A Budget To Fool The People



From top: David McWilliams; Fintan O’Toole; Julien Mercille

Budget 2016 either betrayed the coalition’s ignorance or its cunning.

Only you can decide.

Dr Julien Mercille writes:

Fintan O’Toole is associated with the left and David McWilliams likes the market. Both have made important contributions to our understanding of Irish politics and economics. They each have their cohort of fans, while driving some of their opponents nuts.

They both wrote on Budget 2016 and I want to highlight one important issue in this respect on which I think O’Toole is incorrect, whereas McWilliams is more on target.

Fintan O’Toole seems to think that the government is rather incompetent, irrational, and has no clue what it’s doing.

For example, last week, he wrote a piece entitled “The Minister for Finance and his know-nothing Budget”. He argued that “one of the things the system chooses not to know is how the budget really works”. Michael Noonan, the Minister for Finance, “is like a plumber turning on a stop cock without knowing where the pipes are”, because he will not produce an analysis showing if the Budget is progressive or regressive. In other words, “this is government by willful ignorance”.

This interpretation sometimes reappears in O’Toole’s writings, for instance, in his book “Ship of Fools”, whose title reiterates the idea.

This type of commentary is also often heard in the media and in conversations. In fact, it’s the mainstream criticism of government: politicians are ignorant, incapable and ridiculous.

However, it’s time to stop taking politicians for irrational idiots. Politicians are rational and usually quite competent. The thing to understand is that they govern following the interests of elites, and the policies they enact reflect those interests (we can debate whether such policies are good or bad, but that’s a separate issue).

Indeed, Social Justice Ireland produced an excellent report on Budget 2016  (there is also an analysis of the cumulative impact of Budgets 2009 to 2015 here).

The report shows the following about Budget 2016:

It is the fifth regressive budget in a row, meaning that they have favoured the better off more than the poor.

– It widens the rich-poor gap by €506 a year.

While single unemployed people gain €95 a year, single people earning €75,000 gain almost ten times as much, or €902.

It is “extremely generous” toward multinational companies. The “Knowledge Development Box” plan means that such companies will now be able to avail of an even lower tax rate of 6.25% (as opposed to the regular 12.5% tax rate) for part of their operations.

In general, the Budget’s tax changes favour those who earn more.

It fails to deliver any significant increase in social welfare payments.

The question to ask is: does this reveal a government that doesn’t know what it’s doing, throwing darts in the dark? If policy was so foolish and the government so irrational, one would expect a relatively even distribution of the tax and spending benefits, but this isn’t what we see.

And for those on the right who think that’s just another left-wing conspiracy, no, you don’t need to be on the left to say something like that—you just need to understand how the system works.

For example, David McWilliams writes that this is a budget “aimed at convincing the middle classes that this is the government you can trust”. In particular, the Capital Gains Tax is reduced from 33% to 20% and this means that “the State is siding with those people who own capital. These are mainly the already rich”. To reiterate, “it’s clear that the big winners are the already rich”.

And the important point is this: “This is not the unintended consequence of policy. It is policy”.

This strikes me as a more accurate description of how the system works.

Picturing politicians as clownish and irrational leads to the following natural solution: if we could only find better ones, things would be fine.

However, in fact, to make things better, it is the system as a whole that needs to be modified so as to make it more egalitarian.

Julien Mercille is a lecturer at UCD. His book Deepening Neoliberalism, Austerity, and Crisis: Europe’s Treasure Ireland is out. Twitter: @JulienMercille

102 thoughts on “A Budget To Fool The People

  1. Jonotti

    The single earner on 75k isn’t gaining anything. Theyre just losing less than the usual 27k in tax.

    1. louislefronde

      Oh God the old argument over redistribution (progressive) still trundling on. When will the lefties learn, that robbing from the middle class to pay for the aspiring middle class is what happens in Ireland! The very wealthy don’t pay taxes, they are either domiciled overseas and / or use a combination of tax avoidance vehicles to ensure they pay less. Al of which is in the collective knowledge of anyone with the smarts to understand how tax law works.

  2. J

    Pre BS edit (Reader has no wish to entertain the biblical fable of good v evil )

    ” The thing to understand is that they govern following the interests of elites, and the policies they enact reflect those interests ”

    Post BS edit
    …. they govern based on ideology and enact policies which reflect such ideology.

