Yesterday, I got what was by far the most exciting election leaflet of the campaign, from my local United Left Alliance Socialist Workers Party People Before Profit Save Our Seafront Irish Anti-War Movement Save The Baths candidate Richard Boyd Barrett. It is truly a work of beauty.
Over four pages, it seems, by my reading, to pledge a reversal of every single cutback, and then to meet the demands of every single pressure group for extra spending. It promises free houses to anyone who wants them (from NAMA) and that essentially people can stop paying their mortgages as RBB in government will prevent all repossessions. It pledges to nationalise all our national resources, which presumably means that the taxpayer will pay for the drilling and refining, and reap the profits or carry the losses accordingly. In other words, RBB’s government will run our natural resources with the same effectiveness that the Irish state runs, say, Iarnrod Eireann or Dublin Bus.
In fairness, it also outlines how it will pay for everything. RBB will end the bank bailout, and create a “public banking system”. I don’t know what that means for people with savings in the banks, but I assume RBB would guarantee them. He’d impose a 5% wealth levy on the super-wealthy (not defined) whom, he says, have assets of €122 billion. So that’s €6 billion right there. He will tax people earning over €300k, of whom he says there are 37,000.
It’s heady stuff, and would be fascinating to watch. There’s no doubt, RBB as Taoiseach would be the most radical leader we had ever had, and would transform the country. But the flaw that troubles me is that the vast sums of money needed would all have to be sourced from internal taxation (as we would have told the bond markets, presumably, to f**k off) and RBB assumes that wealth creators would sit around, year after year, as he milked them.
RBB is an idealist, but he doesn’t see to know much about human nature. Still, people can’t claim that there is no choice in this election.