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Dublin Opinion
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Budget 2012.

category national | miscellaneous | opinion/analysis author Tuesday November 27, 2012 22:53author by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye View Report this post to the editors

Austerity, hope and a collapsing see-saw.

Overheard in Dublin 2. Leaving the rich untouched while bleeding the people dry appears possibly an official policy. Based largely on an assumption that there is 'really no suffering' and those claiming pain are delusional, our leaders suffer little and act accordingly. Three out of our top four ministers were once teachers, they have had long and successful political careers and have never known the suffering that comes from austerity. There is an insidious absence of understanding for those who carry this state, the workers for the most part in the private sector who provide vital services and support through tax for the equally vital services provided by our state. These privately generated taxes are vital, without which there would be not support. The forthcoming budget has apparently not been discussed in An Dáil though is only days away. Joe, walking on Grafton Street describes this as 'pathetic'.

Rumours abound prior to every budget. This year fear abounds while many visualise destitution. The effects that this has on health can become apparent and lead to an increase in fear. This increase is the fear that facilities and benefits will become less while insurance costs more. Sitting in a city central hotel lobby sipping coffee and trying not to imagine this to be the last luxury in my time. Overhearing talk and speculation about the Budget I am consumed by a cocktail of emotion, fear followed by an after taste of amusement with a hint of anxiety and a growing acceptance of what it is that might fill my Christmas.

That overheard makes for interesting listening and I'm almost tempted to order another last beverage before I succumb to the soup kitchens, I don't but maintain the illusion that there is still coffee in my cup. One gent, who shall remain unnamed but looked familiar, a blue shirt, well almost blue and well dressed in a crisp looking suit spoke seriously to his accomplice in this potential crime against the Irish people.
'Fat tax?' he asks.
His accomplice, sitting resplendent with shining pointed shoes and a very fine pinstripe suit pauses before cautiously answering.
'Mmmm, taxing the rich is likely to be of little gain. There are too few to really make a difference and we don't want to frighten them to emigration. But, lets not disregard a fat tax. The poor eat cheap food, too much bread, they cost the health service a great deal.'
He again pauses and his chair protests under his leaning back. He muses.
'Fat tax. OK! I was at the doctor last week, he told me that my BMI is high, my body mass index is well over 25. I spoke with the doctor and he said that one in four children are over weight. In fact a great deal are obese, with a BMI of over 30. He said that I should loose weight. So! I got thinking and your mention of a fat tax is highly timely. Lets get this country in shape! Tax people an additional half a percent for each point over their maximum BMI and one percent for each point over maximum BMI that each of their children are. This protects the health of them and their children by encouraging healthier eating, or..... it makes the revenue more money to invest in the health service.' (Or the bond holders? My addition)
I stooped over and twisted my head to look at them both, thinking that I might see a laugh developing. They were serious but stopped and looked back at me seeking that my intrusion be removed. My coffee cup had dried, just like my tongue. I stood and left.

The wealth of speculation as to what this Budget will hold and what ills shall become of our society can be heard in many of the society haunts in the museum quarter of Dublin 2. Not just a lunch time but meetings are being held outside An Dáil in the hope of being discreet. The walls within have ears it appears. Overheard they are and the desperation targets the desperate it seems. I considered his statement, the nameless politic, and thought it good in some regards. However, the absence of a reasonable education for many together with enforced choosing of cheap food combines to create obesity and all the associated ill health. It is no wonder that there is fear. It may well encourage those more able to choose the healthy route, it would possibly be unenforceable, though having considered even this I am aware of the popular contention that revenue law is the only properly enforced law of any kind in Ireland.

Taking from one in order to pay the other without true regard for the all encompassing has no long term effect. Typically, tax is the take and services are the give, where these are in balance there is no improvement and no change in the status of either. Where they are balanced in the favour of citizens there need be no change. However, with this balance being shifted by external means it is typically the services that suffer in the long term. There has in the past ten years been an imbalance towards 'service'. This is where we have allowed overly priced services (high ranking public service salaries as an example, ministers) which is an imbalance. The scales were inevitably to shift and the more dramatic the imbalance the more severe the resulting shift. We know this because we are here. The balance now leans towards the 'take', however this 'take' effects not those who continue to suffer from the previous imbalance (high ranking public service salaries) but many of those who never suffered these privileges. The older poor were less obvious due to the rampant prosperity, but now they are the obvious poor as they are the primary focus of this imbalanced 'take'. They and their expanding kind.

