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Irish Left Review - Céad Noll 04, 2013 09:38
Ireland?s leading magazine for progressive news, views and solutions ? available in Easons stores and selected newsagents across the country ? 48 pages for just ?2/£1.50. The new issue of LookLeft (vol.2 no.17) includes: News Features All Politics are Local The 2014 local elections in the Republic should offer an opportunity for the left to make major gains but are they capable of taking advantage? Dara McHugh and Kevin Squires report. Thinking of a Better Way Justin O?Hagan examines the work of progressive think tanks in mapping a better economic and social future for Northern Ireland. Bringing the Vote Home Irish citizens forced out of their homeland by economic mismanagement are organising to demand a say in the country?s future, reports Hilary Rock-Gormley. A Comradeship of Heroes Kevin Brannigan reports on efforts to maintain the memory of the Irish Brigadistas. News Denis O?Brien linked to company installing water meters Overwhelming support for neutrality McStrike! Places of learning or profit? Barriers in access to the pill And much more? The Forum Ireland ? NATO?s Next Target ? Padraig Mannion Ending the long night for women ? Fiona Dunkin Building a fair city ? Paul Dillon Does Ireland need a new Left party? ? John Lowry More than a morality tale ? Conor McCabe Showdown in the classroom ? Anne Finnegan Plus international features on the Left and Scottish Independence, interview with the Iraqi Communist Party, the Rise of Republicanism in Spain, culture and history and much more? Buy it now only ?2
Michael Taft - Máirt Noll 03, 2013 17:39
The drums are beating. Throughout the nation we hear a growing chorus demanding tax cuts (including the leader of the Labour Party) to relieve ?hard-pressed? families. And this demand is being buttressed by some highly misleading claims that Ireland is a high public spending country. According to Brendan Keenan, using recent OECD data, we are a high-spender. There?s even a cartoon in the article showing Ireland ?fat? with too much public spending, compared to ?lean? European countries. Is Ireland a high spender compared to European countries? Of course not. One has to know how to read these figures. For instance, the OECD data for 2011 includes special bank payments arising out of the financial crisis. When this is removed (and it represents some 5 percent of GDP), Irish spending falls well down the table. It is highly misleading to claim that Ireland is a high-spending country while including payments to banks; unless one wants to make the argument that Ireland is a ?high bank-subsidising? country which is certainly true. So, can we assess Ireland?s ranking in the EU-15 spending table? Yes, with the help of the EU?s AMECO database. We?ll look at 2014. Even though this money hasn?t been spent yet, AMECO is working off of country?s estimated expenditure under their individual Stability Programme updates. Any change would be marginal. We?ll also exclude interest payments since we want to focus on spending on public services, social protection, subsidies and investment. Further, we?ll exclude defence spending. So what do we find when we examine government spending per capita (after all, Keenan says ?spending per person tells its own tale?)?
Sarah Clancy - Máirt Noll 03, 2013 15:18
and yet /we must live/ in these times
In the housing office the woman says if I need a house that I?ll have to tell the council I?m homeless or else bunk in with my parents and I feel the heat of tears in my eyes and let me tell you it?s not sadness I?m feeling it?s anger; after all of my years insisting that no one will ever call me victim in they come and do it from a whole different angle I didn?t see coming and they call it helping, these are the times that I live in still paying the tail end of my mortgage with no home to show for it and I wonder what I?ve absorbed that means even with all of my theories, my politics this, the oldest human endeavour; seeking out shelter has become shame-filled and on my way down through town Rosaleen asks for a fiver, I give it it?s easier to offer than to ask I reckon she says I am beautiful showing the limits of her English vocabulary, I am not what I am is damaged and raging, on days like this I seek the sea out and breath it, or I?ll write love poems to someone and you what do you do to get through it?
