Ireland’s housing crisis

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Odd bits from Wednesday’s Press

Trump, meanwhile, faces bipartisan opposition to his budget plans to take from the poor and give to the wall. The president wants to reduce spending by $3.6tn – slashing everything from Medicaid to Meals on Wheels – while putting an extra $2.6bn into border security including the Mexico barrier. Powerful Republicans are against it. Harold Rogers said: “The cuts are draconian.” John McCain declared Trump’s proposals were “dead on arrival”.
Today’s Good News
Unemployment dropped below 7%
Figures released yesterday show that the labour market continued to improve in the first three months of this year, with the number of people at work rising by more than economists had expected – by 68,000 – and the unemployment rate dropping below 7 per cent for the first time since August 2008.
Facebook Files – The social network lets users spread Holocaust denial even where it’s illegal, if it can get away with it, we reveal today in our continuing investigation. Here are Facebook’s own instructions to its moderators on the subject (warning: disturbing content). And according to one internal source, Islamist extremists are getting around restrictions because moderators only have 10 seconds to decide whether to delete a post. In doing so they are supposed to refer to a manual that is 44 pages long and contains names and faces of 646 terrorist leaders and their groups. “Mission impossible,” says the insider.
Young children’s maths, English and communication skills improve if they use iPads in school on a regular basis.
That is one of the key findings of the most in-depth research of its kind ever carried out in Northern Ireland.
The study – Mobile Devices in Early Learning – was carried out over two years and involved about 650 pupils in five Belfast primary schools and five nursery schools.
Schools which took part were in some of the most deprived areas of the city.
They were each supplied with sets of iPads for nursery, primary one, primary two and primary three classes.
Researchers from Stranmillis University College then assessed how pupils, parents, principals and teachers used them over the course of two years.
Among their key findings were that:
■ The introduction of digital technology has had a positive impact on the development of children’s literacy and numeracy skills
■ Contrary to initial expectations, principals and teachers report that the use of ipads in the classroom has enhanced children’s communication skills
■ Children view learning using handheld devices as play and are more highly motivated, enthused and engaged
■ Boys appear to be more enthused when using digital technology, particularly when producing pieces of written work
IPads helped young children to be more motivated and engaged in class, said Dr Colette Gray from Stranmillis, who was one of the study’s authors.
The ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded China’s debt and said it expects the country’s financial strength to erode in the coming years despite reform. The downgrade – China’s first since 1989 – pushed the yuan lower but also hit the Australian dollar, which is closely linked to the fortunes of the Chinese economy. 
Moody’s may consider China’s rampant debt a problem but its consumers are still going strong. They helped Jaguar LandRover sell 32% more vehicles in China last year, the UK-based manufacturer said, as it recorded global sales of more than 600,000.
The pound was buying $1.297 and €1.159 overnight.

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Brexit and Gibraltar !