Both the 'take' and its implications are disguised as the countries valiant and awarded efforts to carry 'us' back from the brink. The 'us' referred to remain those still suffering from the previous imbalance and not the general people who continue to genuinely suffer. Unfortunately it appears ever the case that our economy is being dictated by external forces, those awarding our leaders. (Statues, Time magazine and the Nobel Peace prize). Austerity noted as being successful is enforced by the lenders (those bailing us out) on the condition it appears that the unsecured bond holders are protected, are they in truth one and the same? This world (it is not confined to Ireland) protects best those who need the least protection. Conversely, it protects least those who need protection the most.

Watch carefully for the smoke screens.

http://weknowmemes.com/2012/02/buy-one-fish-and-chips-f...free/

Are we being duped into a false hope with the repeated claims of our success while suicides rise?

Related Link: http://weknowmemes.com/2012/02/buy-one-fish-and-chips-f...free/
author by The Equaliser - Ordinary common manpublication date Thu Nov 29, 2012 13:17Report this post to the editors

Reading your posting I am a little bit confused. We are talking here about the coming Budget 2012 and the austerity that will be shoved down Irish citizens throats by Kenny and Gilmore on behalf of the headless gobshites in Frankfurt and beyond. I went into your links and I am more baffled because I don't get the point you are making or may I say, with respect, trying to make. So here is my little bit of spiel before next Wednesday.

This coalition is doing exactly what the previous administration did under Biffo. More pain and hardship right across middle Ireland but let us not forget the people who are literally skipping meals especially those on social welfare. These people are being held accountable to pay for bondholders that took gambles and lost and yet had a guarantee sanctioned by the previous FF-Greens and now being continuously being implemented by Kenny and Gilmore also known as the Frankfurt Muppets. You see Vogel two men sitting down in a cafe having a latte is a far cry from what ordinary people are going to face next Wednesday under the Muppet Regime. Last Saturday I attended the march and the anger among people was as strong as I have ever experienced in my life. I also have to say that Jack O'Connor Beggs and the rest of the so-called cosy cartel trade unionists should not back Gilmore with more austerity being put on the backs of Irish citizens. People are finding it hard to live. In the last three years there have been approximately 27 suicides in the taxi business alone. If this is not a warning sign of how society in Ireland is suffering in 2012 then what will it take for this Muppet Government to stand up and tell Frankfurt to fuck off. Also who would ever have predicted in the year 2012 that Ireland would be back to the soup kitchens of over 100 years ago. We came a long way to go backwards.

Equaliser

author by Glimmer man - Budget 2012 No to Austeritypublication date Thu Nov 29, 2012 15:51Report this post to the editors

Gale

You speak of the cocktail of emotions but the over-riding image I get is that of Fear of what lies ahead and what is actually being suffered by people in the now as a consequence of this economic depression and onslaught from those greedy lenders of the ECB and Troika brigade. Their austerity is causing much dissent in our EU aspiration leaving many of our once successful entrepreneurs, our young people, our investors who are badly burnt from investing in the stock market or property, our elderly people mesmerised and in fear of what is to happen to them. Mr O'Regan is the latest example of what taking risk engenders - you appear to succeed but then if the monster of recession takes over - the outcome can be suicide of a father, a husband and in reality a loss that society does not want. Let's get real. We are all focused on the cost, the arithmetic, the maths, we have lost out on the importance of quality of lives and this we urgently need to revive to help us trounce this recession effectively.

I agree with your assessment of the present Government. Too many of them are teachers/professionals and entrenched politicians for decades now with pensions, double and even triple which blinkers them to the focus of a horse. Muppets is probably a complement because their bias is real and they have a majority in the Dail and can lead the way or so it seems at present.

