October 15, 2015

The Government has staked out its election turf with aspirational Budget

Posted in Irish Independent · 71 comments ·

Imagine Michael Noonan with a thick, luxuriant George Micheal-esque ‘Careless Whisper’ mullet. Then think of Brendan Howlin, his Andrew Ridgely-style sidekick, crooning ‘Club Tropicana, drinks are free’. Now you get the picture. We are in the mid-1980s and the government has just delivered a classic, almost Tory 1980s budget.


By focusing on the self-employed and those moving towards the upper-middle, the Government has staked out its election turf. This is an aspirational budget, aimed at convincing the middle classes that this is the government you can trust.

The message is clear: Fine Gael will look after the financial interests of the broad middle, and Labour will tack on the nice bits about being compassionate and championing votes for marriage equality and the like. The package is Ronald Regan without the nasty bits. By elbowing out the rest from the centre, the government is trying to marginalize all the opposition into ‘high risk’ categories. This is a very sensible electoral move. The Coalition is saying a vote for us, Fine Gael, will allow you to take a bit more home and you will also get the nice, cuddly progressive agenda of the Labour Party.

We have no idea if this will work, but what it seems to do is move the minority party further to the right than may feel comfortable. However, a Trinity College study from the mid-2000s revealed that Labour Party voters came from wealthy, liberal backgrounds, while the real working class voted then for Fianna Fáil (and now, one would assume, Sinn Féin or Independent).

If this remains the case, the Budget makes absolute sense for both parties.

When you look at the main thrust of the Budget, it appears to be good at giving a bit to everyone. With all eyes on the commuter belt and the negative-equity generation – most of whom are in their 30s – the move on free childcare is a clever one. Considering that the average age of the first-time mother in Ireland is 31 and the most likely age of a person in negative equity is between 33 and 40, directing free childcare at children aged between 3 and 5 is as close to a laser-guided electoral strike as possible.

Just because it is political, it doesn’t make it wrong. In fact, expensive childcare is one of the key costs for working families. Anything that brings down this cost at such a crucial stage in family life is a good thing, particularly as these thirtysomethings are either in negative equity or are being squeezed by the exorbitant rents in a dysfunctional Dublin housing market.

Also targeting this group are two more measures: child benefit will be increased by €5 from next year, and free GP care will be made available to all children under 12. Given that you use the doctor most when you are very young and very old, this will help young families. How many families do you know who won’t take their children to the doctor because of the GP charge?

Finally, the two weeks of paternity leave will also come in to law from next September.

In broad stokes, this budget is also supportive of self-employed people and those with something to sell. The top marginal rate of tax is being brought down below 50pc for the first time since the banks imploded and with them the credit binge, which saw tax revenue go through the roof.

There will also be a €550 tax credit for small business owners. This Earned Income Tax Credit will be available to all small business owners including farmers, retailers, publicans and tradesmen. This is something that is a step in the right direction as small business owners are Ireland biggest employers.

However, and here’s the classic 1980s bit, Capital Gains Tax is being reduced from 33pc to 20pc. This is the biggest single move on tax and it benefits those people who own capital.

As this column has pointed out before, there are those people whose income comes from wages – the vast majority – and there is a small minority whose incomes come from investments. By reducing CGT so dramatically, the State is siding with those people who own capital. These are mainly the already rich. So, while the income-tax system may be progressive, when you include VAT and other charges as well as the sharp fall in the tax burden on capital, it’s clear that the big winners are the already rich.

This is not the unintended consequence of policy. It is policy. As an electoral budget, which aims to create the platform for the general election, the Coalition is clearly saying to the electorate, vote for us for stability and security.

This is a middle-ground manifesto for the middle ground of middle Ireland and as such it make sense politically. Economically, it is aspirational and coherent. They won’t lose votes over this Budget and presumably that was the point of the whole thing.

  1. Colm MacDonncha

    Memories are very short,aren’t they?I have no time for the populist agenda espoused by the Sinn Feiners but Doherty pretty much nailed it. Bribing people with their own money indeed….


  2. bluegalway

    As has been noted by Irish business firms in the wake of the budget, little was done to aid Irish entrepreneurs. Ireland’s Capital Gains Tax rate was cut to 20%, from 33% – but double that compared with the UK rate of 10%.
    The cap of €1 million compares with €10 million in the UK, and will mitigate against entrepreneurs building a business to a considerable size.
    Moreover, as noted by director general, Irish Venture Capital Association, Regina Breheny, there is no distinction made between entrepreneurial gains from innovation activities and speculative, non-productive gains.
    Already several people have gone public and said they will move their start-ups to the UK.
    The government needs to get this sorted quickly or there will persist in the country the all too familiar sight of seeing Ireland’s bright, new young things take their talent, Irish jobs and tax take (and more) elsewhere.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “Already several people have gone public and said they will move their start-ups to the UK”

      That’s what I am doing.


  3. I have to side with David here, it is a politically charged budget, but it is not necessarily wrong. As much as I am loathe to admit it, the ship has been steadied and life is returning to normal for many families. As a service provider I have seen green shoots for about a year, anything that returns money to fuel the local economy is welcomed by me and my family.
    I realise the argument may be that the economy does not need stimulus, it is gathering it’s own steam, but it could be argued that a time must come where the tax noose levied on individuals during the crises should be loosened. As for the election, Ireland is a funny place on the day of any election, it does not boil down to FineGael, Labour or Sinn Fein, the reality is you have to choose from the rag tag of local candidates that cross your door. The individual candidates that are presented to you have more of a bearing than any party or budget.