Michael Taft - Luan Noll 02, 2013 12:28
Remember all those observations? About how the highest income groups pay almost all the tax and how terrible it is that begrudging lefties want to tax them more? About how Ireland has the most progressive tax system in this quadrant of the Milky Way? The Government has lead the chorus making this claim but in truth it is not based on comparative measurement of tax progressivity (see Note at the end of this post for a discussion of the Government?s claim). So along comes a study that blows those arguments away. Dr. Micheal Collins and Dara Turnbull investigated the issue in a working paper published by the Nevin Economic Research Institute, based on the CSO?s Household Budget Survey 2009/10. They found that, contrary to the received wisdom, the poorest 10 percent income group pays as much tax as the top 10 percent tax and that our tax system is far less progressive than some have claimed. Here?s the bottom line chart.
Oh, my. The poorest 10 percent income group pays a tax rate of 28 percent ? that is, their tax payments make up 28 percent of total income (which includes income from work and social transfers). The top 10 percent pays a tax rate of 29 percent. Doesn?t look that progressive to me. How could this be? Micheal and Dara estimated the impact of all taxation ? income tax, USC, PRSI, and (and this is the key innovation of this study) indirect tax such as VAT and Excise, and levies such as TV licenses and vehicle taxes. Previously, claims about the tax contribution of high income groups narrowly focused on income tax and, sometimes, PRSI. But these make up only part of the tax system. Over 40 percent of tax revenue comes from indirect taxation. The following shows the extent to which indirect taxation undermines the progressivity of the tax system.
Unsurprisingly, the lowest income groups pay substantially more of their income on VAT, excise and levies than higher income groups. So when this is combined with direct taxation ? income tax, USC and PRSI ? we get only an overall marginally progressive effect.
Seán Sheehan - Luan Noll 02, 2013 11:10
Book Review: Three new books about World War II: The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945, Richard Overy (Allen Lane) Year Zero: A History of 1945, Ian Buruma (Atlantic Books) Sandakan, Paul Ham (Doubleday) Richard Overy?s subject is the bombing campaigns of WWII that were not part of ground or sea operations. The rationale for these campaigns was the belief that the enemy?s capacity to continue fighting would be undermined by demoralizing non-combatants, hopefully precipitating a surrender by their rulers. The first bombings by Germany in WWII, of Warsaw, the Low Countries and France, were tactical operations in support of ground movements. The bombing of Britain that started in the summer 1940 was part of an invasion plan but by mid-September it was clear that the RAF was not defeated. The bombing continued because to do otherwise would be seen as a British victory and, anyway, Stalin had to continue believing that an invasion was about to commence while Germany planned its surprise attack on the USSR. Targets in Britain became economic ones like ports and industrial centres, with London being hit 57 nights in succession. When Germany switched to nightime raids there was no effective deterrent to these attacks, yet little of lasting importance had been achieved (though 43,000 people died). Overy devotes a chapter to the British civilian experience, more or less confirming the commonplace view that the existential threat was accepted by the public with fortitude. Public shelters were not used as much as expected; Londoners trusted more to the Underground even though it was not official policy at first. Communist Phil Piratin led a protest group of 70 from Stepney to the Savoy and occupied the basement, where they found colour-coordinated shelters with armchairs, but he led them out again the following day. Another chapter covers the relatively unexplored area of German bombing of Russia, reflecting what at times has become a general indifference to the mighty and hugely decisive part that the USSR played in the defeat of Hitler. In contrast to London, Moscow?s subway system was wholeheartedly utilized from the start and Stalin?s HQ was based in one part of it. Another area that benefits from Overy?s research is Italy?s role in bombing and being bombed.
Michael Taft - Aoine Samh 29, 2013 13:04
We have been told that we are ?all in this together?, everyone has ?shared the pain? and that the wealthiest have borne a 'disproportionate amount of the burden'. Is this so?
Throughout Europe profits (net entrepreneurial income) in non-financial companies fell in 2008 as the recession set in. They started recovering in 2009 (in Ireland they started recovering a year earlier). In the Eurozone profits are still below their 2007 level. Not Ireland. Profits here have risen by 21 percent since 2007 and are growing at a much faster pace than almost anywhere else in Europe. Of course, some might point out that these ?Irish profits? contain a lot that were imported for tax purposes ? i.e. they were generated in other economies. How much? The Government won?t measure this because it would have to spell out how much it is siphoning off tax revenue from other countries, which wouldn?t go down well abroad. So, whether home-grown or blow-in, Ireland is the place where profits grow. And grow. And grow. Some people get the gain while most get the pain. Welcome to recovery ?Irish style?.
