Friday, October 30, 2009

on passing by- again

Well didn’t the Summer just fly past. I suppose it was all the great weather that was foisted upon us, day after day of glorious heat and sunshine. At least that’s what I thought we were going to get after all the weathermen told us we were going to get one of the best summers ever. So much for long range forecasts. It definitely seems that all we can look forward to are endless dreary Julys and Augusts, rain sodden with the odd bit of sunshine just to show us what we are missing. Maybe it’s time to start advertising Ireland as a cool wet summer destination rather than the forty shades of green. I can only hope that someone is going to invent a tomato that will ripen without sunshine, or perhaps we should all grow rainforest crops. They would certainly have grown well this year.

The crossword seems to attract the same people most of the time so to try and liven it up a bit we have decided to hold the draw every second month rather than the present monthly one. You can send in both entries when you have them finished and both will be entered into the draw. Because the draw will now be two monthly our sponsor, Naas Insurance and Finance, will now forward a token for one hundred euro for the winner. Not a bad prize in these recessionary times so get your entries in.

Speaking of recessionary times it looks like the next few months are going to be tough ones in all manner of ways. We can look forward to NAMA, the Lisbon referendum and then the mother of all budgets.
NAMA looks like being one of the riskiest set ups in the entire history of the state. What the taxpayer is being asked to do is unprecedented and could enslave the ordinary taxpayer for decades. I have to admit to not knowing all the ins and outs but from what I can gather if the government gets it sums wrong we are all going to suffer on a scale not seen before. The Irish banks covered by the states banking guarantee have about ninety billion in property loans on their books. This money was used to buy property, land banks and development sites. At the height of the Celtic Tiger this was thought to be worth over one hundred and twenty billion but in the present times most analysts regard its current value as no more than thirty billion. This in effect leaves the banks nursing a whopping sixty billion of what is essentially bad debt.
I know the banks like to call it impaired loans but it is just bad debt. The Government proposes that NAMA will take all these impaired loans off the banks to enhance their balance sheets and enable them to maintain enough reserves to stay solvent, thus freeing up capital to restart the flow of credit, thus hopefully kickstarting the economy. All sounds good so far, or it not actually good, at least the lesser of evils. The problem for Mr Lenihan and the Government is deciding what the assets are actually worth at the moment. It has been suggested that the property sites and land banks could take at least a decade to regain anything like their former value which means the taxpayer will be carrying the can for all this time. NAMA will have to assess the kind of prices these properties will be likely to achieve in the next seven to ten years and that’s where the real problems lie.
If the Government pays more for the loans than the property eventually realises on the open market then the taxpayer is going to be left paying for the difference. Mr Lenihan has stated that in this eventuality he will impose a levy on the banks to claw back the losses but it is anyone’s guess how long this would take.
If, on the other hand the Government pays too little for the loans the banks will be massively undercapitalised when they write them off. Faced with possibility of a bank going bust the Government will be forced to inject billions in capital to ensure they remain solvent. Unfortunately with this Governments record I really cannot see them getting it right. All we can do is hope. At least what is proposed seems a bit more factual than Fine Gaels idea of a good bank and a bad bank. After all the time that have had to come up with this idea it seems no one has even been able to work out what it would cost. Remember Enda Kenny in a radio interview. How much would your plan cost?. “Its not a question of determining how much it would cost” Have you worked out any cost?
“ I don’t have a final figure” Do you have a ball park figure? “ I don’t have a ball park figure” 10 billion, 20, 30? “ I don’t know” Hardly confidence inspiring stuff.
As if this wasn’t enough to exercise the Governments collective mind the Lisbon referendum is rolling round again. We got it wrong the first time so we are getting another chance, hopefully to get it right this time. No one knows the exact figures but I would imagine a fair share of the NO vote the last time was to give the fingers to what many people saw as the Governments arrogance. Perhaps this time people will examine the issues and vote accordingly. I voted no last time out but I honestly think we are better off as far into Europe as we can get in these perilous times and will be voting yes.
Our final trial will be the budget. This will probably be Mr Lenihans last chance to bring in some reform of public services. If he goes down the taxation route I don’t think NAMA or Lisbon will even register on the public radar. We now have a working population, slowly shrinking, who have been taxed as far as they can be. A belt can only be tightened so much before you strangle the wearer. We are being slowly crucified by taxes, levies and stealth. The bottom line is that in this situation we cannot afford to continue to spend over twenty billion on a public service which has become like a bottomless pit and which besides offering bad value for money offers inferior services. The time has come to call a halt before we all go over the cliff, public servants included.

I don’t know how many of you watched it but I found the funeral of Ted Kennedy incredibly moving. For a Senator to have four presidents at his funeral is unprecedented in American politics. By his own admission he was far from flawless and yet he has been described as Americas greatest legislator. It is easy to dismiss him as a wealthy ne er do well and yet I wonder how many of us could have faced all the tragedy that befell him and still functioned. May he Rest In Peace.

All for now. Mike Edmonds. Sept 09.

The Magic of The Druids…..Well, if you're thinking of the Druids from Irish Folklore who dressed in long dark robes and did magical things, you're on the wrong track! Think dark leathers, hot engines, rock 'n roll, beer and craic - cos that's what was on offer at the Druids M.C.C Rally held recently in Poulaphouca House. About 700-800 bikers got together for the Druids 18th Annual Weekend, the last four having been held here at Poulaphouca.Local bike enthusiasts Biddy and Willie Meade, Christy Shannon and the Fisher brothers - James, Eddie and Michael were amongst the local faces which were mostly Irish bikers with a small number of visitors from England and the Continent. And the musical line up over the weekend was brill with live music on Friday night and super bands ‘Badge’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘The Gypsies’ and ‘Kick Back City’ rockin’ The Fall on Saturday night! Poulaphouca is ideal to host the event with ample camping facilities, scenic views and a band podium. ’Rear of the Year’ goes to the biker featured here - he obviously had mighty crack.............but the Biker Babe Award goes to little Cein Nao about being isn't legal to be that cute............... and he is only 12 months old now, having attended the rally at ten months old. He’s a little keen, alright………
The Druids would like to thank Rita, Frank and staff for facilitating the event and also The Gardai for their co-operation. Great weekend, no incidents, just mean machines, hot music, men and women in leathers………
The group also do several charity runs, one of which was in aid of Barretstown this year. Ride on……………… Rose

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