As we all know well over 90% of Gibraltarians voted to Remain within the EU. Having your cake and eating it comes to mind since well over 90% voted in a referendum to Remain in UK !
Lets be clear what Gib is and is not. In years gone by when the strength of your Navy was significant, especially when you had an Empire to manage and protect, then being able to contril the Gib Straits was important and worth fighting about. Methods of modern warfare have greatly reduced this kind of importance. So it is Not the strategic navel base of old.
Such is the topography of Gib that one would have trouble even raising a herd of mountain goats on it! Gib’s own website gives us a few very good clues as to what Gibraltar Is in the 21st century. From their own website ” Highly developed business services imfratructure where it is possible to passport an EU licence in finacial sevices…….. distribute competitively priced VAT-free goods and services to the markets of the EU and Africa. Conduct bussiness in a quality low-tax jurusdiction….. low levels of corporate tax. and few restrctions in moving capital or repatriating dividends”. To help provide such a wondeful range of services there are 17 registered banks, including the recently (March 2017) raided money laundering giant Credit Suisse, and RBS/Natwest’s exposed tax avoidance offices.
A perfect description of a modern Tax Haven, where there is a registered off-shore company for every 4 Gibraltarians. Population 32,000, off-shore companies 8,464.
In a nutshell, it provides a service to well heeled companies and individuals to avoid or minimise paying their fair share of tax in their own country, ie. it robs other countries’ Governments of badly needed income to provide vital services to their citizens. The funds in question may have been earned legally or illegally eg. drug running, people trafficking, or any other profitable criminal activity. Of course they are not on their own (BVI, Cayman, Jersey, IoM, Bermuda, City of London, IFSC,Dublin etc) in providing such services which most of us have become much more informed about and have come to understand the damage they do in both the developed world and developing world.
The political side of the discussion is often clouded by referencing the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, in which Gib was given “in perpeptuity” to England. In fact it was occupied by the Hessian Prince George in 1704 and 90% of the Spanish population fled after being subjected to mass raping and pillaging.
The much mentioned treaty of 1713 was in fact a collection of treaties between various European powers whereby the victors were dividing up the spoils of recent wars. Many, indeed most, of the areas covered in the Treaty are no longer recognisable in the modern world 300 years on. EG. Englsnd was granted an exclusivity on the shipping of African slaves to Spanish colonies; much of present day Italy was given to the Austrian Hapsburgs; most of Brazil was given to Portugal; the little duchy of Savoy was given Sicily. There is virtually nothing of this Treaty recognisable in the 21st century,,,, but the UK Foreign Office frequently cite it as one of the main reasons that Gib must remain a part of the UK !
The UN General Assemly Resolution 2352 specifically asserts “that Gibraltar is a colony which impinges on the territorial integrity of Spain and thus on Spanish right to self-determinationand that a referendum of the colonistscould not change that.”
Of course in the referendum 95% voted to stay within UK and within the EU, naturally ‘cos this gives greatest access to those who wish to use their Secrecy Jurisdiction/Tax Haven services.
As a member of England’s oldest colony I may just have a slightly tainted viewpoint, but to be truthful whether The Rock is part of UK, Spain or is Independent is of less concern to me than the ending of the tax avoidance/evasion services and other facilities which support and add to the growing inequality in our world, both locally and internationally.
We all need to exposed and object to this financial cancer which is incubated and fostered in such juisdictions.

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Rule #1 in politics-Never invade Afganistan.H McMillan 1963

Obviously Tony Blair either wasn’t aware of this or didn’t believe it. Britain invaded, fought in and retreated beaten from Afganistan 4 times in the last 170 years. 1842, 1880, 1919 and most recently 2014 which was in good PR speak described as a withdrawal. The count, 453 deaths and thousands maimed and injured.
At one stage since their entry in 2006 Britain had 137 bases, mainly in Helmand province. Bastion was the first, the largest and the last to close on 27th Oct 2014. At its peak over 30,000 personnel lived in this Base. It had coffee bars, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, 3 gyms, state-of-the-art hospital and its own water bottling plant producing 15,000 gallons a day. They clearly meant to stay there.
At one point it was the UK’s 3rd busiest airport after Healthrow and Manchester.
Bastion was built and dismantled by engineer Lt Colonel Laurence Quinn. “It’s like trying to pack up a town the size of Aldershot (37,000) but with Gatwick airport bolted on to it”.
Fifty aircraft stationed there had to go back plus 3,300 armoured vehicles including a number of “Mastiffs & Wolfhounds”, huge 6 wheeled armour-caged monsters which cost over £1 million each. All in all some 5,500 40ft containers were returned to the UK.
All that remained was a few empty hangers and the rusty barbed wire and watch towers on the 23, yes twenty three mile perimeter of the base. The planning of the departure/retreat was meticulous following severe instructions from Whitehall “We don’t want anything that vaguely looks like helicopters fleeing from the US Embassy in Saigon.”
This coalition of the willing, 48 countries, lost 3,484 troops and spent about $1 trillion, $1,000,000,000. A war Obama called “the good war”!!
Perhaps McMillan got it right? The most advanced countries in the world, with satellites in the sky 24/7, 140,000 troops deployed and bombs the size of family cars raining down on one of the poorest countries in the world failed to defeat a ragtag group of religious students & farmers led by a one-eyed mullah.
Why did they even bother?

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The Free Market, the only way to go??

As we know the USA is the bastion and the major promoter of the Free Market, minimum Gov’t interference, minimum regulation (eg. no maternity leave, no legalised annual vacation), low or no minmum wage, minimum taxes,  every man for himself more or less, you get picture.

For a whole variety of reasons there is an ongoing epidemic of deaths from overdosing on opiates and heroin in this “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”. The latest years Govt produced figures are for 2015, current estimates put deaths from overdosing on these two drugs to be close to 1,000 per week!


One Corporation in particular is doing something about it , Kaleo has been marketing EVZIO, (oloxone HCI injection) basically a self administered injectable antidote. The graphs above display the huge and growing need/demand for such a product. Here’s where the Free Market really comes into its own; when demand is increasing and the supply is limited (because you control it thru patent/intellectual property laws), then economic theory says the price will rise,,,,,, and boy has it risen !

