Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recession Statistics Ireland


Lest We Forget

As it would appear, Ireland looks to be on a steady pathway out of the recession - better IMHO termed the DEPRESSION, for what transpired over the last 8 years amounts to a DISASTER of enormous proportions.

500 Deaths

One single statistic alone serves to give us a clear impression of the enormity of the disaster. It has been estimated that there were 500 extra suicides as a result of the Recession / Depression. Those who helped cause the recession / depression have 500 deaths on their conscience.

Irish Youth Dispora

Add to that the 1000's of our youth and our finest minds who have fled the country in search of a better life, and who will not be in a hurry to return. Recent estimates put the figure at almost 10% of our youth had left the country. Then there are the many thousands of damaged families, the lost homes, the lost life-savings etc. etc.


Greed was the essential cause of the calamity. Along with a very imbalanced society. The gap between the rich and the poor is WAY WAY WAY too wide in Ireland. There is an elite in Ireland who are completely out of touch the what happened. The top elite actually benefited financially by as much as 7% during the recession, while others lost everything including in some cases their lives. Members of the Irish Parliament can be numbered among the elite, I say this based on their large disproportionate and self-appointed salaries and huge expenses. Many failed to apprehend the level of suffering that the people endured due to their financially insulated positions. 

The Irish Prime Minister draws €183,350 p.a. PLUS €296,000 in expenses. An ordinary member of the Irish parliament, who only attends the house for very short numbers of hours in a year, draws €87,000 p.a. PLUS average expenses of around €25,000 p.a. and some have claimed twice that amount - that salary exceeds what the Spanish Prime Minister is paid. Not-imbalanced? Small country - in deep recession - 500 extra suicides provoked by the hardships - can pay that sort of money to it's politicians - BALANCED compared to other countries - compared to the work involved - compared to those on minimum wage?

Faulty Political System and Gross Imbalances

Are we out of the depression? Perhaps we are seeing clear skies again after the deluge, but what worries me is too many of the imbalances still remain, and our politics are fundamentally faulty and incapable of delivering any real changes.

Compiled October 2012


(increased 42% in 5 years 2005 to 2010)

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE up from 2010 to 2011 by 15%
(11,000 women and children sought refuge in 2011 according to SAFE organisation).

UNEMPLOYMENT has increased by 352%
( from 4.2% in 2007 to 14.8% by October 2012)

UNEMPLOYMENT among 15 to 24y group nationally stands at 39%

UNEMPLOYMENT in the 15 to 25y group in some areas is at 74%

HOUSE BUILDING homes built 8,488 has dropped over 90% since 2006 at 93,000, and is 20% down in one year.

BUSINESS INSOLVENCIES Up 13.30% from 2010.
(1,684 companies failed in 2012 alone)

FUEL POVERTY, (the decision to Eat or Heat) estimated to affect 40% of citizens

FOOD POVERTY in 2010 was estimated to be at 10%

FOOD PRICES have risen by an average of 12% in the last two years.

HOMELESSNESS up by as much as 45% in Dublin.
(from 70 in 2010 to a current estimate of as much as 101)

RETAIL SALES are down by 5.50%

SUICIDES are up in 2011 from 2010 by 7%

TRUST in the Irish Government in a recent survey fell to a mere 20%


POLITICIANS are the 2nd least trusted profession in Ireland.
(Only 14% of Irish people trust politicians - I wonder why? How about 26 TDs, members of the Irish Parliament, each claimed €5,000 expenses for August - when there are no sittings of the House)

DISPOSABLE INCOME SURVEY: 1.60 million Irish have €50 or less left each month after paying for essentials. In other words, roughly 36% of the Irish population have disposable income of €600 or less per year.

DISPOSABLE INCOME in lower income groups effectively down by nearly 19%

By contrast the imbalance in incomes:

INCOME FOR TOP IRISH EARNERS is up on average by over 4%

DUBLIN CITY MANAGER salary €190,000

COUNTY MANAGERS salary €153,260

Compare salaries:



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ireland's Energy Future & National Security


Irish Energy Minister introduces 
"White Paper"
which outlines Energy Future

A moment of quiet reflection? Energy Minister Alex White

While introducing a Government paper outlining Ireland's energy future, Minister for Communications and Energy Alex White said:  

“Customers will have to pay more in their energy bills as Ireland moves away from fossil fuels in the coming years”.

According to the "White Paper" on Energy published today, Ireland will be using no fossil fuels by the end of the century. (I would imagine that plan might be helped by the fact that most of the fossil fuels will be used up by then).

