An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Wednesday, August 24, 2005  

Eddie Hobbs

Eddie, for furrin readers, is a short man with a thick Cork accent, who has previously presented a show advising people how to get their finances in order. I think he's great. His latest show Rip Off Republic is mad and brilliant. He presents it before a live audience and lectures them like a Christian Evangelical preacher about how they are being ripped off by producers and the government. Its a massive hit.

On the first show he did a piece on Trim, near to my home. The council refused planning permission to LIDL, a discount food store. A local woman was incensed and began a local petition to campaign to make the council change its mind. In a town with a population of 7000 she collected 5000 signatures and faced with this overwhelming will, the council changed their policy and granted the permission. AT LEAST THAT'S THE WAY EDDIE TOLD IT.

Now, the "missing" week of my column, was when I was asked to cover the "liam fay" spot which is a newsy section on the back page. One of the articles I submitted concerned my discoveries about the truth behind the claims.

Firstly, the council did not "change" their minds. An Bord Pleanala granted the permission. They could do this where the council could not because the land was not zoned correctly. This part of the article was published.

Unfortunately, I presume due to constraints on space, the second bit was not published. I checked around and quickly discovered that the maximum estimate of the signatures on the petition was 2000. Far short of the 5000. Two councillors I spoke to believed there were only 800 signatures. The guy who actually had the petition was on holiers. I got confirmation from him today that there were no more than 600 or 700 signatures.

So it was all a big lie. Now I like Eddie Hobbs; I love the programme; I'm learning a lot from it. But his research was very bad. No excuse.

posted by Sarah | 12:11 17 comments
"a short man with a thick Cork accent". He has a slight Cork accent. If he had a thick Cork accent, he wouldn't be allowed on TV because no-one outside Cork (and most people in Cork) wouldn't understand a word.

Seriously, his program is very selective in it's use of numbers and examples. It makes no attempt to present a balanced answer to the question of "are we being ripped off?", it just starts with the assumption that we are and looks for data to back that up, and ignores any that suggests otherwise.

Personally, I think we re being ripped off, but I wouldn't trat this program as proof.
Sarah - you wouldn't happen to know anyone on Meath County Council now would you ? :-)
Dear Anonymous

Amazingly I do! In fact, I will readily admit it was the Da who narrowed his eyes and grimly muttered that Hobbs was way off, thus alerting me to the story in the first place. Discovery of all salient facts came via numerous investigative phone calls.
So important to have a 'regional' input in de papers.
On the other point, I know he lays it on thick but I think one of the most important myths he explodes is that we live in a low tax economy. We have low income tax but not only is there VAT on everything, but when the cost of essential services like ESB, phone, etc goes up, it puts an unfair burden of taxation on the poor and the government are raking in the VAT. I think a lot of people don't cop this and need it spelled out on Hobbs's overhead projector style presentation.
We do live in a low tax economy and it is not a myth to say it. However we pay the balance through higher fixed charges and such like.

Remember it suits the big guys earning 150K much more to pay 2% less tax and a fixed bin charge of 350 pa than it suits the guy earning 25k.... as long as the fixed charges are less than the tax saved by the big bys when there are tax rates cuts then they (and the PDs) will be happy....
I haven't seen this programme but I am not remotely surprised that it is popular as the Irish national obesession is how "ripped off" they are and how it's the most expensive place in the world.
The fact is it is low tax and while VAT is high it's not unusually so, and there are no rates, water charges, council tax and swinging transport costs that are suffered every day those living in, say London. And where additionally if you do not have the abilty or will to get to some mega super market and stay in every night, everything is a comfortable 20% more than in Ireland in particular, and to shatter another myth, going out to eat and buying wine.

