Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Junk Mail

Knocking around the doors in this election I've noticed an increasing number of signs in peoples porches or on the letter box stating "No Junk Mail".

Now this sign causes a bit of a dilemma for us canvassers. Junk Mail is subjective. Obviously I don't consider my local manifesto to be junk, but accept that others might do.

So the dilemma is this. If I post in the leaflet will the potential voter be annoyed that I didn't respect their wishes but if I don't put it in the letterbox how will the potential voter ever know that I respected their little sign about Junk Mail.

I would suggest that a bit more detail is needed and after careful consideration I recommend that the sign is changed to "No unsolicited mail or flyer's".

That would sort out the confusion :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Plot Thickens

Last weeks Sunday Tribune led with a story on the country's property developers seeking to limit the reach of the recently established National Assests Management Agency (NAMA). Today's Sunday Business Post suggest that may not be necessary as NAMA has agreed "not to force up to 20 of the country’s top developers into receivership or liquidation".

NAMA was set up by Finance Minister Lenihan "so that bad loans can be taken off the bank balance sheets, freeing them up to lend to business and individuals in support of economic recovery".

The Agency also intends to take some of the good assets from developers and sell them on as well as the bad loans which are likely never to be repaid.

The problem with this approach is that announcing that gives the developers a lot of time to transfer their good assests out of the reach of NAMA.

Last week I was at a meeting in attendance was a official from one of the ancillary service providers to major developers. He told me later that he knew that some of his clients were frantically looking at legal ways to transfer their good assets into legal trusts that NAMA couldn't touch!

This nugget plus the revelation during the week that the designated boss of NAMA knows nothing more about the operation of the agency that "what he read in the papers" make it look increasingly likely that the NAMA plan to deal with the mess of the bursting property bubble will be a total failure and leave the taxpayers with a monstrous bill that will takes decade to pay.

I think at this stage the most logical thing to do it review the bank guarantee. I feel that the Government should only guarantee the deposits up to say €250,000. Then start looking at establishing a good bank using the money designated for the existing banks into this new bank. The already existing infrastructure of both the Credit Unions and An Post could as well as an efficient web presence could act as a interim solution.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2nd best

The worlds second greatest band, after the Petrols obviously, have just been confirmed to play The Electric Picnic.

A Flock of Seagulls writers of the classic "I Ran" and "Wishing I had a Photograph of You" play down in Stradbally first week in September along with a load of other people of much lesser importance.

Now whats the chance of getting a t-shirt.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm not much of a gambler but always have a flutter on the elections. On the last General Election I won over €700 on betting on local constituencies. Ultimately betting is about knowing more about a 'race' than those setting the odds. If your into politics, know electoral histories and are canvassing it fairly easy to spot good odds.

Paddy Power have opened a bunch of books on the forthcoming European, Local and By-election.

I spotted Fianna Fail at 16/1 for getting no seats in the Euros and popped down to the shop in Baldoyle and stuck on €50. Another decent long odds punt is my colleague Christy Burke to win the Dublin Central seat at 10/1.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Hands in pockets, disinterested facial expression, disdainful slouch.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Family

What is it with Fianna Fáil and their families. The current ruling troika of Cowen, Coughlan and Lenihan are all the children of TD's and "inherited" their seats from their Dads.

The FF conventions for the forthcoming by-elections in Dublin Central and Dublin South were held this week and the winners were;

Maurice Ahern - brother of Bertie,


Shay Brennan - son of Seamus Brennan.

The losing candidate in the Dublin Central convention was Mary Fitzpatrick, daughter of Dermot Fitzpatrick

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Herd thinking

As is well known our economy is in a critical condition. Unemployment is soaring, the tax take has plummeted, manufacturing and construction is dead and state cuts are swept around the country.

There seems to be a complete lack of vision to actually;

1) face up to the problem
2) accept that radical solutions will be needed.

Now a radical solution, in my book, is not to rip the arse out of the domestic economy to the extent that your average citizen is terrified to even buy a hardback book for fear they may need that extra few bob in a few months time. A solution focused on jacking up taxes and cutting expenditure is not new or radical its a copy of policies that failed in the 50's, 70's and 80's.

I believe the core reason why is that the Government, under ex Finance Minster Cowen, are far too understating point 1 to even look at point 2. Simply put Fianna Fail are too busy introducing policies that seek to deflect blame than confront the scale of the challenge.

In today's Irish Independent, economist and columnist David Mc Williams had a provocative article on ditching the Euro for a new Irish currency. His main argument is that we are then in a position to devalue and some make our exports cheaper and hence more competitive.

