Monday, January 11, 2010

The overly centralized mind

On Friday the Minister for Education, panicked by complaints from teachers and parents and the press, announced all schools were closed until Thursday of this week. Every school throughout the state.

No doubt he made that decision based almost entirely on the forecast provided by Met Eireann, who assured us that the 'bitter cold' and 'arctic conditions' would continue throughout this week. They were wrong about that, but these things happen. If there's one thing anyone in Ireland knows - even the government should know this - it is that you cannot rely on the weather.

The minister is the commissar in our soviet-style, centralized system. All of us little peasants look to him to be in charge, to 'do something' about everything. On Friday all the clamoring was for the government or the Minister to 'do something' about the schools deciding whether they should be open or closed. So, he did something, but it was the wrong thing.

Today the minister looks like an idiot. There's no reason why the schools in and around Dublin cannot be open today, let alone tomorrow and Wednesday. I'm sure the story's similar in other parts of the country too.

Yes, there probably are areas where this rain is snow, but why can't schools coordinate their response with the GardaĆ­ and take such decisions locally? Why does the minister have to be involved?

Of course he didn't have to step in. He shouldn't have, but still the media and the peasants wanted to see the commissar act and he did. And now, starting today, we'll all start complaining again about the schools being unnecessarily closed and demand that the minister 'do something.'