To followers of Grumpy who don't live in the Republic of Ireland I make no apology for continuing to bang on about our new water charges. If one takes a step back from the fact that this is a particularly Irish problem, one can see huge parallels across the political landscape irrespective of the country within which one lives.
To re-cap, water charges have recently been introduced in Ireland and, as can be expected with any new "tax", the peasants have been quite revolting on the matter.
Grumpy (living up to his reputation for thinking backwards) actually believes the fundamental framework that has been set up in Ireland is a stroke of genius. The actual method of implementing this stroke of genius is total and utter ineptitude, poor thinking backed by incompetent, useless and virtually non-existent public communication.
I don't wish to travel over old ground again, but during the last couple of weeks it was announced that the government were introducing a "water conservation grant". This grant would be in the sum of €100. To be eligible for this, all one had to do was to register with Irish Water.
Eligibility for the grant is totally independent of whether one paid one's account or not. What a Mickey Mouse system. Why in the world the grant cannot be called a registration grant I don't know. But what made me even more wild is that the water charge protesters claimed discrimination against people who had not registered and therefore didn't qualify for the grant!
It seems to be a further example of the government trying to buy the public. They may buy some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time. But all of the electorate is still not daft enough to be bought all of the time.
If one takes a broad look at the national press, it is clear to Grumpy how essential the system is that has been established. I'm sure I heard that nearly half of the processed water in the country is lost to leaks and in addition to that, it has now been found that over here in one percent of the older housing stock has significant quantities of lead piping.
I am sure that instead of throwing money at the electorate (I'm sure many of them say 'thank you very much', see it for what it is, a bribe, accept it and carry on regardless) the money would have been far better spent on a professionally organised publicity campaign explaining first the need for money to be spent on the water system, and secondly why it is better not coming directly from central government.
On a much broader front we would also emphasise another motto that my old Pappy used to say which was "Grumpy, you'll never get owt for nowt". Which actually brings Grumpy to a much wider observation regarding the protesters argument that water should be free. (The argument being that water is an essential commodity. Grumpy would observe that these days electricity and gas are also essential for our current way of life. We may grumble about the size of the bill but we expect to still pay for what we use. Why not water? I suppose the natural extension of their argument could include mobile phones, and with poor public transport, for diesel in the car… and so on, where does it all end?) What Grumpy finds disturbing is that some of these protesters who are members of the Irish Parliament actually support the view of "free" water. I'm not quite sure where they think the money is coming from but I'm sure if you ask them they will say "the government". It is clear that these simpletons see "the government" as having a bottomless pit of money without giving any thought as to where the money actually comes from. In the ultimate reckoning, every last cent comes, one way or the other, from the population. It may come under a number of different names such as income tax, VAT, motor tax, import duty, excise duty,… and so on. Now Grumpy might ask "who pays these taxes?" Well, bless my bed socks that means you, me and the rest of the population!
A natural extension of this is, of course, if we don't pay our taxes, the government runs out of money. It is interesting that in Ireland a black economy is still rife, far greater than it is in the UK. This black economy may be nowhere near as big as one hears it is in Greece, (but more of that elsewhere), but then, which countries have needed financial assistance in recent years?
So at the end of the day, the taxpayer pays, but with the Irish Water arrangement, we do know that the money we pay is going towards the reliable supply of good, clean drinkable water, the disposal of the used water afterwards and not wasted on some nefarious trophy project called a visitor centre.
So come on you people in government, learn from your mistakes and start trying to explain the logic behind many of your actions. It really is ducking the issue to blame the introduction of these charges on a third party. (In this case the Troika, i.e. the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the ECB (European Central Bank) and the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility))
Since this particular grump was published, I must confess Grumpy's been having another go on the subject. To .....read more..... about this follow the link to money 4-1.