Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Paying the Property Tax

I'm as keen to NOT pay tax as the next person, but I gotta admit the Revenue Commissioners' web site sure is efficient and easy to use. It took me less than a minute to fill in the direct debit mandate for the annual charge.

And, yes, direct debit. I know I've said before that I HATE direct debit, but it really seems the best option for making the property tax seem as insignificant as possible. Obviously the amount owed differs according to property value, but if you use a €500 estimate for the tax that works out at less than €42 per month.

Do I want to pay it? No, I don't want to pay any taxes. However, the amount I pay in property tax is dwarfed by what I pay in income tax and VAT. The total tax taken from me is a far bigger issue than whether it's tax on my property or income or purchases.

So if you're a Labour or Fine Gael hack - or worse, government minister - quit bellyaching about the Revenue Commissioners' letters and do something about our massive tax bills.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The elite moaning about elitism

The Seanad is "elitist." I just can't get over how many times I've seen that on Twitter. What exactly makes it elitist? Oh yeah, there are six seats reserved for university graduates.

OK. I guess that settles it then. The Seanad is eitist because those with university degrees are the "elite."

It's a laughable argument. Not because it's not true, because it is, but because nearly all those who are making that case are graduates. They have the better jobs and the higher salaries. That is, they are the 'elite.'

The killer is that almost all of those who make that case are graduates who benefited from an entirely or almost entirely subsidized college education. {And, yes, €3,000 per annum is nowhere near the full cost of your education. €15,000+ would be closer to the mark.} Yet I've heard precious little from any of the political parties or even from the media (no elite in either of those groupings, I'm sure) demanding an end to the government subsidy for third level education.

So before you bellow like a starving animal about the injustice of the elitist Seanad perhaps you should consider whether those who do not have a third level education, who fill the ranks of those jobs graduates don't want, whose children have little hope of getting a place in university might have a far bigger gripe about having to pay taxes to subsidize the education of the elite than they do with the fact that 10% of the members of the powerless upper chamber of parliament are reserved for the elite.

In other words, give me a break with your elitist moaning about elitism.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2016 – "More charismatic than Scott Walker, more conservative than Chris Christie"

I'd actually forgotten about Mike Pence. I had no idea what he was up to until I came across this column from the Daily Caller.

I have no idea if the columnist is right and that Pence would make a formidable candidate for 2016. Truth is I'm about 2+ years away from giving much thought to 2016. However, I would be keen to see how the Irish media reacted to candidate Pence, who is a grandson of an Irish immigrant, and who
spent the better part of a year working in Ireland when he was younger. He bartended and cut turf in County Clare and almost stayed there.
"Irish" or not, I suspect most in the Irish media would run a mile from the 'teavangelical' Pence.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Why should Ireland support France's demands to exclude audiovisual products from trade talks?

Is Ireland better off if movies and television are excluded from EU-US free trade talks?

Danielle Auroi - French deputy of the European Green Party, chairwoman of the European Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, and head of delegation for the Conference of the Community and European Affairs Committees (busy woman) - writing in today's Irish Times argues that film & television should be specifically excluded from the current trade negotiations. She says the US hasn't asked for film or television to be included in the talks, but she and others - especially in France - want to make sure film & tv don't find their way into these talks. They're worried about English-language film and television driving out work in any other European language.

Whatever. I don't have any strong feelings on audiovisual products being included in the trade talks. What interests me is this sentence: "I do hope that Ireland, which knows how vital cultural and language diversity really is, will also be vigilant on the consequences of this negotiation."

What does that mean? Does Ireland know "how vital cultural and language diversity really is?" If yes, can someone share the insight with me? I would have thought that Ireland would have been more beneficiary than loser in the growth of the market for English-language products.

Sure if you want to go back through history and talk about the destruction of the Irish language I get the point, but I don't see how the future of Irish today is threatened by these trade talks. In fact, I wonder if free trade in film and television products would be a plus for Ireland? I really have no idea.

