A referendum on pairing magpies: superstition and economic policy

The Irish Independent is reporting that the:

Government is to bring in a new licence-plate system next year amid fears that a ’13’ registration number would hit car sales.

Cars registered between January and the end of June will have a ‘131’ registration. Those from July 1 to the end of the year will have ‘132’ on the plate.

The decision is based partly on fears that superstition about a ’13’ reg would affect sales and partly in response to the motor industry’s plea to spread sales more evenly across the year.

The main source for this proposed change is the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (althought it’s not on their website). This story had also appeared earlier in the year, when Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae told the Journal.ie:

“There’s people now who, we’ll say, always change their cars every two, three or four years,” Healy-Rae told TheJournal.ie.

“Take you, for instance – you might be one of these men who change their car every three years, and 2013 is your year to change.

“People like you are after going to the garages and saying they’ll wait until the next year” before replacing their cars, he added, simply because they did not want to drive cars carrying a number which is often thought to be unlucky.

Healy-Rae said car deals had already approached him to raise their concerns, which in turn had been fuelled by remarks from prospective car buyers who felt it might be bad luck to drive cars with the number 13 on them.

An internet poll (with just under 3000 votes), also on the Journal.ie showed that only 4% of people believed that the 13 number should not be used. While there is no definitive government statement on this (the main source appearing to be SIMI), there is more than a whiff of economic last chance saloon about the comments.

Having realised that superstition is the key to the economy, perhaps the government should breach it’s special advisers pay cap again to get in a top mystic, or perhaps an astrologer?

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