There is a survey that was reported in the Irish Times which has me a little baffled.
According to them "Nearly 80% to pay contentious water charges, poll shows"
Try as I might, I can't work out where they get their 80% from. I have tried pen and paper, I have tried a calculator and I have tried a computer but nothing comes up with that figure. I even asked the dog, but no joy there either.
The figure is based on two questions.
The first question is basically "have you paid". Now this is a very simple question. You have either paid or you haven't. Yes or no. There is no ambiguity.
So we get the result from this as 51% have paid [whether through bullying, threatening, coercion or bribery we aren’t told], 37% haven't and 12% don't have to. That is a pretty cut and dried result.
The second question is a little different – it is essentially "do you intend to pay".
First of all this is not a straightforward question. It is a question of intent rather than historical fact and the response is questionable. It's like asking smokers if they would like to quit, where they would probably say they would like to but in fact have no intention of doing so. It is also a question to which the respondent will probably give a reply that is expected of them. If I were asked this question, I would probably answer yes, because it costs me nothing and confuses the figures.
The result from this is that 9% "haven't got around to it yet" [yeah, right!], 32% will pay eventually [when?] and 59% say they will never pay [fair play!].
So where does the 80% headline figure come from?
If they add the 51% [paid] and the two "maybe will pay" figures of 41% they get 92%. That would be an elementary mistake as they are double-counting a fair chunk as being both "paid" and "will pay".
So we assume they are intelligent enough to confine the second question only to those who haven't paid. Now according to my calculations, 41% of the 37% who haven't paid is 15%. So 15% of the total number who haven't paid, but may pay in the future. Adding that to the "have paid" gives 66%. Now we have a figure of 66% who either have paid or may pay. But that's nowhere near 80%?
The only way I can reach that figure [and this is getting more and more like “Countdown”] is to add in the 12% who don't have to pay at all, which would give 78%.
So apparently their 80% is the number of people who have paid, may possibly [or possibly not] pay in the future and those who don't have to pay anything. The latter group must be getting a bit pissed to learn they'll be paying some time in the future?
So far I have had numerous communications from Irish Water. It started with their breathlessly exciting booklet explaining what it was all about. Then I had application forms that I was to fill in so I would have a legally binding contract with them. Then I had two bills and the latest message I received was a threatening letter with promises of dire consequences. I have very politely ignored all of these and dumped them in the recycling bin [except for the one where I declined their kind offer of a contract]. I therefore find it hard to believe that people have forgotten to pay or just "haven't got around to it"?
I noticed a widespread rumour in the Interwebs yesterday that Irish Water are to send a team of water meter installers to Mars. If that were true it would probably be the most sensible suggestion they have come up with since the start of the whole fiasco.