One of the most depressing traits of the Fine Gael/Labour government is the fact that they seem to regard their presence in government itself as being a very radical thing, and so have shut down their brains to any attempts at creativity.
Take Eoghan Murphy TD’s proposed Tax Transparency bill. The principles (here) behind the bill are sound, and I have written about the concept before here. Deputy Murphy deserves credit for pushing the issue. However, just when you get your hopes up, read about Michael Noonan’s response to it. Whilst not opposing it, he suggests that it could be “logistically difficult”.
Now, just think about that for a minute: the man in charge of how are tax is spent reckons it could be quite a challenge to tell us where it has gone. I’m sorry? The Department of Finance, which managed to devise the most complicated rat’s maze of allowances for public servants (including an allowance for eating lunch near a desk and an allowance for not getting an allowance) will find it difficult telling voters where their money has gone?
The truth is, they won’t. They just don’t want to, and not because Noonan is some sort of baddy either. But because inside the tiny little box that is the range of government creativity they can’t see why the public should need this information. After all, we’ve never given it to them before!
The single most depressing aspect of this whole thing was Noonan’s suggestion that maybe some sort of web link could be stuck on the bottom of the P60. The idea went from a cert every single taxpayer would get in the post, which many would sit down and read with a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive, and which would almost certainly shock (read “educate”) them when they see that most of their tax does not go on TDs salaries and the government jet, and that most of them get more out than they pay in, to some sort of link that a tiny fraction of them might just look up.
What Noonan does not seem to grasp, and, to his credit, Murphy does, is that educating Irish voters about the reality of taxing and spending would actually make his and the government’s job just that little bit easier. The fact that such a thing does not even seem to occur to the minister for finance confirms that the view inside that tiny little box on Merrion Square is very limited indeed.