Blaming and Banning Kettles is a new low

There are times in Ireland when it genuinely feels as if the last sane person went extinct some time around 2009. Perhaps I am alone in feeling this way. Perhaps everybody else looks at the Government’s hot new idea on Climate Change and thinks “proper order”:

Kettles, fans, heaters, fridges and all other “non-work related” electrical appliances will be banned in public sector offices from the end of next week.

It is all part of the Government’s Reduce your Use campaign to cut down energy use and they are leading by example by implementing the draconian ban.

One of the challenges in writing about politics and current affairs is to try always to be measured. To not scream, all the time, that various new ideas are mad, bad, crazy, or insane. Work off the assumption, which we must all make, that the people making the decisions are rational people, making rational choices for rational reasons. Once you start doubting that, your mind will start taking you to dark places.

So, something like the gambling advertising ban – a patently useless idea – is a thing you just can’t get that worked up about. Most of the time, you just roll your eyes and let them get on with it. At the end of the day, it’s no skin off anybody’s nose whether Paddy Power can advertise at 5pm or 7pm or 10pm. It’s just another thing for politicians to do so as to be able to say they have done a thing. At this point, if the thing that is being done is mostly harmless, well, that’s a win.

But then you remember that these are the same people who have now taken it upon themselves to ban their own employees from making tea, to save the planet.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to fall into the trap, and analyse these things on their own merits: For example, you could write a whole column about how banning kettles and microwaves and sandwich toasters in public offices will probably add more demand to the national grid than it will reduce: The employees will now be trooping off on their lunchbreaks to coffee shops and lunch venues and ordering fancy, individually made coffees instead of sharing a kettle and a box of teabags between four people.

But honestly, who cares about that? The bigger point is the absurdity that something like this would even be considered.

This policy, for me, sums up the state of modern Ireland to a tee: The land of petty tyranny.

Are we going to be a better country because public offices do not have kettles and microwaves? Will anybody’s standard of living increase? Will it make a meaningful difference to power consumption? Will it do a single thing to improve our lot as a country? Heck, will it do anything at all for the global trajectory of the climate? I’d argue that the answer to all of those questions is “no”, but that’s not the point.

The point is that it again confirms this Government – and this country’s – attitude towards its own people: You, dear reader, are the problem. Not them.

Our Government – and the array of academic and non-governmental and media institutions which operate as its outriders – has a vision for the country which starts and ends with re-making the citizen. You drive too much. You drink too much. You smoke too much. You hate the wrong things. You say the wrong things. You elect too many men and too few women. You don’t believe gender is a construct. You use too much power. You don’t insulate your homes. You farm too many cattle. You eat too much meat. You don’t pay your TV licences.

You must constantly be nudged. It started with the smoking ban. And then the plastic bag tax. And then bans on advertising certain things. And then higher taxes on fuel. And now hate speech laws; and there are a thousand more examples. The constant pattern is the same: Wouldn’t Ireland be a great place if only its people would behave as the great and the good demand?

So, no tea at work for you. No toasted sandwich.

It is a tyranny, and half the country – no, that’s far too optimistic – three quarters of the country are entirely beaten down by it. Everything is our fault.

Heck, the weather is our fault. That’s the message.

Think about it, and maybe say it aloud really slowly to yourself: We’re having a warm November because I am boiling too much water for my tea.

So as you sit there, at home or in your office today, it might be time to ask yourself how long you are going to sit by and put up with this. When your bills are skyrocketing, and your children can’t get a home, and almost every hotel in the country is full to the brim with people you are paying to accommodate, and you’re being told the solution is to cut back on your cup of tea. Go on there, do your bit.

Think about it. Or maybe I’m right, and the last sane person in Ireland did go extinct, some time ago.

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