"Despite the fact that Ireland has one of the fastest greying public sectors in the OECD with a mean age of about 44. We are now approaching the crossover point where the total annual pension payouts exceed the total annual income tax take from the public sector payroll."
Here's the top 10 home truths;(from Eddie Hobbs)
1. We began this crisis with the national debt at 25 per cent of our GDP. To get back to where we started would take 33 years of growth at 5 per cent per year if the debt remains at present levels. Next year we hope to do about 2 per cent but Ireland's GDP would need to exceed Holland's to get back our 2007 balance sheet such is the scale of a burst that none of the coalition parties anticipated in framing our own expansionary 2007 election manifestos.
2. Ireland's 10-year bond yields, an indicator of our borrowing capacity, has fallen to 3.4 per cent or thereabouts compared with Germany's 1.8 per cent and is a cause for cheer but we now swap Troika bankers for the iron discipline of market analysis which will examine our budgets line-by-line because, at debt to GDP of 124 per cent, we join Cyprus and Italy as among Europe's most leveraged economies, twice the eurozone's target level.
3. Let's remind ourselves of the headline numbers. The national debt crouching past €200bn has long since outrun the economy valued at about €165bn, but that's not the full load carried by Ireland's 1.9 million taxpayers. Private debt, although declining, is running about €160bn and non-financial corporates, indigenous Irish businesses mostly, are servicing another €170bn or thereabouts. That's €530bn. Just take an average long-term interest rate of 3 per cent on that baby and it absorbs one euro in every eight of our current GNP.
4. In my game, it's all about the pension, which is worth about 20 times our final salary, making it the biggest asset on the balance sheet of a +55-year-old establishment insider. It's little understood. Look at it this way. A decade before the bubble burst, the total of all public sector pension liabilities was about €20bn but as the payroll doubled, the liabilities grew fivefold and like the ESB, we'd rather keep as much as possible off the books, as if it didn't exist.
But this debt, last valued at €116bn four years ago, is about 25 times bigger than the ESB's. The accounting rules upon which the ESB workers' strike threat was based are there to protect workers by forcing employers to alert them if schemes are at risk of insolvency. But unlike the ESB, we don't have assets any longer backing the pension debt, and neither do we report the numbers annually, despite the fact that Ireland has one of the fastest greying public sectors in the OECD with a mean age of about 44. We are now approaching the crossover point where the total annual pension payouts exceed the total annual income tax take from the public sector payroll.
5. Thankfully, the other off-balance-sheet debt isn't as imminent as public sector pensions, but it's just as real. This is the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund whose principal task will be to pay old age pensions. The mounting gap between PRSI contributions and payouts is €324bn over the next 50 years, with €20bn of that shortfall hitting over the next eight years. The strategy for dealing with all this debt is to light votive candles.
6. Our prime objective in running the economy is to transfer as much as possible from the outsiders to the insiders and despite the economy carrying a total long-term debt load of a trillion euro, that's six times our GDP, insider power has emerged from the bailout even stronger. The upside-down pay premium for public sector employment, even after the pay cuts, is well ahead of the private sector and, when it comes to pensions, it's bordering on apartheid.
We've also managed to keep our entitlements vastly in excess of equivalent eurozone members like Finland which is of similar size and mix. At the apex of the pyramid, for example, President Michael D Higgins, who enjoys four pensions, is paid about 50 per cent more than the Finnish president but so too are our older teachers. Finland's education system, widely regarded as the best in Europe, pays nearly €20k a year less at the top of the pay scale.
7. A thousand private sector jobs a week were added to the economy over the past year. Since no permanent public sector contracts were lost during the crisis, joblessness ought, at least in Ireland, to be reported as a percentage of the private workforce only -- but we'll continue with the fiction that all are at risk.
8. A big thank you for allowing us to expropriate €2bn from private pension pots even though these average seven times less than the public sector equivalent. This honey pot remains a soft target thanks to threatening trustees with daily fines of €380 and APR of 8 per cent for any delay in handing over the cash. We ring-fenced highly paid insiders from punishing rates of tax on fat cat pensions by under-pricing the value of our own pensions by 50 per cent but giving no such discount to outsiders.