William Wall - Aoine Samh 29, 2013 09:51
Honeymooning in 1979 on a package holiday to the Hotel Alaska, Rimini (it?s surprising how attractive the word Alaska sounds on a hot July day in Italy), I became friends with a man who ran a bar. I remember him saying to me, one day, in reply to some question I asked, ?Sono communista io?. To make that statement as casually as he did, would really have been impossible in Ireland. In that sense, I think he was the first communist I had ever met who was completely comfortable in his skin. Communism has deep cultural and social roots in Italy even still. The singer-song-writer Giorgio Gaber puts it well in his wry, nostalgic stage monologue Qualcuno era comunista perché (A person was a communist because...):
?[Qualcuno era comunista] perché aveva bisogno di una spinta verso qualcosa di nuovo, perché sentiva la necessità di una morale diversa, perché era solo una forza, un sogno, un volo, era solo uno slancio, un desiderio di cambiare le cose, di cambiare la vita.? ?A person was a communist because he had a need for a push towards something new, because he felt the need for a different kind of morality, because it was simply a force, a dream, a flight, it was simply an impulse, a desire to change things, to change life."I have often asked my Italian friends who were members of or close to the Partito Comunista Italiano(PCI) what happened to the once powerful party. I have been given many explanations and I suspect for most of them the collapse of the PCI was a personal as well as a national catastrophe. This was, after all, the largest communist party outside of the Soviet Union and China. It had the great fortune to have as one of its founders one of the most important philosophers of the 20th Century, Antonio Gramsci. It had a history of struggle, particularly against fascism. It counted almost all of Italy?s intellectuals, writers and artists among its members, including, at one time or another, Italo Calvino,Pier Paolo Pasolini, Natalia Ginzburg, Cesare Pavese, Elsa Morante, Federico Fellini, Carlo Levi,Alberto Moravia, Salvatore Quasimodo, Leonardo Sciascia, Vittorio de Sica, the singer Fabrizio de Andre (Italy?s Jacques Brel) and the publishers Giulio Einaudi and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli and many more. It was guided by master theoretician Palmiro Togliatti (commemorated in this song). Most of all, it was the organising force behind much of the resistance during WWII and emerged from that war in position to dominate the peace.
Donagh Brennan - Aoine Samh 29, 2013 09:18
Solidarity Books is proud to host the Cork launch of the 2nd Edition of
Sins of the Father: The Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy
On Thursday 5th December
7:30pmThe event will include a talk from Dr. Conor McCabe, the author of 'Sins of the Father: The decisions that shaped the Irish economy', which analyses the development of the Irish economy throughout the 20th Century right up to the current crisis, without resorting to just pointing fingers at 'a few morally bankrupt individuals' in an otherwise sound system. Sins of the Father: The decisions that shaped the Irish economy This is a new edition of Conor McCabe's highly regarded economic history, fully updated to include the change of government, the austerity programme, and the liquidation of IBRC/Anglo and the impending exit from the bailout programme. This new, 2nd edition, of Conor McCabes highly regarded economic history, is fully updated to include the change of government, the austerity programme, and the liquidation of IBRC/Anglo and the impending exit from the bailout programme. Conor McCabe, who currently teaches at the UCD School of Social Justice, and is a regular contributor to Irish Left Review. McCabe last visited Cork, and Solidarity Books, in February of this year, to launch "Irish Left Review" journal and to pose the question of 'Who Benefits from Austerity?' While popular disgust with TD's, bankers and other elites' privileges is rampant, austerity programmes are still justified on the basis that we all must pay for a crisis that we apparently all helped to create. What do we make of this state of affairs? This will be Conor McCabe's fourth visit to Solidarity Books in the last two years since the release of his book, and like the previous events, this promises to be an evening of animated discussion. Entry is free and all are welcome, copies of the book will be for sale at the launch and donations towards the running of the non-profit bookshop are always appreciated.