I can't imagine that free trade in film and television products could result in any more American movies and television shows here. They seem to be everywhere already. I have a vague idea that Irish film-makers struggle to crack the market here, let alone outside Ireland and that's under the current regime. Would things really be worse for them if there was a totally free market in audiovisual products?

Maybe they would, but maybe they wouldn't. I don't think it's obvious in the way Auroi makes it seem.

Irish authors, playwrights and song-writers all benefit from the ubiquity of English so I can see no reason why Irish film-makers shouldn't too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

OMG #CCVEN - Children should vote? LOL

The Constitutional Convention - aka talk shop for those with too little do - has proposed that children should be allowed to vote. Now, not all children, but any child over 16.

And yes - children. They are children at that age. It's not just me who says so. That's the law of the land. "In Ireland under the Child Care Act 1991, the Children Act 2001 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (pdf) a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18."

So we're talking about children. And there are those who want them to vote. Yet, has the Constitutional Convention proposed eliminating laws that restrict the rights of these would be voters to work? No, of course not. They're children, remember? Has the Constitutional Convention recommended that 16-18 year-old criminals be charged, tried and jailed as adults? Like hell they have. They're only children, remember?

So, no. They're children in the eyes of the law and, therefore, cannot be allowed to vote.

End of

Thursday, February 21, 2013

For the Met fan - @MetsPolice's eBook is great fun. Buy it.

I mentioned on Twitter that I got a 2nd hand Kindle last week. I got it from a family member who had no need for this Version 1 Kindle now that they had a new, souped-up one. So I have a Kindle.

So I have a Kindle, but now what? I googled looking for free books and found the Gutenberg Project. Amazing. Tens of thousands of out of copyright books. I downloaded a whole load. I announced that I was never going to buy a book for the Kindle because, well, why would I? I had over a hundred downloaded and 38,000 more to read for free. Why would I buy one?

Then yesterday I saw that Shannon Shark (@MetsPolice) had published an eBook. Two clicks later and my credit card was charged $4 and I had a copy of the book on my 'new' Kindle.

Shark isn't a sports journalist or professional writer or a major league baseball player. He's blogger/tweeter, but really he's a fan. Like me. A normal guy who tweets and blogs about the Mets. He even has a life and isn't that obsessed with the Mets.

Maybe it's the normality of it all or the easy style he has, but, whatever, I really enjoyed reading his book. It wasn't hard-going and it's not a work of literary art. Who'd want that in a book about being a Met fan (and a son, a husband and a father.)?

It took me a few hours to read the book, but it was more than worth it. Maybe you have to be a Met fan to enjoy the book. Maybe you have to be a man. Maybe you have to be a male Met fan over 40, but I fit all those and I thought the book was great. It's funny, poignant and informative (about little things about the Mets). I couldn't put it down.

As I said on Twitter my biggest disappointment is that I really wanted to sit down and talk to Shark about his book for about 4 hours. It's something he may remedy in an online format.

I hope loads of Met fans buy it and I hope other Met bloggers follow Shark's lead. I'm particularly talking about you, Steve (@kranepool). I'd love to relive the Art Howe years in an eBook format. I'd also like your take of things further in the past.

For too long baseball books were written by ex-players and (too often too cynical) sportswriters. If the eBooks open it up to fans to publish then I'm a big fan of the Kindle and will be buying more such books.

Friday, February 01, 2013

United's prices on flights between Dublin and Newark

I've tried this a few times and it's always the same. If you check flights on United from Dublin to Newark the price is about €65 higher if you have an Irish address rather than an American address. Same flights, same dates, same everything, but for some reason the price varies wildly depending on whether your credit card is Irish or American.

I tried going out on Feb 18 and returning on March 9. With "Ireland" selected as my address the price of the flights was €482. If I change the country in the top right the price is $566, which is €415. I cannot understand the difference. All I can say is if you have an American credit card, use it if you're buying a ticket to Newark.

Oddly, I don't see any appreciable difference in price if you put it another destination other than Newark. I have no idea what's going on here.