Recently, Irish Times columnist, John Waters, did a really, really, stupid thing.
Writing in the Irish Mail on Sunday (January 22) Mr. Waters describes how he was browsing the Web when he was confronted with a pop-up competition, which, he writes ‘I was impelled to engage with’.
After clicking on a proffered answer to a quiz question Waters was invited to submit his mobile phone number which, and this is where the stupidity comes in, he did.
Immediately Waters was sucked into the murky, unregulated underworld of mobile phone rip-offs that ultimately cost him up to €200.
Now it might be argued that this could happen to anybody, indeed, it obviously happens to lots of people which is why most, if not all, phone companies are engaged in these sleazy practices.
But waters was doubly stupid because five years previously his daughter was the victim of a very similar rip-off.
She had texted her number to a TV advert which allowed criminals (Waters’ word) to steal over €150 from her account.
Waters eventually managed to get his daughters money refunded but only after a great deal of hassle and stress dealing with organisations like the offending phone company, Comreg, Regtel and the Department of Communications.
Here’s how he described the situation:
I discovered that this practice was widespread. So-called ‘premium-rater’ telephone companies were seemingly able to take money from someone’s mobile phone account with total impunity, even though no service had ever been requested and none supplied.
On top of this stupidity Waters goes on (unwittingly) to admit that he is extremely naïve and disturbingly ignorant (especially for a journalist) when it comes to his knowledge of how things are done in the (corrupt) state of Ireland.
Apparently Waters is one of those people who labour under the delusion that Irish regulators are there to serve the interests of the people, to make sure that citizens are protected against the ruthless activities of white-collar criminals.
On the off chance that Mr. Waters may at some point read this article I feel impelled to spell out the brutal reality.
So-called regulators, at best, consist of comfortable freeloaders, almost always appointed by politicians, who are expert only in drawing down their lottery sum salaries and expenses while regurgitating the same glossy annual report, which invariably paints a picture of absolute happiness across the land.
They exist for only one reason – to create the pretence that Ireland is a functional, well-regulated democracy.
These so-called regulators have just two priorities.
To do as their political masters instruct and to become expert in waffling to the general public about the great job they’re doing.
At worst, so-called regulators actively work to protect and indeed facilitate white- collar criminals no matter what the crime, no matter how much damage is inflicted on Ireland and its people.
How can I make such a statement with such confidence? Simple, I just look at the record, over, say the last thirty years, of endemic white-collar crime.
How many so-called regulators have independently uncovered white-collar crime in the last thirty years – None.
How many prosecutions have been taken by so-called regulators against white-collar criminals in the last thirty years – Very, very few.
How many white-collar criminals have been jailed in the last thirty years – Very, very few.
How many major white-collar criminals have been prosecuted and/or jailed over the last thirty years – None, absolutely none.
The most disturbing aspect of Mr. Waters’ article is his total ignorance of the depth of corruption in Ireland. The headline on his article reads:
Since when is larceny not just legal but admirable?
I can answer that question very precisely.
Larceny of the white-collar variety became legal and admired in December 1979 when John Waters’ hero, the criminal politician Haughey, came to power.
It was at that ignominious moment that Ireland and its people began the catastrophic slide into poverty and loss of sovereignty, a situation that will destroy the lives of Irish citizens for generations to come.
It is a genuine tragedy for Ireland that influential people like Mr. Waters are unable or are unwilling to accept the brutal reality that Ireland is an intrinsically corrupt state.
It is worth quoting the final few chapters of Mr. Waters’ article because it sums up his ignorance of the reality that our political system is corrupt and that the rotten system has spread the disease of corruption throughout all levels of Irish society.
It is as though many people now take it as read that Ireland has become a paradise for shysters and robbers.
I must have dropped off for a few years because I have no memory of this dramatic shift in Irish culture being discussed and ushered in.
Mr. Waters is admitting that he has no memory of the very serious political and financial white-collar crime that has been endemic over the last thirty years.
I still had these old-fashioned notions that stealing was illegal and even conceivably wrong and that the State had a responsibility to protect its citizens from crooks. Silly me.
Yes Mr. Waters, silly you.