  4. Clare Leonard

    What a stroke of corrupt disgusting genius.
    Fine Gael and Labour borrow 1.5 billion in our name in order to bribe us with sweeties in the budget to vote for them. WE must pay back this loan, both the Capital and interest.
    In effect they use our own money to bribe us to put them back into power.
    We now have a very serious moral hazard.
    The government and the ECB are dependent on banks to launder odious debt and the banks and the government are dependent on the ECB for funding.
    The ECB is nothing more than a banking cartel.
    A cartel has only one purpose that is to enhance and promote the interests of the cartel.
    When you understand this, you will understand you will not and cannot be the beneficiary of their policies.
    We now have a corporate state, the state working for the banks, to protect their interests, and not the interests of the people.

    Francis Fitzgerald said during the week in a constituent newsletter
    “ I know that the last few budgets have been hard, but they made it possible for us to exit the bailout, reduce our
    debts, and move into a real recovery”

    Changing a promissory note to a sovereign debt so that
    Fine Gael and Labour can pretend all is well in the economy is no recovery.
    They have no moral backbone.
    They just moved the debt onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.
    Are we prepared to pretend all is well and live off the backs of our children and grandchildren?.
    I certainly will not and I intend to try in my own small way to put a stop to the corruption.

    • Deco

      Frances Fitzgerald – the fool who declared that the state has enough prison spaces.

      Fact – it doesn’t. That is why there are so many crimes committed by convicted criminals, who are on early release.

      Crime DOES pay, under the current criminal justice system.

      In fact it pays very well for the legal profession. Ireland is awash with drugs. There are serious societal problems.

      And Frances Fitzgerald’s stupid face appears on posters with references to 5k sporting events – which are of no relevance to what she is supposed to be doing.

      This country does NOT have a minister with responsibility for tackling crime in Ireland.

      In fact, I don’t think we have had one in decades.

      No wonder the country is awash with crime.

      • What are ’5k sporting events’ Deco?

        I have been out of the country for a while.

        • SLICKMICK


        • Deco

          A 5K Pink Walk.

          Judging by the posters in Lucan, you would swear that the event could not take place without her.


          Fitzgerald is a hollow, unintelligent, PR stunt specialist who is good at spin, and little else. A posh version of Mary Hanafin.

          She is a PC, posh sounding version of John O’Donoghue. With FG and the DOB owned media behind her, she will be in the next Dail, unfortunately.

          She will not get found out in time.

    • mishco

      “I certainly will not and I intend to try in my own small way to put a stop to the corruption”

      How? By voting with your feet?
      By asking our host to stand as an Independent?
      By manning the barricades?
      By not paying the water charge?
      By joining the “Bring Back Berties”?
      By writing a letter to the Irish Times?

      I think we ought to be told.

    • McCawber

      Sinn Fein would have to borrow even more to give us what they want us to pay for.

    • Good one Clare.
      Exactly. The Central Bankers and the commercial bankers are a cabal maximizing their own benefit, period.

      Your other points on the odious debt and moral hazard are right on the money!

  5. michaelcoughlan


    I really enjoy your articles in recent times because they are an excellent blend of economic and political insight notwithstanding the odd calamity when you get your shadow writer/alter ego to write for you when on your many travels.

    From above; “free GP care will be made available to all children under 12″.

    What exactly is free? Let me tell you what free means to a GP; Bankruptcy. I took my 4 1/2 year old daughter to her GP yesterday and she told me I need to start making new arrangements in a few months because this gubernment’s diktats are forcing her to close her practice. She then told me how her 45 year old GP colleague from Cork City has just emigrated with her husband and 5 kids to Canada after closing their Cork city practice for the same reason. Extending the rules to under 12′s was simply doing what accountants do really really well; bayoneting the wounded.

    Monotone (Noonan) went on to talk through his hole about market dysfunction in housing and told us that Nama would deliver the units even though his policies are causing the dysfunction where properly qualified construction professionals like ME can’t build houses because his policies prevent us from doing so. Nama delivering houses is more Gubernment diktat.

    As for all the nonsense about helping young working mums with FREE childcare. What does he mean by free? Will the crèches be forced to incur the cost? If he really wanted to help he would make it more convenient for the Mum’s to mind their own kids.

    My uncle David is 90 this year. He is being expertly minded in his nursing home and almost all the staff are Philippino with the exception of the middle aged white women who owns the place telling me that the Gubernment dictates to her the Max price SHE can charge for beds!

    I got a taxi up there recently and the taxi driver told me he is told by the taxi deregulator the prices he must charge!

    Are you sure Regan was the right person to compare Monotone to?


    • Deco

      So what if the GP is leaving, shurr Joaney and her Phoneys are not going anywhere.

      A great country to do gombeenism, in.

    • Grzegorz Kolodziej

      Regulators are just another tax-extorting tool. Like government, super-quangos raise debt from the bond market, which they then they waste due to their inefficiency and exorbitant salaries. The role of the regulator is to ensure that the consumer pays for all this.
      I often come a across an argument “but if there was no regulation, private companies would charge whatever they want”.
      But who said that the regulators act to prevent price hikes (a simple analysis of the cost of living in Ireland or the UK would kick the bottom of that argument)? The regulators role is usually to act as rubbers stampers for monopolies and cartels which they represent.
      I remember reading Michael Casey’s book a few years ago – he said that at some stage the taxi regulators increased the fares against the wishes of most drivers (usually they do not have such wishes, but this was, as far as I remember, the start of the recession).
      I won’t even go into Dublin Bus again – I think I have said all I had to say about them.

