Slí Eile: "Why, then, is there such an emphasis on cutting public expenditure and on the McCarthy Report (when services in health, education, prisons and so on are often so inadequate), and so little emphasis on the Report of the Commission on Taxation?’ asks Jesuit Gerry O’Hanlon at a recent Citizenship service in Dublin. He goes on to say:
'Given the behavior of our banks, given NAMA, why are we talking about reducing social welfare rates, in effect suggesting that ‘Ireland’s poorest people are being forced to pay for the recklessness and corrupt activity of a number of extremely wealthy people and institutions’ (Social Justice Ireland, Budget 2010)
The entire talk can be downloaded here.
It is a case of forgive us our debts but not as we forgive those who owe us – prison for non-repayment of loans and fines and bail outs for those at the top of the pile.
Quite correctly the Jesuit did not mince his words in drawing on liberation theology:
‘Truly all this is a social dis-grace’
He does also endorse public sector reform and draws attention to the ‘fact’ that ‘we’ have been paying ourselves ‘too much in both public and private sectors’ (well depends on who the ‘we’ is … but he is right if you look at the big earners in each sector). As Garret Fitzgerald keeps saying we are an under-taxed country as Government focuses exclusively on cutting spending (and to a large extent Fine Gael as it plumps for a ratio of 3:1 on spending cuts: tax hikes within the annual €4bn fiscal adjustment that the three major political parties are now committed to (part of the Dublin Consensus now melded into a Brussels-Paris-Washington Consensus for the Irish = cut your way out and do it by 2014).
Finally, Noel Coghlan, has some thoughtful things to say in a recent article in Studies(‘What now for Ireland?’). It deserves to be read in its entirety here.
He observes that ‘A low tax economy had relentlessly dismantled the social safety nets upon which so many now depend.’
But we have seen nothing yet. All the fuss over how much blood will be drained out of Welfare, Health and Education (the big Social Three) this year is only one year in a now-to-be five year purgatory to lead us back to fiscal balance and competitiveness. The poor don’t count. In an eloquent display of positivist economics, Jim O’Leary, in a piece directly aimed at the ICTU, reminded us last Friday ‘Notions of Fairness Should not Dictate Fiscal Policy’ Don’t worry. They don’t.