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category national | bin tax / household tax / water tax | opinion/analysis author Thursday March 29, 2012 00:06author by jim traversauthor email jimtravers at eircom dot net Report this post to the editors

Why we should not pay this charge

What sort of a nation of people do we have when nearly 500,000 householders decide to pay a charge that is directly aimed at the most vulnerable and stressed incomes in our society.

500.000 confirm why Ireland is in such as mess.

Paying the household charge pays for local services such as libraries the maintenance of parks and all the other good things local authorities up and down the country provide for our quality of life and enjoyment . On the face of it one would wonder why so many people object to paying the household charge, yet right across the country nearly 1.2 million people have either reservations about paying the charge or totally object to any form of tax on the household. If the supply of water to households was to suddenly stopped, would those who find objection to this tax suddenly mellow and capitulate under the stench of rotting waste. Would they suddenly come to their senses and realise that in order to provide services, local authorities must have the financial resources at their disposal in order to provide such services? One would think on the face of it that Household and Water Charge campaign protesters are being a little bit selfish in their objection to paying for services that are in their own interest. Furthermore they are being a bit irresponsible by urging others to follow their example in not paying the charge. If we were to believe Phil Hogan or even Enda and Eamon in their assertion that the charge is in the interest of everybody then one would wonder why so many people have decided to say ‘No’. on the other hand it is suddenly becoming very noticable that as the 31st of March draws closer, a number of local auhtorities now openly seek public support for the household charge by reminding members of the public that jobs may be lost and services will be curtailed should they fail to pay the charge. Suddenly jobs are at stake, services are in danger and noncompliance is really not an option.

When one thinks of the thousands of elderly people around the country who will be forced to pay this household charge out of a pension politicians consider as just pocket money, one would then have to ask the question 'What sort of a nation of people do we have when nearly 500,000 householders decide to pay a charge that is directly aimed at the most vulnerable and stressed incomes in our society. Ordinary working people who were hoodwinked into purchasing homes that were grossly overvalued, as the government of the day held its arms out to the wads of cash secured from stamp duty, vat and other charges that were directly or indirectly paid by the purchasers of new and secondhand homes. With all this going on all around us, politicians were lining their own pockets from back handers and brown envelopes that were awash during the Celtic Tiger years. How much more do we have to take from those in political power before work becomes a liability for all those who are lucky to have a job? What is the point in working or holding a mortgage when politicians are hell bent on making any form of individual self responsibility inhibited by taxes and charges that promote a declining economy. Politicians in the three main political parties are now united in support of this household charge, simply because the were all complicit in the downfall of this nation and now find no other way to drag the country out of the abyss in a way that will not financially affect their own personal financial stability. Phil Hogan will not be loosing sleep or sitting in a cold room when he pays the charge. If the truth is known, as a politician he will find some indirect and behind the scene way of recouping the payment as time passes and everybody forgets. Do the people who find it a struggle to pay this household charge and who have now paid the charge not understand that this is just the first phase of a revenue demand exercise that will be milked to its end. Its no wonder the country is in the state its in today, we have a nation of moaners, begrudgers, licks and sweet talkers who complain about everything but turn a blind eye and find forgivness in the corrupt activities practiced by political leaders since the foundation of the state. Shame on those who paid this household charge. Shame on those who do not want to accept the damage politicians have done to our country and to the thousands of young people who are now forced to leave these shores because of political corruption. Who do these politicians think they are? If the household charge does not reach at least 70% compliance by the 31st of March then this shows dissatisfaction and a lack of confidence by the people in their government. This in turn must warrant the calling for a general election and a mandate from the Irish people to impose a variety of taxes and charges. Let us forget about all this EU nonsense and lets start looking after the good of the Irish people first.

As a member of the Labour Party I decided to email Labour Party TD’s and ask them to answer a straight forward question: If the Bloggs family home has a combined income of €900 each week, Joe Bloggs has a mortgage of €1400 each month for his house, he also pays €120 (Tax, insurance and fuel) each week towards driving his car back and forward to work, has two children who go to school and is struggling to pay his normal utility bills from week to week. He is not entitled to a free hospital services and doctor card and finds it a decision making exercise to either turn on the central heating or hold back and save the money for a rainy day. I then ask, how in the name of the Almighty God can this or any government demand that Joe Bloggs pays a household charge of €100 as an initial payment until it gets it act together and starts to demand money at its every whim. To this question I got two replies, one from Eamon himself, a reply that went around the world and came back again without an answer. And an answer from another Labour TD who gave me the same around the world answer as if the answer was well rehearsed and placed in laminate just in case constituents get a bit pushy and ask for answers.

