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

Jason’s Diary

Posted by Jason O on May 30, 2011 in Irish Politics |

Every now and again I ponder giving up blogging. It can be quite time consuming, and repetitive, especially when writing about the Here-we-go-again nature of Irish politics. Then I see something in a paper that outrages me so much that I have to vent my outrage on my keyboard. Two items in the Irish Times today:

This one, about the Claiming Our Future meeting in Galway, fascinated me. The idea of a minimum income has always fascinated me, but I’ve yet to come across Irish advocates of such a scheme who A) openly advocate the massive rise in general taxation on all to fund it, B) know how to prevent it becoming a taxpayer funded hammock for the idle, and C) honestly point out that such a scheme would probably require the abolition of the rest of the social welfare budget. But what really caught my eye was the suggestion that we can have a constitutional right to income equality. In short, we can make it illegal to be poor! I wonder, would such an amendment end up being like the abortion amendment, being twisted by the courts to create surreal outcomes? Who knows, maybe a future government could use such a constitutional imperative to, say, sterilise people from poor backgrounds. Wouldn’t that narrow the income gap? Alright, so it’s from the Heinrich Himmler school of  eugenic economics, but still! It’s in the constitution! I was also impressed by the suggestions to “limit” very high incomes. I’m always fascinated by the non-wealth producing sector’s curious view of  humanity, where they seem to believe that people who create wealth will just quietly sit, passing over their money to confiscatory taxation. They won’t, they’ll just leave. Which leaves the even more intriguing nugget at the heart of the far left’s thinking: That if Michael O’Leary et al do leave, then suddenly some guy living under a bridge in the dead of winter is richer? I suppose he would be, at least statistically. Good for him. Bet he’d prefer a few quid, all the same. 

The other story which had me gnashing at the teeth was Kathleen O’Meara’s proposal here, as part of her bid for the Labour presidential nomination, for a new 1916-style Proclamation. What is it about us as a country that we just love waffle and guff? After all, it’s not like we have “used up” the last one. Anyway, if I was to put money on anything, it would be on the Constitutional Convention spending most of its time on this nonsense once it finishes deciding that there’s nothing wrong with our actual political system save for Fine Gael’s bizarre belief (or classic act of misdirection. You decide) that the country lies awake at night worrying about the length of the president’s term of office.

Ah, it’s a great little country.

3 Comments

Eoin
May 30, 2011 at 9:36 am

Jason,
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking socialists can’t also be wealth-creators.

I know of two entrepreneurs who are socialist, though not actively involved in Irish politics. Mick Wallace would be example of someone who is an entrepreneur and (I think) left wing.


 
Daniel Sullivan
May 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

Actually, the notion of a minimum income or social dividend has traded before in Irish political circles when in the late 80s it went under the name of the Basic Income Scheme and was for a time both Worker’s Party and Fine Gael party policy. The principle isn’t that bad of one, whereby you give everyone a certain amount of money and then they can earn what they like, and those who are working get the benefit in the form of tax credits. At the time the worked examples didn’t seem that bad from what I recall, but it would be necessary to redo that exercise in detail now and it still allowed for a progressive tax system and should have lead to massive savings as we simply got rid of 80% the department of social welfare. There again, we should have seen massive savings once we got close to full employment and that didn’t exactly pan out.


 
Ross Higgins
May 31, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Jason regarding the Basic income I can see your arguements but I think there is a case to be made for it – especially in terms of social cohesion and structural problems of the labour market (on which I am not an expect I’ll admit). This is a really good essay explaining this standpoint from Policy Network;
http://www.policy-network.net/articles/4004/-The-Precariat-%E2%80%93-The-new-dangerous-class


 

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