9. I'd like to tell you that the eurozone banking crisis is over, but it's not. Which cross-border banking behemoths of systemic importance becomes the next casualty is unknown but what is clear is that, before ESM funds are deployed, depositor bail-ins are now a centrepiece of EU policy after Cyprus. Where the sovereign itself is borderline insolvent, deposit guarantee schemes may be breached so don't keep too much money in any one bank.
10. Globally, politicians are promulgating the soft landing theory, that we're entering a decade of inflation-free economic growth, low borrowing rates and a gradual repair of excessive debt. We need to prepare, however, for other, more turbulent, outcomes from money-printing operations unprecedented in economic history and as evidenced by the dramatic expansion in central bank balance sheets from Tokyo to London. Policymakers may have painted themselves into a corner by adding more debt to already dangerously high levels. Nobody knows what happens to servicing this debt mountain if interest rates rise in response to inflation caused by excessive money supply. The alternative outcome is a collapse in confidence in the bond market generally but whatever the outcome, you can rest assured we've learned how to handle an existential crisis.
Will we generate sufficient economic thrust to break out of this dangerous debt orbit? Much depends on the updraft from the global economy but one way or the other, in the division of scarce resources, you can enjoy your Christmas turkey safe in the knowledge that we'll continue to put ourselves first and everyone else second. So I want to thank you for all your efforts and sacrifices to make Ireland the best little country in the world in which to do business -- and the easiest for insiders to plunder the spoils.
LICE from farmed fish KILL wild SALMON: ‘Recent peer reviewed international scientific literature on the impacts of sea lice on salmonids show them to have devastating effects on wild salmon, accounting for up to 39% of salmon mortalities.’ [Inland Fisheries Ireland]
ESCAPES from fish farms alter wild salmon GENETICS: ‘Interaction of farm with wild salmon results in lowered fitness, with repeated escapes causing cumulative fitness depression and potentially an extinction vortex in vulnerable populations.’ [Proceedings of the Royal Society B]
FARMED SALMON DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH: For farmed salmon from northern Europe, consumption should be limited to no more than one meal every 5 months in order to not exceed an elevated risk of cancer of more than 1 in 100,000. [USA EPA]
SALMON FARMS HURT TOURISM: One salmon caught in an Irish river is worth €423 to the local economy. Angling is worth €230m annually to the national economy. [Hotel Federation of Ireland/Inland Fisheries Ireland]
UNDER ORGANIC STANDARDS: the following chemicals and medicines may be used on caged salmon and so this product may contain traces of: Alphaject 3000, Norvax Compact 4 and Compact PD, Cypermethrine, Emamectin benzoate, Deltamethrine, Tricane meselate, Oxytetravcyclin, Bronopol, formaldehyde, and chloramine, the artificial anti oxidant ethoxyquin [EQ], and has been shown to have absorbed from the environment dioxins, PCBs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and pesticides, including toxaphene and dieldrin.
Post submitted by Noel Gallagher
If our governments lie to us to attain office, is it any surprise that they continue to lie to us when they are in office? More worryingly, are we naive enough to believe them? We have been told many times that the worst is over, we have turned the corner etc. The bold Michael Noonan, alleged darling of the Bilderberg Group, quoting W.B. Yeats during his budget speech – “too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart”……. before he then buried the knife again in the most vulnerable.
Indeed many of the hidden blows of this budget have yet to be revealed. No one can take €2,500,000,000 out of a budget that has been already pruned almost to death, without causing extreme suffering to many – prepare over the coming months to feel the brunt of many of these still hidden cuts and charges.
Now after all these years of “ Austerity Measures” (for some at least) we must surely be getting somewhere. This oft promised “light at the end of the tunnel” must surely be coming into view…… well where can we look for the answer?
Our government claim to be creating 3,000 jobs per month. Let’s have a look at some of these jobs. They have claimed, for example, that there will be 2,000 jobs created installing water meters. So they choose to make a virtue out of introducing another tax to pay the bondholders. Let us leave that for the moment and look at the jobs, which incidentally will obviously be temporary by definition.
More importantly, this week an advertisement appeared in a Donegal newspaper seeking water meter installers under THE JOBBRIDGE SCHEME!!! A princely €50 on top of your dole and you can gain “valuable experience” as a water meter installer. What you do with this valuable experience, gained while earning slave wages, when the metering is complete is a good question.
