Archive for March, 2012


And so, and in continuance of the previous three posts on this issue, here is the latest take on where we are.

It is now the 28th of March, just past midnight, and three days remain for people to decide whether or not they wish to pay the self registering Household Charge being imposed by the Government.

Now, whether people choose to or not, is entirely up to them, however, observational narrative is what this blog, in general, has always been about. So, let’s look at the state of play.

On RTE news on Tuesday evening, it was stated that approximately 1/4 of the estimated

1,600 000 homeowners has signed up to the #Householdtax, (as it has been colloquially coined). Ergo, with three days to go before the cut off date of March the 31st, the Government have ‘persuaded’ some 400 000 homeowners to register for a tax upon the Home.

If these figures are accurate, then it will require the remaining estimated 1.2 million homeowners to sign up at a rate of 400 ooo per day, or if you prefer, 16,666 people per hour, or 277 people per minute. 

Now why mention these figures? Well simply for this reason.

The Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay scenario has been highlighted in Part 1 of this discussion, and the Government, and in particular Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, may find that similar conditions will apply. Can people actually make payment on a rate of 277 per minute?

Surely it is the right of the individual to wait, decipher, discuss, question, etc….. all the debates and information before making a decision? That right is surely allowed to exist up to and including the last day, which in this case is March 31st.

So it is conceivable, that 1,200 000 people may actually attempt to sign up just before the cut off date ends. What happens if the system crashes, is it the ‘taxpayers’ fault? The Government have told us any payment after the set date will result in a fine….

Now. I’m no legal expert, far from it, but I figure, If fined for a payment that you haven’t made because you exercised your right to ingest all debate, and the online system, prevented, nay, failed, your desire to comply, then surely you have the right to contest this in a court of law.

If, like many, you never received a Government leaflet, and had to rely on, public discussion to form an opinion, without, a concrete position of Government information that has come through your letterbox, then surely you have a case?

If you haven’t paid, because you have chosen to never pay, then fair enough, if you haven’t paid because you were still weighing up your options, then fair enough…….. How can a judge ever find against someone, knowing their right to wait until the last minute, or their right to information, has been denied.

Congratulations Mr Hogan,

 

 

 

Voice

 


And so it goes on…..

Pay up or Pay out.….. well to be honest, it is a no brainer…

The Environment Minister Mr Phil Hogan, the man who has responsibiltly for implementing the #Household Charge upon the tax payer. has missed a very important aspect of the human condition. And this Voice for one is not about to share that.

Suffice to say……the taxpayers were  informed some months ago,

oh, wait,

If they were informed at all, they would have realised that the #Householdtax was signed up to before the last general election by both the ,then, opposition parties, under the instruction of the IMF, in the Four Year Plan.

Either way;

It is here, apparently , in law, apparently, in International Monetary Funding, apparently….now, this Voice is no genius, and no fool, but it surely has to be acknowledged that the thinking that such a tax HAS to be paid, is akin, to the guy that drew up the design plans for my self fitting kitchen that I bought from CHINA…..I Cannae just understand it laddie!

However let’s take the government line for a moment…… the average house may have been bought some years ago for let’s say a conservative 200 000 euro, and the market now values this same dwelling a let’s say, 100 000 euro , That means that the  Government are only asking for 0.1% of the value of your home in tax….this year……… but we know this tax is going to move upward and not backward, and morph into a property tax.

Now if 0.1% was levied equally upon all home owners, that would be interesting, A house in the elite areas, the have’s areas, let’s say worth 1 million euro, would pay 1000 euro at this same rate…..

But alas, 1000 euro to a millionaire is a pittance, whereas 100 euro to a struggler is 100 euro.

But let’s digress from the math, and entertain the social for a moment, and ask this:

If I pay, will my money stay within my locality?

The Government, and presumably, under instruction of Minister Hogan, are saying The money is ‘ring fenced’ for Local Authorities. Fair Enough. But this Voice, does not see that as being equivalant to All monies paid in the county will remain in this county.

I invite anybody to prove this to be the case.

And if you are thinking of paying the #Householdtax in the next 7 days then relax…good for you, and if you are waivering, then realise this, the worst penalty that you will incur  apparently between now and December is 20 quid, for late payment……..that doesn’t even involve a fine, that’s just a  late payment.

So you have seven days to decide, and it is entirely your choice. And here is the current state of play:

As of the 24th of March, there are still 1,300 000 people approximately still yet to register for the #Householdtax. This means in the remaining seven days to the cut off date of March the 31st., the Government require 185,714 people per day to register.!