Somewhere in the annals of Indymedia Ireland the details of earlier budgets are written about. It is interesting to see the change from 2007 to now. The time is here and particularly those of Middle Ireland are really suffering. Education, Finance, Social Protection, Justice & the big hippopotamus that is eating all round it Health are defining the balance sheet that says we are bailed out from bankruptcy and we need to contain our spending in public sector and achieve budget guidelines as determined by the Troika and EU. The fact is people are really suffering now and in particular the people who are vulnerable, the new power, the old, people with disabilities, people who work as carers, one time entrepreneurs but now in crisis, children, the emerging class of NEETS throughout Europe. What is the message? Because there is one thing we know and that is Anomie ie suicide is about making people aware.

Each party are working hard to raise an extra £1.75 Billion for the year. The question is how? The next question is what will be the effect? Will those in the higher income bracket or the wealthy just up and leave the country? What about the multinational companies some of who have an effective tax rate as small as 1 or 2% or maximum Irish corporation tax? Should we examine this and possibly increase our Corporation Tax. The HSE is mammoth. Can we ask the service users to contribute their advice? Maybe a service user should sit on some of the committees and guide them through effective use of funds and possibly they might create the containment necessary in this sick specimen of bureaucracy and inefficiency. We know that failure to keep appointments at Vincents Hospital for one year amounted to a cost of £3.5 m.

Property has become the defining 'identity' that says punishment for home owners. Governments gave the tax incentives for property purchases with the motive of creating employment and giving stimulus. They gave tax advantages for pensions too but also were clever enough to encourage those who did not want to take out a pension an option to buy a property or two instead and then use the asset appreciation as their pension while having the rent in the intervening years. Now this is crisis and people are suffering. According to the Irish Independent today Buy-to-lets is the next crisis upon us. Patrick Honohan, Central Bank urged the banks to act earlier in the year and start closing in and taking over properties of distressed clients. Bank of Ireland are to lead the charge here and if a person in a buy-to-let fails to comply with repayments, they will lose the tracker mortgage and basically their property / ies will be seized......Landlordism removed from Dublin City Council, i.e social housing is the real victim here yet the country according to media is awash with properties that are vacant.

All I know is that before next Wednesday when Minister Noonan stands up to tell us what they propose, it is necessary for the ordinarym plain people of Ireland to communicate their message so that we can pre-empt and avoid undue hardship through ill-advised policies.

The Glimmer Man
Where is the HOPE

author by Ex teacher.publication date Thu Nov 29, 2012 16:56Report this post to the editors

OK! So the administration needs a Fat lump sum to survive. The fat tax normally refers to taxing the wealthy. The hotel would appear to harbour a fat man with a wealthy suit, a minister I suspect. To him the fat tax is a means to exploit the poor and conveniently diverted away from his fat pension / bank account / salary / expenses and possibly the Dails subsidised bar. He, in his creaking chair may be taxed for his obesity.

Gail, is you point that they have not a clue about the suffering. What about the budget?

author by Comyn - Budget 2012 Action Planpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2012 15:29Report this post to the editors

The Budget.

The need to cut the National Debt. What are the facts?

Start with Colm McCarthy, Economist - his article in the Sunday Independent

Year 5 and the deficit remains stubbornly high irrespective of the sustained prescribed austerity measures. We have had both taxation increases and extensive cuts to social welfare in real terms. The pace of the contraction in the Irish economy is unprecedented with as many as 300,000 jobs lost. Our gross national income has fallen 20% since the peak in 2007. The heady days of the Celtic Tiger yielded income to Government coffers through payments by purchasers (on excessively over-valued properties) of stamp duty, add to this the VAT on house sales and then of course the capital gains tax which having been reduced from 40% to 20% still meant the revenue netted huge amounts. This has all fallen away dramatically over the past 5 years. The very least we can expect from this Budget is a provision to create a rebate for those caught with property now in negative equity (from the crisis period in 2007). The amount of stamp duty which in some cases is between the range of £30,000 to £80,000+ morally ought to be repaid to reduce the capital amount of debtors/mortgage holders loans. Do not forget that the stamp duty is part of the loan which is repaid at a variable interest rate for the term of the loan be that 20, 25, 30 yrs?