EVZIO cost $690 a unit in 2014, the 2017 price is $4,500! A 650% increase. In fairness many USA companies have learned this basic economic theory; fresh faced MBA graduates from Ivy League colleges get paid small fortunate to explain it to them. Hospira Corp. market a cheap version of a similar item, which has only increased 230% in the last 3 years, from $62.29 to $142.49.

if you are wondering why you haven’t heard about Kaleo’s rip off maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that it’s a product that is only needed by drug users? “They made their bed let them lie in it”. ” Am I my brothers keeper?” .If they want to blow their minds that’s their problem”. “What do they contribute to society anyway” But if your Patent Lawyer has secured your intellectual property rights for the next 17 years then these “no hopers” are hugely important……. To your bottom line!

We all heard the public furore on TV and in the media when Mylan Corp raised it’s Epipen prices by 400% (and its CEO get her salary increased to €18,976,000 pa). But that was different, the users of Epipens are good people, just like you and me and it’s the ugly side of the Free Market when it starts to screw “normal people”, but in the end the System won, she’s still getting her €18 Mil and we’re all paying way over the odds for Epipens.

PS. Don’t ask the obvious question. Why is this epidemic of death from overdosing happening in the richest, most vibrant, militarily mightiest, country in the world?


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Objection to Obamacare. Why?

Is it an ideological issue, the withdrawal of the extension of healthcare cover to millions more Americans, or is it something much less complicated?

Follow the money usually gives a fair guide as to folks motivation. Obamacare is/was funded by an increase of 0.9% on the Medicare tax on earned incomes of $200,000 pa (250k for couples) and a 3.8% on net unearned income from investments etc. But again only on the amounts over $200,000.

if Obamacare is abolished as Trump & Reps say it should be there will be some hefty tax savings for those folks who are struggling to make it through the week on a mere $3,846.00

Every decision has winners and losers.

Every decision has winners and losers.


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Across the Pond

Odd bits from USA in run up to the Era of Trump.
1). Military spending for the last year, 2015. (International Peace Research Institute. Stockholm)
Of course we know USA is tops with $596 Bil, 2. China $215 Bil, 3. Saudi $87 (pop. 30 million) 4. Russia $ 66 Bil, 5. UK $55 Bil, 6. India $52 , then France, Japan, Germany. The USA spend has risen in 2016 and is greater than the combined total of countries 2 to 10. The Arms Industry is a massive part of the USA economy. Recent comments on UK sales to Saudi highlight the sale of cluster bombs. These bombs contain 147 “bomblets” which scatter in every direction when the cluster bomb is activated. The bomblets then explore when they hit anything. The Only justification for the manufacture and sale of such dreadful yokes Is purely the generation of Profits.
2). A new word has come into use in the field of economics. “Austericide”, it’s a combination of Austerity and Suicide and was used to refer to what’s happened in Brazil when the parliament recently passed an act to put a Limit on how much the Gov’t can spend over the next 20 years! This massive commitment to ongoing Austerity is considered Suicidal for the welfare of the large majority of Brazil’s population.
3). Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave. In the developed world we take for granted that parents have a legal entitlement in this area, Except if you live in the world’s largest economy USA where there is no Legal entitlement. A review of USA’s 60 largest corporations show that 31 do not grant employees any paid leave. Such leave is considered a Benefit, the others grant it with a variety of conditions applied depending on whether you are biological parents, adopting or in the ranks of the lower paid! They get granted less paid time off. For a country which claims such commitment to family values it doesn’t translated into real commitment.
IKEA just hit the headlines in this area, it has granted its 13,000 USA employees 18 weeks of paid leave, no strings attached. Fair play to them; by the way the Legal entitlement in Ikea’s home country is 68 weeks!
4). Trumpism? Republicans are traditionally committed to small Gov’t with minimum regulations and have a strong belief in the Free Hand of the Market. They are the party most supported by business, understandably. Trump is already causing huge confusion in the Rep ranks. He and his Gov’t will interfere with the Free Hand! He’s committed to naming and shaming and by tax legislation punishing USA companies who take jobs out of USA ! The number 1 reason USA companies take jobs out of the country is to Maximise Profits and now by Trump regulations this will be controlled by Big Gov’t.
By other proposed manipulations of the USA tax code he hopes to force corporations to bring jobs back to America. Such a move will definitely increase the price Americans will have to pay for sox, jox, shoes, shirts iPhones etc etc. Companies will naturally (well natural in USA) try to minimise wage rates to limit the extent by which they’ll have to hike their prices, therefore the average worker has little or no chance of higher wages in the Trump Era but will be faced with higher prices. Interesting times ahead.

