Always Left Holding The Baby



From top: left holding the baby; Ane Marie McNally

In the OECD 12% of a family’s income is spent on childcare.

In Ireland that figure is 35%.

Time for a little subsidiarity.

Anne Marie McNally writes:

You’ll have no doubt heard lots of talk this week from both sides of the tax versus spend debate. On the face of it tax cuts sound lovely don’t they? Oh look, an extra few quid back in my pocket, nice.

Then you hit a point in your life where you find you need to access a basic public service. It could be childcare, it could be the health service, and it could be education…whatever.

You suddenly find that the measly few extra quid you got in your pay packet that time the Government wanted to try and bribe your vote out of you suddenly doesn’t look like such a good deal.

Apart from the fact that you find you have to fork out your hard earned cash for the essential service you’re also likely to find that the service you get will be, at best, second rate. An extra 3 quid a week in your pocket is really not going to make much difference if you find yourself or a loved one in need of medical care.

What would make a massive difference is if those cumulative 3 quids had been invested into building a modern, fit for purpose, universally accessible health service that could ensure you get timely treatment and in a dignified manner. That is the concept of subsidiarity and it creates an overall more healthy and happy society. Who doesn’t want that?

But there’s no point in claiming that’s the society you aspire to while at the same time talking about slashing €4-€5 billion euro from the tax base by saying you’ll abolish USC.

In doing so you not only abolish USC you also abolish the possibility of using that €4-€5 billion euro to strategically invest in quality public services that ultimately reduce the cost of living in a very real way on a day to day basis.

Take childcare as an example. In the OECD, on average, 12% of a family’s income is spent on childcare. In Ireland that figure is 35%. Over double the OECD average. Not only are we paying more but we’re getting an inferior service. In many cases parents are paying ridiculously inflated prices for factory type childcare out of necessity rather than desire.

The choice as to whether to work or stay home should always remain just that – a choice. Most parents these days however don’t have that luxury.

Therefore surely it makes eminent sense to invest heavily in creating a State subsidised childcare system, where standards are ensured, early years education is built into the system, and a maximum cap on the amount parents will be asked to pay is assured.

By guaranteeing a full year’s paid parental leave you free up parents to make the choice as to whether they stay home during the vitally important first year of a child’s life rather than forcing them back to work against their will in many circumstances and jeopardising the ideal development scenario for the children.

Now you may be past the years of child rearing, you may never want to face the horror/joy of it and you may be thinking sure none of that affects me. Actually, it does and in a very real way.

Back to subsidiarity here folks. The children of today are the adults of tomorrow when you and I are in our more senior years.

They are the ones who’ll be tasked with building and safe-guarding society as we pass the mantle over to the generation below us. Doesn’t it make sense to put in place systems that ensure the best outcomes for society as a whole rather than a generation of young adults dealing with the consequences of stressed out parents, poor early years education and overall societal malaise?

The same points can be made about investment in so many other services. Stop thinking about things as individuals and look to the collective and I can guarantee you we all benefit in a far more substantial and real way in both the short and long term.

Anne-Marie McNally is a political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and is a candidate for the Social Democrats in the Dublin West constituency in the forthcoming General Election. Follow Anne-Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

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78 thoughts on “Always Left Holding The Baby

  1. Ms Piggy

    Couldn’t agree more, I’ve been able to understand why the majority of voters don’t look at all public services/tax questions like this. You have to be staggeringly wealthy in order to afford full-cost services at point of use, and even then if that’s how we ran things you’d be living in some kind of Lord of the Flies society and behind electronic gates in order to hide from the starving and angry multitude.

    1. han solo's carbonite dream

      I thought about this and I have this conclusion:
      People (middle class and rich) have a dream , they want to be rich.
      despite the fact that 95% of the middle class will never achieve this they still buy into the dream.
      To do so would make them look bad to their peers – who also buy into the dream. Its’ like the emperors new clothes , they are all afraid to tell the truth

      I work in a bank, none of my peers have a hope of making it above senior manager and even that it will be less than a handful . This will mean a standard middle class salary for life.
      They still see voting for a party that isn’t seen as low tax / pro big business as a dirty shame …I am one of the few who went on the water protests despite most of my colleagues being crippled by water charge/USC etc..
      Its’ seen as dirty one person said to me “I’d love to go but I’d be afraid of being seen marching with the socialists and shin fein” – this is a guy in his late 30’s saying this….

