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Something seriously wrong here! EU Leaders Salaries

During the week I found a list of EU Salaries that was posted on Facebook and if you look through that list you realise that something is SERIOUSLY wrong in Ireland!

Formatting of tables with lots of numbers doesn’t work so well here, but I hope you will see the blatant discrepancy between the salaries and the size of the countries. And I don’t care who is the head of our little country (or its government) and also is it irrelevant that some salary cuts have already been “endured” by the Taoiseach.

EU Leaders’ Gross Salary per year:

+ Slovakia —— Population: 5.4 mio ——–Leader’s salary: EUR 45.127
+ Portugal——-Population: 10.46 mio ——Leader’s salary: EUR 68,670
+ Hungary——-Population: 10 mio ———Leader’s salary: EUR 72,000
+ Spain———-Population: 46.77 mio——Leader’s salary: EUR 78,000
+ Greece———Population: 11.03 mio——Leader’s salary: EUR 85,479
+ Lithuania——Population: 10.46mio——-Leader’s salary: EUR 90,361
+ Italy———–Population: 58.83 mio——-Leader’s salary: EUR 115,000

+ IRELAND——Population: 4.7 mio———-Leader’s salary: EUR 185,000

Is that mad or what? The Taoiseach earns more than the leader of the government in Italy or Spain or all these other countries?

Note; I didn’t check all these numbers in detail and instead took it from a post that is signed with “unitedpeople.ie”. United People seems to be a new party in Ireland. I don’t know much about this party and in no way support or endorse it. A brief “Fact check” on a Wikipedia Page here did indicate that the numbers in general seem to be at least in the right region.

Less obesity but lots more strokes and dementia!? Thanks, Leo!

So, our wonderful politicians, led by former doctor and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar decided that they have to protect us from ourselves and force us to be healthier by introducing the Sugar Tax (correctly: Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax). The Irish Heart Foundation and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland also supported the tax and claimed it will be a significant step in the fight against obesity.

The goal is to move people away from drinks that contain sugar and while there is the alternative of just drinking water, the probability is HUGE that people will move to diet drinks if they want to avoid paying the significant surcharge on drinks that contain sugar. Drinks containing between five and eight grams of sugar have experienced a price increase of 20 cent per litre and drinks with more than eight grams of sugar per 100 ml cost now even 30 cent more per litre.

All this to FORCE us to be healthier!

But did Leo Varadkar, the Irish Heart Foundation and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland really do their homework? Does avoiding sugar definitely make us healthier?

Interestingly there is a study that was published by the American Heart Foundation in April 2017, that indicates that our politicians and the two health-sector organisations mentioned above, probably did something really really bad to the people in Ireland!

The study looked at 2888 people for stroke and 1484 people for dementia and checked if sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drink consumption had any impact on the risk of suffering a stroke or getting dementia.

And they found that artificially sweetened soft drink consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia, while sugar-sweetened beverages were not associated with stroke or dementia!! :-O

So if thanks to Leo and his boys you moved from sugar sweetened drinks to artificially sweetened drinks to save some money, you might not die of obesity, but you are much more likely to die of or at least suffer of a stroke OR lose your mind!

In other words: Adults who had one or more diet drinks a day were 2.9 times more likely to develop dementia and 3 times more at risk of suffering a stroke compared to people who didn’t drink diet drinks. And drinking diet drinks is far worse than drinking drinks sweetened with sugar.

Great job, Leo!! Thanks! :-(

Enda Kenny to be named “European of the Year” – Ohh!?

The Journal.ie reported on Thursday that former Taoiseach Enda Kenny will receive the “European Movement Ireland’s European of the Year Award” and he is getting that prize “for his work in building Ireland’s relationship with Europe throughout some of the most challenging circumstances in our recent history”.

The Journal.ie allows people to comment on news and while it was a big mistake to remove the thumbs down option on these comments, the commenting sometimes gives an interesting insight in people’s thoughts AND there are some hilarious (and some stupid) commenters active on the platform so that it is often worth a read.

The comments to this message were mainly surprise, incredulity and ridicule for Enda Kenny and the prize givers, but most commenters missed the main point…or were somewhat mislead by TheJournal.ie.