      Roman poet Juvenal wrote in his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–8):
      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (“Who will guard the guards themselves?”)?

      • coldblow


        We all know since the farce of our Financial Regulator a few years ago (Best Regulation in the World!) that all these regulators, and regulations, are nothing but the purest bullshit.

  6. Deco

    Yes it is aspirational.

    The aspiration is to bailout the Irish “Labour” Party. [ They avoid the labourers as much as possible].

    In less than 18 months the entire thing will need to be stuck in reverse again. It indicates that FG/LP are no smarter than FF/GP.

    Once again, there is a professor in NUI Galway telling us that there are serious risks, while the media is telling us that there are no bottleneck issues in the Irish economy [ the last time it was Alan Ahearne].

    And now there is controversy over Pravda scripting the reaction to support the government ministers. People are wising up.


    Rents will continue their relentless upward increase. 2K per month will soon become the average rent for a 4 bed house in Dublin. In leafy Blackrock/Clontarf etc , there is a 25% premium. Leeds and Manchester are half the price.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Yes because government diktats are creating the opposite effect of what’s needed which is an increase in supply.

  8. coldblow

    They are both right-wing parties because they represent the elite, and if you include the wannabes in the number it could well amount to an overall majority. To adapt the saying about the CofE and the Conservatives the Labour Party is FG at prayer, or whatever the secular, enlightened equivalent is.

    I have always given a preference to Fianna Fáil, somewhere down the ballot sheet, whenever it is needed to keep out FG and Labour, which is always. And I don’t even like FF.

    I had to look up Frances Fitzgerald to see whether she was Labour or FG. I must have been confusing her with Eithne. I mean, seriously, how can you tell the difference?

    David says, ‘and tack on the nice bits about being compassionate and championing votes for marriage equality and the like.’

    I take it the compassion does not extend to anyone who disagrees with them. And I love the word ‘championing’. Does David *still* believe that progressive measures need to be championed and if so against whom exactly? The sinister army of reactionaries who are always lecturing you in the papers and on RTE? Or maybe it’s those bad water protesters, or the Vatican. (There’s a thought. Let’s withdraw our ambassador.)

    The Left is still fighting valiantly against impossible odds.

    And now they have won marriage equality and Ireland is no longer an international laughing stock they can’t just stop there. So what’s the next flagrant injustice waiting out there to be righted? Remember, they have already achieved ‘gender fluidity’ and round the clock choice in sexual identity. Thinking caps on, boys and girls. Got it: immigration.

    I’m pleased they brought in tax individuation and want to borrow further millions to subsidize total strangers to look after small children so that mothers can do menial but fulfilling office jobs to pay the mortgage.

    So as far as I can see, reducing CGT to make the rich even richer, and the poor poorer, is consistent with the rest of it.

    I keep saying this is only explainable by psychiatry.

    This passage I read today is apt:

    “‘Undoubtedly”, said Don Quixote; “but I suit my actions to the example of Amadis de Gaul, who made his squire Gandalin earl of the Firm Island; which is a fair precedent for preferring Sancho to the same dignity to which his merit also lays an unquestionable claim.”

    ‘The canon stood amazed at Don Quixote’s methodical and orderly madness, in describing the adventure of the Knight of the Lake, and the impression made on him by the fabulous conceits of the books he had read; as likewise at Sancho’s simplicity in so eagerly contending for his earldom; which made the whole company very good sport.’

    • coldblow

      I just love these coincidences. After writing these insightful thoughts yesterday I read this in a book I have just bought, The Diversity Illusion, by Ed West (son of Mary Kenny):

      ‘The New Left movement that emerged in the late 1960s shifted the aims of Marxism from the economic to the social sphere. While European socialists were traditionally concerned with the plight of the workers, following the increased prosperity of the 1960s the emphasis moved towards the ‘New Social Movements’, feminism, gay rights, third-world liberation struggles and the plight of minorities and immigrants in the West. The African-American Civil Rights caused a major shift in the Left, with non-whites in and outside the West replacing the workers as the agents of social revolution… This new emphasis on social rather than economic issues could bypass Marxism’s obvious economic failures and instead focus on cultural revolution. This was a far more attractive idea for the middle-class radicals who comprised the bulk of the New Left. Economic radicalism is not just evidently unsuccessful, but involves financial sacrifice, and shunning wealth is often necessary for personal credibility. Political radicalism costs nothing; the benefits are to middle-class cultural revolutionaries, while the risks and costs are usually borne by people far away. A western European can show solidarity with Latin American or African guerrillas, knowing that were they to actually take power and bring their nations to abject ruin, it would affect him not one bit. The promotion of cultural diversity at home, which affected the working classes to a far greater extent, was a mild manifestation of this.’

      The only bit he doesn’t get is the psychological imperative felt by extraverts to uphold the nonsense which I have explained many times for the edification of the readers of this blog.

      ‘The canon stood amazed at Don Quixote’s methodical and orderly madness.’

      • coldblow

        So just to make my point clear, immigration is the the obvious course for our media and governments to take now as they cannot emote, display their concern and parade their virtue to each other (and their peers abroad – this is what the Good Room concept really means) if they don’t actually have immigrants in site and a small, easily-managed reactionary oppostion to set their goodness off against. And as West says, and others have pointed out, it doesn’t cost them anything personally.

