Monday, April 15, 2013

Justin Bieber's perfectly judged comment on Anne Frank - "Hopefully she would have been a belieber"

Justin Bieber stirs up trouble with Anne Frank comment

Justin Bieber has stirred up more trouble for himself with his comment in the visitor's book at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I just wish I could understand why there's any controversy.

Bieber wrote: "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber." The world has been going to town on poor lil Justin ever since.

For the past few days I've seen the headlines and the tweets about Bieber's remarks. Many were outraged and others were just mocking him. I only got around to reading his actual words this morning and my reaction was, "Wow! That's actually an intelligent and thoughtful and mature comment. What's the problem?"

I get the mocking - what a conceited, arrogant so and so - thanks to that last line about from Bieber that he hopes Anne Frank "would have been a belieber." I just don't think he was being arrogant or conceited at all.

Bieber is 19 years old and millions of teenage and pre-teen girls world-wide absolutely adore him. He's obviously aware of that. During the years Anne Frank was writing her diary she was right in that age bracket. His comment acknowledges these facts.

Bieber could have done the teenage thing and written, "How sad" and left. It would have been a perfectly judged - and empty - gesture. Words without meaning, unthinkingly scribbled down. That would have been conceited.

lieber didn't do that. Although we see Bieber and his fellow teeny-boppers as cartoon characters, my guess is that Bieber was moved by his experience at the Anne Frank House. It probably struck him that Anne Frank could have, indeed should have, had the chance to be a teeny-bopper worshiping young girl.

She should have had the chance to be a 'belieber.' Young girls should get the chance to be 'beliebers' rather than living in cupboards, dreading the day when the Gestapo finally discovers them and ships them off to Bergen-Belsen to meet a gruesome death.

Furthermore, Bieber wasn't presumptive and arrogant despite the outrage and derision. He used the word "hopefully" indicating that he didn't assume Anne Frank would have been a 'belieber,' but if she had been a 'belieber' he would have been honored. He couldn't have said it any better.

Here's  Anne Frank House in Amsterdam's tweet:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Irish property tax problem - everyone wants to own some and no one wants to be taxed on it

Ireland's controversial property tax has the nation in a frenzy
Ireland's controversial property tax has the nation in a frenzy
Every country has its quirks. God knows America has the odd one or two. Well, Ireland is no different.

One Irish quirk seems to be property: it's an obsession. Maybe it's some national collective memory dating back to the evictions and the famine, etc. Maybe it's just that most people are only two generations removed from subsistence farming. I don't know.

Whatever the cause, the Irish are obsessed with property.

It was this obsession that fueled the property buying frenzy that broke first the banks, then the nation and has left hundreds of thousands of Irish families over-borrowed, under-waged and facing years of negative equity on their homes. 

It's not just that Irish people want to own their own home. I can understand that. 

It's that so many Irish people want to invest in property. This is why banks which would would cast a cold eye on lending money for a venture in information technology or new food products were falling over themselves to lend money to property developers. This is why people who would never consider investing in the stock market invested what they had - or often what they borrowed - to buy property with a view to renting it out. 

They gobbled up “buy to let” properties all over Ireland, in Britain, in Spain, in Florida, even in Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania – just about anywhere. If someone was selling a time-share in Timbuktu there was an Irishman there with his checkbook. Like I said, it's a national quirk.

So now, possibly in a bid to correct this quirk, our economic and financial overlords, also known as the Troika, also known as the ECB, EU and IMF, declared that we must have a property tax. And, thus, we now have a residential property tax.

I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but in my 20+ years of living in Ireland there has never been a tax on people's homes. Needless to say, people are not pleased with this new tax. They're already struggling to pay the old taxes so as you can imagine people aren't best pleased at this further invasion of their wallets. There are even some organized protests against the property tax.

This is where Ireland's relationship with property gets even quirkier. Those groups organizing protests against Ireland's new property tax include … labor unions. There's even a teachers' union opposed to the property tax.  I never thought I'd see the day when a teachers' union would oppose a hike in property tax. 

Then there's my favorite. The Socialist Party is opposed to the property tax. Let me say that again, but read it slower: The Socialist Party is opposed to the property tax. That is, they're  against it, not happy with it, would rather see it go away. The Socialist Party. 

I've been shaking my head in disbelief at this information ever since the leaflet came through the door the other night. I mean, a property tax is basically a tax on wealth and the Socialist Party is opposed to it. They love taxes and government spending so, …, are they just happier to have the taxes come from earnings rather than wealth? 

Ireland's socialists have to be the only socialists on the planet opposed to the property tax. Amuses me no end. I only wish I'd have come up with this description of the phenomenon: “Tea Party socialists.” That sums it up perfectly.