The Irish "White Paper"outlines aspirations for long-term energy goals and proposed strategies for Ireland. Mr White also said in his statement that Ireland was still dependent on fossil fuels to the extent of 92 per cent.

The paper proposed over 90 lines of action. Among the big and bold proposals there are references to “improved domestic grant schemes and financing options for energy efficiency upgrades” and “a new support scheme for the development of renewable energy technologies”.

My focus and concern is with the impact these Clean - Green - and Carbon Reducing Policies will take on the less well off.

Simply adding taxes to dissuade the use of coal etc. is only going to add to fuel poverty in Ireland, and will ultimately fail as people will find ways to get cheap fuel.

What about 0% Disposable Income Families and Energy Costs?

I sincerely hope that the discussion and planning fully considers how carbon taxes and energy costs impinge on the less well off. "You cannot get blood from a turnip" and low income families cannot just go out and buy expensive heating systems - taking advantage of grants etc. There needs to be a LOW-TECH and LOW-COST strategy applied in addition to the high flying ones.

I hope also that any grant schemes would consider the real carbon value of the investment. The huge State grants schemes, of recent years, given for geothermal heating systems and wood-pellet systems, I am fairly sure, did not factor-in the carbon costs in terms of the heavy reliance on non-green electricity, or indeed failed to properly calculate the carbon costs of the machinery itself and its regular servicing and replacement.

Would the Minister consider the following?

1. A Scheme to eliminate all open fires and replace them with Stoves?

I hope that low-tech and low-cost green solutions might come into the focus for the planners. Solutions like encouraging the installation of simple and very inexpensive stoves to replace open fires would be one very important investment which would offer HUGE long-term pay back, and very low maintenance costs.

Advantages would include:

(a) A large reduction in fuel usage for home heating.

(b) A reduction in heat loss caused by the excessive airflow of an open chimney.

(c) An additional financial and social advantage of such a scheme is that it would substantially reduce fires and fire related accidents in the home, saving lives, suffering and money.

2. A Massive up-scaling of timber production in Ireland? 

Another long-term and perhaps initially costly investment would be in a massive up-scaling of forestry in fast growing timber to feed a wood-based solid fuel industry to replace coal in domestic heating. We are talking National Security here, so costs should reflect the importance.

Sally tree plantations would provide quality wood suitable for bio-mass use in a very short space of time and can be cropped repeatedly for several years before replanting is necessary.

In 2012 Ireland imported 2.4 Million Short Tonnes of coal. If we assume, (I do not have actual delivered price per tonne), a cost per tonne including shipping and transport of say just €100 - that would give us a figure of roughly €240 Million Euro leaving the country every year for coal.

Additional benefits from a 3x expansion of current managed forest acreage would include:

(1) an increase in wild life, pollinating insects etc.,
(2) additional oxygen creation,
(3) the re-building and stabilization of eroded soils,
(4) planned forests can add to amenity areas for the public, and
(5) provide many more jobs in that industry.

3. Investment in Super-Hard Fused Wood Briquette Production. 

The proposed type of wood briquette / log differs widely from the types generally available in Ireland at the present time. There are currently 3 types being sold. Non of which are good substitutes for coal products in stoves etc.

Below are 3 less satisfactory types of wood briquette.

The top two, of the above 3 photos, show briquettes, which are essentially compressed sawdust are the least desirable, as they expand up to twice their size in the fire.

Expansion of fuel in a stove etc. can present Carbon Monoxide poisoning danger by restricting the flue. The burn pattern is also quite poor. They tend to fall apart in the fire.

The bottom photo shows a slightly better type of wood briquette. This type is screw extrusion type and tends to hold its shape better. However, it burns much to quickly and is therefore not a good substitute for coal. While this type burns well, it is incapable of giving long duration burn and long duration of burn overnight is exactly what is needed when a stove is the primary source of heat in the home.

The proposal:

Along with massively developing timber production, the Minister might also consider investment in a wood-fuel production industry to produce primarily super-hard fused wood logs / briquettes, but also wood pellets. This type of briquette / log is not currently available in Ireland, as far as I am aware, let alone produced here.

Contrary to general belief, this type of fused wood briquette can 100% successfully be produced from most soft woods, and from waste wood or sawdust.

Fused wood briquettes are capable of fully replacing coal as a fuel for stoves and ranges.

