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Dublin Opinion >>
Tuesday November 27, 2012 22:53 by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye View
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.
Are we being duped into a false hope with the repeated claims of our success while suicides rise?