I live in one of the world’s most highly-taxed economies.
And I like it.
Because despite a marginal rate of tax that feels like it’s over 100% at times, I get a lot for it.
For years I wrote that such a system was worth considering in Ireland – after all, you can only get out of a tax system what you put in, and we were never in a hurry to put in more than the bare minimum.
But when it comes to the new household charge of €100 – Enda Kenny’s poll tax – I draw the line.
It’s clumsy, disproportionate and pointless.
Far from being operated according to the accepted economic principles of taxation (efficiency, clarity, equity, utility), the Irish tax system is now the national equivalent of searching down the back of the sofa for change.
It’s not designed to make Ireland a better society; it’s not designed to share the burden; it’s not going to help the weak.
It’s a simple shakedown to pay back money we don’t have to people we don’t owe it to.
Surely we must soon be at the point where the supine, doe-eyed Irish wake up to the fact that their savings and their futures are being pointlessly sacrificed?
Our economists have become like our poets – visible, respected yet at the same time ignored.
They have told us that the conditions that Ireland’s austerity program was designed to postpone have already been realised.
The markets haven’t believed the confidence trick. They were never going to believe the confidence trick.
Like the property market, it was a gamble that didn’t pay off.
And like the bill for the property market, it will be up to Irish households to pay it off, €100 at a time.
Here’s the worst part.
If your household is on Ailesbury Road, with several incomes in the hundreds of thousands, you will pay €100.
If your house is in Ballymun or Darndale or Finglas, where €8 a month out of the food budget makes a big differnence, you will pay €100.
If you are one of those born in the 1930s, who struggled through poverty and deprivation to build this country and who is trying to eke out an existence living alone in your retirement, you will pay €100.
Like virtually everything else in the budget, it hits ordinary people. But the people it hits hardest are those who can afford it least of all.
Meanwhile, the gamblers who bought bank bonds get every cent back.
Now tell me again how this is supposed to be fair.
The “Household Charge” is a perfect symbol of all that is wrong in Ireland and her finances, but it could provide an opportunity to start putting it right.
The poll tax, which played such a massive part in the downfall of Margaret Thatcher, started life as a “Community Charge”.
Make no mistake- this is Ireland’s poll tax.
Even in Ireland’s laughably shambolic and toothless democracy, I don’t recommend violent protest, but I do recommend not paying – loudly and repeatedly.
Enda Kenny, whose government came up with Ireland’s poll tax, claims it’s only €2 a week.
What Enda doesn’t realise is that there are an awful lot of people who, through no fault of their own, cannot afford €2 a week.
The truth is that the burden could and should be borne by all – proportionately. The working people of Ireland and those on social welfare will have to foot some of the bill, whilst those who gambled billions should pay their share- which is most of it.
But you won’t hear that from the quislings of the Irish Labour party, or from Enda himself.
Maybe Enda hasn’t spoken to the apocryphal “woman in Limerick” lately- but maybe she only ever tells him what he wants to hear.