  3. medieval knievel

    straw man argument against o’toole. FO’T was not claiming that noonan does not do the budget analysis because he’s a gibbering idiot, but that he does it because it does not serve the purpose (or noonan’s purpose) of the budget.

    1. Cyrano de Bergerac

      Hardly a fallacy to suggest Fintan is taking Noonan’s claims of a progressive budget at face value.

    2. bisted

      ‘…Fintan O’Toole seems to think that the government is rather incompetent, irrational, and has no clue what it’s doing.’
      – I think Fintan is fairly spot on, as usual.

      1. Cyrano de Bergerac

        They’re adhering to standard supply side economic practice, they know well what they’re doing and moving from their ideology are acting in a competent, logical manner. If you think the government should be a vehicle for positive social change it’s another matter.

  4. AlisonT

    – It is the fifth regressive budget in a row, meaning that they have favoured the better off more than the poor.

    This must be calculated on absolute amounts this year and percentages other years. Higher earners lost much more in absolute terms other years but you call it regressive, when they gain more in absolute terms you also call it regressive. Pick one way of measuring and stick with it.

  5. joe bridge

    If you look at p84 of the budget document (C. 35) there is a paragraph on the ‘Social Impact Assessment’ (see below). It seems to suggest that distributional analysis has already been completed, including some form of SIA. Why doesn’t this get published before or with the budget? We can only assume that it is because this is a so-called election budget, and any explicit acknowledgement of its regressive impact would be damaging to FG and Labour. For a long time rights groups in Ireland have asked for advance publication of such impact assessments. In June, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated of Social Impact Assessments that “We hope to see [Government] publish their findings in advance of the Budget so that people are not in the dark about their potential impacts.” Even the Tories in Britain now publish distribution analyses within the budget documents. I agree with Julien Mercille, that the government knows exactly what it is doing. It just doesn’t want to be clear to the public about the actual effects of the budget.

    “The Department of Finance conducts distributional assessments of proposed tax measures in
    line with the Government’s commitment to undertake a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) of the
    Budget. This incorporates examination of financial incentives to work. The SIA process also
    included the presentation of papers from the Department of Finance and the Department of
    Social Protection to the Tax Strategy Group which met in September. These papers examined
    the distributional impacts of a range of tax and social welfare measures. These analyses are
    in addition to the comprehensive social impact assessment document that the Department of
    Social Protection publishes in the months following the Budget.”

  6. Disasta

    Should keeping the unemployed (not disability/sick) at a level where gaining employment as quickly as possible is the sole goal not be a good thing? The fact that they gain anything should be applauded no? If someone can live indefinitely on social welfare the system is failing to promote productive people no?

    It is extremely generous to multinational companies….I thought this would be a good thing as without them what would our level of employment be? We have little to no resources and manufacture next to nothing ourselves.

    The rich are gaining most…that’s a given no? Since they run the show they are hardly going to do themselves in. The fact that we vote gives us the illusion of choice but we don’t really have a say.

    1. Seriously

      “Should keeping the unemployed (not disability/sick) at a level where gaining employment as quickly as possible is the sole goal not be a good thing? The fact that they gain anything should be applauded no? If someone can live indefinitely on social welfare the system is failing to promote productive people no?”

      How is rewarding higher paid jobs over lower paid ones encouraging people to not be unemployed? Surely something that makes life easier for the lower paid would help more, no?

      Equality or progression were not the goal of this budget, encouraging people on the supposed squeezed middle to vote FG was surely the goal.

      FG’s understanding of the squeezed middle seems to be skewed towards people on incomes of 50k-70k though when the real squeezed middle are 30k-40k and people without children.

      1. Disasta

        Knocking off a little tax is hardly rewarding someone. But fair point re encouraging people not to be unemployed.

        I can’t understand how someone on 30-40k and without children is squeezed at all, unless they bought a house at a price that was outside their means. Given that it was the done thing in 2004-2007 that wouldn’t be surprising though.

          1. Disasta

            What the hell are they renting? They are single…they don’t need an entire apartment or house. What’s the rest going on?