Donagh Brennan - Déar Samh 28, 2013 16:59
Joanne Richardson is stepping down as head of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland. To mark the occasion the Irish Independent are providing the usual frothy interview. First all, she says that the level of US investment here is all about the tax regime:
The recent controversies, US Senate Subcommittees and international debates on Ireland as a tax haven are mentioned but brushed aside. Their impact is apparent, however, in the reference to 'regime' rather than the 12.5% 'rate'.
No one believes that one any more. A well-publicised report, published on the 25th of November 2013 by the World Bank and the large accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, claims Ireland has an effective corporate tax rate very close to the official rate of 12.5%. From the headline of the press release:
Fergus O?Rourke, Head of Tax, PwC Ireland said:
Fergus was described by Jesse Drucker in a recent Bloomberg profile erroneously as a ?local hero? who made Ireland a ?tax avoidance hub?, but people might recognise him as the son of Fianna Fail politician Mary O?Rourke and nephew of the late former Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan.
But, PwC, as a leading accountancy firm in making this claim is running at odds with the advertising made available on the websites of the Irish offices of other prominent accountancy firms.
The most well known in an Irish context is Arthur Cox, who the Irish Independent suggested were the legal brains behind the 2008 Irish bank guarantee. They have been saying that Ireland has a 2.5% effective corporate tax rate in their advertising since at least 2011:
(Michael Hennigan suggests that the company in question is Accenture.)
Michael Taft - Céad Samh 27, 2013 11:39
Relief throughout the nation ? employment rising, joblessness falling; the new CSO release should give us something to cheer about. Some quick notes on what the numbers are telling us: Employment has risen by 58,000 ? or 3.2 percent. This is good but puzzling ? how does this square with an economy that is still stagnating? Agriculture employment ? an area where the CSO has warned we should tread carefully ? has risen by 25,000, or 29.4 percent. Self-employment (without paid employees) rose by 28,400 or 14.4 percent. This makes up a substantial amount of the employment rise. Does this skewer the overall results? Some say no ? the overall figure of a 58,000 increase stands, it?s just a problem in the distribution of gains in different economic sectors (e.g. agriculture, industry, retail, etc.). This may be so. However, the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey registers an increase in the number of employees at 27,200, or 1.8 percent. The CSO?s Earning and Labour Costs, also released yesterday, showed a similar number of non-agriculture employees rising by 21,900 or 1.4 percent (the Earnings and Labour Costs only measures firms with three employees or more which may account for the small difference). So the CSO?s warnings seem valid ? agriculture and self-employment numbers are artificially inflating the job numbers. Nonetheless, the rise in employees is the biggest since the crisis started. What were the biggest growth categories? The Hospitality sector grew by 15,900 ? or 72 percent of the total increase. This is the lowest paid, lowest value-added sector of the market economy. Other categories to gain were manufacturing and professional & scientific ? which provides some balance. Only 3 out of the remaining categories (12) saw employment increases. So the employment rise is not spread out. Big question: is this increase the bounce after years of recession? How much higher will this bounce go? And when will it settle down? The Government and the ESRI predict that the rise in employment will be lower in 2014 than this year. Again, this may be due to the statistical bump the CSO has warned about this year. Unemployment has thankfully fallen ? by 18,000. But to what extent is this due to the rise in the number of employees and the number of people emigrating? We should expect more than 60,000 people emigrating this year in the key age category of 15-24 years. Tentative conclusions ? the employment rise looks to be settled in but it is not spread throughout most categories; it is concentrated primarily in the low-paid hospitality sector with small gains in the manufacturing and professional & scientific sections. The statistical problems will go away in the final quarter of this year so it won?t be until next year until we get a sense of the real trend. Employment will increase but key questions remain: where will it increase, what kind of jobs will be created, what value-added will be produced and what wage levels will be paid?