Back to the balance sheet. What can be done about public expenditure? "Contained" was the word constantly used by George Lee last Monday night TV programme on RTE 1. It's a strong word and it is a good way of tackling the hornets nest of state bureaucracy. There is the solid argument that if we tax these immobile pension driven sectors in the economy the cost will result in a cut back in consumer spending and this in turn causes job losses and thereby a loss in economic growth. There must be a means of stabilising the pendulum extreme position that causes us such hardship to the plain people of Ireland. We have the debt but worse again is the fact that we have the interest burden (based on variable albeit low now tax rates) of servicing the debt. It is that old fashioned compound interest scenario and in our case now it cannot work, the debt we owe as a country must be restructured and like a company that goes into liquidation and where the creditors are seeking what is owed to them, the impossibility of repayment becomes what is relevant. The simple logistics of a failed company (or country) are that the priority creditors ie the Revenue and the Banks are paid first and the creditors are lucky if they get say 20 cents per euro after all expenses are paid to the accountants and wind down costs. We need a dose of clean common sense appraisal fed directly to the Troika, the ECB. It is not sufficient for us to be the model student while Greece can be the real renegade and they get the restructured package.

Ireland is scuppered at present. A Government with borrowing power has the option to use it in a normal cyclical downturn. For Ireland, this all collapsed in Autumn 2010 when we had to be rescued by the EU and IMF. I suppose just like a company, the red column took over and the liquidators moved in. The terms are what they dictate and we must not lose sight of this imposition. Germany took 100 years to pay off the reparations from the World Wars but they are not so generous with terms for errant EU members who overspent. They are not keen on extending time or restructuring yet or for that matter of just writing down a %. If only, they could look to the views or Robert Reich and Joseph Stiglitz in the US and their emphasis on the benefit of stimulus to create the economic growth and thus the employment.

Yes "Containment" We can all well accept that cut backs are necessary for efficiency and effectiveness but there are limits.
The excessive bank rescue costs are one third of the National Debt.
It is income tax (now significantly reduced by outcome of crisis) is the major source of government revenue. The problem is that the public service payroll and social welfare are 70% of all spending. This humbles the contributions from PAYE/PRSI and the latest tax called universal social charge. Hence we stand nearly nakedl in the context of the EU the ECB the IMF and Troika hence we are vulnerable to their power and we all know about absolute power and its capacity to corrupt and let this include moral corruption too. What we have now in Ireland is a moral corruption from our EU neighbours. There are swings and roundabouts in life. Germany drove policy towards low interest rates to empower it to merge with East Germany. These low interest rate returns inflated house prices as people who had money and where banks were deregulated go into over lend created the bubble that burst into catastrophe. Yes I think Ireland deserves a restructuring of its debt especially if we make significant efforts to contain our bloated bureaucracy where necessary.

Common sense:

Our elderly, people with disabilities. Carers are being cut back. They cost a paltry amount and the savings made are insignificant.
To be a long term patient in the St Mary's in the Park costs £1700 per week. Common sense must dictate rationality about the important role of carers.

Comyn

author by Gale Vogelpublication date Sun Dec 02, 2012 18:02Report this post to the editors

Our government have been appointed by the people of this country as protectors of this state. By the state we mean those who make this home, the people. As with any budget the emphasis is on money. However, in these very lean times, that emphasis is no different to the common stream verbatim emanating from the hungry intestines of our beleaguered Dáil. Theirs may well be the expressed hunger but we know that there is no suffering there. If attending to their duties, they should care for the people first and only the money in support of this primary duty. The actuality is the opposite and this though enforced by external forces needs to change.

Public services incomes increased similar to that of professionals, (engineers, architects, surveyors, accountants, etc.) over the fifteen year period up to the collapse. Thereafter, those same civil service incomes were maintained while the professional incomes collapsed with the economy. There was perhaps a token reduction in public service pay, this appears not reflected in many high ranking ministers salaries which have been maintained at unsustainable levels.

The absence of flexibility and humanity in dealing with those suffering is leading to suicide. This is a painful and unavoidable truth. The budget can help to redress this but at a cost that requires our leaders to stand up and be counted in Europe. The abuses of Europe played out in Ireland reflect those that many suffer in Ireland. Service providers are being played against one another, often without their knowing. They are being sought to provide part services gratis in unknown competition with others. Are we as a nation competing with Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal as so forth? That each is being evaluated in their own regard does not remove the reality of competition. Those who shout loudest may well be victorious. The meek whispers of our leaders in Europe have been awarded while the people and the state are being punished.

