Tuesday, 17 March 2009

They've gotta pay just to pray today

Many of us are aware of the Irish authorities’ penchant for slapping charges and taxes on things. We have one of the highest rates of VAT, for instance, which stands at 21.5%. We have a tax on our credit cards. We have a cheque-book tax. We have a tax on bank deposit account interest. We have an income levy. We have a 2% charge on insurance premiums. We are obliged to pay income tax – or at least those of us who are part of the PAYE sector are (to the tune of €10 billion of the total €13.5 billion income-tax take in 2007).

We have property stamp duty, which goes as high as 9%. Then there are the assorted taxes on motorists: road tax, for example, which can cost as much as €2,000 a year to affix a paper disk on our windscreens . Also, we have Vehicle Registration Tax which adds up to 30% on top of a car's price (plus VAT, of course). And none of that exempts us from road tolls, as we pay those too. Don't forget park & ride charges if we opt for the misery of public transport – assuming any is available where we live.

Then we must pay bin charges to have our rubbish collected. And there's a TV licence fee, to choose not to look at the rubbish programmes on RTE, one of the worst public broadcasters in Europe (who also, incidentally, run adverts). To cap it all, we have the Government constantly telling us we are fortunate to live in a "low-tax economy". Well, it might be "low-tax" for the US multinationals and Bono - but it's not for us.

However, it is nice to see a tax that Gombeen Man can agree with for once – a prayer tax. Any of us who lived our young lives in fear of random violence or buggery when undergoing education/attempted indoctrination in our Catholic-run State schools, or any of us whose teenage years were spent fretting if we'd ever get to have a shag in a country that did not even officially have sex, will be gladdened to hear that Mayo County Council is charging the devout as they park their cars to clamber up Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain (let’s ignore the “another tax on motorists” angle for now).

It seems that the faithful will not only have to endure the agony of having their feet cut to ribbons by the mountain’s razor-sharp scree as they ascend its heights in pursuit of closer communion with (what they believe to be) their maker - they will now have the added misery of coughing up a “pay to pray” charge for the privilege. And what better way of reinforcing the martyrdom of the occasion for the God-bothering bastards, while providing the council with extra revenue?

Maybe we could develop the idea, and tap this potentially rich font of revenue? How about a pay-per-view/listen Angelus?

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Netgeek said...

I seem to remember (from reading about it in Beyond Belief) that climbing this particular lump of rocks qualified one for something called a "plenary indulgance" (Nope I havent a scooby what the difference is between a "plenary" indulgance and any of the other types on the market).

So I guess Mayo County Council like to think of it as effectively nationalising the whole indulgance racket.

Now if only Martin Luther had thought of that :-)

Ella said...

It would seem that religion is not just a business but it can also be dangerous and even fatal. See below (taken from The Irish Times of 25.03.09)

A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot.

The 2005 crash at sea off Sicily left survivors swimming for their lives, some clinging to a piece of the fuselage that remained floating after the ATR turbo-prop aircraft splintered upon impact.

A fuel-gauge malfunction was partly to blame but prosecutors also said the pilot succumbed to panic, praying out loud instead of following emergency procedures and then opting to crash-land the plane instead trying to reach a nearby airport.

Another five employees of Tuninter, a subsidiary of Tunisair, were sentenced to between eight and nine years in jail by the court, in a verdict handed down yesterday.

The seven accused, who were not in court, will not spend time in jail until the appeals process has been exhausted.