billion or so should be a piece of cake. Getting that done will embolden the Irish government to keep the jackals at bay. 

So how do we start? The first thing to consider is the vast number of people outside Ireland who claim Irish ancestry and remind everyone of it constantly. In fact, they comprise about 13% of the Canada and USA population, or 46 million people. Based on recent statistics, about a million of them are millionaires or multimillionaires.

Thus, there’s a huge target market for a tug-at-the-heartstrings campaign. We could draw on the 30% of Australians and 15% of New Zealanders who also claim Irish ancestry, but let's leave them out because they're in a different time zone, postage is expensive and they're mostly descended from convicts anyway.

Our campaign needs to have one overarching theme. How about "I'll never tire of Ireland,” which denotes both intense loyalty and the strong hint that there is plenty for the disaffiliated to tire of?

Then the campaign needs multiple donation thresholds, especially to attract our millionaires group. For instance, you could seek “Leadership” donors, who at a minimum price of $1 million or more would become the permanent sponsor one of the 163 members of the Irish parliament. The parliamentarian would all day, every day, wear the donor's name attached to the back of his or her suit or dress. Hey, they do this in soccer already. Thus, there's $163 million for you, and we're just getting started.

Then you could seek out a thousand “Heritage Guardian” donors, who for a gift of $250,000 or more would receive a certified chunk of the Blarney Stone. As the replica must replace the Stone, look how well this idea worked for the Berlin Wall. Chalk up an easy $250 million.

Moving down, you could offer donors of $100,000 or more "Ancestral' recognition in the form of a road sign naming one kilometre of road as they wished, whether it be ‘Liam O'Leary Road" or "Ethel Schwartz Boulevard.” There are 2,683 km of roads in Ireland. So there's another $268 million for you.

Let’s move lower and target the larger spectrum of those 40 million people. Why not offer a "Compatriot" level contributor of $10,000 or more a framed package comprising a bottle of Bushmill's, a shamrock and a hand signed letter of thanks from the Prime Minister; and aim for 250,000 donors. At the “Republican” level of $2,500 or more, provide a certificate, a bottle of Guinness and a square foot of genuine Irish peat, shooting for 500,000 donors. Perhaps you could count on a million donors at the 'Leprechaun” level of $1,000, by offering a shillelagh and a copy of every record the Chieftains have ever made. Add everything so far together and you almost have $5.5 billion - and that's just from those with a constant Irish affinity.

Raising funds on top of that will be a bit of crapshoot. What you have going for you is everyone's willingness to pretend they're Irish one day a year, and mass loyalty to an often slender Irish heritage. So here are some ideas:

- impose a St. Patrick’s Day tax on green beer, and the use of expressions as "faith and begorrah,” "top of the mornin' to ya" and "ah, the luck of the Irish”;

- Sponsor Bono to see how long he can contain himself before acting as though he alone can save the world; better yet,

- sponsor U2 to refrain from recording or performing music.

- Impose a performance levy on Irish songs having to do with deportation, washerwomen, fishmongers, misery or the cruel hanging of Irish patriots who were merely knocking off British soldiers.

- Have Irish Spring run a contest, “Oye Lake et Toe,” for worst adopted Irish accent.

- Offer a limit number of official “green shamrock” licensed products. After all, It worked with pink ribbons. 

Yes, with the adoption of just a few of those ideas, Ireland should make a significant dent in its debt load and master its own destiny. My sympathy goes out to the smaller fry. What does Portugal have to work with but squid, Christiano Ronaldo and cheap holidays? Belgium-frites and Hercule Poirot? Some situations defy any imaginative solution. 

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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