Monday, 30 March 2015

The Value of Nothing

Cormac Staunton: A serious suggestion doing the rounds at the moment is that we should have an independent body that costs political party manifestos so that politicians can’t mislead voters with unrealistic promises of tax cuts or spending increases. This is important, but if we are to do it, we need to do it right.

Planning permissions show how little we've learnt

Paul Sweeney: This Infographic on planning permissions, published by the CSO last week, tells a lot about the Irish economy and Irish people.

Source: Central Statistics Office 

On the top left we can see that there were fewer than 2,000 applications granted for new houses in the last quarter of last year compared to a staggering 10,000 in the end of the boom year 2008. We can safely bet that most of those granted were never built as the crash happened in 2008.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Economic Inequality: Frequently Asked Questions

Cormac Staunton: Since launching our report Cherishing All Equally: Economic Inequality in Ireland we have received a number of questions from a wide range of people interested in the subject. We are encouraged by the level of debate the report has generated and look forward to continuing to discuss this important topic. 

In the meantime, here are our answers to some of the most common questions. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Top Income Tax is at its Lowest Rate

Paul Sweeney: This year, Ireland’s top tax is at its lowest rate for many years. Yet inequality is now recognised as the biggest economic challenge of the 21st Century and progressive tax is one of the key instruments in reducing it. Income tax is probably the most effective progressive tax. Why is the top rate being reduced?

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Incarceration and Equality

Oisín Gilmore: Last month the Oscars got some press attention for the unusually politicized nature of many of the acceptance speeches. While Patricia Arquette’s call for gender wage equality got perhaps the most attention, here I want to look at some recent research relating to an issue raised when the award for best song was given to the movie Selma.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Data on Wealth in Ireland

Paul Sweeney: There has been no study of the distribution of wealth in Ireland by any government body until recently. Now the CSO has undertaken such a study which examines net and gross wealth and its distribution. It can be found here

There was substantial wealth destruction in the Crash of 2008, and this impacts on current levels of wealth today and will do so for some time because the debts incurred by some subtracts from overall net wealth.

This perhaps is the most interesting lesson from the CSO study. It is that had we not had the seven bubble years from 2001 to the crash in 2008, Ireland and a lot of our people would be a lot better off. This is best illustrated by negative equity, the person in a home for which they paid a great deal more than its present value. The debts built up in that period greatly reduced the net assets accumulated in the good years.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Arguments for a gendered investment plan

Paula Clancy: As a consequence of austerity policies the programme for gender equality in Ireland has been hard hit.  Ursula Barry’s recent TASC paper ‘Gender Equality and Economic Crisis: Ireland and EU’ highlights how gender equality in Ireland has been marginalised as an employment policy objective. This is similar to what is happening in Europe more generally, exemplified by the absence of a gender equality guidelines in the most recent 2010-2020 European Employment Strategy (EES).

Since the crisis women have been more exposed to pay freezes, job cuts and reduced pension entitlements.  Women have been more affected by cuts to public services since they are the more likely to depend on these services and women are also more likely to assume the extra unpaid work resulting from cuts to public services (European Commission, 2012).

Don’t sell, buy: Paul Sweeney on Aer Lingus in Irish Times

Paul Sweeney, Chair of TASC's Economists' Network, wrote a strong opinion piece on Aer Lingus in The Irish Times on Friday, 6th of March 2015.

You can read it here (behind a paywall)

Friday, 6 March 2015

Mathematically Progressive or Socially Progressive?

Cormac Staunton: You don’t measure how peaceful an area is by counting the number of peacekeepers. If anything, the presence of peacekeepers is an indicator of war, not peace.

We have heard lately from various sources that Ireland has “the most progressive tax and transfer system in the OECD”. This measure refers to Ireland’s income inequality before and after taxes and transfers are taken into account.

But is this a measure of peace or of peacekeepers?