Advantages in using this fuel include:
(1) It forms 'coals' in the burning process and therefore can burn for up to 10 hours,
(2) It releases heat in a pattern not too unlike coal,
(3) It does not expand in a stove or fireplace unlike most other forms of wood briquette and is therefore much safer in use.
(4) It is very easily stored and handled.
(5) It has a lower creosote deposit, and lower particulate release to the atmosphere.
(6) It is a 100% carbon neutral fuel.
(7) Replacing coal with this type of home produced briquette would save many millions of Euro leaving the country each and every year sustainably in perpetuity.
(8) An industry based on this type of fuel would create many long-term sustainable jobs in the country.

This would also represent a fairly large investment for Ireland to make, but if one was to think about it again, it could spell no less than an investment in the National Security, future economic stability, and help to ensure a sustainable energy future for the country.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Paris 2015 Implications for Ireland


Implications for Ireland + some suggestions

The recent highly acclaimed Paris climate agreement is certainly a big step forward in International Relations and its approach to environmental protection. The start of the end of the fossil fuel era!

What it will take to convert the words into reality will be another days work.

Cutting Carbon Emissions and the so called “cost of carbon” will become a really big issue in many countries. This will be especially true for rural Ireland where many households rely 100% on open solid fuel fires as the primary source of heat.

The poorer part of the population will, going on previous knowledge, be asked to proportionally bear more of the burden as has become the usual practice. Just like India and China, which are fairly recent polluters, are being asked to forgo on cashing in their fossil fuel deposits.

Implications for Ireland

Grant schemes in Ireland have tended to heavily favour the better off, where massive grants were offered for very expensive geothermal and wood-pellet heating systems, things that marginal earners cannot even begin to consider.

What is needed are schemes to entice the low earners away from fossil fuel usage. With not so much of the BIG STICK of more taxation.

I have suggested, several times over the years, on this blog that it would be a prudent investment for Ireland to invest in several areas that could impact positively on the situation.

1. A large-scale investment in timber planting and production.

2. Investment in high-density “fused” wood briquette production. This type of pressure fused wood briquette, and only this type of wood briquette is fully capable of properly replacing coal. Hammer mill and screw extrusion hollow briquettes simply do not measure up and will NEVER be widely accepted.

3. Subsidize the price of wood briquettes and keep them tax free.

4. A grant aided scheme to eliminate all open fires by installing multi-fuel stoves.

5. Get the price gougers and also the "expert" BER certificate issuers out of the grant picture. This is complicating the issue and adding cost.


Monday, December 07, 2015

Rich to Pay Heavier Court Fines?


I see in the news today a proposal by the Road Safety Authority to have a sliding scale of speeding fines based on the income of the offender, in order to act as a greater deterrent for the well off.

 Rich More Likely to Offend

Those who are better off financially tend to have an inflated sense of entitlement, and this has been shown to negatively affect behaviour on the roads. Piff. Berkley etc.

Interestingly, an online survey by "The Journal" suggests that over 60% of Irish drivers are against the sliding scale of fines - I wonder why?

In February 2015,  I wrote an article on this blog about Justice and Atonement. One factor in correcting and updating our medieval system that I suggested was that Court fines should be made proportional to the means of the defendant. The Justice and Atonement issue is so strongly felt by me, that I even went to the trouble of writing to the Minister for Justice and to the Justice Reform Commission. I just got the usual sort of stock replies.

I have very strong feeling about how the Law is currently administered. Our current system of law focuses on simply punishing the guilty parties. It however does little or nothing to compensates the victims and make atonement.

Fine Fines.

When a fine is imposed it usually is not linked to the resources of the guilty party. If a person on £10,000 a year is fined £5,000. By all justice and fairness, a person on £2,000,000 a year should receive a fine of £1,000,000. This should apply not just to motoring offenses but it should apply across the board. The funds from these fines should go, at least partially, into victim redress and compensation funds. It should be possible nowadays to operate such a system by linking with the taxation system etc.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Update on Calco Mix

An Update on 

It has come to my attention from several regular users of Calco Mix that there has been high level of stones and pieces of concrete etc. found in Calco. One lady told me that an exploding stone had broken the glass of her stove - that can cost a fair bit to replace depending on the type of stove..

I myself have found a collection of extraneous bits and pieces in my Calco-Mix of late. Some are harmless bits of wood etc.  - others are less benign. Either the agents or those making the mix are quite careless, or could it ever be possible that this EXTRA material is being added intentionally for some reason unknown??

Above is a photo I have just taken showing a collection of rocks and concrete I found in my Calco. The lignite briquette and the 1 Euro coin are there just to show scale. The two brownish stones are that colour because they came out of the fire. Luckily I had discovered the rest before placing them in the fire. That collection represents the use of perhaps 2 to 3 bags of Calco - that is a fair bit of extraneous matter. Apart from devaluing the Calco, there is always the dangers presented by an exploding stone in the fire.

