Thursday, April 15, 2010

Irish Taxpayers, You're Being Scammed!

"As if we didn't already know this!", you are going to say. Well I am not talking about NAMA or any other schemes that are being covered so much in the media and designed to protect the fat cats at the expense of Irish individuals.

I am talking about the free travel pass that some people living in Ireland are entitled to. I have nothing against the idea of this scheme and I do understand how society can benefit from this, making travel easier for people who might otherwise stay at home, meaning that these people can visit friends and relatives as well as participating in the economy by being able to do more shopping.

I don't know if this is true for the bus services but I know of a particular scam that Iarnod Eireann, the Irish national (and only) train company, is running: when someone with a free travel pass want to go somewhere, they have to get a ticket even though travel is free for them; the ticket shows a charge of €0.00. I guess they do this so that they have a record of the journeys they need to charge the government (or the taxpayers). So far, this is perfectly fine, except that if a person wants to travel for only a portion of the Galway-Dublin route on the train (say Galway to Athenry, which is the closest station to Galway), their ticket shows that the route they are travelling on is Galway-Dublin.

If you were travelling on the train from Galway to Athenry (a 10 minute journey) and Iarnod Eireann charged you for a ticket from Galway to Dublin (a 2 and a half hour journey), I don't think you would be very happy (I know I wouldn't!). As taxpayers, we are being asked to pay for this unnecessary surcharge everyday, several times a day, and keeping in mind that this is just one example of how easy it seems to be to scam the taxpayers' money out of their pockets, don't you think there should be a better system that could be put in place in order to stop inflating some companies' profits at our expense?

In these times when people are being squeezed out of the homes they cannot afford anymore because of some bankers' greed and gambling and the Irish government taking their side, when whole housing estates (which in my understanding should now belong to the government) are being threatened to be bulldozed even though there are thousands of Irish families in need of stable housing, when the government who is supposed to represent the Irish people burdens them with taxes that they cannot afford anymore to bail out the big banks that have defrauded us and everyone (except the fat cats) is already tightening their belts so much that they are choking at the thought of yet another bail-out, do we really need to pay more than we have to?

We need change in this country, and by change I don't mean to replace Brian by Enda, by change I mean to take this whole system apart and rebuilt it bit by bit, ensuring that there is no way anyone can ever defraud us again. I guess that is never going to happen and I'm just being naive, but at least I got this out of the way, now I can go back and bury my little head into the sand again.

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