            If you feel squeezed from rent on 40k and you don’t support anyone other than yourself you need to live somewhere that costs less because the cost of your accommodation (or your lifestyle) is beyond what you’re earning.

            Not really rocket science.

            From my own perspective “in the good times”, as MoyestWithExcitement likes to put it (like we are in a dark age now), when I was single and on 30k I rented an apartment outside the city with 2 others because rent was huge. I certainly wasn’t squeezed.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            “they don’t need an entire apartment or house.”

            You’re living in a fantasy land, aren’t you.

          3. ollie

            €35,000 and single = take home pay of €547 a week. Subtract rent of say €825 a month (1 bed apt citywest) and your’e left with sfa.
            Married couple, 1 income of €65,000. 5% pension contribution, 1 child in university (€3,000). property tax (€405) mortgage on 3 bed semi DUblin commuter belt (€1,200), leaves sfa.

            SO, everyone is squeezed but FG likes to encourage people to turn on each other, gets them off the hook.

          4. Djizandipus

            You can comprehend that Disasta is merely suggesting there that someone who can’t afford an entire place to themselves just does a share. You can comprehend that right? Because if you can’t I’d suggest you stop picking rows with everyone, cos it’s not looking good for you.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            “FG likes to encourage people to turn on each other,”

            I despise them, but I don’t think it’s that well thought out. Social conservatives often don’t really understand the world outside of their own personal story. They think society should legislate based on what people *should* do as opposed to what people *actually* do. People *shouldn’t* have unprotected sex so condoms were illegal at one point. People *shouldn’t* be spending money on luxury items when they’re skint so we should lower social welfare. Etc etc. It’s a human nature thing as opposed to a political strategy thing.

          6. Disasta

            That is all I was suggesting really. Live within your means, if you are stretch on 40k then maybe something needs to be cut. Unless that location is that important to you then I suppose it is important and you need to cut elsewhere.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            Right, except people like you regard anything that isn’t gruel to be a luxury item. You live in a fantasy.

          8. Disasta

            I support a family of 3 on a sum not far off what is being bandied about as being difficult to live on when single, so ye I live in a fantasy world. You are the one living in a fantasy.

          9. MoyestWithExcitement

            You think your life circumstances should apply to everyone. You are the archetypal fantasist.

          10. Disasta

            No they shouldn’t and also I didn’t say that. That’s twice today you’ve twisted what I’ve said to suit you’re own agenda.

            If you’re stretched on your income t need to cut somewhere. Does something not need to give no? Either the lifestyle or the location.

            You are sounding more and more like you live in a fairy land.

          11. Owen C

            @ Ollie

            35k per year = 547 per week
            825 rent per month = 192 per week

            So 355 per week left over for cost of living. I’m not saying this makes life easy, but I don’t think it means “SFA left over either”. It makes life tight, but I’m not sure where the human right to have a comfortable life comes from. Life, unfortunately, is supposed to be a challenge. The important thing is that people should feel they have an ability to actually improve and not have as challenging a life further out.

  7. MoyestWithExcitement

    “If someone can live indefinitely on social welfare the system is failing to promote productive people no?”

    Right wingers have a terrible understanding of how humans think. Hardly anyone wants to “live indefinitely” on social welfare. In the good times, we had effectively full employment. Everyone wants to work and will when there are jobs available.

    1. Disasta

      Ring wingers – you don’t know me.
      There are plenty of people who ride the system. Plenty.
      “In the good times” – how many years was that? Very short if I remember correctly, hardly a good marker, it was more of an exception to the normal. People in Ireland rarely want to re-skill I or do a job they deem is below them. They will wait until the nice position is available.

          1. dan

            There’s little point saying much to right wing trolls.
            The country is bunched, people are literally dying on the streets due to poverty, jobs are scarce and pay badly, and the existence of jobs as opposed to internships is officially discouraged.
            And in spite of the fact that this was entirely caused by the wealthy and very wealthy parts of the population those suffering from it are “scroungers”.
            Other than pointing out that what you have to say is absolutely ludicrous when put in context, there’s nothing to say to you, we’ve all heard your divisive sycophantic bull before.

