Showing posts from 2006

Channel 4 comes to Sky Ireland: but too late?

I was delighted to discover last week that - finally - Sky digital now carries Channel 4 to those unlucky people in the Republic forced to subscribe to them out of a total lack of choice. (One of these days I will write an article on how ridiculous it is that there are huge campaigns out there complaining about lack of access to broadband internet when so many people in Ireland cannot get a proper signal from a terrestrial aerial these days.) The curious thing is that the event passed with so little significance because so many of the once considered rauchy channel's offerings are now pretty much outmoded and outraunched by many of the niche satellite channels broadcasts.

My particular example is Living TV. Aside from a diet of sheer vomit - including various forms of XXX's Next Top Model, dieting, and the particularly nauseating ads for cosmetic surgery masquerading as reality TV. At least they do have Jade Goody - who I will at least credit with having far more intelligen…

2006 - another budget worth forgetting?

The big flaw with the 2006 Budget is in its lack of imagination. In fact I'd suggest its real ploblem is a failure to address mismanagement, failed schemes and disorganisation.
For example last year an effort was made to increase the number of chid minders (while at the same time luring them surreptitiously into the tax net) by introducing generous limits for child minders who mind at home. The take-up was extremely poor.
Why was this?Why, when such a substantial sum was on offer, did no department bother to examine why this wasn't taken up. Why did nobody talk to the very tiny few (166) who delcared themselves out of a total of 36700 undeclared minders to see what made them different from those who don't declare their income?
It would stand to reason that for example, a married homemaker would be an ideal target group for the child minders allowance, but clearly this group are either not declaring out of ignorance, or else they aren't providing the care, as previously…

Why You Might be better off on the dole

In the buzz leading up to the Budget tomorrow, nobody has pointed out that "victims" of the celtic tiger, assumed to be those who don't work, are suffering dreadful poverty at the hands of a vicious, uncaring state.

After doing some basic math, I was horrified to discover that in certain - increasingly typical scenarios, a person who is dependent on social welfare is actually not only better off than a working person, they've actually been better off for several years. In fact the real victims of the tiger are the large numbers of people working for low wages.

Basically I noticed that the average rate of social welfare increase since 2001 was around 9 per cent. However the minimum wage only went up 3 times, so the net annual gain is only about 5 per cent. I created geometric sequences, and added in an increasingly commonly claimed side benefit - rent supplement.

The disturbing truth is that since the beginning of 2004, even a single adult on welfare getting the basic &q…

Ahern insults our intelligence yet again

Bertie Ahern's refusal to answer questions about the funding of his 1993 separation is nothing short of an insult to intelligence. He has repeatedly ignored the question of who funded him and why he accepted "gifts" from his benefactors, despite being a succesful TD and minister who at the time enjoyed a salary well above the norm. Instead he has tried to divert the questions onto who leaked the information - and gone out of his way to use the courts to block further coverage in the newspapers, which they gleefully honked on the Sunday papers yesterday.

Yet the issue remains - why did a succesful minister need donations to fund his separation bid? After all, he was hardly poor, especially not by the standards of the day. He could well have afforded to fund it himself. Yet no less than 9 benefactors chipped in. Why? With so many donors, were they asked to donate? By whom? To what benefit?

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of running regularly in the course of a pa…

2 Cheers for Democracy and Cabbages

2 cheers for the wag on the Irish Times discussion site who made a wonderful comment to the effect that FF would probably win the next election because "some cabbage somewhere will [always] vote for them."

Speaking of this nice turn of phrase, Joe Higgins, a Socialist party TD with whom I normally wouldn't concur (partly due to his irritating stablemate from Rivervalley, who strangely enough bares a resemblance to yours truly), used an even better one to describe the non-representation which has plauged North Dublin politics since the election of Ray Burke in the 1960s - Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party said the Government would be in the company of sharks, and that the sale [of Aer Lingus] would be one of the most outstanding acts of economic treachery in the history of the State.
He said Fianna Fáil backbenchers had failed to protest the sell-off of the airline, and that if the voters of north Dublin had sent cabbage heads to occupy the benches in the Dáil they would …

Dell Hell

Back many years ago in the early days of my IT career I worked for Dell Direct. Yes, I was one of those drones (there were actually about 500 of us in those days) who took inbound telephone calls on technical support lines. I was lucky enough to be on the corporate support line, so fortuantely for me, I was on the not-so-busy (and much less braindead) large corporate line, which I believed at the time to be mostly corporate helpdesks. (Later on I discovered that many of the calls were not in fact from helpdesks, but from asset managers, PAs, facilities support teams etc - but thats another days story - as I went on to work for some of the companies who were my customers, or the outsourced support partners).

Now I noticed something interesting early on in my days at Dell. Though loyalty was demanded by the company more than any company I have ever worked for, most employees were disgruntled with the company and there was high levels of hostility towards customers, especially the les…

The irish Reviera??? Wha??

Can you believe that we now have an "Irish Riviera"? Well according to a website ( we do. It would appear its the south coast too. If ever there was a case of misselling, this is it. Tourists lured by the suggestion that the munster coastline is a maze of fabulous beaches with gorgeous people will be disappointed by the squelching through the fields in their wellies with some farmer straight out of the Mogeely People while the rain pours down. Enjoy!!

Secondly its most interesting to see that construction sector is slipping, partially driven by a sharp drop in house building. Eliminating holiday homes in dismal places like the Irish Riviera, and shoebox apartments, apparently one of the big drivers for house prices is the dramtic fall over the last few years in the number of 3 bed semi-ds being built. In Dublin this has reached critical proportions. Add to this the long standing tradition in Dublin where native shout-siders won't ev…

Extending the "Loafers Allowance" a Retrograde Step

One of the more fascinating elements of the 2004 study by the "Social Partners" into the nature of those receiving Rent Supplements was that a huge group - amounting to almost one quarter of all recipients, were not unemployed, lone parents, disabled or retired. They were, to use a euphemism rarely heard outside of social welfare circles, recipients of "supplementary welfare allowance."
Now most of you have probably never heard of this allowance. What it actually is, is an equivalent to what in the UK is called income support. Its basically social welfare for people who have no income, but who are not disabled and are not seeking employment. Amiguous though it may seem, what that amounts to is a "Loafers Allowance" for those who don't want to work and have no excuse not to, but who for some reason have been permitted, by the state, to be pensioned off at the taxpayers expense. In many cases this involves homeless persons, but I am quite sure that …

Good riddance to bad rubbish

In the context of todays news that 130 non paying bin tax dodgers are not having their bins collected in Dublin from this morning, it was joyful to hear that the infamously drunken driving GV Wright is retiring from politics and will not stand in the general election.

Unsurprising news, seeing that most of his hundreds of thousands of constituents would be less than impressed by Wright's spraoi, which ended in his knocking down a female pedestrian on the North Strand. At the time I couldn't help wondering if the veteran politician, also ill famed for being accused of taking a bribe of 7k from a building in the course of the Mahon tribunal, was simply too mean to pay the 25 quid taxi fare back to his fancy house, a lot nicer than the cap house-sheds they are throwing together in Swords these days.

Amusingly, Bertie the dum-dum Ahern praise this parasite, thanking him for his "hard work." What hard work? In Wright's 20 years or so in politics we in Swords never sa…