I will reserve final judgement but suffice it to say I have lost some of my enthusiasm for Calco-Mix.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

Smokeless Coals and Solid Fuel Stoves

Of Smokeless Coal and Stoves
A Cheaper Way to Heat
A look at a New Smokeless Briquette
1st Part 

Left to Right: CosyGlo - HiBrite and Hi-Glo

When the stormy season starts blowing and the temperatures drop, it is the time I start to think of how to best maintain heat and hot water in the home at the lowest cost.

For 8+ years now I have heated our house on an increasing basis using solid fuels. Over 4 years ago I have gone to some 95% heating using solid fuels, mainly coal. I do recognize and accept that coal is not a good environmental choice in fuels. It is dirty and releases a very large amount of carbon and particulates. However, smokeless coal based fuels are, at the present time, still despite carbon taxes etc., the most economical fuels to use.

My Little Rant.

If the government or the more financially better off community want to protect the environment, then they should seek ways to encourage the use of wood based and other non fossil fuels by the poorer half of society. One way to do this is (a) to subsidize these wood based fuels, and (b) seek to have high-density fused wood briquettes introduced to the marketplace. But it seems the preference if for the STICK method over the CARROT method. Which do you think might work the better?

The general environmental debate is a little like the argument between the USA and India over climate change. For over 100 years the USA has belched massive carbon into the air without a thank you to the rest of the world. Now they want to stop India benefiting from it's coal deposits. They can do that OK, and easily too, if they are prepared to pay and compensate India.

An Initial Look at Hi-Glo 

I got two 40Kg bags of Hi-Glo just over a week ago and have been experimenting with it in both my 6 Kw Blacksmith stove and also in my fire with its back-boiler and fire-front door. Additional I have a friend also testing this coal and giving me feedback.

First and foremost the Hi-Glo which is in a full size 40Kg bag is currently on promotional offers by some dealers. Econ Fuels Monavalley Tralee are my local suppliers is, for a short time, offering this fuel at €17.50 a bag. This represents terrific value while it lasts IMHO.

The fuel looks very like Bord na Mona CosyGlo, it is also very like Eco-Glow - maybe even the same thing under a different name? Hi-Glo has a blacker and finer texture look to it than CosyGlo. See the photo above. It appears to have a binding agent holding the briquette together - this may explain the smell it gives off when burning. (see below)

Does the fuel match up? 

The feedback I have received to date gives the following indications:

1. This fuels burns really hot and with some flame.
2. It lasts through the night and up to 9 hours without quenching.
3. It burns to a fairly fine ash, no cinders or lumps left.
4. There is 0% waste and no stones or other foreign bits in it.
5. My initial perception is that is gives greater heat output than Bord na Mona CosyGlo.

HiGlo has an unpleasant smell when burning. The smell is something between burning paint and an electrical burning smell. It is not a problem in my big fire as the smell all goes up the chimney, however, in my little stove, there is a bit of a waft into the room when the door is opened and this can cause a very unpleasant smell in the room. I have since limited HiGlow in the Blacksmith stove to last fueling at night. That way the door of the stove is not opened again until morning when the fuel has burned down and no further smell comes from it.

I will come back to this again


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Vapour Ware from Audi e-Diesel?

Vapour-Ware from Audi?

I apologize for not attending to this blog for some months, or, for that matter, not writing a promised follow-up to the last post. This post is a lesser effort to follow through on the Audi Eco Diesel story.

Last April the media was buzzing with the story that the car manufacturer Audi had succeeded in manufacturing a high quality diesel fuel from essentially nothing more than Air and Water. I was very excited by this news in the belief that a major player like Audi would lend its name to to a publicity stunt or mere vapour ware.

Five months after the hoopla and the WWW, the media, and just about all other sources, have gone deathly quiet on the Audi Eco Diesel from air and water story. When that happens, I have learned that the project is either dead or, at the very least, some major wrinkles have appeared.

It saddens me that 90+% of stories that I have followed over 9 years about new super batteries, new types of generators, super water splitting techniques, super conductors, natty nano science super electronics etc. etc. etc. have all gone down the same road into SILENCE. Elon Musk might perhaps an exception to my above rule, and there are a few other exceptions. Alas they are so few.

I just hope that Audi has enough self-respect to give this story a decent burial or perhaps re-open it with fresh developments. Owners VW are gaining new insight into morals and ethics in business, perhaps the Audi team will follow?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Audi e-Diesel

Alchemy by Audi

Audi's Announcement on its e-diesel has sparked quite a bit of excitement in me and I have written a couple of pieces on it as a result, the main one linked below.

