Our man Frank on a rare sighting while out driving, proposals for a tax on the wealthiest in society, the high cost of not returning videos in Texas, and the murder of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore…
As I was driving somewhere recently, I spotted something on the roadside that has become almost a rarity on Irish roads – a broken down motorist.
He was pulled in on the side of the road with the bonnet open. Luckily there was someone there to help him, so I presume he got sorted fairly quickly and (hopefully) carried on with his journey. Nowadays, most insurance companies offer breakdown assistance at a very low cost with their policies, so for anyone with an older car, it is something worth having.
Anyway, as I passed the stricken motorist, I thought back to my early driving days when breakdowns were a regular occurrence, something I would always expect every time I hit the open road. For me, a lot of them were sort of self-inflicted because I used to play a type of Russian Roulette with my petrol tank. I would always let it run down to the very last drop before putting any more in.
As there were no gadgets back then to warn you that the tank was almost empty, many is the time that I would come to a shuddering halt on roads all over the country. Every car nowadays warns you to refuel in loads of time before you run out, but not so when I was a young fellow. What was worse is the fact that on most of my cars, the fuel gauge didn’t work anyway, and as a result, I used to run out of ‘juice’ on a regular basis.
However, I always had a fuel can with me, so all I had to do was pull into a safe place, stick out my thumb, and wait for a kind-hearted motorist who would bring me to the nearest petrol station. Funnily enough, on numerous occasions the good samaritan would actually wait for me to get my can filled, bring me back to my car, and wait until I got started again before continuing on with their journey.
One of the big risks with running out of petrol was that you could flood the engine when trying to get it going again, and the carburetor, plugs, and points were all items that continually gave me trouble. I don’t know if modern cars have those things, but I never hear of anyone drowning their plugs or flooding the carburetor any more.
All that was a long time ago, and cars and drivers have improved greatly since then. Thankfully, it is a rarity nowadays to see a broken down motorist, and even older cars are pretty reliable. Here’s to happy motoring for all in 2022.
Is proposed wealth tax a bit rich?
It’s a beautifully frosty Monday morning, and as I sample my bowl of cornflakes, I see that the pandemic has been good (financially speaking) for the wealthiest section of society. This was seen both in Ireland and the rest of the world, with the nine Irish billionaires (wonder who they are) increasing their wealth by €18.3 billion (now totalling €49.7 billion).
As someone whose old age pension rose by €10 a week since 2018, it’s hard to grasp that just nine people could control such an enormous sum of money. However, even those figures fade into insignificance when compared to the wealth of the top ten people in the world, whose combined wealth has more than doubled to a mind-blowing €1.3 trillion during the two years of the pandemic.
Oxfam tells us that the income of 99 per cent of humanity has stagnated and fallen during the same two years, and that 160 million people have been forced into poverty. So, their call for an extreme wealth tax in Ireland and worldwide seems fairly reasonable to me. They estimate that a 1.5 per cent tax on Irish millionaires (but only on those worth €4 million or more, so I’d be okay) would bring in €4 billion in revenue, while a similar tax on the billionaires would raise €700 million.
To the ordinary two and sixpence who’s struggling with the cost of everything increasing by the minute, it would seem to make a lot of sense. However – as with a lot of ideas that make sense – the chances are that it will never happen.
Texan wanted for failing to return video!
Strange things happen everywhere, but over in the United States, a Texan named Caron McBride got a huge shock when she went to update her personal information after getting married. She learned that she had a criminal record, and was a wanted felon in the State of Oklahoma.
On enquiry, she discovered that it was all to do with a VHS tape (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) that someone had rented in her name from a video store in 1999. The tape had not been returned, charges had been filed, and McBride was charged with wilfully and unlawfully embezzling the video cassette of the value of $58.59.
In the meantime, she had been fired from a number of jobs with no explanation, but now she realises that they must have looked up her records and seen the two words ‘felony’ and ‘embezzlement’ against her name.
It’s safe to say that all of us who rented out videos during the video craze would have been guilty at one time or another of forgetting to return the cassette, but hopefully Gerry Kerrigan or Xtra-vision didn’t register our crimes with the authorities – or else we could still face the full rigours of the law!
As for McBride, she can shortly have the charges dismissed against her, but it will still cost her, as she will have to engage a lawyer to clear her name. Sabrina the Teenage Witch has a lot to answer for.
It’s been a strange week, but one that puts a lot of things into perspective. Despite the ongoing saga around Novak Djokovic’s attempts to defend his Australian Open tennis title, and even the winning in Mayo of the enormous €19 million lotto sum, everything fades into insignificance when compared to the horrendous murder of Ashling Murphy, which occurred last week last in Tullamore.
It’s been a long time since any single event has had as big an impact on Irish people and Irish society. The hope has to be that at long last, proper and necessary action will be taken against all men who abuse women – be it mentally or physically.
This week, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee promised that there will be a major commitment by the Government to ensure that women in our communities are protected. There is no doubt that such an initiative would be very welcome, although it sadly comes too late for Ashling Murphy and several other women who violently lost their lives in recent years.
As a parent, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and horror the Murphy family are going through, but hopefully in time the huge outpouring of anger and grief by people all over the world will ease some of the pain.
Hopefully Ashling’s death may mean that in the future, other women will not be subjected to the outrageous abuse that is currently going on.