The reaction on various on-line forum has been hostile. This hostility expressed in the appartnely closing argument of "do we want to end up like Iceland". To me the most important point from Mc Williams is not so much the merits of leaving, or sticking with, the Euro but his criticism of the Shibboleths or conventional wisdom that, seemingly, cripple Irish political and economic thinking.

And its the reaction of these Internet fora that only goes to compliments Mc Williams core argument. Conventional wisdom is that Iceland is in a even worse condition than Ireland.

So I had a look, and guess what, Iceland's unemployment is lower than ours, its not in a deflationary cycle, its exports is up, its economy is actually growing and wages are slowly rising.

In short Iceland's economy is in full recovery mode. We, on the other hand are at least 16 months before bottoming out, at which stage the impact may well have destroyed the country.

The one thing we have learnt over the past 12 months is that the unthinkable soon becomes the obvious.

Oh and Iceland's government resigned before the recovery took hold!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tight fisted &*%$@

And the award for the most miserly, greedy, avid, insatiable, penny pinching, small minded meanness proposal of the millennium goes to the Dublin Airport Authority.

The DAA, the recipient of serious chronic abuse from Ryanair's Micheal O'Leary, who considers them swine have outryanaired Ryanair with the introduction of a €1 charge for one of those plastic bags that you are forced to put your hand luggage toothpaste and gel into going through security. This being some sort of cunning way to catch out would be shoe bombers and assorted nutters.

A euro for a bag that would cost about 2 cent if you actually had to buy one.

And I'm sure it will be all justified through some corporatespeak gobbledygook.

In fact according to the DAA website their "Approach is to build a performance based and business focused company across all areas of our operations that aims to achieve the best in international standards".

By charging a Euro for a crappy plastic bag?



Probably the singularly most quoted explanation for Ireland's recent economic boom (RIP 2008) is our low Corporation Tax rate.

Even suggesting looking at it and the fundamentalists are down your throat, dare mention that it might be a little low or that driving down the rate doesn't actual result in any increased productivity. The gospel of low corporation tax masked and stifled debate on changes that were desperately needed in the economy such as reducing the dependence on transactional and consumption taxes.

This over dependence and the lack of any public discussion on the wisdom of fueling our economy and paying for public services from stamp duties and VAT lead the government to sail cluelessly into the disaster we are now stuck in.

The "perfect storm" that is our economy has another gale heading its way. Flagged in his election campaign its been announced by PUSA Obama that loopholes that allow US companies to post profits in low corporation tax territories, e.g Ireland, are to be closed. The White House yesterday mentioned only three countries, Holland, Bermuda and Ireland as examples of where US multinationals post massive profits from.

The incentive therefore for US companies to locate and base themselves in Ireland will be significantly reduced.

Obama reckons he can save the US nearly €200 billion in tax forgone and provide employment in the US.

Maybe Fianna Fáil could send the cabinet clown Willie O'Dea to the US to convince him otherwise, after all Willie has form with the Americans given the great job he did when he visited Micheal Dell and made the case for the Dell facility in Limerick.

Oh maybe not - that closed.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Supporting the Province

Its said that all identity is constructed. Sometimes this construction is politically motivated, think of the efforts made that we are European. Anyone ever cheered on Europe?

But the relentless hyping of today's Rugby game represents a triumph of marketing over reality.

Yesterday I was speaking at a conference in Cork and was impressed by the amount of homes, cars, business's and people displaying and wearing the colours of the Munster Rugby Team. Driving home the only sign of any Leinster support was a couple of drop down banners on the M8 courtesy of the Leinster Rugby Branch.

Today, canvassing in a local supermarket I bumped into a woman wearing a Leinster jersey. She confessed that she went in to buy the Munster Jersey when she was off on holiday last year but felt guilty and end up with the deep blue of the easterners rather then the red of the southerners!

This obvious lack of association hasn't stopped the game being sold as some sort of showdown derby akin to an Ireland vs England soccer match, Kilkenny vs Tipperary hurling or Fenerbahce vs Galatasary.

The complete indifference of Leinster probably has as much to do with the geographic limits of Rugby in the province. The only cluster of rugby playing being South eastern Dublin with a half dozen serious teams. Conversely the rabid support of their team in Munster is reflective more of their provincialism, enormous chip on their shoulders in relation to Dublin and they thinking they we care.

Rugby is an good spectators sport, high scoring and eventful. But the passion of sport is about the emotion of 'owning' and identifying a team. Todays result will be greeted by the residents of Leinster with a very large yawn - whether win or lose.