Life on the roller coaster

Does anyone remember the spectacular “boom and bust” here in Ireland?

That was the time when property prices were rising so fast that developers were buying telephone kiosks and converting them into shoddy apartments.  People were desperate to buy property as you could get a 25% return in one year.  Second homes became almost compulsory.

Then of course came the bust and the downside.

House prices dropped by 50%.  Hundreds of thousands went into negative equity.  Repossessions went through the roof.    Ireland became a country of “ghost estates”.  The greed turned to abject misery.

Guess what?

Thanks to our Glorious Gubmint we are into another boom-time.

House prices are rising at 25% a year once more.  People are queuing at the gates of new developments to snap up property before it’s all sold.  “Happy days are here again” cries the Gubmint.

Now of course the Gubmint is rubbing its hands in glee. 

You see, they brought in a property tax to help pay off the billions we spent on bailing out the banks last time.  That property tax was based on the valuation of the property.  Now of course the valuation is rocketing skywards once more and the Taxman is rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of a bumper harvest.

I don’t know what my property is worth.  It could be five thousand or five million and it is totally irrelevant to me.  Property value does not exist until such time as I wish to sell or buy and until such time, my property’s worth is irrelevant, pointless and worthless.  Yet they are going to try and screw me because I could potentially get more for it now than I could last year should I ever wish to sell.  Bollox to that.

And what happens when this latest bubble goes pop?  Are we back to more bailouts?  More evictions?  More suicides?  What extra taxes are they going to impose this time, having already milked us for every cent we have?

It’s like handing the keys to a bank to a five year old.

When will they learn? 

Plain packs plain expensive

The big guns are lining up on Ireland.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain have all lodged objections to Ireland’s proposed cigarette “plain packaging” laws.

The tobacco companies are priming their legal teams to bring Ireland to court if the laws are enacted.

So let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of the plain packaging argument -

Against…

There is zero proof that plain packaging will have any effect.  The only studies done here basically just asked children if they liked pretty colours, which is worse than meaningless.  In Australia, where they have had “plain packs” for some time, the only people to benefit are the back street traders.  Smoking rates remained virtually unaffected.

We are off the Christmas Card list of a fair chunk of the EU.

If the tobacco companies take the case to court [and they have every indication of doing so] then the cost to the Irish taxpayer [smokers and non-smokers] will be enormous.  If the companies win, then the likelihood is that the taxpayer will have to foot the bill not only for the court but also pay billions in compensation.

Confidence in Ireland as a trading base will be severely corroded, not just in the tobacco industry but also in the confectionery, food and drink industries who also potentially could lose their branding rights.

There will be severe adverse effects on the retail industry.

For…

It will satisfy the wet dreams of a tiny handful of fascist zealots who will stop at nothing in their hatred for smokers and tobacco.

And that’s all.  This proposal will not have any effect on smoking rates amongst adults or children, but it will cost us dearly.  It is just part of a religious crusade based on blind hatred and zero logic.

It is time to put a halt to this insanity.

Up yours

Every now and then there is some kind of sporting event here in Ireland.

I have no problem with that.  Provided I don’t have anything to do with it then fine – let them carry on and play their little games.

But there is one aspect that has me stumped.  For the life of me I cannot understand the reason, the logic or even the origins of this phenomenon.

I refer to those strange signs you see stuck in the grass verges of motorways or roundabouts proclaiming “UP THE DUBS” or “UP THE BANNER” or some such weirdness.

What is the point?  Is this going to determine the outcome of some match or other?  And they rarely use county names [and it’s usually around the time of some inter-county thingy].  I won’t say that “Up Dublin” makes any more sense than “Up the Dubs” but at least it is fractionally more sensible.

There seems to be some kind of alternative Ireland when it comes to sport.  We have “The Cats”, The Banner”, “The Kingdom” and other strange names that I was definitely never taught in school.  I have never found a map which lists these strange counties so I’m at a bit of a loss here, and it makes the signs even less comprehensible.

And what is this “UP” thing?  “Up yours” is a fairly common retort here in Ireland but is not quite something you would say to a girl on the first date, so “Up the Cats” presumably has similar connotations?  As the signs are frequently placed in their own county, is this some kind of retaliation by the non-sporting fraternity?

I’m also baffled as to why they are placed at the roadside.  Are they meant to convert the innocent motorist and turn him into a raving supporter [or anti-supporter, depending on the interpretation]?

There is another common variation which is the “COME ON whatever” version.  Are they entreating their team to speed up a little?  Or is it more of a “Come on… you must be joking” type of thing?

There is apparently some match or other coming up and is already causing problems with another aspect of this local hysteria – the phenomenon of painting anything stationary [and frequently anything that moves] with the county colours.

I suppose I had better wander off and find out what county I live in?

The Three Stooges

On the few occasions when I want to see the news I tend to watch the BBC.

RTE tend to be somewhat parochial and ITV is the tabloid of the television world.

Anyway I like to keep up with the latest on Wobal Glarming and the Beeb never lets me down on that score.  Just about every tragedy or mishap tends to be blamed on the poor old climate and that’s good for a laugh.

The only problem with the Beeb though is the politics.

How the fuck do the people in the UK put up with those wankers who constantly desecrate my screen – Cameron, Clegg and Millipede or whatever he’s called?  All three look and sound like oiled up Etonian rent boys.  Fuck me but they are seriously creepy with their lah-de-dah tones and their false sincerity.

Of course we are seeing them all the time now because of this Scottish malarkey and the Big Referendum.

I haven’t mentioned the latter before, partly out of fear of being the casting influence and mainly out of pure indifference.  Surprisingly I couldn’t give a flying shite what the Scots do, though it’s interesting to watch the blind panic in Westminster.

How would I vote?  Well, if I lived in England or Wales I wouldn’t have a say anyway so that’s moot.  If I lived in Scotland I would be firmly in the Yes camp, partly to piss of Cameron and his cronies, partly to piss of the EU and partly because where countries are concerned I believe that small is beautiful.

Of course one way or another it doesn’t matter a damn whether Scotland have their own parliament as one way or another they’ll still be answerable to Brussels.  Unless of course they decide to leave the EU which would be a momentous decision and could pave the way for the rest of us to start shouting?

So roll on the Referendum.

Maybe then we’ll see a bit less of Larry Mo and Curly?