      There is an illusion that you must be seen to promote the dream that you as the individual are self sufficent is a sign of weakness – a view of the poor.
      and nobody wants to part of that gang , why look down at joe higgins and his rabble when you can look up to the top table of sean fitzpatrick and feed off his delicious crumbs.

      The sad truth is most of my work colleges would be better of financially with better state services than they are in a lower tax economy.
      but that DOESN’T suit the optics.
      It’s like you are admitting that you aren’t going to be successful – which is a terrible shame that success is based on your bank balance.

      anyway that’s my take on it.

      The civil war probably needs to be mentioned but that’s an almost dead breed that still believe in that nonsense.

      1. Steve

        @han, sorry I’m a little confused here… so you want to retain/increase tax intake to improve public services/improve societal well-being??? as Anne-Marie here argues

        Yet you go to marches supporting the abolition of charges such as water and “the crippling USC”???, (and are sanctimonious against co workers who’s don’t attend)…which if abolished would lower said public services/societal well being??

        1. Nigel

          You can be in favour of higher taxes and against taxes that are unfair, unjust, or charges that are implemented with such staggering stupidity and incompetence it’s hard to believe it’s not something out of an over-the-top anti-government satire.

          1. Fergus the magic postman

            @ classter, but Nigel did follow unfair & unjust with or charges that are implemented with such staggering stupidity and incompetence it’s hard to believe it’s not something out of an over-the-top anti-government satire

            As is constantly pointed out, a lot of people, myself included would have less of a problem with the water charges if it hadn’t been such a car crash from the word go.
            A cronyism heavy quango, with government relationships taking preference over qualifications.
            Millions upon millions vanishing into thin air under Tierney which was probably as a result of his ineptness.
            The ordinary people who have a problem with these issues treated with utter contempt by the government.
            All this before you take into account the alleged but likely shady dealings that lead to DOB’s part in the whole thing.

            There’s enough there to take issue with as a citizen of Ireland without getting as far as whether you think water charges are unjust or unfair.

        2. han solo's carbonite dream

          yes precisely.
          Well done on taking the very much minority point from my reasoning but hey ho.

          1. I marched against water charges as i feel for many reasons that IW is a sham but also most importantly on the immorality of charging for water.

          2. the usc was part of a discussion on general state of the nation held in the work canteen . I went on the march of water purposes – I went on quite a few btw…. They weren’t USC marches ….But since you bring it up..
          I’m against the USC as it stands. It hit the poor hard and it’s on all income no thresholds etc.. I’m in favour of more tax bands applied progressively.
          but yes I believe in more tax and better services but also better allocation of this spend and accountability for how it’s spent. Sorry if my ramblings were confusing..

          as for my treatment of my work colleague – surley you have it wrong they were sanctimonious to a degree that they would spite themselves ( ending water charges ) so as to avoid being seen with socalists and shin fein (i’m neither btw)

          Hope that clears it up for you

          1. Steve

            Grand so, thanks, I agree , I think the USC could be modified slightly to take more of the burden off low paid. But generally I think it’s fair, like what SIPTU and NERI think.

            I agree with water charges so….I guess we’ll just to agree to disagree.

            The eternal debate continues

        3. Fergus the magic postman

          Steve, you don’t mention the obvious quango, cronyism, incompetence, & the alleged but likely outright corruption involved in the water charges. That’s what most people object to.

          If the water charges had been set up in a transparent & honest way, by a competent & honest government, as opposed to a dishonest incompetent corrupt keystone cops type government, there would not be nearly so many against it.

          1. Steve

            Fergus if you’re talking SF up north you forgot to mention the murdering , the rapist protecting and the drug / gang criminal activity

      2. nellyb

        I have a slightly different take on that.
        Middle class do go to anti Irish Water protests (mostly as private citizens and taxpayers). Met a few, even took pics with a few :-)
        It’s been said by many and many times – middle class merged with working class, we are sharing same problems. Intensity of problems may be different, but problems themselves are same. A few have aspirations of large wealth, but most people I know just want one house/apartment they can’t be kicked out from when interest rates go bananas, reliable and affordable health and childcare services, european quality public transport. It’s a dignified baseline with no excess in it. Everyone should be at this level if we want to have a healthy country with healthy people and healthy future.
        And since it’s on the back of Anne Marie’s piece – SocDems platform is quite popular with middleclassers . My entire household will give them votes, my friends will give them vote. So, we’ll see how this will turn out. I have hopes for them.
        It sounds like canvassing :-) I guess it is! :-) Sick of FG tongue-tied greasy fingered aspirations of nothing.