Let's call on our leaders to shout for the welfare of the citizens for whom they are appointed to protect.

The loudest shout in support of the people of this country would be demonstrated by an equitable budget. The balance should have primary regard for the welfare of each and every citizen first and foremost. Any success that this country has in the future is more dependent on the people than it will ever be on mere funds. In essence, let's protect our best resource.

author by Blake - Concernedpublication date Mon Dec 03, 2012 14:55Report this post to the editors

Total endorsement of what Gale writes. The people need to be empowered not over burdened by the debt Ireland is manicled to. Troika, ECB, IMF, Europe - there is another way to compounding debt going foward. Greece has leveraged a deal. Why not Ireland? We are a young country; we did create a boom for over a decade and why not again? Inequity cannot be sanctioned by the Masters of Troika.

Ireland is not totally errant; we can put forward some legitimate cutbacks and lend to the "containment" of government departments which over spend. Take for example health. There is a kind of paradox with health. Marketing determines the culture around alcohol which in turn comes from the globally run companies like Diageo. They make their attempts to educate people about alcohol with their 'Drink Aware' campaigns but this is but a gesture, their objectives is sales. However the government is quite hypocritical also. The more they increase the tax element of drink or for that matter cigarettes, the more they curtail smuggling through Customs and Excise and otherwise, the more that is fed into the coffers and onto the positive side of the balance sheet. Therein is the paradox. What suffers? Well for a start the health of the people and the performance and profitability of the health service.

What can the people do about this? Become aware of the costs involved. Have a sense of moral obligation to the society we live in not to be wasteful of the services that our provided by the taxation of all citizens of the State. Take the following example from Don Lavery's article in the Sunday Independent:

'Ireland has become a nation of binge drinkers...the average drinker taking equivalent of a bottle of vodka a week'.
Why do the Governments consistently fail to implement a National Policy or for that matter to listen to people like doctors at the hard face of casualty departments, hospitals and general practices. Dr Bedford representing public health has consistently raised the issues of the harm of alcohol to peoples' health.

Do we really grasp the message from statistics?
...that 'every seven hours, someone dies from an alcohol related illness'
...Irish people are now the biggest binge drinkers in Europe and only 3'....tendency to take >2
...2,000 acute hospital beds are occupied daily by people with alcohol related complaints
...Add to this the young population who now drink in packs buying from the mnc's like Tescos
...Add suicide and incidence of drink as a precursor to the act.
...Add cost to employers through sick leave, poor performance
...Ultimately all this contributes to health and problems with lungs, kidneys, liver, heart.
...Take Responsibility is a must for people so that we can curb the crazy expenditures in health

This does not take account of smoking and the harm and cost to our society. It would be a wise practice for the Irish Government to take the route of the Australians - all cigarette packages to be of the same bland colour paper with a snapshot of what smoking really does to the body. Ok the tobacco will scream out but let us tackle that age old paradox of excess of drink and alcohol has a high health costs but equally benefits the coffers of the State.

Worth considering this: 'In pure financial terms, Dr Bedford added, 'alcohol-related harm in Ireland costs the economy £3.7 bn'. ie BILLION

Stephen Donnelly wrote also in the Independent adding youth and common sense to the Budget debate. He says 'It's time to shout stop over this economic lunacy....We can't keep taking money out of peoples pocket's and giving it to the bust banks'. He talks about the £3.5 Billion tightening exercise. He then goes on to tell us what we could do with this money if instead of being an outflow and was an inflow to our balance sheet. He explains with great clarity how this money will in effect be used to Irish Resolution Corporation Ltd (Anglo INBS). Google up the article: it is worth reading. The final words go 'Only by taking a stand against the banks, and against the orthodoxy of the ECB, can we disentangle ourselves from the mistakes of the past and set ourselves on the path to recovery'.

author by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye Viewpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2012 21:06Report this post to the editors

Earning €250,000 a year can result in an imposition in the current budget of 1.2% while earning €18,000 can result in an imposition of 3%. While the €3,000 additional tax that the higher earner will need to pay is possibly of little consequence, the additional €500 that the low earned will need to find may well be the difference between being on the breadline and not. An additional €10 can mean the world to a low earner and this is what is being taken from them.