On another occasion, our national broadcaster, or more accurately – the subservient mouthpiece of our current regime – announced the welcome arrival of a pharmaceutical company to our shores in the following exact words “ three hundred jobs will be created during the construction phase, with a FURTHER one hundred and fifty jobs on completion” I don’t think I am being unreasonable to suggest that there is such an obvious flaw in the above sentence, that reporting it thus, was designed to mislead the gullible listener. These and other methods are being used to twist the real unemployment figures, and lie to the electorate.
The real answer lies in the bottom line. What do we owe now, what did we owe 1,2,3,4,5 years ago, and what will we owe next year. The following are the actual figures ofGeneral Government Debt from the Central Statistics Office, and National Treasury Management Agency.
2012 €192,500,000,000 (192 Billion)
The projection for the end of this year is €205,900,000,000. DOES THIS LOOK LIKE WE HAVE TURNED A CORNER??
There is also the small matter of the Pension Reserve Fund, which was accumulated during the boom years and which at one time contained €28,000,000,000. This has mostly been handed over to the banking sector under orders from the Troika, and this will come back to haunt us in the years to come as our population ages. But when our Governments have such a track record in kicking cans down the road, they will worry about that later. Perhaps the shambles they have made of the health service is a ploy to reverse the trend of longer life expectancy. Well they have been poisoning our water for decades….
Meanwhile, the assets of the country are being sold off, or being readied for sale, from under the Irish people by our treacherous government, without making the slightest dent in our national debt. This was surely the endgame in a designed cycle of deliberate boom followed by bust, and the subsequent enslavement through debt of the Irish people, along with the overnight evaporation of 100 years of hard won workers rights.
What threats and inducements are made to new governments to get them to change their stated policies fully 180 degrees once in office? The time has come for people to make a stand against the austerity parties. These debts are unserviceable. They may also be odious under international law, being wrongly foisted on the people by a regime not working in the interests of the people they were elected to represent. Have we to wait until everything is gone to realise this? It is time to get behind DDI and reclaim our country for this and future generations.
All 166 TDs and 60 Senators received this inquiry by email. Less than a handful replied. The most detailed of replies coming from a Labour TD who insisted all the indicators were for recovery and the budget was a good business budget. Also that they continue to hold out the begging bowl to the ESM. Sticking to the script I suppose, can't expect anything other than that.
Many good points have been raised here, most notably the level of utterly unsustainable debt which continues to rise into the future. The figures are never mentioned when the recovery rhetoric is blasted through our radios, tv and press. One might ask why media does not balance government statements with perspective and reality? Why are they not doing their job?
One of th emost glaring misleading statements is that on jobs. A few construction contracts will not take people off the live register. All it will do is create somewhere to go for the subcontractors still working when their current project ends.
Take everything government says with a very large pinch of salt.
The move is part of a push by the farmers' lobby group to protect the family farm from being sold off or divided up in the event of a marriage breakdown.
"There has been recent contact between the IFA and Department of Justice officials on this issue," Morag Devins of the IFA said.
She said the IFA was lobbying Alan Shatter, the Minister for Justice, urging him to ensure 'pre-nup' agreements were made legally binding here by introducing new legislation. At present, the legal status of 'pre-nups' is unclear as they appear to go against the Constitution.
The IFA wants farmers to be allowed to draw up contracts before he or she gets married to ensure family farms remained intact post a divorce. This would ensure that it would be clear how assets owned by both parties prior to getting married were ring-fenced in the event of a divorce.
The IFA said it had first lobbied for the changes in March 2011 but had recently begun its campaign again following the expression of concerns by members.
The IFA declined to comment further but referred to remarks made in earlier unsuccessful campaigns.
"IFA's interest in the issue of the legal status of pre-nuptial agreements arises primarily from our policy of seeking to ensure that the inter-generational transfer of family farms takes place in an orderly and timely fashion," it said.
Kathy Irwin, partner and head of family law with Beauchamps Solicitors, noted that: "Farmers were against divorce historically because of fears of in-laws getting any interest in the family farm. It is interesting that they want this change having been more conservative in the past."
Irwin said that 'pre-nups' were a "grey area" at the moment in Ireland. "You can make one but there is no guarantee it will do anything," she said.
There is a german proverb which translates something like:
"If you want a glass of milk you do not have to buy the whole cow "
There are enough brothels in the country to keep every Irish farmer smiling-problem is they don't want to have to pay for it.!
Do you want to get rich.?
