Tag Archives: green party

We R D Greens, U O Us Tax

mary-whiteGreen Party deputy leader Mary White has suggested a one cent tax on text messages, calling it a “relatively painless and fair way of making money in tough times”.

Since a one cent tax is at least a 10% cost increase, and since texts are used more by young people, including schoolchildren, than other sections, it is hard to see how it is either painless of fair. Mary, however, explains it by saying that “people don’t have any regard for ‘brown money'”.

What this means is that, since the 1,2 and 5 cent coins are now largely worthless, they should be given, without complaint, to the Government. Possibly so they can keep themselves in expensive travel (any comment from a Green Party member about Martin Cullen’s helicopter trip to work, Mary? Thought not).

The Irish Times calculates that such a tax would bring in €91 million per year, based on a figure of 25 million text messages sent each day. They got the texts-per-day figure by ringing (or texting, who knows) ComReg. Mary reckons it will bring in €146 million per year. She’s basing this on four million people sending 10 texts per day, every day of the year.

Our population is four million. So she’s expecting ten texts a day from every one of us – babies, the elderly, trappist monks in silent orders, people who don’t own a mobile, people in jail (wait, she’s probably right there), Johnny NoMates’s, and people who just prefer to speak in person rather than text.

The funniest thing about all of this is that the figure of €146 million is “revising her original estimate of €1.4 billion”.

I get the feeling that our Green friend is using a wind-powered calculator while sitting indoors.

Nuclear Fallout

I’ve noticed a growing number of articles stating that Ireland will eventually have to use nuclear energy. Here’s a timetable of how the whole thing will evolve.

March 2009: Brian Cowen announces that the Government has decided to build a nuclear power station. “Like hell we have,” say the Greens, “if you go ahead with this we’ll pull out of the coalition”. “Go ahead,” says Brian, “we’ve a big enough majority without you”. “Seriously?” gasp the Greens, “well, hang on, we’ve thought about it, and we’ve decided it would be better if we stayed in power with you to monitor things from the inside”. “Thought you might,” mutters Brian.

April 2009: 25 politicians from all parties go on a fact-finding mission to Bali. Bali does not in fact have nuclear power, but it does have a very nice beach, and it is prettier than Sellafield.

May 2009: A committee decides in secret where the nuclear plant will be built. The secret is so well kept that a local councillor is able to buy the site from an unsuspecting farmer for €20,000. The following day he sells it to the Government for €2 million.

Before

Before

After

After

May 2009 but later the same day: the site of the plant is revealed to be in the Taoiseach’s home town of Clara. “It is in its shite,” says Brian, and the plans are re-thought (though the councillor is still paid for the site, as a deal is a deal). Venue after venue is rejected for the very good reason that a sitting TD lives there (though nuclear power is perfectly safe, they keep telling us). It is eventually agreed to build it on the Hill of Tara, to piss off the tree-huggers.

October 2009 (well, the Dáil was on holiday): The contract to run the power station is awarded to a company that was formed just two days earlier. The businessman who owns it promptly sells the contract at a profit of €500 million and fecks off abroad as a tax exile, returning every now and again briefly to chide us over what a balls we’re making of his ‘beloved’ country. The new owners, EirNuke, have no experience of running a nuclear power station, as they operate a ferris wheel at Funderland, but they reckon “you push a button, the thing starts up, how hard can it be?”.

The Nuclear Regulator's Logo

The Nuclear Regulator's Logo

November 2009: A Nuclear Regulator is appointed to oversee the running of the industry. It is expected that he will be well able to regulate things, as he too once worked at Funderland (in fact, working for a while with the new owners). His salary is half a million, plus a bonus payable in any year in which the number of nuclear accidents is less than thirty.

October 2024 (yeah, there were protests & stuff, the army had to be called in): The power stations starts producing electricity in a blaze of hype. Such a great job has been done by the PR people that 40 per cent of the country switch to nuclear power the first day. As this leaves many of ESB’s workers with nothing to do, their Union secures a pay rise for them, as their day now seems longer.

October 2024 at 5.30 p.m.: The country is plunged into darkness as the EirNuke lads leaving the station turned off all the switches, since this is what they always did when they were leaving Funderland.

January 2025: The price of oil rises by 10 dollars a barrel. Although nuclear power is supposed to be in competition to oil, the Regulator grants a 12% price increase to EirNuke.

February 2025: The price of oil falls by 35 dollars a barrel. The Regulator grants a 19% price increase to EirNuke.

March 2025: The bottom falls out of  nuclear power, literally. Because the building was built by a cowboy building firm whose tender arrived, not in writing but in used notes, large cracks appear, and the generator falls out through the bottom and into the ground, where it starts to leak. It turns out that the Regulator knew about the dodgy builder, so he is forced to resign with a large hand-out and a full pension.

April 2025: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan (What? Still? Look, don’t ask me, they kept getting 4% in the opinion polls and then when an election would come the public would go “ah, sure, they’re not the worst”) decides to do what was done for the Banks and the Catholic Church, and says that the Government will take the hit for any compensation claims. Since the whole world could potentially be effected this is likely to be a crippling bill for us to face.

