Slim Shady once said “money doesn’t buy you happiness, it buys you crazy ass happiness.” As some sort of a Celtic Tiger-like creature seems to be reemerging on our shores we have started splashing out on crazy ass happiness again. People are feeling more vivacious, the punters are back filling up bar-rooms and many people are riding high on the economic boom bubble. But, for every winner there’s got to be a loser and amidst the hedonistic blur of a ‘healthy economy’ the people can quick lose sight of what their money is really worth.
In the words of Wall Street’s fictional Gordon Gekko “somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made it’s simply transferred from one perception to another, like magic. This painting here, I bought it ten years ago for $60,000 I can sell it today for $600,000. The illusion has become real and the more real it becomes the more desperate they want it.”
So, according to G. Gekko the value of money is simply an illusion. What’s not so illusory though are the very real effects of this great big illusion. Decades of burdensome debt and heavily taxed salaries are all part and parcel of the Irish euro. Shoebox homes valued at €500,000 in Dublin’s fair city represent a nation that gets bad value for their euro.
“Take Five” in The Irish Times is a subsection of the weekly property pull-out that contrasts the value of similarly priced properties at home and abroad. In a recent edition (March 23, 2017) of The Times’ Take Five, readers were presented with five properties valued at €600,000 – €650,000. Available on the Irish market at a price of €645,000 was a detached bungalow in Co. Wicklow. Across the pond in the south of France a fully restored six-bed luxury home complete with a swimming pool, orchard and vegetable garden was retailing at €610,000. Worth noting is the fact that Irish property prices are still rising astronimacally as the country struggles to cope with a crippling housing crisis. Dordogne, France: €610,000 Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow: €645,000
According to a senior scientist at Forensic Science Ireland, an innovative idea for measuring the economic performance of Ireland is to look at the amount of cocaine being consumed. Forensic Science Ireland is located at the Garda Headquarters in The Phoenix Park. The laboratory tests confiscated drugs for purity and contaminants. Based on observations made at Forensic Science Ireland, cocaine use dissipated with the demise of the Celtic Tiger due to a scarcity in disposable income. Now cocaine use is on the rise again and young Irish people are among the most voracious consumers in Europe. Traditionally seen as a ‘middle class’ drug, cocaine is more expensive than other intoxicants on the black market, and, based on the results of an annual Global Drug Survey, the price of cocaine in Ireland is significantly higher than it is in other European countries. Retailing at an average price of €86.50 per serving, cocaine in Ireland is twice as expensive as it is in Holland.
The average Irish punter also pays more for their beloved legal intoxicants too. Cigarettes and alcohol are more expensive on the Emerald Isle than the majority of other countries in the EU. Irish drinkers are relatively thirsty in comparison to other EU states and at a whopping €7.45 for a glass of beer in Temple Bar one must wonder if the added value is the thrill of (literally) trying not to step on human faeces or a bloodied syringe on the way to the bar.
Apart from questioning the value of money in our western society, another valid enquiry is: What is your job worth? It seems as if certain professions are of little value in comparison to others. Throwing a glance at http://www.payscale.com reveals the average salaries for different jobs across the board. At an average salary of €30,511 it becomes apparent that a registered nurse is worth only tuppence in comparison to your avaerage bank manager who can expect to earn €51,453 per annum. It was crooked bankers and incompetent politicians that brought the country to it’s knees just less than ten years ago, and, while the banks were bailed out of bad debt, unfortunates such as nurses and care workers were left buried in a hole of negative equity. Perhaps the status of our white-collar professionals outweighs that of our crucial life-saving servants.
In life there must be winners and there must be losers. A fair game presents equal opportunity for all, however when the rules of a game are fixed one can expect to get an unequal balance of winners and losers. Here in Ireland the people should be asking themselves who’s winning and who’s losing?
From the outlook it would appear as if we are getting bad value for our money. We are being ripped off on everything from the shoddy pint of beer in Temple Bar to the preposterous cost of renting a dilapidated apartment in Dublin City Centre. Not to mention the fact that young graduates are often expected to work for free while parents can often expect to pay a four-figure sum per month to keep their children in a crèche. So, in our unbalanced yet hopeful society what is the true value of money? – Could it be worth anything more than a couple of coked-up bank managers vomiting on the streets of Temple Bar?