Thursday, December 04, 2008

Silver And Gold

You'd like to think that the idea of politicians being 'out of touch' is just a hoary old cliché and then you hear this nonsense:

'Mr Lenihan has previously urged shoppers to do their “patriotic duty” and resist the urge to avail of bargains in the North.

The Minister said today the situation whereby consumers are pouring into Northern Ireland to take advantage of currency differences and the recent lowering of VAT rates in the UK was having a detrimental effect on the Irish economy.

“When you shop in the State, you do help the taxpayer,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme today.

“If you shop at home this Christmas, and shop a little bit more this Christmas and if you recognise that money is going to help educate your children and care for people in hospitals and pay for our medical expenses, which the State has to pay for, I think you’ll realise that it is important to shop at home.”

He accepted the currency differential between the euro and sterling was a “big factor”, but said that as Ireland is locked into the euro system, the Government was powerless to act.

Mr Lenihan called on consumers to “pull together” at this difficult time for the Irish economy.

“We have to face up to the fact that we are in difficult times and if we make those sacrifices now, it will be better for all of us and our children in the future.”'

Christ, I mean the ONE thing absolutely guaranteed to get punters from the length and breadth of the country to endure hours of traffic jams, full car parks, frayed tempers and half empty shelves with all the best stuff sold out, i.e. a shopping trip up North, is to tell them that they shouldn't do it. That's the Irish way.

Why not just shrug your shoulders and say you'd prefer to shop in comfort and that the savings just aren't worth all that time, stress and petrol but, y'know, if that's what others want to do...

I mean the whole shopping up the North thing is just the latest lemming-fad that is a variation on the "nothing so undermines your financial wisdom as the sight of your neighbour getting rich" theme.

Who needs that much booze in their gaff at any one time? A hundred mile plus round trip for groceries is a false economy. Electrical goods, DVDs and the rest are still cheaper on the internet and you can't transport anything too large. The women going up on buses and trains seems completely daft to me.

When I'm home I typically buy some groceries in Sainsbury's - but it only takes me 15 minutes to drive there... or at least it did 'til the word got out. I'll be home next week too, but there's no way I'd even dream of getting caught in that snarl up. I also bought bathroom and bedroom furniture in Newry after I bought my house, but I had to hire a van to transport it and, in hindsight, it's debatable whether it was really worth it or not.

Anyway things have been like this for as long as I've lived. For a couple of years sterling is very weak and southerners have legged it over the border to shop, then sterling gets strong and northerners leg it down south. Why it's such a massive news story this time around is beyond me, recession or not.
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