  9. Adelaide


    “Relations with Govt deteriorated sharply before Web Summit move, documents show”

    If you need a world-weary chuckle look no further than this hilarious article from today’s RTE website. This palaver would make for an insightful spoof comedy, except it being Ireland the farce is reality.
    The moral of the story, pertaining to Irish entrepeneurs, as Homer Simpson said, “Don’t Try.”

  10. sravrannies

    In their obvious arrogance, the Government has assumed the role of ‘Buyer’ in these negotiations when it should have proactively embraced the role of seller, promoter, nurturer, advisor and partner. Why do we always fuck these things up.


    • Adelaide

      Sravrannies, you are slandering the Department of the Taoiseach when you ask ‘Why do we always fuck these things up?’ because to ‘fuck up’ implies an exertion of effort, whereas the article painstakingly details how the government avoided any exertion of any effort and as such under the ‘Law of Incompetence’ the government can not be accused of fucking up Web Summit. I have passed your slanderous comment to the ‘Litigious Department of the Department of the Taoiseach’ but, yes, quite likely they’ll do fuck all about it. Apologies for all the f*%!s.

  11. Adelaide

    Here is food for thought. A recent BBC website article surveyed all national elections across Europe in the last six years and found on average the turnout was 53% and that on average 22% of the overall adult population voted into power their governments.
    1 in 5 is hardly, eh, representative.
    The mere fact that the era of horse-and-cart representative government still persists in today’s digital age when we long ago abandoned the horse-and-cart demonstrates that the self-preserving political machine is about the attainment and retention of power and nothing more. But as long as the sheeple act like clapping seals what do you expect. Political turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, because, in act of self-preservation, on the hush-hush, they had outlawed Christmas ages ago.

  12. Adelaide

    “We are in the mid-1980s…” I tell you what else has regressed to the 80′s, Dublin city, I was up there today, what a sweet surprise to see what a decrepit dump it has deteriorated back into, the nostalgia of the grimy hellhole that was Dublin in the 80′s, it has now returned, except now it takes three times as long to drive to your destination. Rant over.

  13. McCawber

    Where’s Tony, I have another question?
    It’s a conspiracy theory of sorts.
    Is it likely that before the fall of Mammon, the rich will manipulate the markets a few more up/down cycles before the whole house of cards comes down.
    If Gold is selling at $1200 per ounce and is grossly undervalued, then who is buying it and maybe more importantly who is selling it and where is all this physical gold coming from?
    In ignorance

    • Go to http://www.gata.org and it is all documented and recorded. It will take you till Christmas to get through it.
      In large brush strokes.
      Gold is the ultimate measuring stick for all currencies. It is the only money that can not be exponentially increased as can paper/digital fiat.
      Gold mining increases the stock less that a rate of a 2% p.a. increase.
      The US is the owner (or the FED is) of the world reserve currency, the US dollar. This means that there is a great advantage bestowed upon the US. All international trade is conducted and settled using the reserve currency. Final settlement is in reserve currency much like gold used to be used before there was a reserve currency status granted.
      All countries must purchase US currency in order to do business. They use domestic currency to do so. This means the US dollar is exported to other nations. The US can print all the money it likes and the inflationary effects are exported to other countries. I think it was Connolly who said ” It is our currency but it is your problem”
      To maintain the impression that the US dollar is sound money it is imperative that the price of gold be kept down as gold is the measuring stick of all currencies. Also there appears to be a correlation with lower interest rates and a lower gold price so there is another reason why rates are kept down.

      • cont..There are various ploys used to keep the price down. Sales of physical bullion is the main one but it is augmented by jawboning and the use of derivatives in the futures market where computer selling of large quantities in a very short time span affect the price in a sudden drop.
        Then traders and funds “in the know” and reading the FED signals jump in on the short side driving the price lower where upon the Fed? government bullion banks reverse their ploy and recover funds at a profit ready to repeat again and again.
        The amount of gold ready for delivery at the COMEX for example is a fraction of what is actually traded on a daily basis. It is now estimated that if the orders executed stood for delivery of gold that it would exceed the gold currently available by over 200 times. This is bare naked shorting that is technically and legally not allowed. Government regulators so far have turned a blind eye.
        Where is the gold coming from that is actually sold. The annual physical market demand is considered conservatively to be well above 4000 tonnes. Mining supply is at peak and starting to decline and currently is at about 2800 tonnes a year. As central bankers refuse to divulge what they do with the peoples money all government and central bank activities are opaque ans have to be surmised for other reports.
        Suffice it to say we know the following. Western Central Banks report holdings in the range of 32,000 tones and this is unchanged in 15 years. We know the B of England sold 450 tonnes in the late nineties, and after advertising this event to come for several months dumped it all on the market at once. It is infamously known as Brown’s Bottom. It was sold at about 280 dollars a tonne.
        The Swiss were forced to sell a 1000 tonnes about 6 years ago (all this from Memory) and in the meantime we know the annual shortfall of supply compared to demand was a 1000-1500 tones a year for 15 years.
        As only Western banks appear to be selling it means that in reality there is likely 15,000-20,000 tonnes less than the 32,000 tonnes claimed.
        Other sources of supply of gold appear to have been filched from any where it could be got at. The gold Fund GLD is severely depleted of physical gold and in fact the prospectus allows for paper investment in promises to pay gold. The is no audit allowed of custodians on behalf of GLD and no requirement for GLD to buy physical gold at all.
        Libya was invaded and releaved of 132 tonnes. Ukraine was relieved of 30 odd tonnes , shipped west for “safe keeping”.
        It makes sense for China to also be involved in paper shorting the marker on the one hand and buying under priced physical with the other. This will continue untill the stash will be depleted.
        The buyers have been predominately everyone else. India has consistently imported 800-1000 tonnes a year, Arab countries have been adding, Recently China has gone from 600-800 tonnes to closer to 2000 tones a year and other Asiatic countries are buyers not sellers.. Russia in the last 8 years has gone from zero to several hundred tonnes a year.
        Much of the western bank gold was leased to so called bullion banks at a LOW RATE who were then allowed to sell the gold on the open market, opaquely, and reinvest the funds in US treasuries. They did not have to return the gold but could settle in cash.
        Central banks could report they still owned the gold but in the meantime it was in others hands. The increased demand for the government bonds kept the interest rate down. The sale of the gold kept the price of gold down
        The gold is now double accounted or more. Swiss refiners have reported a 24/7 business, re smelting gold moved from London reported as being substandard purity or even dore bars. It is refined to .99999 purity and cast in kilo gram bars and then exported to Shanghai. Shanghai is now reportedly moving more gold than any other market in the world. It is not all going to the Chinese National Bank but to individual saver/investors as well.