          2. dan

            What exactry is it that you expect to be said? The country’s in a state, hugely corrupt, with huge levels of inequality and dropping standards of living for everyone except those at the top politically and financially.
            You think that’s proper, because “no?” Everyone who’s not ideologically committed to huge inequality and entrenched concentrations of power sees it’s disastrous.
            I’ve nothing much to say other than your preferences are atrocious, counterproductive and without any factual or scientific basis. And they’re just preferences.
            If you like oligarchy and kleptocracy you’re either benefitting from it or you’re beyond talking to, but it should be pointed out that that’s what you’re actually supporting.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        “how many years was that?”

        Why does that matter? When we had a period where everyone *could* find work, everyone *did* find work. The ‘lazy dole scrounger’ is a myth.

        1. Disasta

          There are many a scrounger who thinks:-

          “Hey why would I work. If I work ye I’ll have an extra few grand but I’ll loose my benefits so screw that it’s not worth the hassle of a 9-5”.

          And there’s also the ones who work and are paid into the hand and are getting benefits.

          To say there’s not thousands upon thousands of both these is naive.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            “There are many a scrounger who thinks:-”

            How many then?

            “To say there’s not thousands upon thousands of both these is naive.”

            And what verifiable source of information have you taken this from?

          2. Disasta

            As reliable a source as your “In the good times, we had effectively full employment” Fianna Fail rhetoric.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            My source is the CSO. We had full employment. That is not in dispute. Is this your way of admitting you’re pulling “facts” out of your hoop?

          4. Disasta

            I’ve only seen figures from 2008 but roughly 100,000 unemployed. If each of these scrounge 12-15,000 a year overall that’s 15-18,000,000,000 a year. But I’m sure since you class 100,000 or 1/20 of the population unemployed as full employment then 12-15 billion = 0. Those figures are never massaged either.

            And how many years did your “full employment” last? Sorry sorry, good times.

          5. Disasta

            Grand so, 7-ish years. Thanks for that data. So not quiet full but pretty high I’ll admit. Still at 4.*% it’s still pushing close to 90-100,000 unemployed or 10+ billion a year (min).
            Would you say that the last 8 years (a longer period of time than the 7 ‘good times’ years) or the previous 60 years (also a longer period of time) were abnormal? Or do we just not count these because they don’t suit?

          6. MoyestWithExcitement

            I would say that during the strongest economic period during the nation’s history, we had full employment which proves that everyone will work if there are jobs available thus debunking the right wing myth of social welfare causing low productivity.

          7. jon

            Disasta, you’re not too strong with maths are you?

            100,000 x 12,000 = 1,200,000,000 or 1.2 Billion. Not 12 billion.

            Also, you clearly don’t understand that full employment does not mean 100% of the working population are in work due to many factors including those looking for work, those in transition etc. .

          8. Disasta

            Sorry i made a mistake at the start and then didn’t notice after and kept running with the extra 0

            I don’t know enough about stats, but I don’t like how people on here so easily categorize people in them or shuffle them under some heading.

            Seem inhumane and if that’s how the government does it its no wonder they don’t give a crap about the % of poor the % in the middle.

        2. Disasta

          “Should keeping the unemployed (not disability/sick) at a level where gaining employment as quickly as possible is the sole goal not be a good thing?”

          How does that mean social welfare is causing low productivity”?

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Ok, let me rewrite that. It destroys the right wing myth that there’s a significant amount of people who don’t want to work.

        3. Owen C

          Full employment doesnt mean everyone can find work. It means everyone who wants to find work can find work. Full employment in no way refutes the lazy scrounger idea (whether it is true or not). The fact that unemployment was still 4% or so despite “full employment” actually suggests some people will simply never get a job, for whatever reason (some reasonable, some not).

          1. Disasta

            Fair enough. But there are some yes? 20,000, 50,000? 80,000?

            So what is social welfare for them? Something you can live on forever with benefits as a % of this group does? (Not that its much of a life in my opinion). Or something that is a temporary measure to keep you going while you re-skill or look for another job?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            “some people will simply never get a job”

            Uh huh, and those people are the exception, not the rule as our period of full employment shows so the right wing myth is completely debunked. There is a negligible amount of people like that. Feeling important and useful is a fundamental emotional need for human beings. You don’t get that feeling when you’re collecting a dole cheque.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Fair enough. But there are some yes? 20,000, 50,000? 80,000?”

