And so, our friend Brian Cowen has managed to get us a loan. As he breaks out the champagne, the citizens will be paying for a loan of a staggering 8 Billion Euros. And how did they end up in this situation?
When Ireland wanted to join the Euro, one of the conditions was they became more "European" instead of "British." The pound would be going, the country would go metric, they'd improve to road system, and the farmers in Kerry would stop shagging sheep (I know I know, that's rich). And the cost of this was to be burdened by the country's people.
So, first they made everything metric. This means that every roadsign had to be remade, every car had to now be sold with KPH instead of MPH, every steak in the butchers would be sold in Kilos per Euro instead of Pounds per pound.
The roads were in Brussels' eyes woefully inadequate (something even the Irish would have to sort of agree with), and so the transport budget was to be thrown away, and a new one was to be spent on nothing else except motorways. This is still happening, a decade later. Meanwhile, the other roads fall into decay, road users have to replace shock absorbers and tyres more regularly because of potholes, and in a round about way they have again burdened the cost. Oh, and road tax went up. A lot.
So, as they moved into the Euro, they were incredibly powerful with their new found wealth and not insubstantial exchange rate. This lead to the Celtic Tiger, something I thought was like the Beast of Bodmin or The Loch Ness Monster until last week. The Celtic Tiger was a boom time for builders, and anyone associated directly with the industry. Real tradesmen were wringing their hands with glee as they cleaned up. As the rest of Europe took their new found, the government just taxed the hell of out of it's patrons. And then the money dried up.
So, Cowen got us a bail out. Apparently until the bail out, the country had enough money to last until July. Now they have enough money to keep afloat, and yet the penny pushers in Dublin can take more from us, and will. The budget's tomorrow, and everyone is reeling, expecting the (predictably) high taxes, price increases and general curbing on spending. And this is what then gets my goat.
The cost of living over here on the surface is about 200% the cost of the UK. A pint is about €5. A packet of 20 cigarettes is about €8. So, if you want to save money, don't go to the pub. Don't smoke, or at least cut back. And most importantly, shop around and find where things are cheapest. They have "LALDI" here, and whilst it seems to be based around the Polish population, it is a lot cheaper then most places. Tesco are slowly moving into new markets, much like they did 20 years ago in the UK, now selling TVs, clothes and even mobile phones (just). And the real money spinner in my opinion is technology. IT companies are charging a fortune! People moan and bitch about it, get lousy poor service, move onto another company, buy spares from the high street, and basically pay for everything two or three times more than they should. Ebuyer, my supplier of choice, ship to Ireland. They charge UK prices, and people over here are horrified to see what they get and how much cheaper it can be. Last week I spoke to someone about my favourite router. He'd got it for over €100 from his ISP, the nationalised communications company Eircom. I mentioned that buying it online is only €25-€30, and he then said "ah yes, but this was easier."
And there in lies the problem. If you want cheap, then work for it. If you don't mind paying through the nose, don't complain when it costs more. It won't help the budget, but it might help yours. Tell me I'm wrong, please?
"Thankfully lacking in sheep." Ricardipus "Better than Typhoid" Vicus Scurra "Force of Habit" Mosh "Done, but with errors on page" Sharon (formerly known as Adrian) "That'll do, pig. That'll do." Dawn "I feel all warm & fuzzy here among my fellow deviants." Bryn "Another Ricicles fan." Debster "It's a GREAT website." Big sis in Florida "Your website is the best thing since sliced bread and gravy granules" Cuz'n Doug