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

What on Earth does “vulnerable” actually mean?

Posted by Jason O on Sep 10, 2012 in Irish Politics

There is a tedious Groundhog Day style repetition about Irish politics (and at times on this blog about writing about it. But I’ll go on.) when we debate “social justice” and the need to protect “the vulnerable” from cuts in social spending. Let’s cut to the chase here: this is all about money, who gets it and who it is taken off. Vulnerability can be warded off by money, and so surely we can designate an income level upon which we decide marks where vulnerability begins and ends?

But there’s a problem, see. Logic (and maths) tells you that if you are going to shield the people below the threshold, then you must put extra burdens (through taxes normally) on those above the threshold, and that’s where our elected representatives actually refuse, short of waterboarding (now there’s an idea) to reveal what they think. Too low, say 20k, and you exclude people who need help. Too high, say 75k, and you start to sound ridiculous, although I suspect there are people in all three main parties who, having suckled off the public teat their whole lives, would struggle to scrape by on €75k. Let us not forget that the higher you go, the heavier the burden of taxation on those remaining above the threshold, and you’ll start to get a backlash there too.

Let us at least start by setting the bar at what vulnerable is.


A senator speaks sense (shock horror!)

Posted by Jason O on Sep 10, 2012 in Irish Politics

I was at a social event recently where I met a veteran senator who was railing against the unfairness of the proposed property tax. I was ready to dismiss him as yet another populist panderer when he shocked me by suggesting, quite unprompted, an alternative.

He suggested we just be honest about it and raise income tax. After all, it’s based on ability to pay, is progressive, and would not require a new collection system to be created.

There is the issue of the fact that both FG and Labour pledged not to raise income tax in the election, but there is a way around that too. Why not devise the proprty tax, and the amount it will raise, translate it into an income tax rise and put both to the people in a referendum, with a pledge that the Dail will enact whichever the people endorse?

After all, surely the people can absolve the government of an election pledge?

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