Are you pregnant.?
Are you willing to risk the health (or life) of your unborn offspring in order that you never have any more financial worries for the rest of your life.
The somewhat ineffectual and toothless (almost) government Quango called HIQA ( Health Information and Quality Authority ) is seriously pissed off.!
The do not want to their colleagues in the HSE to foot the enormous compensation bill for incompetent and inefficient and downright careless medical staff in Ireland's hospitals anymore.
The private insurance companies have long ago washed their hands of insuring the doctors who work in the public health sector hospitals in Ireland.
The taxpayer foots the bill now.
There are hundreds of compensations pending against hospitals and doctors for malpractice.
The HSE (Health Service Executive) which is currently hiring more managers (on mega Euro salaries) to try and find a way to reduce costs; is also stone broke and half a billion over budget ( and rising)
However, the poor and in some cases complete lack of response from six hospitals was described as "unsatisfactory and concerning" by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
The hospitals are Kerry General, South Tipperary General, Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, Wexford General, Waterford Regional and Portlaoise.
The maternity units were asked to provide details of how they had implemented the 27 recommendations of a report into the death of pregnant garda Tania McCabe and her infant son Zach in 2007 after she suffered haemorrhage and multi-organ failure due to sepsis.
However, the poor and in some cases complete lack of response from six hospitals was described as "unsatisfactory and concerning" by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
HIQA was probing the safeguards in place by the country's 19 maternity hospitals and units after the death of Savita Halappanavar from sepsis in University Hospital Galway.
PS if you are not pregnant, and break a leg or an arm or need an appendix removed; check in to any of the following: Kerry General, South Tipperary General, Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, Wexford General, Waterford Regional and Portlaoise.
It may change your life forever.
It may even end all your earthly troubles.
Pork Barrel politics reigns supreme in Ireland and the Philippines.
Manila, Philippines - In a country where millions of people survive on just a dollar a day, Janet Lim Napoles' claims that she comes from a humble family are hard for many Filipinos to accept. Her 23-year-old daughter Jeane, fresh out of college in the US, owns a $1.89m condo at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Los Angeles. That's apart from the$9.5m worth of properties the family has across California. The Napoles matriarch is known for her generosity, subsidising Catholic priests and giving out a $1,500 engraved Montblanc pen to a Philippine senator.
But in mid-August, Napoles went into hiding. The businesswoman, who reportedly owns at least 28 luxury houses in the Philippines, was accused of funneling $232m in government funds intended for farmers through ghost projects linked to senators and more than a dozen congressmen. The scandal has ignited a wave of public anger that led to mass anti-corruption protests on Monday, attracting an estimated 100,000 people in the capital Manila and other major cities.
The protesters were demanding the abolition of the "pork barrel", the practice of appropriating public money for local projects through Congress. A legacy of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the practice has remained untouched and has become a source of massive corruption. While the Philippine economy has posted solid gains over the last decade, protesters say the country will continue to be stuck in poverty if institutionalised corruption persists - a problem that now bedevils the popular President Benigno Aquino III.
From college students to members of the clergy to regular citizens, the rain-soaked protesters marched, chanting in Filipino, "No more pork".
"This scandal is so gut-wrenching," Peachy Rallonza-Bretana, the public face of the social media-driven demonstration, said in an interview with Al Jazeera. "That's 32 percent of income tax and 12 percent sales tax that I pay to the government. It's so personal it makes you angry."
Bretana, an advertising executive who has never led a protest before, said the recent corruption case drove her to post a comment on Facebook that snowballed into a call for "a million people march". Last week's massive flooding and the much-criticised government response only drew more attention to the scandal.
"We have been duped for far too long," she said. "We want the pork barrel abolished, and we want a transparent investigation and prosecution of those who are guilty."
President under pressure
On Friday, seeking to defuse the growing public pressure while navigating the political realities in Congress, President Aquino - a former senator and congressman - changed course and announced plans to implement reforms.
"The shocking revelations of this misuse are truly scandalous," he said in a national address. "Now, we will create a new mechanism to address the needs [of constituents], in a manner that is transparent, methodical and rational, and not susceptible to abuse or corruption."
After hearing the details of the multi-million dollar scam, however, many were in no mood to accept Aquino's proposal. Former national treasurer Leonor Briones told Al Jazeera that Aquino did "not address the very source of corruption itself, which is congressional and senatorial interference in the budget process".
