Friday, February 10, 2006

Economy or Society?

Does this “Goverment” have any coherent vision for Irish society? I don’t think so.

Their response to the recently published independent cost/benefit analysis of the multitude of tax-based investment schemes has been a repetition of their long-standing pre-election broadcast about the health of the economy, the levels of unemployment, never had it so good blah blah blah.

Whatever the questionable benefit to the economy of many of these uncapped tax breaks, they most certainly have made a major contribution to economic and social inequity, widening the already large gap between rich and poor. Only the already well-off can benefit from these schemes, and the richer you are the greater the potential benefit.

In addition, many of our wealthiest citizens are non-resident for tax purposes, although they appear very regularly in the media as they attend functions and race meetings throughout the country.

Yet at the same time.......
  • The High Court recently awarded €120,000 to the family of an autistic boy in compensation for the State’s failure to make proper educational provision for him.
  • An RTE survey recently found that only 27% of traveller girls attend secondary school, with only 2% actually sitting the Leaving Cert.
  • Primary schools across the country are run-down, aging and overcrowded hovels, bereft of proper sports and other appropriate developmental facilities.
All this at a time the “Goverment” keeps reminding us that, thanks to their expert management of the economy, we’ve never had it so good. And it is true that the country has never been so well off financially.

If our Government displays little interest in non-voting, highly disadvantaged sections of our society, while leading business icons flaunt their enjoyment of “Irish Society” without contributing taxes to support it, why would anyone be at all surprised if the burgeoning middle classes develop a “mé fein” and NIMBY approach to life?

Footnote: An abbreviated version of this was published as a letter in all three Irish national dailies, the Irish Times, Irish Independent and Irish Examiner. However, in each case headlined something like "Tax reliefs for the wealthy" which somewhat misses the point.

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