However, years of experience has taught me to be cautious. That cautious attitude set me looking for some more meaty and substantial analysis of Audi's stories.

I have just very recently stumbled upon an article by oil expert and science writer Robert Rapier where he uses his deep knowledge to pick a few holes in the Audi story. Primarily on what realistically it might cost per litre for this magic diesel from air and water.

Robert has kindly given me permission to quote from his article and I am currently preparing a post which I will hopefully publish in a few days time - please watch this space.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ireland an Oil Producer?


Government of Ireland 
It's Gambling History

In September of 2008 Ireland's Government took the biggest financial gamble EVER in the history of the nation. Under duress, it undertook to guarantee a total of €440 BILLION the which to cover the bad ass banking systems mistakes, its bad judgements, and what amounted to nothing short of its sheer criminality.

That fatal decision caused Ireland countless losses, much depression, and not a few suicides. It directly cost the Irish taxpayer €40 BILLION or €10,000 for every woman, man, and child in Ireland.

It was possibly the biggest single policy decision ever taken by an Irish government. The decision bet the stability, the very future of Ireland and of its people, on the survival of the banks.

If you boil the whole thing down to its bones what the government decided was that those who made and played with millions were to be guaranteed and bailed-out by the struggling masses, by those on welfare, by the sick and by children, and by future generations.

1925 Ireland Gambled and WON

In 1925, the Irish Free State took another very large gamble. But at that time it wasn't putting the nation and its future generations into hock, nor was it guaranteeing the rich at the expense of the poor. The gamble was on new technology to bring Ireland into the industrial age. It was the so called "Shannon Scheme".

On the 13th of August 1925 Ireland awarded the German company Siemens the contract for the electrification of the entire country. The core of the project was the hydroelectric power plant on the river Shannon with three 30 Mega Watt water turbines. The whole project including the distribution grid came to £6,721,000.The decision proved to be one of the best investments in the history of the nation.

Time for Another Bet?

What if Ireland had its very own Green-diesel oil supply?

(1) We would prevent hundreds of millions of Euro leaving the country (in recent years total oil imports averaged around €4 billion a year).
(2) There would be jobs from the refining and distribution of this oil.
(3) We would be less subject to the massive market fluctuations in oil prices.
(4) We could insure minimal supply at times of crisis.
(5) It would give Carbon Credits to Ireland.

Would Ireland taking a chance on Audi's e-diesel process be a fair bet at this time? Ireland has tons of spare Green Electricity being generated every night by our increasing number of wind farms. During the night much power is generated when it is not needed and therefore goes mainly to waste. This waste wind energy could be purchased at a cheap price and used to turn our other plentiful resources WATER and AIR into Blue Crude. Stripping Carbon from the air would gain Carbon Credit to Ireland.

1.25% of our BIGGEST Gamble Might suffice?

It would no doubt be taking a chance a gamble, and it would take a fair sized financial investment.

I am suggesting that a mere 1.25% of the size of our biggest gamble, the one we will be paying for far into the future, might buy us a foothold in this new Green Oil technology. I have no idea of what I am talking about in terms of costs but just maybe a half a billion would get us a foot in the door - maybe?


Friday, May 08, 2015

Diesel from Air and Water


Super Clean Diesel Oil
from just
Air and Water

Tesla Cars and Elon Musk have been hogging the Green Lime Light. And I say good luck to Mr Musk I admire his open patent on his battery technology.

Audi, yes the car maker, has recently been sounding trumpets and letting off fireworks in announcing it is a major investor / player along with two other companies ClimeWorks and SunFire in the advanced development of an alchemy to create very high quality diesel from just the air and water.

This is NOT a Spoof

A joke? No, no joke here, it has, to my nose, the smell of something far more substantial. If the hoopla is not overstated, it might just prove to be something REALLY BIG in green technology and in saving the planet.

A pilot plant is already producing approximately 160 litres or 35 Gallons of so called "Blue Crude" per day with a stated 70% overall efficiency figure. Nearly 80% of this Blue Crude can be converted into synthetic diesel.

Very High Quality Diesel 

This fuel – they are calling Audi e-diesel – is totally free of sulphur and aromatics. It also has a high cetane number, which means that it ignites very easily. This means the burn is very good and clean giving excellent results. The chemical properties of this oil facilitate its blending with regular diesel.