One would wonder what must go short in the Blogg’s family home in order to satisfy this initial demand from politicians who can well afford to hand out €100 at the drop of a hat. Who is living in the real world and who is really being made a scapegoat for the blunders and corruption of those in power? I once thought the introduction of bin charges was precisely for the purpose of financing local services, yet local authorities very quickly got rid of the same services in anticipation of the new household charge. Not only did they get rid of waste collection services, Dublin City Council underhandedly handed the service and names of its customers to a private waste collection company (Greyhound) who immediately set about using its muscle to coerce customers into something they had no option but to accept. This is what privatisation does for the good of business but not for people. Once local authorities make this levy a personal household charge (rates) it will be far easier for the same local authorities to make ever increasing rises to those charges, rises that cannot be challenged, rises that will make it far easier for local authorities to use their muscle in forcing people to capitulate to their demands. The most alarming aspect of allowing local authorities to collect rates from householders is in the levels of corruption, sleaze and the misappropriation of revenues once local authorities are give the sole authority and status as Gods. The Mahon Tribunal provides us with classical examples where councillors used their influence and power to corruptly influence planning decisions. Politicians may give an assurance that this will not happen, but going on past experience with a local authority, I can safely say that heavy handed tactics is not new to such authorities. Politicians and resigning from their political parties, councillors being expelled from the same political parties is just a lip service exercise aimed at providing the general public with an imaginary belief that a cleanout is in operation and a new and fresh political direction is in motion with honest, dedicated and trustworthy political representatives holding the reigns. We had all this type of nonsense in the past, what makes this time any different?

So why should I pay the household charge? Well the findings of the Mahon Tribunal give me every reason for not paying the charge. The levels of corruption in Irish political life since the foundation of the state gives me even more reason to say ‘No’. The self sanctioned pay rise Enda recently gave himself along with his socialist comrade Eamon, tells ordinary working people that you can have all the tribunals you like in this country, but when it comes to politicians feathering their nests then tribunals are just a means of paying legal people for a job well done. Legislation can be introduced overnight when it comes to taking revenue from ordinary citizen in this state. When it comes to handing out real justice on behalf of the people, well that is another day’s work. What really bothers ordinary people is the callous way politicians go about running the country as if people really do not matter. If Mary Jones kids do not have a dinner, then what matter, so long as the EU/ECB and IMF are paid and Irish politicians can continue to milk the system until the day when they have to ask for another loan to tide the country over for another few months? People have taken enough and can take no more. There is a growing level of inequality in Irish society, an inequality that is being accelerated by this government and backed by the economic decisions made by the troika. Irrespective of how long Irish politicians think it will take to get this country out of the financial mess others plunged us into, one thing is absolutely certain, Ireland will never regain its independent sovereignty. I say this because it would appears that the overall purpose of the exercise in Irish indebtedness and bailout is geared towards Ireland becoming a dependent state within a united states of Europe. As it is we are now unofficially governed from German. When the German people are provided with budgetary information relating to Ireland long before the Irish people are given that information by their government, then this fact alone says volumes about the desire by Irish politicians to introduce taxes irrespective of what the Irish people say.

Politicians look towards the rest of Europe and say that they all have property taxes. They constantly make comparison with selective tax regimes that exist in Europe but conveniently forget to mention all the other things that make Ireland’s tax regime over the top. Motor tax in Northern Ireland is £100, yet in the Republic of Ireland motor taxation is at a criminal level and is a constant target for ever increasing tax hikes. In England and Northern Ireland roads are constructed at least eight inches thick, hence good motorways and dual carriageways. In the Republic of Ireland that thickness drops to four inches, hence pot holes, constant resurfacing and a bad return for motorist who are fleeced by their government. Lenihan (yet another patriot) in one foul swoop introduced the Universal Social Charge, a charge that once again is criminal, a charge that was imposed on the people without an impact assessment being undertaken on the social consequences that would emerge within families as a result of declining incomes. In the UK they have the NHS, in Ireland it’s the HSE- no comparison. Irish citizens are now travelling to the UK in order to receive medical treatment that would take months if not years to get in Ireland. Where have all our taxes gone? Brian Hayes TD tells us we have no choice, but this is not true. At one time we were told that the €3.1 billion was non-negotiable, we are now told that our European masters are looking favourably at a request from the Irish government for a deferment of that payment. Why suddenly now. Why such a quick change of direction. Could it be that it is now clear to those who control our country that the Irish people have decided they are taking no more and are openly defying their government and may possibly reject the referendum on the fiscal treaty? Are we being handed a carrot to bite so that the next phase of austerity can be rammed down the people’s throat. If the government has not got the money to run the country then how in the name of God do they believe that the people have it to give? What we really have here is a government unwilling to take the necessary action that will call Europe’s bluff. Iceland made a stand and did not cave into the pressure of capitalists who would have preferred Iceland go down the same slippery slope as Ireland. Iceland is now emerging from its economic downturn stronger and more confident that ever before. Yes the Icelandic people had to struggle during the re-emergence of its economy but at least its politicians provided the people with a light at the end of the tunnel. Our politicians continue to be in continuous denial that their economic strategy for Ireland’s recovery is flawed, yet everybody except politicians can see that Ireland will never make a recovery under the economic strategy currently being pursued by this government.