So, your choice is ….Pay your 100 now, or risk the extra 20 in solidarity with the 1,300 000 that so far have not trusted this tax.

Your Choice,

Voice


Nine days and counting until the cut off date for registration of the Household Tax, and the Government have begun their ‘charm offensive’ to convince the people to comply.Maybe ‘charm offensive’ is somewhat a loose term, perhaps ‘carrot and stick’ is more suitable, with a heavy emphasis on the Stick!

It appears somewhat akin to the now bygone days of  persuasion techniques employed by the Brothers in my old CBS, as in a ‘it doesn’t matter if you couldn’t do your homework, you will be beat into submission until you find a way of doing it’ persuasion technique.

The Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamonn Gilmore T.D. last evening confirmed just how out of touch many of our politicians are last night when he addressed the House saying that people can pay this charge in their local post office. That is patently untrue.

Fergus O’Dowd T.D. this very morning on the Breakfast show on Newstalk FM even attempted to back him up, saying people can pay through the post office by obtaining a postal order and mailing it, ergo, that is ‘paying through your post office’!

The thing they seem to be missing is, that many people ,due to Government incompetence, are now in the ‘Can’t Pay’ category, and therefore simply cannot find 100 euro in one lump sum, as mentioned in Part 1 of this article.

People are also unhappy with the fact that J.P. Magnier, Denis O’Brien, Bono, etc…… will pay the same 100 euro as will ’92 year old pensioner Paddy Murphy’ who is struggling with austerity measures. Surely this is simply unfair and simply unacceptable in any society that purports to care for the welfare of the elderly.

The Government are saying the “Hogan’s Household Tax”, upon total sign up will raise 160 million euro for Local Authorities. And yet, they cut 170 million euro from these same Authorites in the last budget. So what? you may say, either way it is still taxpayer money.

Except this funding is going to a generic fund, and not ‘ring fenced’ for each Local Authority, so in effect a Corkonian can be funding ‘services’ in Donegal, or vice versa. Or is the  Local Authority actually political speak for EU/IMF masters?

The premise of the 100 euro charge is seen as covering administration costs, and essentially the exercise is to gather Data, on who owns what and where. We were told by Minister Phil Hogan, that the septic tank registration fee of 50 euro was to cover administration costs, and he quickly reduced that fee to 5 euro, yes that’s right 5 (five) euro, as a kind of ‘carrot’ to the people. Now, my math says, that is a reduction of 90% in a fee that we were told was to cover administration costs…… so it may be fair to assume these charges are not for administration at all, or such a reduction would simply not occur.

Anyway you choose to look at it, the Government, and Minister Hogan, as the Minister responsible for this debacle, have clearly shown us what they think of the very people that gave them the privilege to hold office on behalf of the people.

Over the next nine days, just watch the ratcheting up of this ‘Carrot and Stick’ approach, and ask yourself, why they choose to employ such a method.

Is it because they think we are all Donkeys?

 

 

Voice.

 

 

 


Upon this 21st day of March , the Irish nation finds itself just ten days away from the cut off date of being able to self register for what the Government calls the Household Charge, and what the majority of the population calls the Household Tax.

The latest figures show that just 15 per cent, that is, 251, 458 from a estimated 1.6 million homeowners, have currently registered. At this current juncture, that will mean the Government require the remaining 1,348,542 homeowners to register at an average of 134,854 a day!

Now, The Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan T.D. who is responsible for the management and implementation of this Tax, is making strong assertions that the money will be collected, whether people register or not, and penalties will be incurred by late payers, and dissenters, and he proposes to do this by amending the 2010 Fines Act. This act was brought into being as an alternative to sending people to prison upon their default of fine payment.

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/pdf/2010/en.act.2010.0008.PDF

Now this approach raises a question, as there is a statutory requirement upon courts to ascertain whether the individual has the ability to pay the imposed fine in the first place. It appears that Phil Hogan, has the intention to collect these monies, on the premise of ‘Wont Pay’ as opposed to ‘Cant Pay‘. And many have expressed that they are prepared to ‘do time’ as their way of acknowledgement of breaching the law, surely an honourable thing to do, when the ability to pay seems beyond their means.

He also plans to amend the Data Protection Act to gather information on non paying homeowners, from Utility companies. . He may well have a problem with this if I read Section 6 correctly,

http://www.dataprotection.ie/docs/A_guide_to_your_rights_-_Plain_English_Version/858.htm

it reads:

“You can also ask a data controller not to use your personal details for purposes other than their main purpose – for example for marketing.”

