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Do you want my hairshirt with that?

Well, what a mighty fine week that was, wasn't it?

I'm not referring to the bombings in Boston. I'm not talking about a certain funeral.

No, I'm referring firstly to the Spartan new budgetary guidelines for people who slip into insolvency -- such as feeding your family for €240 per couple per month (so that rules out having any nice special occasion meals at home, then).

Indeed, if feeding a family for two hundred quid plus change a week is as easy they claim, will we see Irish politicians looking after their families like that?

I somehow doubt it.

Interestingly, we the people (remember 'the people'?) are reliably informed that "some leeway will be given to families to keep their satellite television and a car."

Wow, a car and a telly? Truly, they are really spoiling us.

But by the far the most outrageous news came last Friday with the announcement that there are now plans afoot to force us all to pay 15pc of our salary into a compulsory pension pot.

This is yet another great idea from the OECD and provides yet another step towards a harmonised European socialist state where people are forced to pay taxes 'in their own interest'.

So why don't we take another 15pc from everyone's pay packet so that when they hit pensionable age, the State won't have to give them a State pension?

And we all know this will become compulsory for the vast majority of us. Yes -- we now have even more unelected Eurocrats deciding how we can spend what little money we have earned -- whether we like it or not.

The State has no legal or moral right to tell a free man or woman how they may choose to spend their legally earned salary and it is a gross violation of our individual sovereignty to assume otherwise.

Now, the Socialist argument against that boils down to their fundamental conviction that the individual cannot be trusted to make the right decisions for themselves, so Nanny will do it for them.

But there is one idea -- simply have people sign an opt-out clause.

This means you get to keep your own money to do with as you please (maybe even investing in their own private pension scheme that isn't being run by the Government, for example) and if, by the time you retire, you have failed to make adequate provisions for yourself, then you can expect nothing more from a basic, rudimentary stipend calculated on your previous social insurance contributions.

And, sorry, but if you find the kitty is bare when you retire because you failed to take part in this scheme -- or some other private plan -- then that it is your fault.

Wait -- was that a suggestion that we should be allowed to think for ourselves and decide the best plan that suits us for our own retirement?

But that would mean people would be forced to think for themselves!

No, we can't be having that.

OH, THE HUMANITY!

One of the really unpleasant aspects of the current housing crisis is the discord and division it has sown amongst ordinary people.

And no matter how liberal you are, you can't blame people who object to working hard and making massive sacrifices just to pay their mortgage while someone gets to live in a similar house next door for nothing.

That's just human nature and you don't have to be Solomon to predict trouble down the line with that approach.

But needs must and, anyways, this country would be a far better place if people were less interested in what arrangements their neighbours may have reached with local authorities.

Having said that, some people on the social housing list really don't do themselves any favours.

This comes from the news that one family in Cork on the housing list refused accommodation . . . because the back garden wasn't big enough to comfortably hold a trampoline for their child.

Really? You find yourself looking for free housing and then you turn one down because you don't like the back garden?

Where do they want to live? The Cork Opera House?

I eagerly await await the case in the European Court of Human Rights: Ireland v Pissed Off Trampoline Owners.

YUP, I FEEL THEIR PAIN

Any time I feel a bit down, I like to look at the latest shenanigans in Saudi Arabia.

Because once you have removed the beheadings, the public floggings and, shall we say, their rather less than enlightened attitude towards women, gays, children, (and don't even get them started on young women who are gay, that really gets their camel) the whole place is so utterly turbo bonkers that there are times the country feels like a massive, elaborate hoax -- North Korea with sunshine and more sand.

And now their latest social edicts have targeted . . . handsome men.

Three men from the UAE have been refused entry to Saudi after the local religious police kicked them out of a conference when they decided they were too handsome and: "The commissioners felt the female visitors might fall for them."

This has been denounced by people in the West as an another example of delightfully daft desert dementia but we shouldn't be too quick to judge.

After all, upon reading this story, it suddenly became clear to me -- all those years of being refused entry to swanky nightclubs in Dublin weren't because of cripplingly inappropriate social conduct -- it was because I was just too gosh darned handsome.

Look, pal -- that's my bleedin' story and I'm sticking to it.

Although it looks like I might have a long wait for my visa application to Saudi.

Oh well. I think, I'll cope.

OKAY -- THIS IS THE LAST TIME SHE GETS MENTIONED

You may remember the case of English teacher (she runs 'dance workshops for disadvantaged youth') Romany Blythe (pictured) who got her 15 minutes of fame when she was exposed as the person who started the 'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead' campaign on Facebook.

She turned up on Sky News defending her actions in a delightfully stupid and juvenile way -- sloganeering, the blank, unthinking sound bites of the anti-Thatcher mob and a general sense of historical ignorance were all to the fore.

Interestingly, she said that Thatcher never did anything for women and was an enemy of women's lib.

Then, last Friday we learned that none other than Ms Blythe had availed of Thatcher's revolutionary scheme allowing council tenants to buy their own houses. Blythe bought her council house in Islington (why am I not surprised that's where she lives?) for £141,000. Then, only four years later, she sold it for nearly three hundred grand, making a nice profit.

So that's one woman who benefited under Thatcher, at least.

RIGHT -- SO, NO PRESSURE THEN

These days, most people don't tune into TV talent shows for the talent. Nope, they want misery. Tears, Quivering lips. Sob stories. Throw in a couple of deaths in the family and then you're guaranteed a place in the semi-final at least.

And the latest sacrificial lamb at the altar of light entertainment is 11-year-old Arisxandra Libantino who is currently on Britain's Got Talent.

She is the child of Filipino immigrants who have been facing hard times since her father, Aristotle, lost his job as a cleaner last year.

The kid has a great voice, apparently, and that's just as well, because in the light of the family's current hardship, a source close to them says: "Her voice could secure her future and the future of her family."

Well, failing that, if she doesn't win, she's still a small kid, maybe they can send her up some chimneys instead?

Online Editors