Table of the Week
The debate about whether Ireland is a high-tax or low-tax economy still has some potential, and this week in the Dail, the finance minister Michael Noonan provided a response to a parliamentary question which included the above table showing tax revenues as a proportion of GNP. Seems that in 2010, more than two years into the crisis, the percentage hit a low of 24.4% and that is down from a high of 32.6% in 1994.
Quote of the Week
“The next phase of Europe’s recovery will involve untapping the full potential of the Single Market. We will be ambitious for progress on the Professional Qualifications Directive, on the Posting of Workers Directive and on pensions portability.” An Taoiseach Enda Kenny appeared before the European Parliament on 16th January 2013 where he delivered this speech.
I think he meant “tapping” or “unblocking” but whatever he meant, he’s back. Who “he”? The eejit speech writer who embarrassed us all on the world stage in March 2011 at the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House when Enda Kenny delivered the most inarticulate, toe-curlingly bad, “black man equals slave”, mumbo jumbo that you’re ever likely to hear.
This week, at the European Parliament, An Taoiseach surprised many who thought that we’d had a hush-hush EU enlargement which encompassed the Chechens, Georgians, Armenians, Ingush, Tatars when he said “From the Atlantic to the Urals our people want and need security.”
He solemnly prioritized at least four areas for the Irish EU presidency which kicked off three weeks ago, and delivered another speech bereft of targets or tangibility. And I know it was the same speech writer who made a holy show of us in Washington two years ago – this sort of sh*te doesn’t write itself
“In the sixth and seventh Centuries our monks, Columbanus and Killian among their number, left in their small boats to bring the light of learning to the European mind.”
With €168,000-a-year advisers, you’d think one of them would pluck up the courage to tell the boss to cop on.
One Up for New Media of the Week
The news that Ireland’s biggest state agency, the one for which we’re on the hook for €27bn of state-guaranteed bonds, published its third quarter report and accounts went unnoticed in The.Paper.Of.Record.
But at least the Irish Times did find time to correct one of the biggest hoaxes in the sporting world for some time, when it re-reported an American blog’s revelation that the girlfriend of a star of the “Fighting Irish” Notre Dame American football team, the girlfriend who had supposedly died last September 2012 which might have explained some poor performances on the field by Manti T’eo, was a girlfriend who didn’t exist.
Yes, it was the American blog “Dead Spin” which last Wednesday broke the news that a woman called Lennay Kekua, the supposed girlfriend of Notre Dame’s linebacker Manti T’eo, and the woman who had supposedly died last September 2012, was non-existent. When the “story” originally broke last September of the woman’s “death”, the old media was full of it, it even had photos of the dead girlfriend – which have now turned out to be some anonymous Californian woman.
At least, The.Paper. Of.Record managed to re-report the blog’s revelations. A day later.
Announcement you never thought you’d see of the Week
“Agriculture Committee to discuss authenticity of beef burgers”
Ireland’s vitally important meat trade came under pressure this week after it was revealed that routine samples of beef burgers sold in Irish stores in November 2012 were assessed to contain not just beef, onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, but….horse! Yes, they talked about horse DNA and molecules but that can’t disguise the fact that in some instances, substantial horsemeat – up to 29% of a burger in one instance reportedly – was being used. Larry Goodman, who disappeared from the national stage in the 1990s when he bought his meat processing business back from the banks – in NAMA, he would have had no chance as he would have been considered a “defaulting debtor” – has returned. The now 76-year old has amassed a considerable fortune in the past two decades and together with his son, also Laurence, he has been building a considerable property portfolio and private hospital business. And this week, it was revealed it was his meat processing businesses which had used ingredients, apparently sourced overseas, which contained horsemeat. There is still confusion over how 29% of a burger could be horse without someone noticing in the Irish business, but investigations continue. The Oireachtas agriculture committee has summoned officials from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and from the Department of Agriculture to answer questions on Tuesday next.
Unlike the British mad cow/BSE matter in the 1990s, there is no health risk in consuming horse infused beef burgers – has anyone actually done a taste test? – and the contaminated ingredients were used elsewhere including Britain and Northern Ireland, and it was because we have more rigorous testing here in Ireland that the problem was uncovered at all. Nevertheless, because livestock and meat is such a big business, employing 300,000 people in Ireland and accounting for €3bn of the €9bn of food exports last year, the matter is being taken very seriously indeed. So it’s no time for jokes, like pointing out “hamburger” is an anagram of “Shergar bum” or having your burger cooked “good to firm”, it’s enough to give you night mares!
Book of the Week
“Going Clear” written by Pulitzer Prize winner, Lawrence Wright
Unfortunately, contrary to the claim in the film “The Departed”, it seems that Sigmund Freud never actually referred to the Irish as the only nation impervious to psychoanalysis, but to the best of my knowledge, we remain the only nation where the Church of Scientology makes an accounting loss. After we’ve embraced “Heaven and Hell and everlasting life and all that type of thing. Big Demons sticking hot pokers up your arse for all eternity” the Scientologists were always going to be on a loser with audits, thetans and fifth levels. In the United States, Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Looming Tower” about Al Qaeda, has just published a new book “Going Clear” which claims to give the down-and-dirty on life in Scientology.
I haven’t read the book myself, the review refers to all sorts of nasties employed by the Scientologists – from the review in the New York Times
““the Hole,” a hellish double-wide trailer parked at a California resort owned by the church. Forty or 50 people were housed there with no furniture or beds, eating leftovers, enduring cold-hose group showers. There are stories of people being beaten; and lots of stories of forced divorces, mandatory “disconnections””
The reason I haven’t read the book is that it isn’t being released by the publisher, Transworld, in either Ireland or the UK. And the reason for that? Our libel laws, which place the burden of proof on the respondent rather than the applicant. The Guardian writes “The legal advice was that Going Clear’s content was “not robust enough for the UK market,” they say.”