If one million people say they are not paying this charge then what next? Brian Hayes and Phil Hogan seem to think that irrespective of what people think; in the long run they do not have a choice. As with previous referendums ‘No’ does not mean ‘No’ once politicians want ‘yes’ as the answer. So what about the principles of democracy? Are these principles also based on what the state interprets as being democracy? Can Enda or Eamon (the so-called socialist), for that matter honestly ignore the anger of the people by ramming this tax down their throats? Are Fine Gael and Labour only doing what Fianna Fail would have done if it had retained power? Is there really any difference between main stream Irish political parties? What really is an Irish opposition party? Eamon has shown the people that Labour is not really a socialist party. It’s a party of convenience that hovers around socialist ideologies but when push comes to shove is really a party of the right. There are many ways to resolve the current impasse that bedevils this government if only the government worked more in the interest of all the people instead of some of the people. The household tax is being resisted by ordinary people because they see politicians lead not by example but by force, coercion and threat. They see politicians milking the system dry, as the same politicians do not ask but tell the people that they must pay for the crimes of others. I will not be paying this household charge on principle, why should I? While I and others like myself struggle to pay ever increasing bills, Enda, Eamon, Brian, Bertie, Mary, Willie, Lucinda and the rest of the cosy political cartel, live as if the economic recession happened to everyone else in Ireland except the political elite and their corporate friends. Political leaders insulted the people by offering to return miniscule amounts of their salaries to the exchequer as their contribution to saving the country. Within weeks they were handing themselves perks left, right and centre, appointing buddies despite telling the people they were getting rid of quangos. The only promise they made to the people was to make their lives more difficult, this they kept to their word.

In past budgets little people at the bottom of the ladder got crumbs in order for the people at the top to get loaves. Taxation was never tackled from the top down, as it should be tackled. Instead politicians piled confusion on top of more confusion that led to a system that is totally dysfunctional, unfair and divisive. When you really think of it, Irish politicians with all their qualifications associated with other professions, have made a complete and total mess of the country and that blame must be equally shared amongst all the main political parties in the state. Put it another way, if the actions of our political leaders were mirrored imaged in commercial entities around the world then most certainly those companies would have long gone out of business or those responsible would have long been sacked and replaced. Irish politicians have done our country what appears to be the ultimate injustice and have closed the country down as a going concern. We now see members of this capitalist coalition government grovelling on their hands and knees to a once hated communist country (China) in its plea to be dug out of the quagmire. In all the drivel and nonsense of a united Europe under the banner of the European Union, the Union does not appear to be coming up trumps when members find themselves in deep stump. At one time the landing of any Russian aircraft at Shannon airport was a step too far for any Irish government to contemplate. Nowadays, our government not only seeks closer relations with Russia but with Cuba, yea Cuba, a country that was hated by America as an evil empire, yet the health system in Cuba would put any western health system to shame. Despite all the horrible communist drivel, red nonsense, human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of travel, western capitalist governments would do business with the devil if it meant the possibility of restoring old capitalist ways. As with all our banks, when they feck everything up the state steps in, pump billions of taxpayers money into reviving a lost cause only to hand it back to the same gangsters who caused the problem in the first place when life is finally restored. Best keep the banks under state control and in the interest of all the people.

Coming close to the final deadline for payment of the household charge very many questions have yet to be answered. As long as one can remember we have always been lectured about our right to be given a receipt when we purchase something, yet at the drop of a hat we are told that a receipt will not be given. In other words those who handed over money to this new collection agency have absolutely no knpowledge nor guarantee what will become of their hard earned contribution. Phil Hogan has confirmed that the collection of the household charge in one local authority area may not necessarily mean that the money collected will go directly to the provision of services in that local authority. In other words the money collected will go directly into a slush fund, a fund that will be as shady as everything that has happened in the past once politicians and councillors have control of the funds with their sticky fingers.There is no guarantee that once this household charge is up and running that the government wont introduce a range of other levies to compliment the household charge.

This charge has to be paid, no questions asked and no excuses. It is appalling to think that in this day and age when the supposedly democratic right of the individual is sacrosanct , our political leaders are directly threatening every citizen in the state with reprocussions and consequeces should they decide to exercise their democratic right through numbers to refuse to pay this charge. But what about the elderly citizens in this corrupt state, can Phil, Enda or Eamon tell us how elderly citizens are supposed to pay the charge without starving themselves to death? I feel really sick at the thought of having to pay this charge, not because I do not want the country to emerge from this recession strong and productive, but because I do not thrust nor believe politicians, all politicians based on a past track record. It is very easy for Phil Hogan, Enda and Eamon to brush off all arguements that justify the many reasons for not paying the household charge. If by Saturday the 31st of March 2012 over one million people pay the household charge then all I can say is that the Irish people get the politicians they deserve. If the household charge is successful then Irish politicians are simply a representation of what the people are in themselves. No point in complaining, ye had your chance and like your political representative, ye blew it when your chance was just right.

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   some related thoughts     lefty    Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:13 

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