Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Help the poor. Slash public spending.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 12, 2009 in Irish Politics

What the f***? many of the more lefty-liberally of you will say. And yes, I know, it seems a bit oxymoronic, but hear me out.

Firstly, I’m not one of those weirdo Keith Joseph “The Free Market Cures All!” types. To me, the two great achievements of post-1945 Europe are the European Union and the Welfare State. I’m on the centre-right, but centre is as important to me as right, and the mark of a civilised society is caring for the people at the bottom of the pile. But here’s my problem.

As the John O’Donoghue shenanigans have proven, Irish politicians just cannot be trusted to spend our money wisely. Every year, the comptroller and auditor general’s report is full of examples of politicians just pissing away our taxes because it’s not their money, and so there are no consequences.

It’s time to deal with this, and here’s how: A constitutional amendment to ban, by law, the current expenditure budget from rising above, say, €50 billion, for 10 years. Like any household or small business, the government will just have to make do with what it has and get better value out of it. But wait, you cry! What about the poor? Won’t they suffer because of this? Won’t vital public services be cut? 

It’s a fair point, and here’s my suggested solution. We’ll let every taxpayer make a compulsory €1500 donation to the registered charity of their choice each year, out of their existing taxes. That’ll put an extra €1.5 billion into charitable organisations. Who do you think will get better value for that money? Barnardos or the Department of Social Community and Family Affairs? Who will get more of that money actually to kids or old people or the homeless who need help, as opposed to getting blown on quangos and public sector pensions and TDs expenses?

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