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Wasters [Paperback]

Shane Ross , Nick Webb
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Jun 2011

During the years when all seemed well with the Irish economy, a scandal bloomed in front of our faces but went mostly unnoticed: the scandal of public waste. Vast overspending on infrastructure (including a number of white elephants), extravagant use of overpriced consultants, the creation of dozens of quangos whose primary purpose seemed to be jobs for the boys, the culture of junketry that took hold in the semi-state sector and the Oireachtas - these and other dubious practices flourished during the years when the state's coffers were overflowing. The insiders benefited; the rest of us got ripped off.

Now, as the state scrambles to bail out the banks and to bring order to the shattered public finances by taking money out of the pockets of ordinary working people, Shane Ross and Nick Webb tell the story of the wasters: the people who perfected and benefited from the culture of cronyism and waste. Thanks in large part to Ross and Webb's journalism in the Sunday Independent exposing scandals in FAS and CIE, we already know part of this story. In Wasters, the authors show how wide and how deep the rot runs, and they show that every scandal has one thing in common: insiders profiting at the expense of ordinary people.

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Wasters + The Bankers: How the Banks Brought Ireland to Its Knees + The Untouchables
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141399627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141399621
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Guaranteed to make your blood boil (Mark Cagney Ireland AM)

This is a book best read in small doses so that your indignation doesn't get eroded as you go. The catalogue of errors, incompetence and feather-bedding will annoy readers and further confirm the opinion the the public service is in need of a radical shake-up (Sunday Tribune)

A fearless account (Sunday Times)

Will add to momentum for real reform of the public service (Irish Times)

Ross and Webb have done the state some service in writing Wasters ... essential reading ... will poison the ears of the vested interests (Sunday Independent)

About the Author

Shane Ross is an independent Senator, Sunday Independent business editor, and author of last year's number one bestseller The Bankers. Nick Webb is deputy business editor of the Sunday Independent.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary use of Freedom of Information Act 9 Feb 2011
By Póló
You can't afford not to read this book.

At the outset I wondered how the authors were going to make a full book out of credit card statements obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). I needn't have worried. The book is much more than that. It is an informed review of the cronyism, patronage, clientism, wasteful spending and conflict of interest rampant among the Irish establishment.

And it is a model of investigative journalism. The authors have done the hard graft and have produced a magnificently rounded work. Having read what was going on, I am convinced they could have made a whole book, and not just the odd chapter, out of the same credit card statements.

They are both journalists and have drawn on a wide range of sources, contacts and experience over the years. This is particularly true of Shane Ross who has long been a thorn in the side of the political establishment.

Much of the material is based on information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. This Act has been much criticised and particularly so in relation to limitations introduced after its initial period of operation.

I have operated the Act myself from the side of the administration, so I can view it both from the point of view of a responder to FOI requests and as a citizen.

From the latter point of view I favour a maximum of transparency consistent with the effective operation of the institutions concerned. There has to be some allowance made for commercial sensitivity, privacy of third parties, legal advice and matters still under active consideration, and the Act does provide for these. The real question, in my view, is how it is then operated.
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Well written and researched (mainly by way of the Freedom Of Information route) book in the journalistic style. It deals with, and details literally hundreds upon hundreds of instances where wholly unnecessary squandering of the taxpayers money took place in various State owned and funded concerns charged with the management of public services such as Health, Training, Transport and assorted others covering most aspects of the governance of State responsibilities and assets.

The magnitude of the "flushing good money down the drain" was monumental - hundreds of millions of Euros and took the form of the executives, most of whom were cronies of the political elite, employing friends and others completely unnecessarily on a massive scale, ultra expensive frivolous jaunts around the world (often with spouses)with first class travel, 5 star hotels, luxury limousine and chauffeur hire when abroad, luxuriant meals in the very best restaurants in town, and general unrestrained blowing of expenses including lots of hiring private mind-numbingly expensive small jets. And the travel extravaganza was only the tip of the iceberg that sank taxpayers money to the bottom of the cesspit without trace or any effort made to recover from the miscreants.

Having read books on the Building, and Banking scandals that reduced a once burgeoning economic renaissance into a "cap-in-hand" begging nation, it is beyond belief that virtually nobody has been convicted and sentenced to long prison terms for the heinous crimes inflicted upon the Irish people. Strange that isn't it?
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By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Wasters is an account of the misuses of state funds, poor governance, organisational failure and cronyism in public bodies in Ireland. It includes chapters on the growth of semi-state agencies, cronyism and political patronage, ministerial expenses, FAS, HSE, CIE, DDDA/NAMA, PPPs and other `bad deals', and social partnership. It's often fascinating, but suffers from a sense that one is reading little more than a name and shame list. In fact, there is very little narrative beyond an indignant list of issues and their cost to the taxpayer, and the ordering of chapters seems to be somewhat random (in fact, they could be re-ordered and it would have little effect on the read). At one level this is fine, and provides a useful service, but at another it is a significant shortcoming.

There is very little attempt to explain why the present state of affairs exists beyond a general lack of appropriate governance and oversight, cronyism, corruption and propensity to establish semi-state agencies and public entities. Analysis is left purely at the level of the implicit and empirical. I was not expecting a detailed academic explanation of the operations of the Irish state, its political economy, and its underlying ideology - this is after all a general readership book - but I did expect some attempt to make sense of the situation (as with Fintan O'Toole's Ship of Fools, for example) and to provide a nuanced portrait of the public sector. In Ross and Webb's account all public bodies exhibit the same poor governance, and the same levels of waste and inefficiency. This is clearly not the case.
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