        • The signs are there that physical gold is in short supply and that soon a delivery demand will not be met. Germany for instance asked for it’s gold held in custody in New York and London be returned. They were politely told to be quiet and be satisfied with a few tonnes a year over seven years which would give them 20% of their own holdings back. It seems the gold is not available.
          over 15 years demand has exceeded mined supply and scrap by 15000 tonnes or more.
          The shortfall has gone to the East and been supplied from the western Central banks.
          A default is on the near horizon.
          Similar in Silver where premiums around the world are 15-30% above the quoted spot price if you want to buy. Wait times for delivery for some products are 1-2 months.
          The physical market is overpowering the paper market and when it happens there will be a sudden reset of prices closer to real market value.
          All this is previously posted in detail with many links to 100?s of essays.
          Google Bill Holter. Andy Hoffman and go to http://www.jsmineset.com.

        • Try a free 2 weeks on http://www.lemetropolecafe.com. I repeat. http://www.gata.org will have all you need.
          If you get a chance and want a chat see if Cooldude or Clare Leonard, or Greyfox will spare a couple of hours if they attend Kilkenomics, and you buy the beer. Any of them will illuminate you.

          • McCawber

            I’m considering investing in a gold mining stock/s.
            Is that a dumb approach (ie a no no)or ok, if I know what I’m doing, share pick wise.
            I’m also considering buying gold but the scaremongering regarding confiscation of gold and/or elimination of paper money (ie electronic money only) could make gold almost unusable in monetary sense.
            The one thing I am convinced of, after some thought, is that the elimination of money (be it gold or paper) is undesirable. Cash is King for a lot of very good reasons and as you, yourself might say, gold is even better.
            I read an article recently stating that some banks already have a policy in place that bars the storage of cash, including coin (gold etc), in safety deposit boxes.
            That’s a strong indication of what the banks want to do and usually that means it’s the opposite of what is best for us.

          • michaelcoughlan

            This is a right good mining company to buy shares in right now and chart analysis supports a position on its shares.


            Tony will shoot me but the whole gold argument is fallacious and I will explain. Gold is known to preserve wealth as in 1oz in the time of Jesus bought you a very fine suit of bespoke clothes which is what 1 oz buys you today. In other words if gold goes to 50k per oz it still will only buy you a very fine suit of bespoke clothes! What it means is the currency will have collapsed in value! The moral of the story is you still have to be in a position to EARN a living. Your desirable trade-able skill is your REAL WEALTH.

            I buy coins from the Celtic gold website as they don’t charge vat. They will deliver to your house or store in a vault. The recommendation is only 10% allocation to gold. What I do is buy shares in a financial security which invests in gold but sells options for income whilst having a simultaneous short position to the same value in gold on my spread betting platform. If gold goes up or down my capital remains intact but I have an income stream from the sales of options which is returned to me as a dividend. I also buy some coins for home (very Little) and the large majority for physical storage in the vault which is a service offered by the coin seller.

            I hope this helps,


          • DB4545


            I stuck a few quid into the Bitgold platform to see how it pans out and it seems reasonably stable. I’m looking at buying some physical gold but the margins over spot seem a bit steep in Ireland it looks in the region of a 15% to 25% premium in some cases. I was looking at getting a few krugerrands but I’m told they may present a problem in the future as the copper content may prevent them being regarded as bullion for VAT exemption purposes? I had a look at Bessergold and Degussa in Germany and they seem to offer better value than the local outfits. Might be time for a Ryanair special to Berlin. Had a look at the IG demo site recently in relation to spread betting but the reviews make me nervous. Did OK on puts for German 30/FTSE 100 /Australian commodities but some reviews are saying they’re front running and clipping margins on full accounts? I’d welcome your valued opinion. Kind Regards.

          • Michael,

            “Tony will shoot me but the whole gold argument is fallacious”

            Broad statement here.

            Contradicted by
            “I buy coins from the Celtic gold website”

            You confuse everyone with your meanderings.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi DB4545.

            The reason the premium on the bullion in Ireland is high is because they are charging vat. If you type the words Celtic and gold into your browser you will find a site sourcing coins vat free in Estonia and they will ship or store them for you.

