No escape from the Harry Houdini property trap
Published 31/05/2014 | 02:30
* It was dark, pitch black, confined, and the air supply was running out. Employing the skills of both contortionist and escape artist he deftly freed himself from the bondage of shackles and tightly wrapped chains – without the confines of the milk pail under spotlight centre stage, the packed to the rafters audience began to grow restless.
Within, unburdened of his many and varied restraints in under a minute but ever the showman, slowing his heart rate to preserve the little remaining oxygen, building suspense, keeping the crowd on the edge of its seat, until finally as if by magic a man appears on a balcony to the rear of the theatre. His reception thunderous applause from one and all. Alas the master illusionist, greatest magician that probably ever lived and shrewd businessman Harry Houdini found he had to up the ante to ever higher levels.
The mob grew impatient, the performances became challenges and towards the end literally death-defying stunts, until finally he died in mysterious circumstances.
Now think of the property market with "value" appearing seemingly out of nowhere, but before looking closer, and stating that it's obvious a "two-tier market" is emerging, one must look at the bigger picture.
As the self proclaimed greatest armchair economic conjurer I am certain that the required 25,000 housing units per year will not be built any time soon, if ever.
However human beings will continue to need houses and supply will continue to fail to meet demand with the problem only exacerbated by any kind of population increase. So far, so simple. But remember I opened with the description of an illusion.
Viewing the terrain from a distance, it's still hard to see the "value" and sitting in a theatre staring at a milk pail has exactly the same problem. The real magic is how the trick is sold.
So allow me to expose this dirty trick as Harry would a second rate rival. One must "buy in" to the three stages of a trick for it to work.
1. The Pledge/Pitch: Property prices are on the rise again.
2. The Turn: Irish version of UK "Help to Buy"– aka 95pc mortgage.
3. The Prestige: You get a mortgage, buy a three bedroom house for €500,000, forget what happened in 2008 and will seriously consider calling Joe Duffy within the next five years.
CLAREVILLE ROAD, HAROLDS CROSS, DUBLIN 6W
* You begin to get some idea of the mindset of the present government, when you see its most senior minister almost falling over himself to fawn at the feet of an American billionaire as he arrives at Shannon Airport, followed up by another senior minister being prepared to stand up in front of the cameras to do PR for Bausch and Lomb, to tell its workers to kowtow to its masters, or else . . .
Then the minister for transport performs a similar function for the management of Aer Lingus and Irish Rail.
SAN PAWL IL-BAHAR, MALTA.
* As a member of the general public I am writing this complaint cathartically to express my anger and frustration following an unfortunate visit to the new NDLS centre in Limerick city.
As proof of address I had brought my TV licence renewal notice and the TV licence that had been subsequently purchased on the 28/05/2014 with me to the centre.
The employee who was dealing with my driving licence renewal stated that the above was not sufficient proof of address because it was not one of the listed proofs on the NDLS booklet. The listed documents for proof of address included utility bills.
The fact that my TV licence renewal form and TV licence was not accepted on this occasion is particularly irksome given that I have conscientiously paid this bill that so many avoid paying.
A TV licence is issued on behalf of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources for RTE which is a semi-state agency and therefore my TV licence should have been accepted as proof of address.
I contacted a supervisor at the NDLS processing centre in Cork.
He suggested that the reason the TV licence could not be used for proof of address was because it was possible for an individual to have more than one if they owned more properties issued to different addresses.
I pointed out that it was possible for an individual to possess more than one electricity, phone bill or cable television bill and these were deemed acceptable.
I am a jaded taxpayer living in a country governed by a bureaucratic over-paid public sector. This incident, when examined appears minor, yet it is symptomatic of the pernicious problems which pervade governing bodies.
The employee that dealt with me did not use intelligent discretion and her objection to the documentation was based on her personal interpretation of the criteria outlined in the booklet.
The robotic function of this public sector employee reflects the diminishment in initiative, imagination and creative intelligence that has been caused by the bureaucratic system that fails the Irish citizen on a daily basis.
* It was very disheartening to read Lise Hand's blatantly sexist article "Joan power-groomed to the max" (Letters 28/05). Joan Burton has declared her intention to run for leader of the Labour Party, potentially making her the most senior female politician serving in Dail Eireann. Instead of examining her bona fides as a candidate, the Irish Independent devotes half a page to a childish "sketch" mocking her appearance and hair style.
How can we expect to attract more women to political and public life when a national newspaper still treats senior politicians with such disrespect based on their gender?
MOUNT MERRION, CO DUBLIN
* I attended the Don Williams concert recently in the Olympia. Not by any means my first encounter with the man and as always a great example of someone with an excellent voice delivering classic tunes with the minimum of fuss.
Keep on rollin' Don !
* I am extremely disappointed that there is no loyalty scheme for supporters who purchase wheelchair tickets.
But there is a scheme for people who purchase other tickets, either through the Parnell Pass scheme (in Dublin) or the GAA Season Ticket scheme (Nationally). In both schemes dedicated fans are entitled to All-Ireland final tickets.
Why is there no loyalty scheme for people who use wheelchair tickets? The current system for obtaining a wheelchair ticket for the All-Ireland final is flawed.
Even if a person who purchases wheelchair tickets has attended 100pc of the previous games, that person still has to write in and hope that they get a ticket. This is far from satisfactory.
It is a shame that this goes against GAA's ethos to promote equality.
BAYSIDE, SUTTON, DUBLIN 13
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