        1. han solo's carbonite dream

          while I’m not in agreement of your analogy and I hope I’m proved wrong but I can’t see people voting for change that will increase taxes.

          I do however believe in the world you are trying to promote and would like a similar one also

  2. Disasta

    Sure that bearded waste of carbon made a hames of most things in childcare so far including the 2nd pre-school year. Would you really want him rolling out something that big?
    Image the wastage that would occur and the quangos needs. Jesus.

  3. J

    Regarding the suggestion for “a full year’s paid parental leave “. Annemarie, will this be paid by employer or government? Will it be capped?

  4. Anomanomanom

    There are plenty of subsided childcare facilities in this country. The problem is the facilities are getting it not the parents. My sister is working in a creche, community creche so it’s cheaper than normal, it’s kept cheaper because the government allow my sister to work a full week for €215 and subsidies the wage to the creche. This way she’s not on the live register, just a scheme that’s basic slave labour. Anyway so the staff are all cheap labour and the creche makes poo loads of money while paying basically nothing. That’s subsidies in Ireland for you.

    1. Disasta

      Creches do not make poo loads of money if they adhere to correct ratios.
      Who ever told you that is completely fully of it.

      1. Disasta

        P.S. New regs require childcare workers to have covered certain topics in their diploma/degree.
        If your sister was qualified she should be able to get a better deal.

        1. Anomanomanom

          She is fully qualified. And your talking plop. Both my sisters work in crèches. The other sister (not the one already mentioned) works for a particular crèche, I won’t name it, but it’s profits for the company as a whole were over €1,000,000 it was well publicised, so yes poo loads of profit.

          1. Disasta

            Well obviously its no the one you talked about as she works in a community creche. But if she is fully qualified to the new standards then why is she working in a community creche?

            Someone is feeding your porkies on that figure, if it was widely publicised then name the creche and I can check that figure. It’s a very difficult industry to make money in given the ratios. Easier to make money if its an afterschool or a “creche” that takes no babies below 2.

    2. han solo's carbonite dream

      a huge amount of creche monies are paid over in local council rates and insurance.
      my eldest went to a place and at an open evening they said 73% of turnover was wages.

  5. Keith

    The USC isn’t the way to fund any of this though. The USC needs to go because it’s a horribly regressive tax. There are *far* superior ways of collecting revenue to fund childcare other then the USC.

    1. Steve

      Odd – those that represent low paid workers, NERI and SIPTU , seem to like it. NERI went as far as to list it’s “beautiful” features.

      1. Anomanomanom

        The Usc is meant to be a Universal SOCIAL charge. It could work brilliantly for social needs. But it’s not used for what it should. But if you get rid of it and lose the tax take, what do we actually replace the lost tax with.

    2. Kieran NYC

      The reasoning behind the USC is that everyone in society should contribute something, even if it’s just 1% of their income, so they feel invested in the running of society. I’d tend to agree with that point of view and argue that the problem is actually the low wages. I’d be all about upping the minimum wage massively.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      I’m picturing a naked Michael Noonan plucking the last few petals from a rose as he reclines on a Roman era bed…. “they love me, they love me not…..” he continues…

      [ you’ll find me in the vomitorium ]

  6. Dave

    The Social Democrats are just posturing to be the next Labour party. Full of ideals but willing to sell them all for a chance to prop up a government headed by FF or FG.

    Rule out coalition with FF, FG and Labour and they MIGHT be worth a transfer.

      1. Steve

        You’re honestly asking for “source” on this?? You’re defo a Shinner bot. Come on Fergus , be a man just own up on voting intentions. It will feel so good. Come on, I’ll tell ye mine, sure ye already know.

        FG – 1
        SD – 2
        Labour – 3

        SF / AAA …steam off my p@ss

          1. Steve

            Asking dave for Source …Horsesh@t …he was asking for SD to rule out coalition. you’re a Shinner bot, a big sap, like the rest of them. You heart SF , go on just admit it. Stop being a pussy like Adams and just admit it

          2. Fergus the magic postman

            You’re no more than a troll. The worst kind, an FG troll.
            I’m not voting SF, never have, & you can’t handle that because it rules out the effectiveness of the only defence you have for your beloved party, which is to distract from how bad you’re party is by talking about SF’s history.

            Not everybody who thinks FG are sh1t are SF supporters. You’ll find most of them aren’t. Most FG opposers are ordinary people who feel/ know they’ve been screwed by them, and not for the first time either.