            I steer clear of trading (I see myself as an investor) because the whole shooting match is rigged with front running manipulation etc. It would be better to pay down any personal debt like credit cards etc.

            The no 1 message from the book reminiscences of a stock operator is that no man alive can beat the market in the long term as a trader. Your returns eventually revert to the mean. Therefore it is better to have a normal job and buy a 50/50 allocation of etfs which track the major indices and major bonds.

            I use the charts to time entry. Buffet for example only buys after a collapse. What I am looking to do around now is buy into etfs or pm mining co shares whose companies are in a strong position financially. Their respective values have collapsed in recent years but the charts are still only indicating a turn upwards on some of them.

            The charts are indicating that most of the major indices are starting to enter a bear market. If I was a trader I would be looking to short say the FTSE100 but since I am not I am waiting for it to go way down. I feel that an 80% correction is not unlikely at which point I will buy in to the major indices once the charts confirm a turn up.


          • DB4545


            Thanks Michael. My understanding was that gold bullion sales are VAT exempt in the EU? I noticed one of the bullion sites was telling straight out lies stating that gold had increased by 15% since the start of the year which is clearly not the case if you take even a cursory look at sites such as goldprice.org etc. In relation to the FTSE 100 I recently read an article that suggested a disproportionate number of the 100 were resource/oil stocks and therefore a correction was overdue so you may be correct.

          • DB4545


            I spent most of yesterday trying to get gold the old fashioned way panning a stream not a million miles from Croghan Kinsella. It’s good exercise and I got a bit of colour in the pan(flour gold) but not enough to concern the taxman or cover my petrol ETFs may well produce a better return!

  14. DB4545

    What’s to see here David? The government are just doing what all governments try to do bribe people with their own money using the “there’s one for everyone in the audience” routine constrained by what the EU tells them to do.Eight years down the road and no fundamental changes have taken place in the way we choose to govern ourselves. FG/Lab are doing exactly what FF/PD’s and the rest of the political establishment have done since the foundation of the State. SF and lunatic fringe are writing cheques that no Irish taxpayer is willing to cash. Whatever happens in the election ministerial pensions are assured and the taxpayer picks up the tab as usual.

    A couple of years down the line and all the usual suspects will be on the boards of the companies who were “looked after”. You may even get to see their faces on billboards in Honduras in eight years time just like the gentleman you mentioned in the previous article. Why would any minister give a rat’s ass about a company that could pump 100 million into Dublin whatever happens 3000 grand a week will hit the ministerial pension account. They have no skin in the game and no downside just a nice fat pensionable upside.

    Move along there’s nothing to see here. Business as usual.

    • coldblow

      Peter Hitchens in a article two years ago about speeches by Lord Sumption (Supreme Court) and ‘darling of the liberal media’ Chris Patten:

      ‘Alluding to the ‘dark side of globalisation’ (is there a bright side?), which he [Patten] blamed for the spread of organised crime, drugs and epidemic disease, he said national politicians were increasingly relutctant to tell the truth about just how impotent they are.

      “I think it’s astonishing that politicians are so reluctant to say we’re not anymore facing a series of challenges which are manageable within our own space…

      “It’s proved extremely difficult for political leaders to tell people what they may not want to hear and get elected. And the general consequence has been that political leaders only tell people a bit about what they don’t want to hear, which doesn’t exactly prevent the growth of populism and parties on the extreme but can just about secure their election.”

      ‘Again, this is very close to what I’ve been saying for years, but emerging from the mouth of a major elite figure. Shouldn’t these speeches have attracted more attention and discussion?’


  15. Bamboo

    This says it all. This sums up all of what govs do in all modern states. Stay in the middle, don’t go left or right, and so get your balance right to stay in power. Only act when the time is right and only when it keeps you in power.

  16. DB4545


    I don’t really have a problem with middle of the road politics as extreme right and left have long been discredited. As it stands we are effectively a town council governed and fiscally restrained by the EU. We have almost zero control over monetary policies. Unlike the UK, Switzerland, Iceland or most Independent democracies we are not in control of our own currency or interest rates which are the key factors which usually define a modern Sovereign State.The troika effectively dictated our finances after the meltdown.Our laws are obliged to conform with EU “Directives” which means we don’t make our own laws we are just obliged to obey laws made by the EU.

    I’m just curious why Irish taxpayers are willing to pay an annual wage bill of over 25 million Euros plus expenses to 166 TDs and 60 Senators to run talking shops. That’s not even including the annual 5 million Euro pension costs for previous office holders, or the annual costs for county councillors or unelected county managers. Irish politicians don’t have the power to make any key economic decisions. We don’t even have the power to examine the inner workings of Nama as the legislation allows deals to take place in secret.

    The upcoming elections will have the same impact on the Irish electorate as the Eurovision song contest. They provide a mild diversion from everyday reality (at our expense) as they attempt to amuse us with back of an envelope projections that bear no relation to any real world costings in order to have their 15 minutes of fame. That’s Irish democracy 99 years after “Independence”.

  17. Bamboo

    Just agreeing with your statement:
    “The government are just doing what all governments try to do bribe people with their own money using the “there’s one for everyone in the audience” routine constrained by what the EU tells them to do”.


    “Move along there’s nothing to see here. Business as usual.”

  18. McCawber

    A number of posters have pointed out, the next government is going to buy our votes using our money.
    Therefore the best strategy is to vote for the least worst option.
    ie the grouping that is promising to spend less of my taxes, than other grouping, to buy my vote.