Now, the Minister may well intend to plough ahead with this amendment, but by doing so,does he place the consumer in a position of litigator against the very Utility company being used, for breach of an existing contract? That is, the contract entered into, is being altered without the express permission of the signee…..therefore a breach of contract…?

 

Ok, now it is accepted that many people will flat out refuse to pay this tax, and that they are doing so, with the clear realisation that they will face some kind of fight down the road, and that is their right to do so.

However, there are many more, who at this stage, regardless of intention, have yet to completely make up their mind on the issue. They have correctly tried to examine both sides of the discussion, in order to make an informed decision. Alas, due to the extraordinary incompetence of the Government, and in particular Minister Hogan, many,many homeowners are still waiting to receive the information leaflet through their letter box.

For those without access to the internet, and other electronic media, this leaflet is fundamental to any informed decision making process.

Not only that, but if these people were considering the direct debit option, on the basis that they simple could not afford a once off payment of 100 euro, and preferred the 4 x 25 euro installment option, then they have clearly been placed in the ‘Cant Pay’ as opposed to ‘Wont Pay’ category, due to non receipt of the information leaflet before the direct debit cut off date of Feb 29th 2012.

And so, it is conceivable, that through the negligence, of the Government, and Minister Hogan, in particular, that many people may actually be found guilty of tax avoidance, a criminal offence, due to Government incomeptence.

I wonder if Minister Hogan has considered amending legislation to cover this?

And if Minister Hogan, does not achieve even a 50% sign up rate, that is 800 000 homeowners, which in any language has to be a clear failure of his brief, will he do the honourable thing and resign his position?

No, perish the thought!

 

 

Voice

 

 

 

“Mother’s Day”

Posted: March 18, 2012 in Prose

Mother’s Day

She is the life of every heart beat,

the source of comfort, warmth, and love,

She has the patience of a Saint,

she’s like an Angel from above,

She comes in all shapes and sizes,

in every Hue, that’s ever been,

She’s the ‘patcher upperer’, of cuts and scrapes,

she’s the jelly and ice cream.

Your’s may be younger, or older,

or have a difference of some kind,

And yet the similarities in all of them,

is a universal bind,

Whatever the situation,

they seem to always know what to say,

So, thanks to all you great women out there,

Enjoy your Mother’s Day!

Voice


ST PATRICK’S DAY

From Belfast’s Lough, to Cork’s Harbour,

From the ‘Forty Foot’ to the Atlantic Sea,

From Washington, to Sydney Town,

To wherever you may be,

Grab your Green ,White, Orange and Gold, on this St Patrick’s Day,

And Say, ‘I’m Proud to be Irish, In Every Irish Way,

 

To the fisherman, fishing Cod, To the Coach on a rainy pitchside,

To the Irish man that’s a New York Cop,

to those we cannot see,

To the Irish mammy, that held the fort,

Wherever you may be,

Grab your Green ,White, Orange and Gold, on this St Patrick’s Day,

And Say, ‘I’m Proud to be Irish, In Every Irish Way,

From the land of Scholars and Poets, From Luke Kelly’s amazing Voice,

From the words of Behan, Stoker and Shaw,

all fine company,

From the day that Molly Bloomed with Joyce,

Wherever you may be,

Grab your Green ,White,Orange and Gold, on this St Patrick’s Day,

And Say, ‘I’m Proud to be Irish, In Every Irish Way,

May your memory, be not lost aft, or not lost to the fore,

May it be one of a crossroad dance, neath a moon,

that all could see,

That glows in celebration, of the laughter,music, the Craic,

Wherever you may be,

Grab your Green ,White, Orange and Gold, on this St Patrick’s Day,

And Say, ‘I’m Proud to be irish, In Every Irish Way,

 

Being Irish, is being Celtic, it is all about just being,

It is NewGrange on the Solstices,

it is Fastnet against the sea,

It is the knowing of a trouble, a handshake there within,

Wherever you may be,

Grab your Green ,White,Orange and Gold, on this St Patrick’s Day,

And Say, ‘I’m Proud to be irish, In Every Irish Way,

Is it the haircuts on the hoodies, or the bronze of Molly Malone,

Is it Aslan ,or Cuchulainn,

or Bacon’s swim in the Liffey

Is it the cherry tree in springtime, the pheasant upon flight,

Wherever you may be,

Grab your Green ,White,Orange and Gold, on this St Patrick’s Day,

And Say, ‘I’m Proud to be Irish, In Every Irish Way,

 

Wherever you may be on this Holy Day, Celebrate your Celtic Identity,

Let not past or future define you, as such,

let it just inform,

And we shall meet again, and tell the tales,

Of the places we did see,

And we shall

 Grab our Green ,White,Orange and Gold, on this St Patrick’s Day,

And Say, ‘I’m Proud to be Irish, In Every Irish Way,

Happy St Patrick’s Day to all.