The duty of care that the Irish government owe is to the people and the tax payers in Ireland and not the bond holders, the banks or the troika. This is only the latest in many austere budgets that have pummelled the working people of this country. The effects begin immediately with prices of consumables increasing tonight. The tax incentives that have been given to corporations over many years can be likened to bribes in order for them to invest in Ireland and thereby create jobs. Mentioned during the governments budget broadcast today was new legislation relating to whistle-blowers, those who highlight the corruption on this island. While tax incentives may well yield results in providing jobs, another vital incentive is the economic and political culture.

http://gallery.mailchimp.com/137c3617452a2c0658d1c8c05/...s.pdf
In Transparency Internationals' ratings, as per the referenced link, rates Ireland at 69% where 100% is a total absence of corruption. It is reported that over 40% of businesses will consider the reputation of a country before investing. I have talked with Irish entrepreneurs who would rather invest outside Ireland due to that same reputation and the many difficulties involved in establishing enterprise in Ireland. This reputation and the reality is reflected in the salaries of those high in public service, a cap of €200,000 is proposed. The coupling of corruption and inefficiency is inevitable and this too is reflected in our public service when compared with other nations. For instance Great Britain employs approximately 480 thousand serving 64.5 million people or the equivalent of 0.7% of the population. Ireland employs 240,000 serving 4.5 million or 5.3% of the population. New Zealand with a population of 4.4 million has a civil service of 38,000 people or 0.08% and as a nation counts Irish immigrants as an important resource. Why do we not value more our own people?

While it is necessary to generate a tax income in order to manage a country, what logic dictates that as many as one in twenty are employed to serve the system? These numbers should provide a high level of efficiency and control, however, the current state of this nation implies that this has not been the case. In fact, the low rating relating to corruption is evidence that there are high levels of inefficiency.

Taking money from the hungry will not cure our problems. “This is a tough budget.” For whom is it truly tough?

author by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye Viewpublication date Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:30Report this post to the editors

Malthusian principals dictate that controls will ensure a balance in population. Recent reports of studies relating to fertility show that male fertility is declining throughout the world by as much as half in the past 50 years. Malthus would have hypothesised this to be related to the exponential growth in human population and is perhaps a natural population control mechanism. Experiments on animals show that with every increasing densities, fertility levels reduce. Were this related to the unsustainable size of Ireland's administration where there are as many as 240,000 people employed, or 8.4% of the total working age population of 2.86 million. Compare this with the 417,000 unemployed rate of 14.6%. The population density of Ireland in not very high when compared with Great Britain and much of Europe, however the population density of the public service begs ridicule. When compared with reason or other more efficient systems as noted in previous posts, it is no wonder that infertility relating to the Irish economy is rife in this stagnant system. The governments noted 14% average decrease in the wages of public servants when extrapolated to the overall working population represents a very small figure. That this has been compared with the average private sector decrease of 20% is misleading as the noted 14.6% unemployed represents a reduction in income of about 75% when taking into consideration the increase in those unemployed.

To actively withstand the malthusian controls relating to this economy is to invite more disaster. This reluctance to accept reality is causing a terrible imbalance biased in favour of those who supposedly support a system in collapse. The public service are apparently the support, however, in reality this service is merely the administration for the true support. The true support are the workers, the businesses, the tax generators and payers. The true supporters are comprised largely of the private sector, the employees and carers, the people who do not bleed from this land, but those who contribute to it. That these, and more so the poorer of these, the larger numbers of the most valuable contributors be taxed disproportionately high to support the economically infertile is bordering on criminal.

The increase in taxes is purportedly to offer support to this system, theoretically. In reality however, the increase in taxes is to provide international gamblers a guarantee that theirs is no risk. These bond holders, banks and investors who took risks were given a reward for exploiting the infertile system, with these post trauma guarantees given by the administrators and not the people. Is it now time that the administrators stand up and be counted amongst the suffering? While the media and popular opinion it would seem blame the private employers and truly supportive entrepreneurs in part for the greed, the very life blood that remains is being exploited by public 'service'.

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