  19. DB4545


    There’s a lot of sense in that McCawber I believe there’s an old expression that goes”Vote for those who promise the least as they’ll be the least disappointing”.

  20. coldblow

    Today’s Irish Daily Mail: Halting Site Will Be Built:

    ‘In a statement yesterday, they [residents in Rockwell Drive] said: “We find ourselves thrust into the centre of a national problem not of our making, subjected to irrational and unfair criticism with little regard for the impact this dreadful situation is having on each of our families on a human level. While we cannot speak for the Traveling community, we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their criticism of the failure of this council and other State agencies to provide proper accommodation which is suitable for their needs and way of life.”

    ‘Nevertheless local councillor Mary Hanafin, the former Fianna Fail Cabinet minister who served in the government that bankrupted Ireland and brought the IMF to our shores, said the right course of action was to build the new halting site at the cvontroversial location despite the concerns of residents.

    ‘Ms Hanafin appeared to suggest that that the issue was a matter of sympathy for the bereaved family, rather than genuine concern as to whether the identified site was appropriate.

    ‘”I think you need to show your sympathy in your actions as well as your words,’ said Ms Hanafin…

    ‘Martin Collins, of Travellers support group Pavee Point, said the residents’ objection to having a halting site so close to their homes was ‘shameful’ and ‘obscene’.

    ‘He said: “It’s totally unnecessary and I would plead to the residents to show a little bit of humanity, generosity and compassion here. These are exceptional circumstances and very unique needs.”‘

    Sound familiar? Here’s that compassion again that other people have to show. Why don’t Mary Hanafin and the other councillors put them up in their own homes – for a temporary period of course?

  21. DB4545


    It’s just the local version of the dead child on the beach Coldblow. There’s no situation so dismal or tragic that a politician can’t use it to their advantage for election purposes. It’s the gesture politics that you described above. The affluent get to pontificate and those at the bottom of the foodchain get to do the heavy lifting. It’s a version of Mummy/Daddy arranging a placement for middle class kids to do a year or two with a suitable NGO. A suitable position will be found with maids and a Nissan Patrol and a nice little tax perk if timed correctly. It looks great on the CV and tides them over nicely until a position with a quango/politics/bank is found. It’s PC perfect and as it’s an NGO the taxpayer picks up the tab..as always. The affluent are always compassionate..to each other.

  22. coldblow

    ‘It’s just the local verion of the dead child on the beach.’

    Exactly, DB, it’s the very same thing. The Traveller reaction also seems to mirror the immigrants’ behaviour when, caught up in the same hysteria as on this side of the border, they threw themselves on (harmless) railway tracks, and the like.

    What is Hanafin playing at? And the Late Late was on about the ‘refugees’ yet again last night. As with the gay marriage ‘debate’ we are being subject to relentless personal testimony. Who exactly sets the agenda? I don’t think it is a conspiracy, it’s just how our elite think.

    My interest is in how much of this is calculated and how much is done unconsciously. There is undoubted genuine sympathy (look at the fixed, far-away expression in Lucinda Creighton’s eyes, for example, and that horizontal crease of concern permanently lining her forehead), but there is also no, or little, personal cost (which is borne by others) both in terms of material comfort and moral superiority.

    Susan Cain in her book Quiet describes a well-known experiment whereby a mixed group of extraverts and introverts quite a few years ago were given a set of relatively simple tasks and problems to solve, easy enough that they could get most of them right with little difficulty. Then a professional actor was brought in to join the group, who gave the wrong answers but with great confidence. Apparently the extraverts were far more likely to be swayed. The question then was if this was deliberate, so as not to appear out of step with the others (the Good Room syndrome again), or unconscious. Some years later the experiment was repeated, but this time with them hooked up to equipment measuring their brain activity. The results were, I recall, similar, but the findings (though would take neuroscience with more than a grain of salt) showed that the parts of the brain involved were those dealing with perception rather than calculation, meaning that they did not know they were doing this.

    This means that politicians, journalists and other people of influence who indulge in this damaging and dangerous behaviour can perhaps be excused, at least in part, as suffering from diminished responsibility. But what I notice is that altruistic behaviour in extraverts very often seems to be accompanied by some kind of personal gain.

    The thing is, if some extraverts (a tiny handful, admittedly, and including in Ireland John Waters, Kevin Myers and (probably) David Quinn, and in England Christopher Booker) can overcome this perceptual handicap, then why can’t the rest? This is the challenge they have to rise to and so far their response has been alarming.

    You read it here first. No-one else, anywhere, seems to be aware of this. And when I show them it just washes off as if they haven’t seen anything. It’s like that sc-fi scene where time stands still and everyone is frozen, only you can walk around among them and say what you like: nobody notices.

  23. DB4545


    I feel it’s calculated Coldblow. I was out for a walk with my son a few months ago.We were walking around Killiney (I don’t live anywhere near the area). We both saw a vacant site and asked each other how long it would take for the guards to arrive if a traveller had the temerity to park a caravan there.I reckoned 15 minutes and he reckoned about 30. I reckoned that an assistant commissioner would get a phone call before the tow hitch was even taken off. I don’t think I’m mistaken. Compassion is easy when it doesn’t cost you or affect your world.

    • coldblow

      I am probably being too kind.