            Put the shovel down.

          4. Owen C

            You have to make some guesswork with the data, but using 2003-2004 CSO QNHS data (ie low point of unemployment), there is consistently around 25-30k people who are long term unemployed (more than 1 year). Clearly these are long term social welfare recipients who are out of employment for quite a long period of time. They are not transitory or temporarily unemployed.

            The demographic breakdown puts roughly 6k between 15-24y (so lazy students), 15-16k between 25-44y, and 7-8k over 45y of age. It is the middle group in particular that i take issue with. They are no longer immature enough to simply not look/gain employment, and they are not so old that they cannot realistically be retrained. The 25-44 age group also grew up in a relatively modern, well educated Ireland (70s, 80s, 90s) so its not just a case of them being poorly educated or from an era that no longer fits into the modern Irish economy (low skilled manufacturing, farming etc). They are not working despite there being “full employment” and a reasonable prospect of gaining the skills required to gain employment. It is this cohort where there is clearly the biggest potential for benefit addiction.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            “It is this cohort where there is clearly the biggest potential for benefit addiction.”

            Less than 30,000 people according to yourself. It’s simply dishonest to talk about that amount of people being a significant problem or welfare encouraging people not to work or unemployed people being lazy in general. It’s just not true.

          6. Disasta

            You strike me as someone who believes they deserve the lot. I don’t know where that comes from. I’m not going to speculate like you do without knowing someone. As someone mentioned above, life is not easy for most. It’s a challenge.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            “As someone mentioned above, life is not easy for most.”

            Precisely. You don’t seem to get that. ‘Pffft. Sure 30k is plenty for a single person. What do you need a whole flat for?’

          8. SB

            Apart from long term unemployed, another element is a small minority of those on Disability Benefit, and who therefore don’t appear at all in the figures for unemployment. David McWilliams touched on it in his recent post The Mystery of Disabilitywhere one statistic he quoted was the 44.6% rise in those on this benefit between 2006 and 2011.

            His last paragraph is a good summary of this entire page, I think:

            Discussions on these issues tend to descend very easily into one side screaming “welfare fraud” and the other screaming “legitimate need”. These set pieces rarely produce anything other than reinforcing initial prejudices. However, a reasoned discussion as to why an increasing number of the Irish workforce are deemed unfit to work would seem like a sensible conversation to have.

          9. Owen C

            It is certainly not a “significant problem”. But I don’t know who said it was. Just “a problem”. But i agree, it would be dishonest to suggest “significant”, if the figures i gave above are correct.

            That said, its absolutely 100% dishonest to suggest that:

            – “we had full employment which proves that everyone will work if there are jobs available ”
            – “When we had a period where everyone *could* find work, everyone *did* find work.”
            – “There is a negligible amount of people like that.”
            – “Everyone wants to work and will when there are jobs available.”

            These are things which you actually said, as opposed to things you believe other people might have said. Verifiable facts etc.

          10. MoyestWithExcitement

            “That said, its absolutely 100% dishonest to suggest that:”

            Nope. The right wing narrative goes that social welfare discourages people to work and that there are loads of people who’ll take advantage of social welfare if they’re lazy. That is a 100% lie. The *fact* is that we had full employment between 1995 and 2002. That 100% disproves the right wing lie about the lazy dole scrounger. There *might* be 25,000 of those in the whole country. That is statistically insignificant. The myth you’ve invested in doesn’t exist. Just put down the shovel and accept it.

          11. Disasta

            1.5% of the population is statistically insignificant. I’m sure that there are many small groups like the blind who’d disagree.

          12. Owen C

            Ok, you actually need to start reading stuff properly.

            – We didn’t have full employment between 1995-2002, we had full employment IN 2002. Unemployment was around 12% in 1995, falling sharply until we got to 3.7% in 2001. We had proper unemployment for 2001-2002, and pretty tight labour market conditions all the way through to 2007.
            – 25,000 is not statistically insignificant. Its probably fiscally insignificant, but if 25,000 people lost their jobs this week, unemployment would go from 9.4% to 10.5%. So, you know, it counts for something.
            – I’m not tied to your alleged “right wing myth”. I’m just explaining how shoddy your analysis has been. The only thing you’ve successfully debunked is your own ability to analyse or even read some of this data.

