Eight things I have learned

I have learned a few things over the last couple of days.

1. Ambulance chasing in the small hours of the morning could be fun.  If it hadn’t been for the circumstances I really would have enjoyed myself.  With hindsight, I maybe should have studied to be a solicitor?

2. Today, apparently is Fast Lane Day.  Every fucker on the roads is driving in the fast lane, and the slower the better.  It didn’t bother me though as I just stuck to the slow lane, lammed into fifth gear and left the lot of them stewing in my exhaust fumes.

3. Hospital visiting is a really fucking expensive business.  You need a mortgage for the coffee shop and as for the car park – just forget it unless you are laden down with high denomination notes or a credit card with a huge credit rating.

4. St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin has a really fucking irritating system of loudspeakers hidden in the grounds.  There is a smarmy voice softly telling us all that “this hospital and its grounds are a smoke free area for the benefit of everyone”.  Well, I can tell you Sunshine, it ain’t for my benefit so you can stick your fucking message you know where.  If I could have found those fucking speakers I would have done something about them but they are all neatly concealed in bushes or somewhere.  Condescending prick!

5. St Vincent’s Hospital is also crap at signposting.  After three days, I am only just beginning to find my way around.  They have completely rebuilt the place since I was last there and it’s now the size of a small city.  They have huge boards in the main reception area like those arrivals and departure boards in airports.  The boards list every room, ward and office down to the smallest fucking broom closet, but they very cleverly leave out the one ward I’m looking for.  Judging by the puzzled expressions on other people’s faces it somehow omits their destinations too.  I don’t know how they do that, but it’s damn clever.

6. The nursing staff are brilliant.  They are kind, cheerful, very helpful and grossly overworked.  On the other hand the administrative staff are cunts.  Or at least one bloke is.  You know who you are – the bloke who would stand out like a sore thumb on an icefield [if you get my drift].  Kept me sitting on my arse for two fucking hours while they waited for me in another part of the building.  It took a nice Irish lass to sort things out [in seconds] after your shift finished.  Prick.

7. If they want to save money on the Health Budget, I have a very simple suggestion.  They could save themselves several million if the only TURNED THE FUCKING HEAT DOWN.  Jayzus but the place is like the fucking Sahara.  I swear you could grow bananas there [the bloke in Admissions must feel right at home *cough*].  I have to strip off every time I enter and I only cool off again after driving home with all the windows open.  A perfect environment for Ebola, I would imagine.

8. Head Rambles Manor is a very quiet place.  

Intermission

Scribbling may be a little sparse over the next while.

I don’t know when normal service will be resumed.

If indeed it is resumed.

No one can foretell the future.

I learned that yesterday.

Talk amongst yourselves.

The final straw

I dropped by The Raccoon Arms yesterday.

I have been a visitor to that hallowed establishment for a long time but I don’t think I have ever commented there.

Yesterday however, Anna turned her attention to the Irish Water business.  The arguments put forward by her readers generally followed the lines that water metering is a good thing as it prevents waste, and that the Irish shouldn’t be complaining about paying for a service they have received for nothing up until now.

On the face of it, that sounds like a reasonable comment but there are quite a few points I would like to make, and rather than clutter up the Raccoon Arms with my musing I thought I would put them here.  After all, if that is Anna’s reader's attitude it is also likely to be the attitude of a lot of others, including non-Raccoonites.

First of all, let’s put to rest this idea that we have been receiving our supplies for free up until now.  This is a common misconception and is a nice little sound bite for those who demand we accept meters.  Up until now our water supplies have been paid for through taxation just as our taxes pay for roads, street lighting and other such “free” services.  If they announced that they were transferring that portion of taxation to water metering, that would be fair enough, but they are not – they are introducing water metering in addition to the taxes which will not be correspondingly reduced.  This is an additional burden on top of the many taxes that we already have to bear.

Another little problem is that this new tax will presumably be classed as a “charge” or “utility bill” and will therefore be subject to taxation and VAT?  So we now have to pay tax and VAT on tax?

I have no problem with the concept of metering to conserve resources.  However we are constantly told about the amount of wastage in the system and by implication that metering will solve this.  It won’t.  The vast majority of leakage and waste is in the system itself long before the water gets to the household.  In some regions leakage through faulty mains runs as high as sixty or seventy percent as a result of decades of neglect and misappropriation of taxation.  Metering domestic supplies will have no effect on this whatsoever.

Then there is the problem with the company itself.  Irish Water has been set up as essentially a private company.  Like the other utility companies it can be sold off at any time by the government.  Yet this company demands that we supply such information as our banking details and out PPS [Social Security?] number which is for revenue purposes only and by law cannot be demanded by a private company.  There is widespread fear that this information can be sold off to the highest bidder, and that if the company were sold, that information would automatically transfer to the new owner.  Incidentally, their computer system failed on the very first day of operation and they have already managed to post over six thousand personal details to the wrong addresses so it’s money well spent?

As an aside, the setup of Irish Water has so far cost somewhere in the region of a billion [yup – a thousand million to set up a company], a fair chunk of which has come out of the National Pension Reserves.  This is before a single cent has been billed from the public.  And already they are planning to give themselves bonuses of up to 15% of their salaries?  Why couldn’t they just have used this money to upgrade a significant part of the water infrastructure?

Water is a unique utility.  There are alternative methods for heating, lighting and cooking but there is no alternative to water.  Anna mentions the prospect of drilling a private well but this is not only very expensive [despite some grants] but is also out of the question for the vast majority of households.

Since the bailout, Ireland has had to endure years of cutbacks, reductions in salaries [and pensions] and general misery.  While the Greeks rioted, the Irish bit their tongues.  Then we are told that as a condition of accepting the bailout we have to introduce water billing.  Yes – the EU demanded it.  Bear in mind that this is on top of a new “house tax” which was introduced last year, running to many hundreds of euros and you may understand why this water charge is seen as the last straw.  We are constantly being told that “Ireland is now on the road to recovery” yet they are intend on burdening us with yet more taxation.

We have had enough.

Sleight of hand

Today is Budget Day.

For a while now we have been hearing all about how this is to be an “end of austerity” budget.  There are all sorts of promises that the tax burden will be eased and how they are going to start “giving something back”.

We, the Poor People of Ireland are of course meant to be grateful.  Those nice people who run our lives are actually thinking of us and are helping us through the crisis. 

Michael ‘The Weasel’ Noonan is going to happily announce all sorts of measures which will sound nice but will have fuck all effect on me.  For this apparently I am supposed to applaud his largesse and proclaim him a saviour, and lay palm fronds on the street for him to walk on.

In the last year, two new taxes were introduced.  We had the tax on our homes and of course the water tax.  Between those two, they are demanding an extra €700 or so a year off me, and that doesn’t include all the other various charges, taxes and duties that have all increased in the last couple of years.

So, a simple piece of mathematics….

Unless the budget eases my tax burden by at the very least €700 a year, I am worse off.  There is no “relief”.  There is no “easing of the burden”.  They are still robbing me blind to pay off their pals in Brussels and those gamblers on the financial markets.

And what’s more, they cannot “give something back”.  Giving something back that you stole in the first place is not a gift – it’s merely restitution. 

This is how they do it, you see?

They mug you for a thousand at gunpoint, and then give you a fiver back.

And you’re supposed to be grateful.