Saturday, October 18, 2008

Possibly solution to the over 70s Medical Card mess

I'm talking out of turn here, but if anyone is interested in a practical solution to the over 70s medical card fiasco, there's my tuppence worth.

I might be asking a rather obvious question here but if the GPs charge the state €640 (the figure itself isn't really relevant at the moment) for giving people over 70 a level of card consistent with a medical card then shouldn't it be possible to set a number of bands of support and tailor the subvention from the state towards that 640 annualised figure that would relate to your income (we could look to factor in assets too but that would be really messy to administrate).

So let everyone under 17K (or whatever the annualised figure for the minimum wage is) per annum get 100% of that GP yearly charge paid by the state,
those between 17K and the average industry wage gets 75% of the figure paid by the state and pays 25% themselves (which at 100 odd quid for as many visits as you like isn't very bad value.)
Those at the 130% of the average industry wage pay 50%
those at 150% of the AIW pay 75% and
those on pensions over twice the AIW can pay the full whack or pay per visit.

I wonder if anyone will take the idea up, I've also no idea how much it would save. But this is the sort of pragmatic idea that our politics lacks. I believe that the government has acted in bad faith by removing the cover, but it also acted badly by providing the cover in such a profligate manner by giving the cover to all and sundry irrespective of income or wealth. I've long believed that the all or nothing status of the medical card is just plain wrong.

Perhaps someone from the department of finance might look to run the numbers...

Cowen on HIGNFY

Taoiseach Brian Cowen made an unexpected appearance in Have I Got News for You last night

Doesn't he just look like a little lost lamb?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stop the lights, Bunny.

I've heard some nonsense in my time but this is really of the biscuit taking variety. Reported by the Beeb yesterday a council in Wales is switching off street lights. It's for the environment don't you know. Seriously. Just as an aside are the savings of 250K from the council budget.

Street lighting along with sewage, the police, fresh drinking water and the town crier (an early version of a mobile RSS feed, ask your granny) was one of the most basic services that local city authorities undertook to provide in the pre-Victorian era. Even the bloody Romans provided street lighting.

Live Blogging of Budget 2009

I know there's a good few others having a crack at this, but the more the merrier I say. You can do a sort of speed read of the previous budgets here as homework if you like.

NB: This is a kind of test run for me for other events. Feel free to add comments as I go along. Next time I will try and add other folks into the live feed itself using the panellists feature

Monday, October 13, 2008

Alternative budget proposals

With all the talking down of the budget prospects, I've been thinking about a few silver bullets of my own.

a) create an immediate slave caste from those under 5' 6" tall.

b) designate 1 in 40 taxpayers as 'the unfortunate b'stard', and impose a tax rate of 80% on all their earnings past and future.

c) create a new currency local to each county.

d) make the amount of spam you receive indicative of your 'net profile and tax accordingly.

e) tax people based on their site traffic. You know they must be making money somehow from it all even if they say it's not for profit.

f) a time based entry charge for those travelling south from the north while in possession of a GAA county jersey.

g) a charge for the temporary export of silverware. Might make those bearded lads think again about going for 2 in a row.

h) make language a revenue producer by rationing terms like 'property bubble', stagflation, resurgence.

i) nationalise 4x4s to be used to bring feral children to school.

j) charge those under 40 'an old geezer' levy to be written off by spending time listening to someone over 65 regale them with tales of the misery of the old days.

k) require licenses of people under 65 to complain about how the youngsters won't know what hit them.

Feel free to add your own suggestions.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where did all the money go?

At this point, we all know that people in the financial sector (I think the technical term is fecking eejits) paid over the odds for assets that we now refer to as toxic. But where has that money gone? After all, if people paid excessive amounts for their stinky soggy ex-hot potato parcel and that parcel isn't worth what the buyer thought then at least the seller has the cash right? right?

The core issue we are being repeatedly told is that loans were given to people to buy their homes and these are people who can't now afford to make the repayments. Yet it is worth remembering that not all of those people will default and even those that can't make loan repayments will be able to pay rent which has to be worth something more than nothing.

In part I suspect that by painting the situation as bleak as possible serves to allows some people who are directly responsible for this way of doing business to pretend that there was nothing they could have done differently. That this is, in words all too familiar to users of the Irish health service, a system's failure. It's not, it's a failure directly attributable to those same individuals who were collecting the bonuses for how great they were doing. Those who made the decisions should be fired.