          3. Steve

            Whatever ye big liar. You’re always on here questioning allegations about SF. Well Shinner bot…I’ll agree with ye here This gov has made public policy mistakes , but IMO , those decisions were made in good faith, in the interests of the public. People can disagree on the rights and wrongs, fair enough, the ballot box is their answer to that debate. And they will use that right in a few weeks.

            SF are simply murderers / rapist protectors and involved with criminality north and south.

            Fergus You’re always shi@ing on about blueshirts fascists nazis etc on here yet SF and Adams represent the clearest example of cult of the leader and complete loyalty this side west of North Korea. A man who murdered women and children on the basis of their religion and race and stopped other women and children from seeing justice against their rapists.

            Who are the nazis now?


            Who are the Nazis now??


          4. rotide

            The only good thing about this exchange is knowing that Fergus won’t be voting for the next government, whoever that may be. Sure, he’ll vote for the junior partners but he won’t have any influence on the guys calling the shots.

          5. Caroline

            lol rotide’s magic post-election shot-caller influencing vote

            Wait, I want one :(

            Actually two.

            And a pony.

      2. Dave

        Usual talk about having to incorporate their policies into a programme for government but unless you’re a committed neoliberal and the policies you want to get included are neoliberal you don’t have a hope when dealing with FF or FG.

        Parties like the PD’s could hapily say their policies were implimented, the greens and labour got plenty of right wing economic policies through but nothing else. Best the SDs could hope for is a few sops towards corruption, maybe another report or inquiry, and some of Donnolly’s very much right of centre economics taking credit for more of the same we have come to expect from anything FF, FG or Labour.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      SocDems will be more likely more capable of putting manners on FG, FF and L because SDs don’t come with all the corrupting baggage of the establishment parties, and I include SF in that cohort of the corrupted.

      My tuppence ha’ penny.

      1. fluffybiscuits

        They will be the whipping boys like Labour, PD’s and the Greens…

        “Minister Kelly, me and Enda are going in for a meeting, I’ll have two sugars in my tea and bring me some of those lovely digestives that we like….”

  7. Andy

    Ask yourself if you’d qualify for all these services Anne-Marie and her SocDem colleagues talk about.

    – The introduction of any childcare service would most likely be means tested,
    – The parental leave salary would be capped,
    – Would you rather pay higher tax and deal with the public health system or pay less tax and get private health insurance

    As Fiach Kelly in the Irish Times said, Soc Dems – “The manifesto released on Friday by the Social Democrats has plenty in the way of vision but very little in the way of detail”

    1. classter

      ‘– Would you rather pay higher tax and deal with the public health system or pay less tax and get private health insurance;’

      For me, there is no doubt that the former is preferable. Realistically, if you are seriously ill, you will essentially be relying on the public system anyway.

      I pay well over a grand for my insurance as it is.

      By paying it as insurance, I also pay for the profit motive of private insurers & I give all sorts of perverse incentives to consultants to game the dual-payer system.

      1. Andy

        Right now, you are paying for both access to private and public systems.

        If you are in serious need of surgery you will get access to the public health system straight away. Once in the public system the treatment is top notch. Waiting lists are the problem but for the most part relate to elective procedures or long term chronic problems (which although affect quality of life do not normally represent immediate life threatening events). Both of these issues will more than likely be covered by private providers under your private insurance in a prompt manner.

        Yeah, your private insurance is funding the private provider’s profit margin but in the public system you’re funding all sorts of waste – the HSE amalgamated the health boards but there were no redundancies (similar to Irish Water), the overstaffing in rural hospitals versus understaffing in urban hospitals, unionized nurses & doctors & their representatives, strict job definitions and SLA’s on tests, porters etc which don’t exist in private facilities – private facilities pay more but get more work out of the staff, turn procedures around quicker and can & do fire people who don’t perform or are no longer needed.

        Over €1,000 a year for private health cover isn’t much. Our policy in the US is approx $20k p.a. (employer part funded). While pricey, I will say the quality of care is unbelievably high.

        1. Caroline

          Yeah. But it’s almost like 20k a year health insurance policies aren’t really the way to go. On balance.

  8. inPisces

    This article is the usual stuff from Ammo

    Nice idealistic waffling
    Fair play and all Ammo but you will get nowhere with the sort of guff you’re spouting in this country as you are not nearly cynical enough and have no clue how you would do any of this stuff if elected

  9. Kieran NYC

    On a general point, there’s a huge gulf in the quality of these articles on BS. More of the quality of Anne-Marie’s, please and less of… you can probably guess.

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