      The Traveller case is a close parallel to the Immigration one. Ed West’s book is very good on the latter: ‘Opposition to immigration came to be associated with poverty and failure… The media characterised opposition to newcomers as largely coming from poor and/or poorly educated, and partly out of embarrassment of being associated with such social deviants, intelligent people who opposed immigration for perfectly legitimate reasons kept quiet… Oppostion to immigration, and therefore racism, became associated with poverty partly because the poor suffer most of the downsides… Anti-racist attitudes are the modern equivalent of the peacock’s tail. In contrast racism is very unattractive, which is why the vast majority of internet daters who only date members of their own race (a very large proportion) advertise a willingness to see anyone. Personal diversity, in friendship circles, also suggests other qualities; cosmopolitanism snd tolerance are signals of social success, and having friends from various different backgrounds suggests not only general popularity but also that people of other races are able to overcome their fear or hostility in your special case. And having the right attitudes to race, and being aware of the correct current terminology, also suggests contemporariness, a highly attractive quality.

      ‘Cultural self-denigration, towards British patriotism or Western civilisation in general, is a high status signifier, since such attitudes are taught at universities and in higher cultural circles’ a stage which according to Roger Scruton ‘the adolescent mind normally passes’ but in which ‘intellectuals especially tend to become arrested’.

      I think you could substitute Travellers for immigration in all this and it would still apply.

      Now I’m back on my own computer again here’s the thread on the Irish Economy site.


      I used my own name. Here I use coldblow for reasons of sentiment and tradition.

      They mucked about with my posts, first not publishing them and then, once I’d made the same points in a different way, putting them up. There was also a post where I mocked Michael Hennigan which I recall was posted but has since been replaced by an earlier post which had not been put up, so it gives a repetitive, muddled and disjointed appearance. I end up arguing with an open borders supporter. It really has little to do with Syrian refugees and all to do with an ideology which those who hold it absolutely refuse to acknowledge. I was partly thinking of this when I mentioned that sci-fi scene above.

      Just while I’m at it West says that there is a name for your argument for supporting immigration because of its effects on the cuisine. There’s a nice quip about the difference between supporters of the (British) Green Party and BNP when going to an ethnic restaurant: the former is worried about the miles the ingredients have travelled while the latter is concerned about the miles the waiter has.

      • The migration problem headed for Europe is the direct result of the lies and deceit of the US government and allies. The Allies include NATO, the EU and every state threatened to get “into line’ , or else. All of us in other words. We have destroyed the homes of millions.

        William Engdahl via Paul Craig Roberts tells us the Truth of the situation. The US is losing its totalitarian grip on the world and does not like it.

        Most governments lie through their teeth to retain power or get re-elected. Some will resort to violence to retain power.


        • coldblow


          What you say may or may not be true. My posts above are concerned with the psychology behind it. My comments on the Irish Economy thread include some clear examples and the whole conversation there is revealing in many ways.

          For what it is worth my understanding of the global situation is based on Raymnond Crotty. It is a much wider and deeper than localized US-sponsored war and has to do with the imposition of capitalist instititusions, most notably private property in land, on non-capitalist societies, resulting in inefficient use of resources, social inequality and what Crotty called ‘undevelopment’ in all of the hundred-odd ex-capitalist colonies. He was a self-taught economist, self-taught farmer and an agricultural adviser to the Third World with (as he said) a unique understanding of the problems of stock keeping.

  24. Deco


    I have read you article today in the SBP. I agree with Professor McHale. The issue here is debt. Ireland’s debt is massive. The measure “Debt to GDP” is unrealistic due to the fact that GDP is illusionary.

    We have 10% unemployment because we are not cost efficient.

    If I had 3 billion, and I was Noonan, I would invest it in making the institutional state complex more efficient. But Howlin will not allow anything to happen in that area.

    Give it 18 months, and Ireland will once again be in a sovereign debt crisis.

    Watch Sweden and Belgium. They will encounter serious problems in the management of debt. And that will send up Ireland’s borrowing rates.

    Ireland should be investing money in making Ireland more efficient and competitive so as to drive up business activity.

    Ireland (thanks to ICTU, oligopolies, and IBEC) is now on the cusp of a French provincial competitiveness problem. There is growth in a few centres – the power centre, and the odd outlier. But there are vast regions where there is nothing but perennial underperformance.

    The smartest option for Ireland is to build the interconnector in the public transport system with 3 billion. That would enable much greater labour mobility, and thereby bring more people into the labour market.

  25. Canada votes tomorrow and as usual the attack ads rule the air ways.
    Lost is the reality.
    This essay suggests we owe it to ourselves to be informed about the reality and not be swayed by the images.
    Good advice. Suitable for anyone voting in a democratic election. Unfortunately 90 of people polled had no idea of the party platform. That may explain why we are governed by a collection of liars and cheats.


    • The last sentence was a bit strong as there a lot of good people in government but the people do not heed them.

    • Here we are on elcetion day and the polls still open for another couple of hours in BC. Results are already broadcast from Atlantic Canada and show Liberals 31 to 1 Conservative leading or elected.

      Will that show as a persuaded vote in BC here as results are made known?

  26. [...] example, David McWilliams writes that this is a budget “aimed at convincing the middle classes that this is the government you can [...]

  27. Do you think that the corporate and government unfunded pension funds can be valued at a market price 50% below the book value as suggested here for the US. Is the stock market held up and levitated by government , central bank sponsored intervention of the stock and bond markets to avoid a catastrophic collapse in pension fund assets.

    You be the judge


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