All's well that ends well

All's well that ends well

April 2025 still: Fortunately not. It turns out that EirNuke hadn’t been using uranium at all, the generator had been run on red diesel. A spokesman for EirNuke said “red diesel is much cheaper, all you’ve to do is pretend you’re buying it for a tractor and besides, we heard that uranium stuff is dangerous“.

May 2025: The Government decides to scrap nuclear power. Their alternative involves building a giant magnifying glass, and holding it over the country when the sun comes out. Sure what could go wrong?

Train Robbery

It was so obvious it would happen sooner or later. From today’s Indo:

“THOUSANDS of commuters will have to fork out up to €500 a year more just to get to work from September.

Commuters and shoppers will be left counting the cost after CIE confirmed controversial plans for new ‘park and ride’ charges at dozens of railway stations.

The semi-state company has signed a contract with a private parking control and clamping company to introduce ‘pay and display’ parking at 37 stations on the greater Dublin commuter network, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Commuters from as far away as Longford and Gorey will be hit with parking charges of €2 a day, where previously they could park for free.”

This was inevitable once local councils started introducing Disc Parking on the streets around railway stations. CIE obviously feel “well, they’re making money out of it, why shouldn’t we?”

CIE Spokesman Barry Kenny, who at times has the most unenviable job in the world, had this to say:

“The experience shown in other public transport ‘park and ride’ facilities, be they operated by Iarnrod Eireann, Luas or local authorities, shows that commuters are not discouraged from using public transport, particularly with such a low nominal charge,” Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent.

“What we have seen in fact is an increase in the catchment area for public transport — those who live within walking distance of stations leaving their cars at home, freeing up spaces for people from a wider area to benefit from the parking facilities.

“With soaring fuel costs and high parking charges in cities, our commuting costs remain extremely low by comparison.”

If I read the first and second paragraphs correctly, he is saying that people won’t be put off parking there by the charge, but that people who live near the stations have been put off by the charge.

The third paragraph is smart-alec PR-speak. There’s no point comparing the costs against something else, compare them with what they were before. If you pay €103 per month for you rail ticket, as I do, then if my station was one of the ones involved the cost of my travel would increase by 31 per cent. Add the fact that I get tax relief on my rail ticket, and the increase is over 50 per cent.

His comment about the charges for parking at the LUAS are simply not borne out by anyone with any experience of Sandyford Industrial Estate. People do use the car parks there, but only after the council introduced double yellow lines on roads near the LUAS stops, and many businesses in the estate have problems with people parking in their car parks.

It doesn’t take a genius (or I wouldn’t know it) to see that people will simply take to parking on the streets and in the housing estates near the stations. The residents in these areas will then complain to their local councillors, and disc parking will be introduced in these areas. The parking areas will move farther and farther away, and eventually commuters will decide, to hell with this, I’m going to drive.

Has the Transport Minister anything to say about this? Have the Greens in Government any comment?

Doubt it.

We’ve been very, very bold

The opposition have blamed Brian Cowen. Brian Cowen has blamed the world economy. Everyone has made sure to point out that it wasn’t their fault. Eamon Ryan, though, knows who is to blame for our failing economy – we are. This report is from the Irish Times, as politicians today voted in an 11-week Dáil break.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan told the House that Irish people had helped burst the Celtic Tiger boom by indulging in bigger houses, cars and holidays.

Mr Ryan said affluent consumer behaviour helped contribute to higher energy prices and a rise in the general cost of living.

“We bought bigger cars for the status that it gave. We built bigger houses with X number of bedrooms and bathrooms, regardless of how we were going to heat these massive properties.

“We flew to New York in a way that turned Madison Avenue into our latest Grafton Street. Let us be honest with ourselves, that is the phenomenon that occurred.”

There you have it. It’s all our fault. Not the Government who solved every potentially embarrassing industrial relations problem over the years by throwing money at it. Not the councils whose land rezonings created instant millionaires. Not Charlie McCreevy, whose single-rate 20% Capital Gains Tax made it more profitable to be a property speculator  than to earn income by working. Not the builders, who took the Government’s largesse, enriched themselves, and then stopped building stone-dead as soon as it looked like their profits might dip. Not the Central Bank, who stood by while the financial institutions bent the lending criteria in every way possible to lend people bigger and bigger mortgages, thus feeding the property inflation flames. Not the financial institutions themselves, who have now panicked and stopped lending to anyone, thus turning a slump instantly into a collapse. It has nothing to do with people abroad – speculators who play with currency rates and oil prices, or idiots who lent ‘subprime’ mortgages to people with no jobs and poor credit records, and who found to their amazement that these people didn’t keep up the payments.

So the next time you hear of a young couple who’ve lost their jobs and can’t keep up the repayments on their tiny house miles from Dublin, or of a child still schooled in a prefab because capital grants have been decmated in the Government’s slash-and-burn panic solution, or of a pensioner who can’t afford to heat her home because of the savage price hikes, don’t feel sorry for any of them.

Remember, it’s all their own fault.