Friday, October 23, 2009

SIPTU, there is no silver bullet for this mess

From the time that tongues first wagged and ears first listened, we have taken comfort in proverbs and myths that serve our self-interest. Caught in the seductive flow of a narrative, it is easy to close one’s eyes to reality. After all, this is how any great story works.

I can hazard a guess as to the name of SIPTU’s favorite story: the biblical tale of David and Goliath. And what a great story it is. You’ve got the underdog, his heroic battle against the big bad bully, and his unlikely triumph. This seems to be how SIPTU sees the current backdrop of inevitable public pay and service cuts. Two weeks ago, SIPTU President Jack O’Connor complained the ERSI were cheerleading for the Government’s policy of placing the entire burden of fiscal adjustment on working people and the less well-off, whereas the wealthy are insulated from any requirement to contribute at all. This is simply fictitious, populist claptrap.

Does a six per cent income levy on gross income constitute no requirement to contribute? And since when has anyone advocated cutting low-end salaries and leaving the top-end alone? The fact is that in 2008 the 6.36 per cent of all earners who earned over €100,000 paid 42.5 per cent of all income tax the State collected. That figure is likely to be even higher since the April Budget. Starting at the top, whether it be through wage cuts or higher taxes - a less economically produtive option - is undoubtedly the right approach, but fiscal reality dictates that cuts cannot stop there. SIPTU, however, seem unable to accept this.

Myth

“Ordinary” workers (an incredibly vague phrase thrown about frequently) will have to pay because the vast majority of Irish people are just that: working or middle class. Therefore, it makes sense that savings will have be made there.

There is no elite group can be taxed enough to generate the €500 million we are borrowing every week. Simply, there is no painless silver bullet to fix all our woes. SIPTU are playing a divisive and cynical game by exploiting class resentment, and they are damaging the chances of the public ever pulling in the same direction by furthering a myth that cuts are avoidable. Not only that, they are actually seeking a pay rise for its members and threaten a day of action if this demand is not met.

But tell me, Mr. O’ Connor, who should pay for your members to have their pockets padded a little more snugly? Because the country doesn’t even really have the money it is paying out in wages right now. Should those on social welfare? No, no, you said that cutting there would be an “obscenity”. How about the schools and hospitals? No, you couldn’t condone that.

Well, perhaps the IMF might be of help. Because if the tough, unpalatable action you resist so strongly isn’t taken soon it might be the IMF holding the cheque book.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Man seriously injured in Fairview beating

A 22-year-old man is in a serious condition in hospital following an assault in Fairview, Dublin in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The man suffered serious head injuries in the attack, which gardai believe happened at around 3.30am opposite Marino Mall. The man, whose identity hasn’t been released, was taken to Beaumont Hospital where he is being treated for his injuries.

No one has yet been arrested in connection with the attack. Gardai are appealing for any witnesses to the incident to contact Clontarf Garda Station on 01 – 6664800, or call the Garda Confidential Line on 1-800-666-111.

Pension tax relief cut is "attack" on middle earners.

A proposal in the new Programme for Government for a single rate of tax relief on private pensions is an “attack” on middle income earners, the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF) said on Monday.

IAPF Director of Policy Jerry Moriarty said the measure, which would introduce a single rate of tax relief of 30 per cent, would dissuade people from saving for their pensions.

Currently, workers receive tax relief on contributions equal to the rate at which they pay income tax, either 20 per cent or 41 per cent.

Mr. Moriarty also dismissed the suggestion the proposal would encourage lower paid workers to invest in their pensions, saying it was “not a priority for people in the current economic climate”.

When contacted for comment, Green Party Finance Spokesman, Senator Dan Boyle said a standard rate made sense because of the inequality of the current system where people on lower incomes receive less relief.

Rejecting the suggestion that it was unfair to tax earners on their contributions as well as their pensions once paid out, Mr. Boyle said the government was “taxing expenditure now for an uncertain future”.

Drugs seizure in Swords

The Garda National Drug Unit yesterday intercepted two vehicles carrying cannabis with an estimated street value of €750,000 in Swords, Dublin.

The car and truck carrying 49 kilos of cannabis pollen and nine kilos of cannabis herb were seized as part of an intelligence-led operation at the Airside Business Park at around 12.30pm.

Two men, aged 44 and 41, were arrested at the scene and are being held at Swords and Malahide Garda stations under section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act.

They can be held for questioning for up to seven days.