Joe Barry: Even in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, we spent heavily over the holidays on things we didn’t need
We are told that around 40 per cent of the food bought over the Christmas period ends up in the bin, but all the while lines are growing outside the Capuchin Center and other places across Ireland where good people are distributing food parcels to those in need.
One of them makes sense given the stark contrast between poverty, hunger and wasteful spending. At least during the ancient BC festival of Saturnalia, slaves were treated like kings and served by their owners for only a few days. The spirit of peace and goodwill of all people seems to have lost the battle.
Consumerism, aided by online shopping that makes it easier to buy goods we don’t need, has won. Once again we are starting to lose track of ourselves and who knows how this will end.
Do I sound like Scrooge? Maybe, but right now my dream of an ideal Christmas would be to spend it in a cottage in the Connemara wilderness, with a warm stove, candlelight in the window, not a traffic jam in sight and the sound of the sea the whole time.
“Every time another free category is added to our health services, the quality of that service inevitably collapses under demand.”
It seems that we have to accept that society has changed completely. The living standards of the majority (except for the richest, who could always buy whatever they wanted) have risen dramatically, and we are spending accordingly. There is no other explanation for the shopping spree and the associated traffic jams at the end of December. Unfortunately, the more we have, the more we want, and this is where our system of democracy fails under the strain of never-ending demands for more “free” services. To quote George Bernard Shaw, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on Paul’s support.”
As you consider the crippling costs of running our healthcare service, consider the words of American journalist PJ O’Rourke, who famously wrote, “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait ’til you see what.” it costs when it’s free!” Every time another free category is added to our own health services, the quality of that service inevitably collapses under demand. My wish for this year is that the Irish nation campaigns to eliminate wasteful spending and reduce the long list of ‘free’ services. This, of course, must start with all government agencies, where unnecessary, wasteful spending and budget overruns would be severely penalized.
This concept of prudence and sound financial management could then permeate every home in the country, starting with us all reviewing what we bought for Christmas, be it groceries, luxuries or disposables, and adding up what we bought and didn’t need . It might just be a sobering exercise.
In Ireland we are not the only ones with a housing problem. It’s even worse in the UK, with a staggering 1.3 million people on the council housing waiting list.
Just like here, British voters are no longer willing to accept multiple families in one house as was once the norm. Trying to meet this demand has taken a tremendous toll on both of our economies. Perhaps the solution for aspiring homeowners is to spend less and save more and start with a very small and modest home rather than a $450,000 luxury duplex.
Unfortunately, in many cases, planning authorities do not encourage builders to build the small starter homes that would allow couples to find homes of their own. This does not make sense, but rarely makes sense when building codes are decided.
Perhaps the most practical approach was that of the late Zsa Zsa Gabor, who said, “I’m a very good housekeeper, every time I leave a man I keep the house.”
Attention young farmers.
Joe Barry is a farmer and forester on the border between Meath and Kildare
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/joe-barry-even-in-the-middle-of-a-cost-of-living-crisis-weve-splashed-out-massively-over-the-festive-season-on-stuff-we-didnt-need-42252208.html Joe Barry: Even in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, we spent heavily over the holidays on things we didn’t need