A Foreigner in Ireland - A view on Politics and Life.

It is “country” not “jurisdiction”!

Language is a an odd thing! There seems to a sheep effect sometimes when someone uses a term that we think we SHOULD use. Years ago it was the term “non-national”. It was used initially in a misguided effort to be more inclusive by avoiding words like “foreigner” or “alien”. Not the term “non-national” made no sense whatsoever because nearly all “non-nationals” were very much nationals, just not nationals of Ireland, but of other countries. Oddly “non-nationals” was usually only used for non-Irish-nationals from outside the EU. So, it seems we had different classes of “non-nationals”. Luckily the term is hardly used anymore, which is a good thing.

But there are many other words that are used in odd circumstances. “Jurisdiction” is one of them!

Last week, the Irish Independent wrote “A slump in Sterling against the euro prompted hordes of shoppers in this jurisdiction to head across the Border for their pre-Christmas shopping.”

And it quoted Ash Ireland chairman Dr Patrick Doorley, who said “[…] There are many examples of jurisdictions where tobacco price has been increased for health reasons and smuggling simultaneously tackled and reduced – such as Australia, New Zealand and Spain.”

Why is the word “jurisdiction” used in this case and not the word “country”. Every country is a different jurisdiction by definition of sovereignty. The only difference is where a big country, e.g. the USA, can have different laws in different parts (states). In Ireland we don’t have different laws in different parts of the country, so the use of “jurisdiction” makes absolutely no sense.

And just in case “jurisdiction” is used by some to avoid having to call Northern Ireland a different country than the Republic of Ireland: No matter what your opinion is about the political divisions on this island in the future, currently the Republic of Ireland is a completely different country than Northern Ireland and until that changes, the hordes of shoppers in this COUNTRY headed across the border (there is a big hint in this word!!).

Odd behaviour of Ryanair passengers? Are they all beginners?

I haven’t used Ryanair for a while. Not because I have a problem with the company, but because they decided to stop flying to where I would like to go in Germany, so I had to go back using Aer Lingus. But this week I flew to Italy and Rome Ciampino was the most suitable airport to fly to. Ryanair flies there and the prices were ok, so we were in business.

Last time I flew with Ryanair they didn’t have any seat allocation yet, but it was a first come, first served approach when you get into the plane. That has changed now and you get seats allocated or (for a surcharge) can select them yourself. The consequence of this is that EVERY single person entering that plane knows exactly that there is a seat waiting for them and they know exactly where this seat is.

So can anybody explain the scenario in this picture to me? Why do approximately 150 people jump up from their seat as if someone has put needles under their backside as soon as boarding of this plane is even hinted?

Everybody has a seat assigned, so what do you gain by standing there for 10 minutes before the hinted boarding actually starts? Why do people still jump up as if it was a first come, first served seat allocation?

Is it just the space for the hand luggage that gets them to be mad impatient? We got on board as one of the last ones and there was still space for hand luggage.

Human beings are the most irrational species it seems! ;-)

Rewards for people who left the country – Kick in the ass if you weathered the storms!

One of my pet hates is if a company promotes a really attractive Special Offer and then it says in the small print that it is only available to new customers. It is really a kick up the backside of the loyal long term customers who ensured that the company kept going. Instead there should always be an attractive offer for existing customers IN PARALLEL when a new customer offer is promoted. That offer for existing ones doesn’t have to be the same as for the new recruits, but it should also be attractive.

Bad enough when a phone or Internet company does it or a bank or insurance.But now it gets worse.

The bright lights in our current government are thinking about giving a tax discount to some of the people that have left the country to attract them to come back. Many who left, did so to earn more money elsewhere and many who stayed endured a fair amount of hardship during the recession years in Ireland. And by rewarding the ones who earned more away if they come back is really adding insult to injury.

It certainly makes sense to try to get people to come to Ireland if we have jobs here, but if a reward is considered for returning workers, then the ones that kept the country going shouldn’t be rewarded for their part in the recovery.


Sugar Drink Tax? Another nonsensical idea of our government!

Taxes are raised in Ireland (and most other countries) not to regulate something or to improve something directly related to the taxed item, but for the state to make money. But now our government wants to introduce a tax on Sugar-containing drinks to fight obesity.