The Alchemy Step by Step

(1) Air in motion = wind. Wind turbines generate green electricity,
(2) The green electricity is used to to power the splitting water into it two components Oxygen and Hydrogen,
(3) A separate plant extracts Carbon Dioxide from the air,
(4) The Carbon Dioxide is processed into Carbon Monoxide,
(5) The Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide are then put through two processes at very high pressure of 25 bar or 363 psi and high temperature of 220C. "Blue Crude" is what comes out the far end.
(6) The Blue Crude can be processed into various fuels etc. 

Not New Science 

The essential process is not a new concept. What is new is that this manifestation takes carbon from the atmosphere and uses water as the basic ingredients. The process was developed by Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch at the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Kohlenforschung" in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, way back in 1925.

The 1925 Fischer–Tropsch process is a series of chemical reactions that turns a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. The process has been explored by various researchers over time. It is only now it has gone fully GREEN and left the laboratory and been demonstrated as capable of proving a viable source of low sulphur diesel. 

The Possibilities 

If the Audi - SunFire - Climeworks process can be successfully up-scaled from a shed in the car park to a facility producing tens of thousands of litres a day and those factories replicated all over the world, while continuing to make use of the ClimeWorks extraction process of CO2 from the air as its raw material, it certainly could make an impact on global CO2 and be a major contribution to climate protection. Let's just say I am excited and hopeful that this one is a runner.

SunFire say that their analyses have shown that the synthetic fuel is more environmentally friendly, and additionally has superior combustion qualities when compared to regular fuel. This would possibly mean better starting and better running of the engine, much less pollution from the exhaust, better fuel efficiency, more engine power.

"The engine runs quieter and fewer pollutants are being created," SunFire Chief Technology Officer Christian von Olshausen says in a press release.

Cost of this New Super Eco Diesel?

The Audi announcements suggest that their e-diesel will sell to the public for between 1 and 1.50 Euros per litre, dependent on the price of Green Electricity. That should be able to favourably compete with normal diesel that is if governments don’t tax the ass off it.

"If we get the first sales order, we will be ready to commercialise our technology", said von Olshausen.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

FreeTrade Ireland

Dumping Rubbish
Costs Dearly

Bin charges increasing? All rubbish is now weighed so it's costing a fortune to get rid of heavy items. At 23+ cent per Kg to get rid of rubbish it is worth thinking about other ways of disposing of unwanted things and materials.

So for instance maybe you have some left over stuff after renovating the kitchen, the old sink and taps, some left over tiles, the old but still good work-tops, and perhaps perfectly good old kitchen cabinets. It would cost you a considerable amount to hire a skip.

Also disposing stuff over time using bin collections will lead to smaller but still significant cost 50Kgs will most likely run up a bill of around €12.50.

Many people will think of placing an advert in the local advertiser etc. and that is even going to cost and you will have the trouble of placing the advert. Local paper adverts will not of course have a photo of what is on offer, so they are likely to have limited effect. 

Totally Free Adverts 

Now, through an innovative bunch of people there is a totally FREE on-line system that offers completely free adverts of stuff you don't want complete with your photos.

The really great news is that you are also saving the environment by re-cycling the goods and additionally helping out a fellow citizen in the process.

This is our Enda promoting FTI (Our Enda the Irish PM)

The effort is called Free Trade Ireland, and is funded through. an Irish Government scheme. The basic idea is you want rid of something - you offer it free - the advert and the service are free. It is an alternative to charity shops and you have almost no restrictions in what you offer. The service has been active since July 2010. The graphic below shows the results for 2013.

In 2013 FreeTrade Ireland announced the following figures:
• Over 14,000 items were reused
• Over €1.4 million in savings made by users of the site
• Over 412,000 unique visitors to the site. 

So What Kind of Stuff is on Offer?

The stuff being advertised and recycled ranges from pianos and furniture down to teddy bears and hair straighteners. As the process spreads wider across the nation, a wider range of goods and materials are being offred. It needs many more people participating in order to really get motoring, consider signing up as a members - it is totally free.

SmartPhone App 

Recently Free Trade Ireland launched a free smartphone app. as part of the EU Week of Waste Reduction. The app works much the same as the website. You can download the app free from iTunes and Android Play Store.

The facility is in its infancy - simply because not enough people are aware of the advantages. However, to date, the website has clocked up over 3 million visitors, and more than 42,000 items have passed hands to new users and been reused. 

Free and Kosher!

The Free Trade Ireland service is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency under the National Waste Prevention Programme.

