Archive for January, 2012

“The Eternal Friend”

Posted: January 29, 2012 in Prose
Tags: , , ,


I am your God’s gift to you, and sometimes you forget that I am there,

You can’t touch, or smell, or see me, but you can breathe me like the air,

I’m never sad or lonely: my lifeblood is a caring smile,

I rest in the warmth of your deepest heart; I have no time for hate or bile.


I remember all your greatness, when you forget to do the same,

I celebrate your laughter, and never seek to blame,

From Freud to Frankl, Rogers and Jung, they have all looked for my presence,

And I must admit, my playful streak, hides in your effervescence.


For it is only you that knows me, I’m your gift in every day,

You may try to leave, but won’t succeed, I won’t let you run away,

You represent the beauty of all of God’s creation,

Your love and truth is what allows me to live,

I’m your inner affirmation.


It has often been said that the greatest asset any nation has is its people, its citizens. For they are the very ingredient that is necessary for any thriving economy. The population of any country are the lifeblood of its economic fluidity, it is the oil that makes the ‘machine’ run smoothly, allowing it to operate in a constant rhythm of production and achievement.

In 2012 the state of the Irish Economy is such, that the oil ,that has kept this machine running, is fast running out. The Economic presses are grinding to a halt, and the government are refusing to even acknowledge the possibility of the machine coming to a premature end. Instead they are seeking to drive the production line to breaking point whilst at the same time refusing to maintain the machinery.

How so. you may ask?

A simple look at the unemployment figures of approximately 450 000  will help prove this point. A single adult on Jobseekers allowance will receive around 188.00 euro per week in Social Welfare.

Now, if we assume that this adult has a car which is generally required for the ability to engage with employment, then we can say that the running costs of fuel alone will be reasonably 40.00e p/w, coupled with tax and insurance costs, another 20 euro(conservative) can be added to this. so that’s 188.00 – 60= 128.00 euro remaining.

Electricity p/w can also conservatively be estimated at 20.00e p/w so we now have 108.00e remaining.

The choice of heating, be it oil, gas, electric, can also be estimated at 20.00e p/w depending upon weather, and many people have taken to buying 25 litres of kerosene on a weekly basis as they can no longer afford to buy a ‘fill’ for their tanks. So if we accept this figure of 20.00e then we are left with 88.00e remaining.

Now, so far this single person has a car, taxed and insured, as by the requirements of law, they have power so they can at least wash themselves and their clothing, and they have some form of heating to help keep them  somewhat comfortable during the cold nights that Ireland has on a frequent basis.

So with the remaining 88.00 euro, a citizen, must buy some food obviously. Now over seven days this would equate to an average spend of 12.57e per day, or if you prefer , an average spend of 4.19 per meal  @ 3 meals a day. Not impossible to do, but after a while, I am sure our friend will become very tired of Pasta, toasted sandwiches, and cereal, day in day out.

Now, some expenses that havent been included here are: Rent/mortgage bills, Life insurance (required by mortgage holders), House and Contents Insurance, Clothing, Mobile/Landline Phone charges, Birthdays/Christmas gifts, and dare I say it…entertainment expenses. Factor in the possibility of children into this persons life, and yes their payment may increase a little, but as we all know, a child can be a financially demanding reality.

Now our poor unemployed person here is also facing new taxes, depending on circumstance, of the Household Charge, Septic Tank Charge, Water Charge, Broadcast License Fee, and ever increasing Petrol/Diesel prices, and no doubt, increasing utility charges.

So how does this translate into the running of the ‘machine’?

Well, my local ‘corner’ store and my local butcher both today said ‘it is so quiet out there…..’. as in, no one is spending, the butcher even went as far to say ‘you could see a tumbleweed blow down the street….’. The Corner store man said, he has ‘never known it to be so quiet, and it is happening over the last two weeks, trade is coming to a standstill’.

So it appears the Mandarins in Government House, all who are on decent salaries, benefits, and pensions, are so far out of touch, that they honestly believe a charge of 50 euro here, and 100 euro there, will only marginally effect people. Maybe they are right? If those people are on similar pay scales and conditions to them that is, but at least 450 000 people will be affected severely by these charges,  and will be pushed to the margins indeed.

As stated at the beginning of this piece, the greatest assets of any nation are its people, and it is incumbent upon any government to create the atmosphere for job creation and growth, not to stifle it.

So if we read between the lines of our unemployed friend, He drives a car, to buy food, goes home, and uses little heat, and electricity, cannot afford to go out, and does his best to remain  positive. He has done no wrong, but he has been stripped to the last by these stealth taxes. And as a result, so too has his local businesses been affected by his inability to spend, and so too will their suppliers, and so on and so on…..

He was once seen by this country as a ‘Ripping Asset’ but alas now is seen only as worthy of “Asset Stripping”


(This post was written  on 6/12/2011 and has just found its way to the net!!!!)

Today in Ireland we wake up to the news the the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D.  a Labour Party politician, is proposing cuts of 700 million euro from the Social Welfare budget. So let’s take a look at what this may mean to the very people that this may effect.

