What made my evening in Dublin was the cab driver who brought me back to the local train station from Grafton Street. The real Irish cab driver (apparently, it is even hard to find Irish cab drivers in Dublin) and I had a lovely chat about the current Irish economic situation. I the same notion from him as I got from the lads at the Grasshopper - that many Irish are suffering at the moment.
We had one these I-look-into-the-back-mirror-while-I-am-driving conversations. I asked him how people got by with the high prices and how do average salaries compare. "The tax rate makes it very hard," he explained. "Everything is taxed and, after you are taxed, you are taxed again. They want to get the economy rolling with additional taxes, but one can barely makes ends meet. Ireland is the cheapest country in Europe to buy a car, but after the taxes it is the most expensive place."
"A few years ago a comedian based his show on what he called 'My government first loves me and then hates me.' It was about how cheap things were before he drove his new car off the lot and then got taxed and had to pay for tolls."
"How high are your taxes overall?" I asked him.
"Well it depends. Between 0 and 23 percent depending on the goods. The essentials are 0 percent, basics 13 percent and luxury items are 23 percent."
"Overall maybe 50 percent?" I asked, to which he answered -"Yes, or higher!"
I have not been able to verify the taxes. It would explain a hell of a lot though. How can the economy recover when decreased disposable income leads to less spending, huring the money multiplier. The travel costs remain very high (although they are very low at the moment), which depresses the the tourism industry.
Since the crash, real estate lost 30 to 50 percent of its value. The Irish are hoping the economy will recover. Dublin seems to be leading the way with Google having a major location and Airbnb.com opening its new European headquarters there.
Foreigners, Sein Fein and the Dole
I had plenty of time to study the facial expressions of the politicians on the posters garnishing the roads. The Sein Fein representatives looked very cold the farther north I cycled. Fine Gael representatives smiled. I did not know about their politics.
Sein Fein is the party people either "love or hate." Some may want to give them a chance, while others despise them for their support of the IRA. They are gaining more strength with the recent election. Radicals always flourish when an economy is depressed.
There is a strong influx of Eastern European and Chinese. Every small village has a Chinese take away (not take out - that is American English). Reports mention that the Eastern Europeans work cheaply, making it difficult for the Irish to find a job.
One old Irish man told me that just 20 years ago there were nothing but Irish in Ireland. And now the new foreigners are lazy and collecting dole (unemployment benefits). Meanwhile, the hard-working Irish are struggling.
Heavy hearted and concerned, I am leaving to my accommodations for the night.