Since the headline read “European of the Year”, most would initially think that he was voted the most European person from all over Europe of the Year, but that is not the case. The “European Movement Ireland” only looked at Irish people (or people in Ireland) and that means the list would be VERY short, so it is really the “Irish European of the Year” award. Now suddenly we are not surprised anymore that Kenny got the prize. If you can only choose between a couple of people, then EVEN an Enda Kenny can win a prize! :-O He wouldn’t have a chance otherwise.

200 new Stationless Bikes For Hire

Two companies, BleeperBike and Urbo, got a licence from Dublin City to operate stationless bikes for hire and to compete with Dublin Bikes. This is a big step! And it also a development that has advantages and disadvantages.

One year ago, Dublin City threatened BleeperBike to remove their bikes from Dublin’s streets if they launched as they had planned back then. Now they got the licence and are ready to launch immediately. The bikes are white and are already available in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. The great thing about the new bikes is that they will allow us to hire bikes in and to areas that are currently not covered by Dublin Bikes (and that might never be reached by Dublin Bikes). The disadvantage the new bike hire schemes might bring is that Dublin Bikes membership will be less attractive for some and therefore the Dublin Bikes charges might go up when less people subscribe.

For users the big difference is that there is no yearly charge, instead you pay from the first minute of usage after you unlock a bike with an app. Dublin Bikes allow you to use the bike for free for the first 30 minutes as often as you like during the year, but you pay a yearly fee. Bleeperbike also have a 3 Month membership and 12 month membership plan that also gives you the first 30 minutes for free if you don’t want to use the Pay as you Go plan, but these membership plans are a lot more expensive than the Dublin Bikes plan and Dublin Bikes could use that as a justification to increase their charges too.

And another important thing to note: “Stationless” doesn’t really mean completely stationless!! You are not allowed to park and lock the car anywhere, instead, the bike has to be locked to a “recognised public cycle parking space” and these spaces are identified in the BleeperBike app.

www.thejournal.ie/dcc-stationless-bikes-4044090-May2018/
www.thejournal.ie/share-bikes-dublin-urbo-bleeperbike-2-4046606-May2018/

Sugar Tax Postponed

The (totally nonsensical!) Sugar Tax on sparkling drinks with added sugar was planned to kick in on 06 April and maybe you had already planned to buy LOTS of bottles before that day? ;-)

Since a 2 litre bottle will experience a price increase of 60 cent, you can indeed save some money if if you fill the spare room with bottles in the run up to the tax introduction. Only problem is that all these drinks have a best before date and they really change their taste and the level of fizziness after that date. If you have ever tasted expired Coca Cola, you know what I am talking about.

The good news is that you can postpone “The Big Bottle Buy” for a little. The tax will now get introduced on 01 May instead of 06 April. The Department of Finance has decided to check if the tax doesn’t break EU rules and that will take another bit of time.

[You might wonder why I am saying it is “totally nonsensical”? And if you care, here are some of the reasons, but there are too many reasons to go in detail for all of them, so just a list: 1) Unless all sweets are taxed (and maybe fast food as well?) it doesn’t make sense to single out ONE food type. 2) It is very unlikely that a 60cent increase will dramatically change buying behaviour. We have the most expensive price for cigarettes in the whole EU and there are still PLENTY of smokers buying cigarettes completely independent from their financial means. 3) Adding a tax is NEVER a good way to get people to understand what the problem is and to be interested in changing it. Education is the RIGHT way. 4) If you try to “educate” through a price increase, you have to make sure that that increase is felt by the customers. Manufacturers, however, decrease the bottle size to 1.75 or 1.25 litres at the moment so that the consumer THINKS that the price has not increased. The sugar tax increase should have come with an obligation to keep the bottle size at 2 litres as before. 5) Did you know that a sparkling drink with added sugar will NOT experience a tax increase if it is an alcoholic drink? It clearly shows how serious the government is to keep people healthy. Sugar is cool when in alcohol, but sugar in a non-alcoholic drink makes you obese. Dohhh! 6) The final argument for me is that someone who eats an otherwise reasonably balanced diet but occasionally likes a sugary sparkling drink should not be punished by any state for this. Nanny-state is the term that is often used in this context. And if you think the Irish state really cares, then check out the quality of the drinking water in Ireland. ALL countries in Europe accept now that Fluoride in the drinking water is a BAD decision and in some countries a Fluoride-addition is totally forbidden. In Ireland the State still claims that it is healthy. Not true!
Totally nonsensical tax!!]

 
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