Archive for December, 2009

We don’t need a banking enquiry

Posted: December 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

Following calls from new governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan for a 9/11 style enquiry into the collapse of the banking system, all the movers and shakers have been moving and shaking to get on one side of the idea or the other.

Brian Cowan is “cautious”. You bet your arse he is. He thinks the priority should be to get on with fixing the economy, and not get caught up in little things like who did what or who didn’t regulate who, or who finance ministered a nation into the poor house.

John Gormley thinks such an enquiry is a good idea. You bet your arse he does. John was on the opposition benches when the worst mistakes were made. He was telling us all how hopeless Fianna Fail were. How they needed to be removed from power. He nodded enthusiastically when Trevor Sargent told us he wouldn’t lead the Greens into government with Fianna Fail.

Little did we know John was nodding “You won’t, but I will”.

His latest comments would have sent a chill up Cowan’s spine if he had one.

“an inquiry would help to establish what relationship the former chief executive of Irish Nationwide, Mr Fingleton, had with various people”

Ouch. Following Primetime’s revelations about Mr Fingleton’s relationship with Charlie McCreevy, the words “Fingleton” and “Relationship” are banned from the scrabble board in all Fianna Fail households over the festive season.

For once, I agree with Cowan, and it’s not just that I enjoy disagreeing with John Gormley. No, I’ve long felt we don’t need a banking enquiry. I didn’t think it was a good idea before Patrick Honohan suggested one, and I haven’t changed my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, the country is in a dreadful mess and it was sent into this mess by bad regulation and by reckless lending, but why stop with a banking enquiry? The collapse of the banks is only part of the story.

What about an enquiry into the hundreds of tax breaks that Fianna Fail created and sustained right through the boom?
What about an enquiry into the over reliance on construction and the decimating of the regular sustainable tax base?
What about an enquiry into the splurging on the public sector using once off windfall that could never be sustained.
What about an enquiry into the role of political leaders such as Bertie Ahern in goading young people into buying houses
at massively inflated prices, condemning them to negative equity.
What about an enquiry into the explicit policy of Fianna Fail to create a society that demand that both spouses in a family
go out to work.
How about an enquiry into the estate agents who repeatedly lied about the state of the property industry and now continue
to lie and revise history, claiming they knew all along the bubble couln’t last. These same people who apparently couldn’t
value their way out of a wet paper bag during the bubble are now on lucrative contracts with NAMA to (you guessed it) value property.
While we’re at it, how about an enquiry into NAMA and the myth of long term economic value.
Let’s go further. What about an enquiry into why the energy regulator presided over a 70% increase in energy costs
under the guise of making Ireland attractive to competition that would supposedly deliver value for the consumer?

No, I don’t think we need a banking enquiry because it just seems silly to waste time and money enquiring into something
where the facts are already well known. A call for a banking enquiry is a nice way for Honohan to establish his credentials that he’s not one of the boys. Don’t worry about the theatrics Patrick. Just do your job and let us judge you on that. You could start by….you know….REGULATING.

We know what happened to Ireland. We knew while it was happening, the people involved knew, Brian Cowan knows, Bertie Ahern knows. All the estate agents, bankers, journalists, developers and politicians know. Increasingly the man in the street knows.

We don’t need an enquiry into banking because such an enquiry will serve only to rubber stamp the myth that banks caused this mess all by themselves and politicians and the rest were just innocent bystanders. We can’t allow that to happen.

This fairytale is already well established. Notice the vigor that Fianna Fail bring to the table when calling for top bankers to be replaced. You don’t see quite as much vigor when they are asked about why the guy who ran the nation’s finances into the ground is now Taoiseach, and holding on to power.

What happened with the banks was a disgrace. But if the rest of the culprits get away with selling the myth that all the damage was done solely by the banks then that will be a bigger disgrace.

Just how clueless are NTL/UPC?

Posted: December 15, 2009 in Uncategorized

When me moved back to Ireland in 2007 we found ourselves living in an apartment where the only option for TV was NTL (now UPC).
I like their broadband, big fan. But the TV? Not so much. Everything about it is a pain. The Guide Software is slow and painful, I’ve toyed with physically removing the button from the remote so I don’t accidently open it. The set top box has a dodgy relationship with remotes, so much so that when I tried to get my PC to control it via an IR blaster it was impossible. Not difficult, not troublesome…Impossible.

We’ve been promised a SKY community dish for a while now. I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then we have to deal with UPC.

Back in 2007 we bought a swanky 42″ Panasonic Plasma screen. Very swish, we like it a lot. But given that it’s High-Def credentials only get a run out if we watch a Bluray we were hoping to get our hands on HD TV at some point. This took FOREVER, but finally UPC announced something a few months back.

It was …underwhelming. Very few HD channels (not that there are many to begin with), and for existing customers a €60 connection fee. I was about to pass but decided to try and appeal to their better judgement with a phone call. I left my number and awaited the Callback.

It came when I was on the Dart somewhere between home and Blackrock. It went something like this….
(Note, UPC probably have the tapes, so before they object, this is the gist, It’s fairly faithful, but I might throw in a bit
of poetic license to make myself sound cleverer in retrospect).

UPC GUY: You called about the HD packaged?
Me: Yes. I was wondering if I’d really have to pay that €60 connection fee. There aren’t many extra channels,
would you not just connect me for free, you’d be getting more each month from me.
UPC GUY: No sorry, that’s the fee.
Me: Ah, I’ll leave it so, you don’t have enough channels to make it worthwhile.
UPC GUY: No I suppose you’re right, unless you’re into the Sport.
Me: But you don’t do the sports channels in HD
UPC GUY: What?
Me: You mention the Sky Sports channels on the web, but they don’t seem to be HD.
UPC GUY: That can’t be right.
Me: I could be wrong, check for me.

UPC GUY: Uhm. You’re right, we don’t do the Sky Sports channels in HD.
That’s mad. Sure why would anyone sign up to HD with us?

Me: I wouldn’t.

I promise you hand on heart, the guy wondering why anyone would get HD from UPC is word for word what he said.
And he’s right.

I wouldn’t.