          13. Disasta

            Thanks Dan, next time you see someone that’s in one of your <5% groups be sure you shout it into their face so they never forget.

          14. Owen C

            Also, you need to understand what “full employment” actually is. It means there is no “deficient demand” unemployment, ie there is enough economic demand to provide jobs for anyone willing and able to take a job. There can still (and in Ireland’s case, was) structural unemployment. In Ireland, structural unemployment seemed to be around 3-4% in 2002-04. Because of the impact of the crisis, Ireland’s structural unemployment rate is now probably higher (ie some older construction and manufacturing workers simply won’t be willing or able to retain). But it also differs by country depending on individual conditions, ie in Sweden it’s around 5-6% (high levels of ‘disability’ have been noted many times in studies).

            This can be due to a variety of causes, just one of which would be social welfare being seen as more attractive than low paid work (even if the low paid work might technically pay more). But its a real phenomenon and with a statistically significant amount of people involved.

    2. All the good ones fly south for winter

      “[E]veryone wants to work and will when there are jobs available”.

      Ok, can you take us to your planet when you return?

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        When the economy was strong, we had full employment. That means, everyone who could work was working when there were jobs available. Tomorrow, I’ll teach you the three times tables.

        1. Ultravox

          “When the economy was strong, we had full employment. ” We NEVER had full employment. The social welfare handouts the rest of us paid for put paid to that.

        2. SB

          So when this “full employment” existed, the guys spending all day on the boardwalk by the Liffey drinking beer and arguing with each other were just doing their job? They’re still employed there, in that case – no downturn in that industry.

  8. Owen C

    Merceille: “For example, David McWilliams writes that this is a budget “aimed at convincing the middle classes that this is the government you can trust”. In particular, the Capital Gains Tax is reduced from 33% to 20% and this means that “the State is siding with those people who own capital. These are mainly the already rich”. To reiterate, “it’s clear that the big winners are the already rich”.”

    This would indeed be quite interesting but for the fact that IT IS NOT TRUE!!!! CGT is still 33%, it has not been lowered, save for a reduction for some qualifying entrepreneurs as follows:

    “A revised Capital Gains Tax relief for entrepreneurs is being introduced from 1 January 2016 which will apply a reduced capital gains tax rate of 20% to the disposal in whole or in part of a business up to an overall limit of €1 million in chargeable gains.”

    Once more (it’s happened too often to be actually able to keep track of this), Merceille is too lazy to do his own actual research and instead relies on an either incorrect, only partial, or lacking context comment from McWilliams.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      So the budget introduced a lowering of CGT but because it’s not happening for another couple of months, you’re going to beat Merceille for using the present tense when talking about this. That’s some desperate pedantry right there. I used to think folks were being paranoid when talking about the govt hiring folks to post online. I’m a little more open to that idea now.

      1. Owen C

        No, my point is not about the date! Re read it again pls!

        Its the fact that its only being lowered for a very specific relief, not for its general usage. If you sell an investment property, if you sell stocks, if you sell a large company etc you will still pay the standard and unchanged CGT rate of 33%. The only element of CGT being lowered is the specific “entrepreneur relief”, and this is capped at €1mn.

      2. Owen C

        Here is the exact line on this issue from Noonan during the Budget – its more like an extension of an existing relief for start-up companies, and now includes other companies. And as I said, CGT is still very much 33% and will not be reducing next year!

        Noonan: “Capital Gains Tax was also highlighted as an issue during the consultation process. Successful entrepreneurs often look for new challenges. To assist them and reward their hard work, I am introducing a revised Capital Gains Tax relief from the 1st of January 2016. A reduced capital gains tax rate of 20 per cent will apply to the disposal in whole or in part of a business up to an overall limit of €1 million in chargeable gains. The relief will represent a simplified and upfront benefit for individuals who propose to sell their business.

        Based on the findings of a review of the three-year tax relief for certain start-up companies, I propose to extend this relief in its current form for a further three years until the end of 2018. The relief has been identified by entrepreneurs as an important support. The review, which is being published today found that in 2013, the relief supported 1,038 companies who employ 11,750 people at an estimated cost of €4.9m.”

