Monday, November 10, 2014

Then There Are the Poor Feckers at MSNBC...

I realize that the United States is big.  As an American, I understand why many there believe that the world begins on the West Coast of the North American continent and ends somewhere East of New York. I can also get my head around why many folks from the United States would not be fully up-to-date regarding the goings-on in a wee little country like Ireland. So often, when I meet Americans here, I'll give them loads of room to make mistakes. For instance, many think that Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom. It's not their fault. They can't help it.

But then there's MSNBC. And they should know better.

A few days ago, the head of an Irish organization called the IDA (Industrial Development Authority) was invited onto MSNBC's 'Squawk Box' business program to be interviewed by journalist and former stockbroker Joe Kernan. MSNBC journalists are usually intelligent and savvy. They usually get things right. But in the interview with IDA CEO Martin Shanahan regarding Ireland's economy, poor Martin never stood a chance. Why? Simply because the comments made by Kernan were Ignorant. And lacking even a rudimentary understanding of Ireland's (and Europe's) economy.

        For instance, Kernan asked, "You have pounds (sterling) anyway, don't you - still?" And the rest of the interview descends  into mayhem, as follows:
Martin: "We have euros."
Kernan (shocked): "You have euros in Ireland? Why do you have euros in Ireland?"
        (Answer: because, Joe, we're part of Europe)

But the interview got worse.
Kernan: "What about Scotland? I was using,....ah... (confusion reigns as he forgets what currency the Scots use and Martin has to remind him). 
Martin: "Scottish Pounds. They use sterling."
Kernan (aghast): "They use sterling?" (duh...)
Martin: "They use sterling. We use euros." 
Kernan: "Why would they want to do that?"
(Answer: because, you idiot, they're part of the United Kingdom)
And a little later...
Martin: "In the north of Ireland (Northern Ireland) they use Sterling but we use euros." 
Kernan: "THEY DO? It's just too confusing."
Okay, that was only part of the interview but it gives you an idea. In response, I thought I'd pen an open letter from this American who's lived in Ireland for so long to Joe and MSNBC. Tongue in cheek of course...

To: Joe Kernan and all at MSNBC
From: Tom Richards, your erstwhile American living in Ireland
Date: 10 November 2014
Reference: How can you be so stupid?

Dear MSNBC, Mr Joe Kernan and all on Squawk Box,

I know you live in America. That's a big place that uses the dollar. But not everyone in the world uses the dollar. For instance, in much of Europe, we use the euro. The euro is a currency, somewhat like the dollar, but the notes come in really great colors other than green. Unlike the dollar, you can use the euro in 18 different European countries. Did you know that? And Ireland uses the euro too. We don't use Irish pounds anymore. We don't use pounds sterling like the English, the Scots, and the people in Northern Ireland. Those three countries use pounds sterling because...ah...well, they're all part of the United Kingdom and all of 'em use the same currency. Oh! And just so you know, Wales uses the pound sterling too. Wales is that little country to the West of England. The people there speak Welsh. Just thought that little nugget might help if ever you interview a Welsh person.

Anyway, back to Ireland. Yes, we use the euro here. We have since the 1st of January 1999. We decided to do that because we're part of Europe. No, Ireland isn't part of the United Kingdom so we don't use pounds sterling. We've been independent for a long long time and don't like that currency. Besides, the euro is much more convenient. We can all climb on the airplane without going to the bank to change currency. Instead, we get off in Italy or Greece or France and buy drink to our heart's content. All of those countries use the euro too. But I don't think that drink was the main reason why Ireland chose the euro. Or maybe it was.

I want to say that I really like your Squawk Box program. It's a business program, right? But if that's correct, I would hope that maybe in the future you could do a little research. Get things a bit right so that you don't embarrass your guests, like Martin from the IDA, who must have been gobsmacked at your ignorance and must have felt just awful as you continued to dig a hole and made it bigger and bigger and bigger in front of so many millions of folks. That's called 'being humiliated'. And if you weren't, then even now you don't know your euro from your dollar.

Ah, but I feel sorry for ya, ya poor feckers. To make it easier for ya in future, just in case you interview another Irish person, I'll ask the government if they'll drop the euro and replace it with the US dollar. That should make things much simpler.

Maybe. But methinks that I shouldn't count on it.

Your sincerely - Tom

(To see the complete interview go to: To see the silliness, fast forward to the end of it and have a laugh courtesy of Joe).

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