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What kind of organisation would you like to work in?

What kind of organization would you like to work in?

In 1971 John Rawls, USA political philosopher, asked a very simple question; what kind of society would you like to live in? However, what made this one of the most significant and important questions asked on this subject in the 20th century was the interesting condition which Rawls attached to it.

We  must consider our answer behind “a veil of ignorance”. By that he meant that we will not know our position or condition in the society we are considering. Will we be black, white or coloured; male, female, gay; intelligent or severely challenged; able bodied or handicapped; part of a normal family or a severely dysfunctional one; with or without siblings; rural or urban dweller. In other words, you have no idea whatsoever as to your future position. Rawls came up with a couple of basic principles which have been much debated and written about, but they concerned themselves with political laws and civil institutions.

I believe we should ask a similar question with regard to where we  spend most of our waking hours;, what kind of organization do you want to work in? And of course the same condition as Rawl’s ”veil of ignorance” should be applied. In this instance, we will not know if we will be a highly skilled operator or a janitor; a smart accountant or the office messenger; a company director or a union shop steward; have a full-time contract or a zero hours contract; have paid sick leave and maternity leave or neither.

To address and discuss both of the above questions no special skills or qualifications are needed; just the ability to think and express your opinion and of course a sense of what is fair and just will probably result in you having more supporters for your point of view. Good luck and maybe lets know what you think.

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Electoral Colleges decide next USA President.

The Electoral College is made up of  electors who cast the vote of each state according to which candidate receives the most votes. These electors are usually state official or people deeply involved with the candidates. They cast their vote in accordance with the votes cast by the citizens in that particular state. There is no law in most states which says they must but common sense prevails. In all states except 2 its a winner takes all vote; all the electoral votes for a state goes to whoever gets the highest percentage. In Nebraska and Maine they use a proportional representation system which results candidates sharing the electoral votes.(Seems a fairer approach)

Number of electoral votes is 538 which is the sum of Congress members, 435 Representatives, 100 Senators and 3 given to District of Columbia. They are apportioned according to the number of Congress seats allocated to each state which is adjusted after each census in an attempt to ensure the number of citizens per Congress member is “about the same”.

There are anomalies in the number of electoral votes per state. On average each state is awarded an electoral vote for every 543,668 citizens, but in Wyoming where there are 3 electoral votes giving 177,556 citizens per electoral votes. So if you live in Wyoming your vote has over 3 times the clout of the average.

A more significant difficulty I see with the electoral college is system is that the President & VP are not really elected nationally but state by state. This can mean that many, probably the majority, of states are “spectator states”. Certain states are assured of being won by one party of the other and therefore the candidates do not have to spend much time or money campaigning in these states. All the effort goes into influencing the votes in “swing states”. So if you’re not living in a state with lots of electoral votes or in a swing state you may not see much og the candidates in the run up to the election.

The election, since 1845, takes place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In 1845 there were a couple of dozen states, a population of less than 5 million spread over a huge area with limited communication and slow transportation. Sunday was ruled out as a possible date since so many folk attended church then. Monday could be a problem getting to a voting station if you had bible classes late on Sunday. Wednesday was problematic since it was market day in may areas and so on and so on. Also to avoided clashing with All Saints Day (now commonly known as Halloween) it was pushed out to the Tuesday following the first Monday !

The electoral college establishment dates back to about 1786, when there were only 13 states. Those involved I setting it up were very learned men but relatively inexperienced in national politics; they had only managed to get freedom from Britain 10 years earlier after their war of Independence. With all the changes which have taken place in the last 200 years, it seems remarkable that the system of choosing a leader who holds so much power has not been revamped. The entire USA democratic system is now manipulated  largely  by lobbyists, Big Money and Corporations. A revamp of the entire system is long overdue.

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A Picture/Graph can say a lot


Ireland,s huge spike,2009/'10/'11 was due to us guaranteeing All the banks' liabilities.

Ireland’s huge spike,2009/’10/’11 was due to us guaranteeing All the banks’ liabilities.

Public services can only be provided from Revenue Gov’t receives !

These are 2011 figures but current situation pretty similar. Loads more outstanding taxes than welfare fraud.

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