Thursday, 28 May 2015

Equality for All - Really?

David Begg: The high turnout and the active involvement of so many campaigning groups, especially the engagement of young people, in the referendum on gay marriage conveys a strong impression of active citizenship and undoubtedly enhances Ireland’s image as a modern progressive democracy. By coincidence this theme of citizenship and how it measures up to the ideals of 1916 featured at a conference organised by the Wheel, an NGO support organisation, in the week before the referendum.

TASC exists to challenge inequality and to promote the concept of a flourishing society. This is the context in which any discussion of what citizenship is about needs to be located.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Good News on Jobs

Paul Sweeney: There is good news on the jobs front. But we should never have had such a collapse in the economy and jobs. The job of economists and policymakers should be to make economic performance boring.

Employment should match population changes, economic development should meet our material and social needs and provide equitable taxation to fund great public services.

There should never be the rapid rises and falls in growth, in unemployment and in taxation and consequently in public services.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

TTIP is not a conventional free trade agreement

David Begg: Since the collapse of the DOHA round of multilateral trade negotiations the focus of global trade policy has shifted towards regional or 'plurilateral' agreements involving groups of countries.

The United States is the main driving force behind this initiative with the aim of being at the centre of an integrated trade zone, covering nearly two-thirds of the global economy and almost 65 per cent of US goods trade, according to the US Council of Economic Advisors (Wolf, 2015).

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Employers' Social Contributions in Ireland

Paul Sweeney: Here on Progressive Economy, we have been examining the evidence for tax reform in recent months. In my last Blog I looked at employees’ social insurance and here I examine employers’ social insurnace.

Is Ireland “the best little country in which to do business”? It has the lowest corporation taxes in the EU, no corporation taxes for some multinationals who chose to use aggressive tax planning and very low social charges on employers.  And we had very low average income tax rates though they were increased – but only to the OECD average since the Crash of 2008.

Social Contributions in EU as % of GDP (source Eurostat) from Cherishing All Equally

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Capital Markets Union – The Risk of Short-Termism

David Begg: The European Commission believes that European Capital Markets are underdeveloped. It considers that this is an aspect of the single market which needs deepening and more integration. Commissioner Katainen said recently that the goal of policy would be to create a Capital Markets Union in which the flow of capital will increase allowing business to expand and providing more options for people to save for their old age, and strengthen financial stability. With a still fragile banking system carrying €900 billion of uncertain debt this makes perfect sense, or does it?

Friday, 8 May 2015

A Polanyian double movement in Europe? Too early to say

David Begg: On Tuesday 5th May Professor Eduardo Silva, from Tulane University, New Orleans, delivered a lecture in Maynooth University on the topic ‘Learning from Latin America: Lessons from the periphery in a time of austerity’. Professor Silva was in Ireland as part of the University’s distinguished visiting scholar’s programme. The core message from the lecture was that neoliberalism and austerity, if pushed beyond certain limits, can lead to social mobilisation and the rise of the left. This is the message from Latin America and Professor Silva challenged his audience to reflect on whether this could happen in Europe, or is Europe different?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

USC cuts will still benefit higher earners

Cormac Staunton: The Government today signalled that instead of changing income tax rates and bands in Budget 2016, they are likely to reduce the 7% ‘middle rate’ of USC for those between €17,500 and €70,000 to 6%.

TASC has developed a model to measure the effect of such changes on net incomes and effective tax rates (USC, PRSI and income tax) for a single person on any given gross income level. Here I use this model to show the impact of a reduction in the middle USC rate from 7% to 6% and assume all other rates and bands are left the same. We can then see who the winners are in this scenario.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Why May 7th is crucial for Ireland

David Begg:  There has always been a paradox of sorts affecting Ireland’s engagement with the prospect of European Integration. With few honourable exceptions Ireland’s elite was never much concerned with a big vision of Europe. Economic considerations and the assertion of our independence tended to dominate. But herein lies the paradox.

While we might have seen the EEC initially, and subsequently the EU, as a means of consolidating our independence from Britain, it was equally seen as vital to our interests to have Britain also engaged in Europe. We had to sit on the sidelines with Britain for a year in the early 1970’s when its application to join the EEC was initially turned down. Likewise our joining the single currency was predicated on a belief that Britain too would ultimately join.

It is this interdependence with Britain which makes the General Election of the 7th May of such interest to Ireland.