Some recent master strokes & gaffes by our betters & rulers…
1 Leo and the Lattes
There was a time in Ireland where coffee was for the middle classes, and tea for the workers and small farmers. Things have changed since, meaning that John and Josephine Normal can now access the full range of caffeine treats with ease. Alan “AK47” Kelly, the former Labour minister (remember him?) who tried to force through water charges, and stood over policies leading to the worst housing crisis in the history of the state) nicknamed the last budget “a cup of coffee budget.”. Varadkar later responded with “Latte Socialists”, a catch all term for lefties criticising the budget.
Given Alan Kelly is on the verge of losing his seat to the Blueshirts in Tip, he might end up having a lot more time for lattes. He also may at the time of his losing be leader of the Labour Party, as he ferments rebellion against a hapless Brendan Howlin. Oh the chortles.
2. Screwing women pensioners
Do you remember the time when your Uncle Padraig took the early retirement at 55? Cousin Frank, if he retires after 2028 won’t get a cent from the state til hes 68. And by then, the universality of the state pension will be torn to shreds so he’d better hope there no gaps in the PRSI payments. Direct benefit pension schemes (the one where you are guaranteed a certain income after your retirement) are closing one by one, and about half of the schemes left are underfunded. Tuned out yet? You probably haven’t read far enough down to answer that question.
The news is so bad on the pension front that most people turn off, and hope to fuck that the single Auntie or Uncle signs the lot over, as a way of making good the time the Mother and Father got shafted in that will. But just in case there was any shred of doubt about how bleak the picture is, there is worse new on women’s pensions. In 2012, Joan Burton (remember how Labour protected people from the cuts?
No, us neither) introduced more changes to how people qualified for the pension, meaning a loss of 1,500 euro a year for up to 22,000 women, with many more affected. The changes further punished women for being out of the workforce for periods of time, particularly those who fell victim to the marriage bar.
3 The Tracker Mortage Scandal
There was a time when the Irish banks throw up a major controversy a generation, but now they throw one up every few months, at such a pace that people can barely keep track. Geddit? See what we did there? The tracker mortgage scandal (a crisis for those who have lost their gaffs, a boom for the banks who have profited yet again) are the latest in a long line of recent outrages.
Delivered to us toned down and manicured by a media that’s heavily reliant on cash from the banks. Pathetically, staged managed apologies and excuses from Bank Directors to a Government who largely controls the banking sector, and therefore could do something about it, were enough to move the media cycle on.
Trackers are mortgages where the interest rate is the European Central Bank main borrowing rate plus around 1%.Thousands of people, who in many cases were encouraged off trackers onto fixed rate options, on the understanding they could go back to the tracker after a period, discovered that the option was gone when they tried. So they were lied to, at the cost of tens of thousands, by banks which are now the most profitable in Europe. The victims are the same people who have paid back 42% of the total cost of the European banking crisis, at a cost of close to €9,000 per person, according to Eurostat.
4 Sponsoring The Crisis
Do you like your property news served with a good dollop of self interest? It goes without saying that a big plank of Irish property policy is to rev mortgages up ta fuck, to get the banks as profitable as possible. The more you pay pack, the more the banks gain. Check out houses on the Journal.ie, where Ireland’s lowest paid journalists feed the media hungry masses with the latest “news”, as well as maintain Ireland’s worst comment section.
Some feat, when you consider the shite that’s out there. The Journal property magazine is “supported” by KBC, while Bank of Ireland are also in on the act, with sponsoring articles like “How I survived the house-hunting process, according to a first-time buyer” AIB, and Permanent TSB also sponsor similar Journal content. And of course the entire bloody Journal is owned by Distilled media the crowd behind Daft.ie. Oh and each of these banks, btw, have scourged thousands of customers in the tracker mortgage scandal. Oh how the little piggies swill.
5. Budget 2018
The budget coverage in RTE and the papers amounted to more waffle than you’ll pick up in the freezer section of all your local Spars combined. rabble tuned out even earlier than usual, our ears. The budget did what the Blueshirts do best of all, serve up a fat reward for the class who need it least. A single person on 75,000 grand a year benefited from the tax changes to the tune of €328.48 per annum, 5 times more than poor saps on 25 grand who just got an extra €65.87 per year.
Meanwhile, the age differentials in how much dole you get have become as entrenched as being stoney broke. 24% of us are categorised as being on low pay. That puts Ireland in a top three of a leader board no rational worker wants to be part of. That is, countries with the highest rates of shit pay. Columbia tops the list, with the US coming in second. Fine company indeed.