Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shopkeepers Of the World: Unite!

I originally wrote this as a comment about 'stimulus' on the ever excellent Cedar Lounge Revolution, but thought it deserved a smaller audience.

CM: Ah Mr Shopkeeper, back again already? How can I help you?
SK: Well Mr CreditMarkets, I’d like to, eh, borrow a little bit more please.
CM: So soon? Didn’t we lend you two billion last month?
SK: You did, you did. And thank you very much. But we’ve spent it.
CM: On improving the shop, like we discussed?
SK: Well after the interest payments to you and the expenses in the shop we didn’t have much left over so we had to stop the improvements as they got fierce expensive. Sales are still heading south.
CM: So what is the new money for?
SK: [cheerfully] We’re going to spend it in the shop!
CM: Sorry?
SK: We’re going to raise our sales by spending the loan money in it. Sure we’ll get half of it back again. Maybe even more!
CM: Half of it back?
SK: Yes! And then we’ll spend that half in the shop too! Or employ some more staff. They spend most of their wages in the shop you know.
CM: But.. surely, that can’t go on forever.
SK: Oh but it can, as long as you keep lending us the money. It’s called the ‘multiplier effect’. I would have thought a man in your position would know of it. It’s very popular amongst all the shopkeepers these days.
CM: How silly of me. Now tell me, how are sales going?
SK: Oh sales are still heading south at a rate of knots…
CM: Times are indeed tough for everyone.
SK: And we’re really quite expensive, what with all the staff and such. A lot of customers are going elsewhere
CM: But you have to cut your expenses! This is madness!
SK: Oh but we have. The staff now make a significant contribution to the cake fund.
CM: The cake fund? What the ..? Listen. How long more do you think we’re going to keep loaning all this money? I know it’s all backed by that cousin of yours in Brussels-
SK: He’s in Frankfurt actually.
CM: Whatever. What happens when he gets tired of shelling out all that money when the only security he has is on all that overpriced stock you have?
SK: Well [winks] he is rather depending on us for that vote thingie in October isn’t he?
CM: So he is, so he is.
SK: So, about that money ..?
CM: Will a cheque do?
SK: Cash if you don’t mind.
CM: Yeah, I wouldn’t trust the banks around your way either.
SK: See you in October!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out of Retirement for One Last Job!

I seem to have upset the lads at DublinOpinion and now my comments appear to be being 'moderated' away.

Below is what I have been trying to put as a comment. Maybe they'll up it up, maybe they won't. Ho hum.

I guess it depends on why you write a blog.

If it is to persuade people of your views through discussion or bring about an exchange that might tease out and illuminate an issue then I would suggest encouraging comments is pretty essential, even comments you disagree with. Dismantling someone's ridiculous position through a reasoned argument is far more effective that Yah Boo Sucks. All too often the aggressive tone and nature of the comments made on Dublin Opinion cuts the discussion dead. Remember the Desmond Fennell comments?

If you want to blast out in messianic megaphone style to only the true believers, then comments don't really matter. You can replace the square box where readers can enter text at the end of each page with a button that says 'I wholeheartedly agree with the above opinion'. Good luck with that.

Monday, September 3, 2007

TB Is Not To Be

I kind of figured Tommy Broughan was not going to be standing for leadership of the Labour party when he phoned my mother on Wednesday night about a pretty minor local matter she had raised with his office. This was not exactly the mark of a man forming a kitchen cabinet and preparing to launch a campaign for the hearts and minds of Labour members.

Tommy is a hard working constituency politician, a reasonable Dail speaker and by most accounts, a decent fellow. Unfortunately for him, these are not sufficient qualities to be party leader. He lacks any visible support from any Labour big hitters. He lacks a national profile - but possibly this will-he-won't-he business was intended to raise one. Perhaps he thought that in a potentially divisive election between rival Labour factions he might - conceivably - have got in as a compromise candidate in a Jack Lynch, Jim Hacker sort of way. With no one else opposing Gilmore, that slim possibility was gone.

Since the election the point has been done to death but the lot of an opposition backbencher really is not a particularly happy one. He got my mother's minor matter sorted out with admirable efficiency but possibly this was the final straw for him.

'Screw this' he must have thought 'if I don't give this leadership lark a go, I'll be stuck dealing with this shite out of that shaggin' caravan 'til I retire'.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

If every post had to be written in this way...

Succinctness would be considerably more treasured. Mrs PT has the laptop for the night so I decided to try out web browser on my Wii. Very impressive for reading and browsing, hellish for writing. every letter has to be pointed to on a virtual keyboard on screen. it has taken ten minutes to input this!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How do you prove you have read a webpage?

Why? Because of an increasingly pointless and dull discussion here.

I know, I know - I should know better.

On a brighter note, I found out I passed my exams yesterday. Extreme relief all round. Roll on the next level.

Update! Comments on the article have been closed and removed, "due to trolling". It could be the first occasion someone has cut off debate because of their own trolling but I'm assuming it is aimed at me (it is all about me, donchaknow?). But most people will never see it and make up their own minds. I guess when you call your blog Dublin Opinion it doesn't necessarily mean you always want people to give theirs or question yours too much. All that apart, it is normally a fine blog with lots of interesting stuff. Just don't ask Conor where he gets his statistics from...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Definition Proposed

Election (n): That event that occurs every five years where the Irish people exercise their right to vote in a new Opposition.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

But, it turns out we are happy

... and what's worse for Labour, it's because of our adoption of the dreaded Anglo Saxon model of capitalism.

I've been dealing with a French company at work extensively for the past few months. I have to send replies to emails from them with large cc: lists. The game is to try and see what is the most number of I'm-out-of-the-office autoreplies you can get with one email. Sending on a Monday is obviously good. Just after Christmas is better but anytime when they 'faire le pont' (take a day's holiday between a public holiday and the weekend), you are pretty much guaranteed a 33% rate of 'Je suis en congés jusqu'au ...' responses.

With a minimum 25 days holiday, more public holidays than here and the magic of RTT (réduction du temps de travail) whereby any hours over 35 in a week can be built up and used as extra holidays, it means they can easily have over 45 working days off in a year. I am envious. Everyone in the office is envious. It sounds so civilised, such a great way to live, so happy.

Except French workers are not happy at work. And we are.

What gives?

Some research on happiness in OECD countries by Deutsche Bank helps explain. Looking at the different models of capitalism in each country and comparing it with their level of happiness, the report identifies three broad groups of countries: "happy", "less happy" and "unhappy". The surprising result: the happy group were the Anglo-Saxon model capitalists (including us), the Nordic countries and Spain. The less happy group included France, Germany, Austria and Belgium. The unhappy group were the Southern Europeans (Italy, Greece and Portugal) and Japan and Korea.

Ten indicators were identified as being conducive to happiness: High levels of trust in fellow citizens, low corruption, low unemployment, high levels of education, high income, high employment rate of older people (retire later), small shadow economy, extensive economic freedom, low levels of employment protection and high birth rates.

Comparing Ireland and France on each of the indicators we are broadly similar on levels of corruption, high levels of income, size of shadow economy and birth rates. Where Ireland does better than France is on levels of trust, unemployment, education, employment rate of older people, extensive economic freedom and low levels of employment protection. The level of trust in a society is not really something you can legislate for, it is either there or it is not. Leaving aside education, the remaining cluster of indicators (economic freedom, low levels of employment protection, low unemployment rate and later retirement) are all related. With the exception of education, what appears to make Irish people happier than French people is that we are more economically free - despite our crap number of holidays.

It a case of happiness resulting from being closer to Boston than spending more time in Biarritz.