Labour’s reaction to Mary Harney’s 50c prescription charge to GMS cardholders tells us a lot about how Labour thinks about the entitlement culture. Isn’t it extraordinary that a maximum charge of €2.50 per week is regarded as an outrage by Labour? Are they really so committed to a something for nothing culture that even as modest a proposal as this, in the current climate, is resisted?
I ask because I, like the majority of Irish people, pay far more than 50c for prescriptions. Ordinary non GMS families don’t like that fact, but accept that things cost money. We also pay the taxes that subsidise the GMS prescriptions. And now Labour want those working families to pay higher taxes (someone has to pay) so that a certain class of voters don’t have to pay even 50c? Sure, Labour will say that nobody should have to pay for prescriptions, but constantly extending the idea that government services can be magically paid by someone other than you is not in the national interest. It is not unreasonable to expect those who gain the most from our social welfare system to make a very modest contribution towards it, as the majority of Irish voters already do.
If Labour are really to form a government, then Labour neeed to decide are they going to be a government of the majority, or a government of the welfare clients and the public sector first. That decision will decide whether they are to become one of the two major parties of Irish politics, or whether Labour’s recent surge in public support is just a short term event.