Here, incidentally, through the greatest confidence trick ever pulled, people believe they live in a low tax economy.
Well, we do pay refuse charges and water charges are on the way in. The point is that the things you have to pay are comparatively dear. Gas, electricity, petrol, phones, VRT on cars. Tolls on the roads! So the poorer you are the greater the burden of taxation. Rich people have loads of schemes not to pay income tax and then the proportion of their income being spent on must-haves and indirect tax is significantly lower. Meanwhile the government keeps the Groceries Orders to prevent the like of Tesco from selling cheap nappies in order to protect "small retailers" such as Centra and Spar. So when the PDs keep saying we live in a low tax economy its low corporation tax and low income tax. I've no problem with the excise duty on wine, but why are there are still tax incentives on car parks when demand far outstrips supply? Why should there be annual increases in ESB and VHI but builders still getting Section 23's or whatver they are on apartment blocks in Leitrim?
Also, I think the cost of living would be higher in London but in the back of ballygobackwards it bugs people.
anyway, how are you Gerry?
Anyone who tinks that we are not getting ripped off in this country had better leave their cocoon in cartoonland, and enter the REAL world.
If these people had a bit of worldly knowledge and had the travelled around the planet we live on a bit more it might open their eyes to the high costs the Irish are being force to pay.
The price of food, Telephone, Electrical charges
Car prices etc. etc. etc. are a total fucking joke.

Maybe these people have been lobotomized and do not understand the value of money, or maybe their
mammys still do their shopping for them.
I can shop in LIDL and fill my basket for 100Euro.
If I shop in Supervalue I only half fill it for 100Euro.

The Irish are far too quiet.
If this type of Rip-off economy was in operation
in France there would be a revolt.
And speaking of France, I have been there many times recently. One particular time I had to buy
Neurofen for my son. It cost me 2.70Euro.
The same bottle in Ireland costs me 6.90Euro.
The same for food and wine/beer very cheap.
I could buy a bottle of muscadet wine for 50cent.
Here is costs 7.99.

The Country Stinks of corruption.
And the sooner we get these lazy, lowlife, urine stinking vampires out of office the better.
I retired to Ireland on the assumption that it was a low-tax country. The Hell it is!
If I could afford it I would be back in England in the morning.
Did you know that 40% of the Sitting Fianna Fail TD's are publicans. I rest my case. Crooks. Those that are caught a proven. Those members who stay in the organisation have to be suspect. Why else would they stay. Same goes for priests in the catholic church.
In fairness, Hobbs ended his mini-series by asking his 1m viewers to decide what kind of country they want and whether they're willing to pay more income tax for that kind of country. You need to clip tax through VAT and charges from a robust black economy that serves the needs of 21st century Ireland. The plumbers and builders that Hobbs mentioned as a passing comment are very likely to avoid most of the direct tax imposed by the Exchequer, who gets some back at the cash till and pub counter.
Bernie, this is a very salient point and glad you made it. In my previous life as an event organiser and in my current life as someone who just built a house it was astonishing the number of businesses who wanted cash for jobs. In fact, my tiler was the only one who begged me to pay him VAT because every other customer he had insisted on paying him cash so they could avoid the VAT and he had no 'official' money to show in his books to the rev. Now, for those who bitch about the self-employed I say they couldn't operate this way unless their customers were willing to comply. Everyone from the bottom up is trying to avoid paying tax. The rich are able to get away with more because they have more money to hide and can pay professionals to help them do it. The poor can get away with it too via social welfare scams. The middle do it by bragging to their mates about buying goods and services for cash. Does every teacher giving grinds declare that money? So if the government admit to themselves that they can't get everyone on income tax, then they have to get them when they spend the money, I think they should just say this. It might serve as a reality check to the moaners. There is much speculation as to the origin of this culture of tax avoidance but it is certainly cultivated by the feeling that people won't get their tax back in efficient public services. Perhaps there wouldn't be so much effort to avoid tax if people thought that they would get a bed in hospital or could get on a train with seats. So the ball goes back to the government. If they can show themselves responsible enough to spend our money wisely then perhaps the people wouldn't mind giving it to them.
Well, perhaps that's too hopeful, but it might help.
I think Eddie summed it up last night when he said "The measure of a good society is how it looks after it's people". There is no sense of pride in this country anymore, greed has taken over and we are all guilty, not just the government. I for one do not want my kids to grow up in a society that doesn't care, a society with no social charter. We need a change of government, but most of all we need a change of attitude.
Shut up. You're all ignorant moaning fools
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