        1. J

          Facts ? *sighs* *shakes head*.
          Owen, faux outrage and emotion is BS currency. I love the cute analysis . … the cheerleading masquerading as critique of Fintan and David is ever so sweet. “wipes tears *.

  9. fluffybiscuits

    “It fails to deliver any significant increase in social welfare payments.”

    On the button, the social welfare payments have not kept abreast with inflation. Look at the rise in rents and rent allowance does not touch it

    1. Jonotti

      Just to show how wrong you are.

      Standard dole in 2000 was 77. 5 punt, that’s €98.4.
      Now look at the consumer price index since then. If we base the year 2000 as 100, the index at the end of 2014 is 134, equivalent to €132 dole. Dole payments are still massively ahead of inflation thanks to Ahern.

        1. Jonotti

          Fluffy don’t take me on when it comes to numbers. You will lose every time. I barely understand your point, that’s how wrong it is.

        2. Jonotti

          I destroyed your initial argument with cold hard facts sourced from the CSO and from government press releases. You essentially had nothing to counter with. Admit you are wrong.

        3. Owen C

          Yes, the CPI dipped one year – that actually increases the purchasing power of the dole, all else being equal. You don’t seem to under how inflation actually works…

  10. Mr. T.

    It’s as simple as this.

    A) Do you want to have more for yourself at the expense of others such as disabled, chronically ill who cannot work and homeless families. Watch further social decay and ghettoization, increased social unrest and criminality due to inequality.


    B) Do you want the tax take distributed more fairly so that society at large is safer, more compassionate and healthier. More police on the streets, less anti-social behaviour, less house break-ins, less open drug abuse, better educational outcomes.

    You decide and you live with that decision.

  11. donkey_kong

    fintan o’toole confuses me. I agree with most that he says but i find him insufferable.
    what do I do?

    1. Cyrano de Bergerac

      Yeah I’m the same, agree with his sentiments but I find he doesn’t really push things critically. He certainly doesn’t cite his sources as often as he should.

  12. Eoin

    Michael Noonan is far from a fool. He’s a very smart chap indeed I reckon. That’s why he’s liquidated all his Euro assets and turned them into gold ETFs, the traditional hedge/ protection against financial hard times. Though maybe someone in the Irish media should ask him about that? Because I find it quite scary that the ONE man at the center of finance here has no faith personally in the Euro at least, if his personal actions are anything to go by? (I know the Indo online has a March 15th story about it, but haven’t heard any more about it).

  13. Ultravox

    “– It widens the rich-poor gap by €506 a year.”

    SHAME it’s not 50K a year. Why should people who don’t work and don’t want to work feel they’re entitled to close the gap with the rest of us who are rich? I’m rich but I earned it. SO F***k off the rest of you.

    1. Neilo

      My home town. Choice of punishment: bastinado for five minutes or console-free penal servitude for five months. No free legal aid, no parole. It would almost be worth getting thrown out of Europe. Nip it in the bud now before they do it to another person.

  14. Jake38

    ………………It is “extremely generous” toward multinational companies…………..Good, we need them.

  15. SB

    “…single people earning €75,000 gain almost ten times as much, or €902…”

    And dual-income married people, each earning €75,000 (so totalling €150,000), gain €1804…whereas a SINGLE-income married couple on €150K / €125K / €100K / €75K only gains €902 – at least as far as I can see. Not very pro-family.

  16. Goodnight Ireland

    It’s simple. Don’t vote for them if you don’t agree with them. Don’t vote for labour as you will most likely get FF/FG….and never, ever, vote for Michael Lowry.

    They will be back in government next year. Which is depressing.

  17. Dontdoit

    Unfortunately, Mercille doesn’t come up with any ideas on how to change the system. In my opinion, in the Irish context it is our use of the parliamentary form of democracy that throws up roadblocks to change. For a country our size a unicameral legislature electing 1/3 of the reps every 2 or 3 years where compromise is on a issue by issue basis combined with a ban on the whip system along with a strong president would give a much more responsive government. Combined with our proportional representation electoral system, new ideas would come to the fore on a regular basis from fresh minority input. Our existing parliamentary system however gives us a Government where key policy decisions are made by a handful of entrenched reptiles every 5 years. It is a truly archaic and elitist way of doing things.

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