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

Nine things we should consider in the quest to make Ireland a “fair” country.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 13, 2011 in Irish Politics |

1. The most important thing. Decide what fair actually means. In a media/NGO sense, fair seems to mean equality of outcome, in short, that average incomes, regardless of output, are broadly similar for every citizen, or at least, that their is a nominal minimum acceptable income.

2. Using that basis, it is possible to calculate, on an income basis, who is being treated fairly (by the above definition). It will be skewed slightly by some citizens who have such a huge requirement of state assistance that their income (ie, the level of taxpayer support they get) will have to be substantially higher than even the designated fair level.

3. In order to fund this on a long term basis, the great majority of the population would have to take a substantial fall in their standards of living to fund, through higher taxation, the reaching of the fairness level by others.

4. The social effects will be mixed. Entrepeneurs will be discouraged. On the other hand, extreme poverty will be eliminated.

5. Overall, the average Irish resident will have less disposal income and a lower (but tolerable) standard of living.

6. It’s reasonable, I think, to assume that crime levels would be lower, as poverty and drug dependence would be presumably reduced by higher spending, and the value of potential goods to be stolen from the average citizen would be less. Older cars absent of now less affordable iPads are less likely to be broken into.

7. This was tried in Britain in the 1970s. The gap between rich and poor was at its narrowest. But it also resulted in the mass exodus of wealth creators and a reliance on higher taxation (and reduced disposable income) on ordinary workers. Eventually 65% of the country rebelled, ousting Labour.

8. There is a danger of a country that follows such a path getting into a stagnating circle of decreasing wealth output resulting in higher taxation which causes the exit of wealth creators which decreases wealth output and so on. On the other hand, if the majority of the populace are willing to tolerate an ever increasing burden of taxation, they will reap the statistical and presumably social benefits of a narrower gap between rich and poor.

9. Essentially, the entire scheme hinges on the willingness of a majority of Irish society to exempt itself from interacting with much western consumer culture in return for social cohesion. An iPads for butter strategy. Many will say “yes” to such a proposition. Getting them to vote for it will be another thing altogether.

1 Comment

Jun 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I’m confused Jason, your strategy only works if everyone in society contributed to society. Ultimately human nature will make a mockery of such a system.



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