I recommend you visit the site and sign up as a member. It is Free - it is Kosher - it saves money - it saves the environment. The more people involved - the better it gets.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Rip-Off Republic

A Real Bargain at
ONLY Twice the Price in Ireland!

I received a note from Brendan in Donegal recently which confirms my suspicions that Ireland is still leading the field in the race for being the 1st in the Rip-Off Republic Stakes. Brendan has kindly agreed to allow the publication of his letter:

I find your blog very interesting re Irish suppliers prices. in 2013 I bought two Unica Moderator 35kw biomass  heating boilers for my brother and myself direct from Kolty in Poland for less than the price of one of these from an Irish dealer. Local price for one at that time was euro 2200 plus vat the cost of two delivered to Donegal from Kolty was euro 2400 including VAT.
Regards Brendan


Friday, April 03, 2015

Cost of Dumping EXCEEDS cost of buying a Kilo of Potatoes.

DUMPING a Kg of Potatoes
Costs More 
Than Buying a Kg of Potatoes

When the cost of dumping a kilo of rubbish is greater than the cost of buying a kilo of potatoes - what do you think will begin to happen to rubbish??

This week Aldi have a Kilo of white potatoes priced at 26cent. Getting rid of trash now exceeds this cost per kilo.

My prediction is that more such stupid planning by Government and Local Authority agencies will lead to a big increase in people getting rid of their rubbish in places they should not. It might also increase the number of people who choose to burn their rubbish in stoves etc.

The increasing cost of rubbish collection is another form of taxation taking money out of the pocket of those who can ill afford to pay more.

The bottom layer of society, with regard to income, have been squeezed and squeezed, again and again by a range of "stealth taxes" a desperate government have imposed, and they have no more to give. Taxes that include a double helping of Carbon Tax, a VAT increase, Water Charges etc.

Do planners ever consider the law of diminishing returns?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Losses of Winning

Coming into Money
Can Carry a Very Big Price

Suddenly coming into big money or having a large lottery win may be more of a curse than a blessing. Winnings, for many, have extracted a heavy price. 

Some interesting research projects suggest that we are better off generally staying on even ground. A large upward surge in your finances can give a spike on the happiness scale initially, but over time that effect fades and in fact leaves you much worse off.

Adaptation Level Theory.

The reason the happiness spike fades is because of a psychological phenomenon known as “adaptation level theory.” When something new and exciting happens to us, we feel a surge of pleasure. Our brains release a chemical called serotonin, which is a happy drug, and we feel a glow for a while until the drug fades.

The transient and relative nature of happiness.

Adaptation Level Theory also defines the transient and relative nature of happiness. For instance, with the passage of time, the loss of the use of say an arm generally tends NOT to make you significantly unhappier, once you have had sufficient time to adjust to the new norm.

For Better or for Worse - in the end much the same.

Two interesting studies carried out back in1978 looked at this factor. The studies took 22 lottery winners, 29 people paralysed in accidents, and measured against controls. The experiments in both cases clearly showed that people were not significantly worse off or better off than the controls. When either a positive or negative event begins to fade into the past, the levels of happiness or unhappiness that were initially created tend to go back to a general norm.

Among other interesting factors that emerged from various studies are the following;

(1) The Erosion of Satisfaction.

This one is what I would describe as a sort of Monday-itis or post-holiday-blues, or maybe it is more like drug adaptation? The studies showed that lottery winners, with the passage of time, not only were they no happier than the controls, but they took an additional and negative hit. I call this "the erosion of satisfaction". Ordinary everyday events, activities and chores etc. that previously gave a sense of satisfaction or pleasure no longer gave them that effect.

(2) The Losses of Winning.

This one I would describe as “The Losses of Winning”. A research project in 2009 at Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky showed two interesting trends: (a) Individuals who won between $50,000 and $150,000 failed to pay off debts that they had from before the winnings. (b) Lottery winners are twice as likely to go bankrupt.

(3) Sudden Money Shortens Life.

Another bit of research has shown that many individuals who have big wins, or otherwise come into big money, tend to smoke a lot more and increase their social drinking, so they are more likely to die younger and suffer more illness. These findings come from a 2010 study done by Bénédicte Apouey and Andrew E. Clark, who are economists at the Paris School of Economics.

So perhaps you are better off not buying that lottery ticket.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Atonement Redress and Justice

Atonement Redress and Justice

The recent news items about the high level of hidden slavery in the EU and UK has made me very very angry. One item outlined the case of women in the UK have been virtual slaves to very rich families who, in many cases, did not pay them, and did not even provide them with the most basic of necessities.

This news has re-triggered thoughts that have bothered me for some time about how our justice systems operated.

