As most everyone knows, money is tight in the Governmental Coffers of Ireland these days. There just isn't as much coming in as their is going out. This has nothing to do with the fact that politicians are all on wages that in most cases rival the President of the United States own salary, hell no. Sure what would that have to do with anything? But how to fix the finances of the country is something of a mystery to the boys in Leinster House these days, one even the mighty Sherlock Holmes would have trouble solving.
They sit back and do things like increase the vat by 2% "because people won't drive across the border to shop in the North when there's only a 2% difference", then wonder why people are going across the border to shop in the North when there is only a 2% difference.
The mind boggles.
But armchair economics aside, some of the great lines of thought in the last few days coming from our wonderful elected leaders is nothing short of comedy gold.
We have Minister Rabbitte who speaks of bringing in a "broadcasting charge", because if you don't use the word 'tax' the public won't start shouting that election promises have been broken apparently. This is something that will replace the current T.V. License, a thing most people detest paying for as the station that it mainly funds, RTÉ, produces very little worth and pays outrages wages to some of its "stars". While I would be one of the people in favor of scrapping that License fully, the logic behind Minister Rabbitte's new broadcasting charge is hilarious.
Most people will, if they can, try and avoid paying the T.V. License until they get a knock on the door and a six week warning. I won't deny it, I was one of those people. Sure why not? So avoidance of paying the thing is high and the broadcasting charge is meant to address that by covering a television set and a device that can watch television shows online using the various players and sites. Which in a way is making sense, right up until the moment he said that if people aren't watching the shows of RTÉ, our national broadcaster, on their telly then they must be watching them online using the stations own RTÉ player.
A thought process akin to saying "People who don't use public transport must have the power of teleporation".
Sometimes ministers shouldn't be allowed to deviate from the script, or at least get a script written that is more relevant. All the RTÉ player does is give most people another way to avoid the dung that station produces. Besides you can watch most of the other shows it airs on any other station.
Money well spent importing things that we saw years ago elsewhere.
Then we have the great electricity saving idea mooted by another minister. She reckoned that motorways don't really need all those lights on all the time, so they should be turned off. Logic that makes sense if you want to save a few shillings in your house, by turning lights off in rooms you aren't in, but on long stretches of motorway at night? Why that's brilliant. The resulting accidents that would happen would see a rise in call-outs to the Fire Brigade, bringing in five hundred euro a call out.
Fantastic, the recession is over.
My firm favourite soundbite from a politician recently comes from the Minister for Innovation, an oxymoron if ever there was one, Minister Sherlock.
Sadly the only thing he shares with his literature namesake is the name, none of the logical thinking. As part of this wonderful SOPA and PIPA argument about illegal downloads he has decided to step up and take a stand. Despite SOPA practically being turfed out of the US Congress, Minister Sherlock has designed an even worse one for Ireland. He is leaving the banning of sites up to the courts, so that all a Big Wig from Sony/Universal/Whathaveyou has to do is apply to the courts for a site to be blocked. From hosting a movie file illegally to posting a picture that a movie studio might own, his fantastic approach allows it all to be copyright infringement. Hell if I attached an image to this rant from 'The Matrix' his little law would give them enough power to get The Bauble banned.
Because, as you know, a blanket guarantee is a great idea. Sure just look at the bank one, that's turned the country right around.
Let's hope that particular gem doesn't come into law any time soon.
But as stupid as the law itself is, it was his logic behind it that really baffles me. According to Minister Sherlock the sales of CDs has declined in recent years and this can solely, solely, be attributed to illegal downloading. It's obvious, right? People are not buying CDs anymore and I can tell because we are getting less tax and vat from that, because they are downloading them from the Internet-thing.
What do you mean people can legally download music, having paid the artist directly? No I didn't hear about that court battle iTunes had with The Beatles, do they have a new gramophone reel out? Why does your iPhone play music? Are those my feet?
I mean really, who did the research on that one and then let him talk in public? In public of all places! Stupidity like that should be kept to yourself.
It should be a requirement that before a minister can start working on anything that comes into law that they have to
A) Have a six month course on the subject to actually understand it (I don't think one of them knows how the Internet really works)
B) Have one of those insanely paid advisers be somebody who is under thirty years of age. At least then they might actually be more informed than the mountain goat at the top of Everest that they so perfectly imitate sometimes.