"The pork barrel, historically, has always been abused regardless of the administration, regardless of party affiliation, and all of us know that," Briones said, adding that no president has dared to confront Congress on the issue.
Briones, now head of the watchdog group Social Watch Philippines, also said that the pork barrel is only the "tip of the iceberg", pointing to the president's own annual discretionary fund, which this year is at least $7.2bn.
For now, though, much of the ire is being directed at Napoles, who before going into hiding declared that "not a single peso" of their wealth came from the government. One of Napoles' lawyers added that her client's family started out trading meat products including chicken and pork, and later expanded into the export business.
What enraged the public were the details of Napoles' alleged dealings with top government officials, in which 60 percent of the pork-barrel funds reportedly went to legislators.
One of the witnesses in the scandal told the local broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer that bags of money were stashed in the bathtub of Napoles' master bedroom in a posh condo in a Manila suburb. The money was reportedly distributed as bribes to lawmakers.
While this was going on, Napoles still managed to get involved with Catholic charities, providing shelter for prominent priests and foreign clerics inside the Philippines' most exclusive subdivision.
Napoles and her family also reportedly maintained at least 415 bank accounts that are now subject to a government freeze order.
'This is just the beginning'
Edly Aparejado, 55, comes from a squatter community in the Manila suburb of Caloocan. She said she was saddened after hearing about the scandal.
"They could have used that money to build houses for the poor," Aparejado, who joined the protest, said "I see some of my neighbors who are unable to eat three times a day. They could have benefited from that stolen money."
For Homer Castillo, 38, the father of two grade-school students, the protest "has been a long time coming". He added that many poor families share the same sentiments, but were unable to join the protest because they couldn't afford to do so.
Law student Eric Joven, another protester who voted for Aquino for president, said he hopes the demonstration will have substantial results, such as the imprisonment of those involved in the scam and the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, which seeks to open government records to public scrutiny. "This is just the beginning, and I hope that the people will remain vigilant," he said.
Meanwhile, Bretana, the march's spokesperson, said social media will be critical in sustaining public engagement on the issue after the protests have died down. "We cannot let this chance go, and we have to hold onto this to effect change," she said.
August 24th 2013 Irish Times.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has published a new Freedom of Information Bill, which proclaims its purpose to be “to enable members of the public to obtain access, to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy, to information in the possession of public bodies [and] other bodies in receipt of State funding”. It states this is necessary “to ensure accountability and the promotion of the principle of transparency in government and public affairs”.
It is nothing of the sort. Although it is a modest improvement on the 2003 Fianna Fáil-inspired evisceration of the original 1997 Act, it is a product of a bureaucratic mindset that wants to keep secret as much as possible while, of course, professing openness, transparency and the rest.
The information concerned is owned by Irish citizens. Every scrap of it should be made public except that which would infringe individual privacy; or compromise the security of the State and its people; and which, in exceptional circumstances, would be commercially sensitive.
Instead of establishing at the beginning the public’s entitlement to all information, with some exceptions, that would help keep Ministers as well as all public bodies and agencies accountable, this Bill makes clear that if Brendan Howlin or his ministerial successors want to suppress anything at all they may do just that. It states (section 6.3.a) that the Minister may by order declare any public body or any other body covered by it exempt from freedom of information (FOI). A later section gives the Minister further powers to declare any record exempt from disclosure if asked to do so (section 34.1.a).
Section after section of the Bill is devoted to curtailing the entitlement of the information’s owners, Irish citizens, to access to that information.
A request may be refused if the person handling it thinks that it involves too much bother (section 15.1.c); or that it is frivolous or vexatious (section 15.1.g); or that effort might be required to extract the information (section 17.4.a). Another provision states that no agency covered by the Bill will be required “to take any steps by way of manipulation, analysis, compilation or other processing of any such records, or any data contained in records, held by the body” (section 17.4.d). Why?
The fees to be charged will be lower than now apply but will still, in my view, be prohibitive. For an internal review of a decision to refuse a FOI request the fee will be €30. A fee of €75 for an appeal to the Information Commissioner will apply. But it seems from section 27 that the fees to be charged for the retrieval of information might be enormous – potentially thousands of euro. Irish citizens will have to pay, in certain instances, huge sums of money for documents that they own.