Voice


Twelve months ago this Voice invited people through a twitter campaign to participate in what is known as the St Patrick’s Day One Minute Stand.

The original concept was as a response to the economic situation in Ireland. The concept was an invitation to all that considered them selves Irish to make a silent protest against the conditions of the IMF/EU bailout being forced upon the Irish nation.

Now, the wherefores and whys of this bailout will not be for discussion here in this article…and you are invited to read back thru this blog, if you wish to get a feel of some of this….

Let’s move to St Patrick’s day 2012.

The Irish economy has imploded, any way you look at it…..economists may prove it thru the Math, but the real evidence is through the ‘behaviour’ of it’s people….

Emigration and Suicide are reaching extraordinary figures.

And so the #oneminutestand seeks to invite people wherever they are, as they celebrate their St. Patrick’s Day, to also question exactly what are they celebrating?

If it is purely a religious festival, then so be it……but for this Voice, the observation seems to be and is promoted as, a day of celebration of National Identity. Even the Irish Tourist Board takes this so called Holy Day, and invites other countries worldwide to turn their monuments Green for the day…..

But the reality is, today in 2012, many Irish have had to leave these shores once again, the difference is this time, Good Ol Paddy, has become Mr. Patrick with a Degree, and a Debt. Some Patrick’s have cut and run, and taken the chance in a foreign land, some Patrick’s have sought solution in ending it all, the main difference in this current economic situation is:

Previous recessions, offered little opportunity, and so, many emigrated, however, this time around, little opportunity is coupled with debt,negative equity, and massive psychological burden,

Some emigrate, some dont……… This recession of 2012 has seen the incidences of suicide increase to such an alarming rate, that it is conceivable that over 900 people will take their lives this year…… that is from a population of 4.5 million people.  

So why does the #oneminutestand ask you to participate?

The #oneminutestand simply asks this…. On your St. Patrick’s Day, celebrate your identity as being Irish, and remember that part of that  has nothing to do with Cheltenham , or Rugby, or all the Green Lights on the Sydney Opera house. Part of being Irish, is being proud, 

and so,

For this Voice, whether I am alone or in company, I will stand for one minute in silence to remember those that are not here today.  And if you Join this Voice in that, then I suspect we will feel that very Pride that the day celebrates, and if you choose to differ, then I will still proudly stand alone

#oneminutestand

Voice


IT WAITS FOR YOU TO CLAIM IT

Through the shadow, of the darkest day, neath the covers of the deepest grey,

Lies the answer that blows all the cobwebs away,

And it waits for you to claim it.

In the longest tunnel that refuses light, when the brightest day appears like night,

When ne’er a thing seems to be going right,

It still waits for you to claim it.

When the summer’s day feels like winter’s cold, when every muscle feels so weary, aged, and old,

When you wish all those untruths,had remained untold,

It will be there, waiting for you to claim it.

If the midday sun serves only to blind, when life’s answers seem so hard to find,

Then the search for it, will ease your mind,

For it will be there, and waits for you to claim it.

It belongs to you, it holds no grief, it dances with joy, and endless belief,

It protects your heart from any thief,

And is waiting there for you to claim it.

 

What is it?

 

Your smile 

🙂

Voice.


Ok,

We can see what a ‘Yes’ Vote will do, so let’s explore this a little

As the analogy from this Voice suggests, If the people of Ireland decide to vote FOR, the proposed referendum, then surely they will do so, knowing that 76 BILLION  Euro must be found somewhere, or at least ‘be seen’ to be found. that is 76 000,000,000 euro.

Now, at this juncture, I have no interest in exploring the outome of a yes/No result, what I am more interested in is the way that both sides of this debate will sell this referendum.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have both made early statements about this referendum….to paraphrase……‘this referendum is about whether or not the Irish people wish to remain in the EuorZone..’

Allow this Voice to categorically state that this is BALONEY!

This Referendum , is about deciding if we as a nation wish for our budgets to be controlled by a ‘collective’ (an unelected one at that) and enshrined in our constitution….