Well, first of all, I can’t imagine that it will have the slightest impact on obesity. If you buy a bottle of coke for EUR 2 today, then the 20% or 40c increase won’t stop tooo many people from buying that bottle. And if you buy a non-branded 2l bottle of sugar-containing soft drink for maybe 55 or 75 cent then the new price would be 66 cent or 90 cent respectively. Does anybody really think an increase of 11 or 15 cent will change the buying behaviour significantly. Nonsense! Obesity will not be affected in the slightest by these increases.

The only area where it could have an impact is in a pub or restaurant where you already pay a very high EUR 3 or more for a small bottle of soft drink. If the 20% increase would apply there than that is a 60 cent surcharge despite the fact that the tiny 0.2 l bottle has much less of an obesity effect than the 11 cent more expensive 2 litre bottle. Odd!

Another interesting aspect is a comparison to other taxes: If Sugar Drink tax is raised to fight obesity, then Motor tax and fuel tax should be used to improve the roads or even better to improve public transport, but it isn’t directly tied to either. It also should maybe help to reduce accidents, especially fatal ones. But that is not the case. Alcohol tax (duties) should be used to reduce alcoholism, but that is not the case. Instead it is just pocketed by the state.

Actually if a Sugar Drink Tax will be introduced to fight obesity, a NEW (and additional) Alcohol Drink Tax should be also introduced to fight alcohol related illnesses. Because 88 deaths per month in Ireland are DIRECTLY attributable to alcohol and over 14,000 people were admitted to the liver unit in St Vincent’s Hospital for the treatment of alcohol dependence in 2011 and every day, 1,500 beds in our hospitals are occupied by people with alcohol-related problems. In 2012 the whopping amount of EUR 1.5 billion was needed for alcohol related hospital discharges. (Statistics are from alcoholireland.ie/facts/alcohol-related-harm-facts-and-statistics/)

Why am I so much against a Sugar Drink Tax? Because most of us are well able to either limit our sugar intake or make up for it through exercise. But the government doesn’t suggest that people who are not obese do not pay the tax, instead they plan to raise the tax indiscriminately. Even if you are stick thin, you will have to pay the 20% more. That just doesn’t make sense.

School Uniforms – What a bad invention!! ….or maybe not?

In my opinion, school uniforms are TOTALLY wrong. They are mostly ugly, impractical, outdated, discriminating, freedom-robbing, outrageously expensive, a tool for intimidation and oppression and totally unnecessary.

Since school has restarted nearly two weeks ago, you see them everywhere again and it is just unbelievable how ugly most of them are. The colours, the cut, the “worn-outness” are turning them in the ugliest possible clothing for kids. It turns them to sheep in a herd instead of giving them the opportunity to become young individuals. The uniform is used to oppress them and to punish them if they don’t have the right one and it is also used for one-upmanship where some school insist on crests on their tops because they feel they are better than others. And I just can’t believe that in the 21st century, girls in Ireland are still FORCED to wear skirts. How outdated is that?

This rant all started when I saw a “my child has started school again” picture on Facebook that was posted by a friend recently, her daughter was shown in her new school uniform and it must have been the worst I ever saw. The poor little girl even had to wear a totally unnecessary tie that was to 80% covered by the ugliest “dress”-thing you could imagine. It really makes you wonder how twisted the people must be that decide how a school uniform has to look like and what idiocy made them to add a tie even for girls.

Hey, nobody wants to wear ties, not even the grown ups and they do it less and less, so why do we have to force our six year olds to wear them? And really, would you wear an excrement coloured skirt? Well, if you wouldn’t why do we make our kids to to it?

Where I grew up, uniforms didn’t exist. So we had an opportunity to be different, there were some goths in my school and some really well dressed kids and anything in between. We all had a uniform, but it was our own uniform. Not one prescribed by the school management or the principal and we used this uniform to express our individuality.

I would love a country full of self-reliant, independently thinking, individuals, not full of sheep that need a leader to follow him/her, that have ever learned to oblige all the time, to surrender their individuality and to be dismissive,

Does the school-uniform-induced brain washing support more the first or second set of characteristics?

But now comes the kicker: Maybe times have changed so dramatically, that individualism isn’t even possible anymore. Because the (very valid!!) argument of supporters of school uniforms is that the uniform takes the pressure off kids’ back to compete with each other on clothing. Maybe kids NEED uniforms, which is why they all would want to wear the same clothes from certain clothes labels. Maybe today’s generation just can’t handle individuality anymore?

But then, “No School Uniform” still works in other countries! So is this lack of individuality maybe an Irish problem?

I can’t answer that question and still find the need of school uniforms odd! ….but I can also see that they can make sense in certain contexts.