As it exists, our legal and justice systems would appear to be stuck back in time some hundreds of year in the past. The archaic use of wigs and gowns in court, and the sometimes obtuse language of the trade, attest to this fact alone. However, it is not lawyers and judges in fancy dress that concerns me here, it is how the law addresses serious crime.

Our Justice Systems = Punishment not Redress.

The current system of law focusses on PUNISHING the guilty parties, but does little or nothing to compensates the victims and make atonement. Over the centuries, the punishments meted out have become less and less. Prison to some is a holiday, and a time to catch up on their trade from more skilled fellow trades-people. They can get a free education in prison and do not have to worry, like the rest of us, about providing accommodation, food, heating, medical care, etc. etc.

Fine Fines.

When a fine is imposed it usually is not linked to the resources of the guilty party. If a person on £10,000 a year is fined £5,000. By all justice and fairness, a person on £2,000,000 a year should receive a fine of £1,000,000. The funds from these fines should go, at least partially, into victim redress and compensation funds. It should be possible nowadays to operate such a system by linking with the taxation system etc.

Victims and the Law.

Meanwhile our justice systems generally leave the victims of crime to fend for themselves, except maybe in cases where the victims have their own resources to take actions, or where some agency or charity initiates a civil action on their behalf. This part of the law is at best ad-hoc and in most cases not successful in redressing the injury or loss.

I believe that the justice system should first and foremost redress the harm done or loss sustained, and put punishment into second place. The State or justice system should, without being requested initiate a civil action, using all the Justice Department and the States resources, including tax and revenue systems, to secure redress.

In the case of rape, redress should include payment for full medical and psychological treatment over a period of at least 5 years, a lump sum, and a pension to the victim.

In addition to the Law seeing to redress and atonement on behalf of victims, IMHO individuals guilty of serious crimes, who own resources, should be made to pay the full cost of their own prison upkeep in addition to the costs of redress and atonement. Those on welfare should at least have a deduction made from their future welfare payments to pay back some of their prison upkeep.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Return of Medieval Feudalism

Reset your Calendar 2015 to 1015 
The Immanent Return of Medieval Feudalism
or if you like, you can call it Economic Apartheid

There was a time when more than half of the world's wealth was owned by a tiny percentage of super-rich kings, dukes and lords etc. 1000 years on, and history is about to repeat itself!

Oxfam has projected figures which show that the wealthiest 1% will by next year own more than the rest of the world's population put together.

The figures show a clear rapidly rising trend - indicating that we are heading back into Medieval times.

The Figures.

In 2009 the very rich, who represent just 1% of the world's population, owned 44% of the entire wealth. By 2013 that figure had inflated to their owning 48% of everything. On that trend any forecaster would easily pitch the figure at 50%+ by 2016.

In 2014 the global elite had average personal wealth of $2.7m per adult.

Davos Talking Shop.

No doubt the talk shops like Davos will table some well meaning spin-doctored stuff, and no doubt the well meaning projections will most probably never be reached - going on past performance.

Bono, an Irish musician, didn't put a tooth in it when he told the assembled Davos elite “Some of the criminals around here are not wearing ski masks, they are wearing skis.”


Oxfam have warned that this virtual explosive widening of the gap between rich and poor is "holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat and more than a billion people still live on less than $1.25-a-day".

* Allowing extremes of wealth and poverty to exist is simply morally wrong.
* The imbalance undermines economic growth,
* It threatens the national security as well as economic stability.
* It leads to revolt and revolution and promotes extremism.

Oxfam is advocating 7 point plan to tackle inequality:
(1) Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and the rich,
(2) invest in universal, free public services health, education etc.,
(3) Fair tax laws to shift taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth,
(4) Enforcing minimum wages and a living wage for all workers,
(5) Equal pay and conditions for women,
(6) Adequate safety-nets for the poorest,
(7) And a global goal to tackle inequality.

Some Interesting Quotes.

In 2013 Economics Nobel prize winner Robert J. Shiller said that the economic stratification of society into "elites" and "masses", is a major danger to world stability. And that it played a central role in the collapse of other advanced civilizations such as the Roman, Han and Gupta empires.

Oxfam made a bold assertion in 2013. It stated that worsening inequality is impeding the fight against global poverty. The 2013 report stated that the $240 billion added to the fortunes of the world's richest billionaires in 2012 was enough to end extreme poverty four times over.

Oxfam Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said that "We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true."

Jared Bernstein and Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute suggest that poverty in the United States could have been significantly mitigated if inequality had not increased over the last few decades.