So In simple terms, allow this Voice to analyse what a ‘nation changing’ referendum does…..

Pointt 1:

The Fiscal Compact Treaty will contract the Government to a 60% debt ratio of GDP, ergo based upon current figures, a reduction of 76 Billion Euro of debt.  Now the last 2 budgets have implemented cuts of circa 7 Billion……so Vote Yes, and you vote for a continuance of Austerity which is Ten Fold……..

Point 2:

If this Referendum is rejected by the people, it does not mean that the Irish Nation will be voting for its choice of staying in Europe. The Fiscal Compact has been drawn up outside of/and external to, the ‘main frame’ of European membership rules. In Short….. this Treaty is a a Financial Debt Controlling document and not a membership document. so DONT buy into the either/or argument.

Point 3:

This referendum reminds this Voice of the ‘Australian Republic’ referendum some 20 years ago…which proposed to its people that Australia would become a Republic in its own right, if its symbolic head of state (Governor General) which was to be called President, and was elected by 2/3 thirds of the majority of the house of Parliament, as representatives of the people, and not directly by the people…..    and so the referendum failed.

Not because they didn’t want to be a republic, but because they didnt want to become a republic, based upon those constitutional terms.

 Point 4:

And so, If I have it right, if this referendum is rejected by the people, it does not mean that the people wish to depart the EuroZone, they simple do not wish, for their Constitution to be enshrined with a dictact from afar that is seeking to demand cuts/savings/etc…..that are at least ten times more impacting than what we know now.

I proclaim to have no answers, but I do have many questions. and so for now, I leave you with this Part 2 of “The Fiscal Compact Treaty” Please feel free to discuss this

Voice


The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Enda Kenny,  announced on the 28th of February 2012, that a referendum on the EU Fiscal Compact Treaty will be put to the people.

This decision was based upon the advice of the Attorney General, that is, that if he didnt take this decision, it would be more than likely that a Constitutional challenge would be brought against the Government.  http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0228/breaking41.html?via=rel

So, what is  the Fiscal Treaty?

Basically, it is a document that binds all participating Nations of the EU, to a budgetary discipline that seeks to hold each Nation to restricted public deficits. The Full document (only ten pages)  can be viewed here:

http://www.irishtimes.com/focus/2012/fiscal-compact/index.pdf

Now, keeping public spending under control, on the surface may be a good, decent, and worthy concept, so why is this referendum important to the Irish People?

This is a referendum, and therefore means that if passed will become enshrined in the Irish Constitution. A Budgetary Controlling Treaty, that will dictate how Ireland will run its finances, and that will be ‘set in stone’. It states:

“CONSCIOUS of the need to ensure that their deficits do not exceed 3% of their gross domestic product at market prices and that government debt does not exceed, or is sufficiently declining towards, 60% of their gross domestic product at market prices,”

Some may say, this is a sound idea, but for Ireland, and many other EU nations, this will be at best, incredibly difficult to achieve. Ireland’s current debt to GDP ratio stands at around 107%, yes you read that right, 107%, according to The National Management Treasury Agency:

http://www.ntma.ie/GovernmentDebt/GovernmentDebt.php

“It is important to note the difference between Government Debt, which is the important figure here, and National Debt…a different animal altogether”

And this Treaty, if passed, will mean that Ireland will be committed to reducing its’ current ratio of 107% to 60%.  The most current estimates of Irish nominal GDP are roughly 155 Billion Euro:

Dept of Finance Table 2:

http://budget.gov.ie/budgets/2012/Documents/Economic%20and%20Fiscal%20Outlook.pdf

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) represents the total value added (output) in the production of goods and services in the country.

Ok, so in short, Ireland produces roughly 155 billion euro in goods and services, and has a debt ratio of 107% of this figure, ergo it owes roughly 166 billion.

And therefore the Fiscal Treaty will demand that, if passed, Ireland will need to reduce its debt  to roughly 90 billion  euro based upon current GDP output and 60% debt ratio requirements. In effect it must find/cut 76 billion euro to meet the requirements of the Fiscal Compact Treaty.

Now, either way you look at it, the movement of your euro, surely will be out of your pocket, and not into it.  Effectively a cut of 76 billion Euro, enshrined in our constitution, if people decide to vote for this treaty.

Add in debt repayments to bondholders, Household Taxes, Septic Tank charges, USC, etc,etc,etc…..and you may get the picture.

The Fiscal Compact Treaty? More like the Financial Impact Treaty!

Voice

with special thanks to Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev for his helpful guidance