A ball park analysis will show that Ireland’s current spend on welfare stands at approximately 21 billion euro per annum, which we are told is about one third of total government spend. Now, although this appears to be high, we0 must also remember that we are in extremely difficult  economic times, which has resulted in record unemployment and emigration. The current unemployment figures stand at around 450 ooo people.

It is accepted that not all Social Welfare spending is allocated to the unemployed, but it is presumed for this discussion that unemployment will be found as a factor in most Social Welfare payments. So let’s work with our figure of 450 000, as a guide to discussion.

If the Minister was to directly cut each of these recipients evenly to meet the proposed savings of 700 million, then this would translate to a reduction of approximately 1550 euro per annum, or if preferred about 30 euro per week, for each person. If we accept that a single person receives roughly 200 euro p/w then their payments would be reduced to 170 euro p/w.

I accept these figures are not entirely accurate, as some payments are indeed less, and some some are more, but it is felt that the figure of 200 euro p/w is a reasonable and workable one for this exercise.

Now, a reduction of 30 euro from a payment of 200 euro, works out at a 15% cut, which in anyone’s language is quite substantial, and in this case, the most vulnerable of society are being asked to accept. The Minister may well argue that saving 700 million out of a spend of 21 billion, is only a cut of 3%, and therefore marginal in the overall scheme of things. This is where I will tend to differ, for it is the effect of such cuts that will have an impact, not the mathematics. Such measures, no matter how well dressed up, may well tip many people over the edge, which will have a massive economic cost to society into the future, through psychological breakdown, depression, addiction, black market, family dysfunction, educational prospects, to name a few….

However, the Minister, may just be working from the basis that any saving made is in fact Protecting Society, which would be an interesting interpretation of Social Protection.

Now, an interesting article found on the web this morning, from the Irish Times, dated the 15th May 2011, The Richest People In Ireland shows that the combined wealth of the 1000 richest people of this nation, at this time, was approximately 396 Billion euro. And before you think this voice is anti rich or anything like that, let it be said, I envy not their wealth, I celebrate their good fortune and presumed hard work in getting there. No, the point is this, in a time of harsh economic recession, we are all asked to contribute, and a simple small sacrifice by just 1000 very wealthy people could make a massive change to 450 000 people struggling with poverty.

How so?

If 700 million euro is to be found from somewhere because the Social Welfare budget is straining, and knowing that such cuts will affect the vulnerable, then a simple tax upon this wealth will harm neither the rich or the vulnerable, surely a unifying concept indeed?

If these 1000 people were to support or be taxed to alleviate the Social burden currently upon the taxpayer, then  it would amount to a payment of approximately, or if you prefer a cut to this overall grouping, of 0.176% , which in anyone’s language is far less substantial than a 15% cut being proposed upon the vulnerable of society.

Maybe I have the math wrong,or maybe I am misinterpreting the Definition of Social Protection, maybe the assumption of protecting the vulnerable is a foolish premise to take, perhaps the the Dept would be better served with the title, Dept of Social Elite Protection……


A very frightening and sad statistic emerged just this week in Ireland via an article by Jim Cusack in the Sunday Independent, that is , that Ireland has experienced 30 known suicides so far in the first 15 days of this new year of 2012.

As, the article states, suicide in Ireland is now  responsible for approximately three times as many deaths than road traffic fatalities. To any casual observer, this as an astonishing figure, and an unacceptable one to say the least.

The Frontline program on RTE last evening!v=1131292 (Monday 16th Jan 2012) attempted to discuss this issue, and quickly moved from suicide to the topic of depression. And although not unrelated, they are in the opinion of this Voice very different animals indeed.

Depression effects , depending on which research you choose to follow, in general one in every four people of a population at any given time. Some research suggests this to be as high as one in three. Either way if we work with the 25%  factor, then from a population of 4.5 million in the ROI, that equates to approximately 1,000,000 people (conservative) are experiencing depression at any given time in this country.

If the current rate of suicide as stated by Jim Cusacks article, is to continue, then it is safe to assume that Ireland will experience over 700 deaths by suicide in 2012 alone, figures for 2010 record suicide at 456 deaths, and so, 2012 may well see approximately an 80% increase in just two very short years.

The government have ‘promised’ to place an extra 400 Mental Health care workers into the field to help combat this situation, but as yet their exact role and skills have not been defined, are they counsellors, psychiatrists, administrators, who knows??

Either way, with 1,000,000 people experiencing depression, 400 extra staff, although better than nothing, surely falls well short of the mark in tackling this phenomenon.

I could go on here, as it is a very complex issue, and invokes many differing views, but one thing is certain, without the fine efforts of voluntary groups such as The Samaritans, Console, Aware, GROW, Pieta House and others, many people would be left to suffer alone in silence.

The people that engage with these support networks, and overcome their difficulties, do so in spite of government ignorance, not because of government support. Many others prefer to seek private personal therapy due to the demands upon these volunteer networks.

If the government continues to impose the savage taxes and cuts of Austerity, do they realise that they are taking, possibly, the very money from the pockets of at least 1,000,000 people, who have sought and engaged with private personal therapy, that has helped and supported them through their difficult times.

Remove that money from these people, and Jim Cusack may well have to work overtime to update his figures.