Help the poor. Slash public spending.

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?

4 thoughts on “Help the poor. Slash public spending.

  1. Jason you have hit upon my favorite subject!! TAX & CHARITY
    we need in this country to adopt the US model of tax deductible charitable donations, which every person can make over the course of the year and when they file their taxes by April the following year they include a tax certificate (confirming donation to the charity) which is used to partially offset tax payments.
    the beauty of the system is that even a $5 contribution to say Brooklyn Academy of Music can be claimed against your tax, (obviously it works for the poverty charity industry too)

    this allows every organization to benefit from contributions and the giver to benefit from the tax allowance, leading to massive amounts of money going to charities,
    and consequently greater charity donations.
    although- I ask, are the Irish as generous? even with a tax deduction- ( i think no!)

  2. Ah, but there’s the thing…

    If the charity spends the money badly, you don’t give them the donation the following year. Whereas at the moment, if the government misspends your money this year, they just take it next year anyway.

    After all, you don’t buy PCs anymore. You give your money to Apple.

  3. Also, suppose the private charity has to start watching where it spends the donated money to ensure continuity of funds.

    Ahh. Now we’re into familiar Irish territory: lobbying.

    All of a sudden, there looks to be very little difference between a ‘charity’ and a ‘Minister’…

  4. And if Barnardos decides to spread that money across different areas (maybe up North, for example), as it has every right to do as a private charity, no comeback for the poor.

    Or maybe we don’t fundamentally HAVE a responsibility for the poor — is that the idea?

    “Here’s €1,500. Now fuck off. I have a middle-class life to lead.”

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