Moving swiftly on..
The Greens’ demands for their new deal are carried in the Irish Times today. Personally I hope both parties can broker a deal as I would like the current government to continue. The nightmare scenario as I see it (from an admittedly political perspective) is where the greens present impossible demands and the government falls because FF can’t grant them. Then FG / Lab proceed to do almost identical things to the last administration but with greater public support and when the inevitable recovery comes in 2012 or 13 claim all the credit. Meanwhile FF are forever the bad guys who caused the recesssion and wouldn’t even give the greens their wooly but worthy demands. In that case it really would be a case of good riddance even if they (GP) did have the time of their lives.
Quickly reviewing each point of the wishlist.
1.A reversal of recent education cuts
This is fine in theory but may just be mathematically impossible. It’s not FF policy to cut education, it’s a matter of financial survival of the state.
2. A reduction in the number of TDs
Perhaps but along with a reform of the function. Representatives (which institutionalises clientelism) or legislators?
3. Major changes in the electoral system
More power to local authorities? Agree. Shorter terms of government and councils. Agree. Greater powers? Good idea but within reason. The Californian state has nearly gone bust because when they granted people free choice they chose to be taxed liked libertarians whilst enjoying communist levels of public services..
4. A commitment to a single-tier universal health system
Agree with existing commercial insurers providing a private compliment to public provision but without the overlap. Bit like what Obama is trying to do in the States.
5. A new third rate of income tax
Probably makes sense. There are already three levels of levy. We should consider an advanced model like the Canadian system. It’s like a tax ladder with gradual incrememnts in tax when your earnings increase.
6. The abolition of the PRSI ceiling
Makes total sense.
7. The integration of the income levies with the tax rates
it’s a no brainer. It’s happening anyway. The Minister always said the levies were only a blunt instrument until the next budget could regularise things. But it allows greens claim a ‘win’ from the off.
8. A clampdown on tax exiles.
Agree. But isn’t this what we are doing already? We need clarity on what the Greens consider a tax exile.
9. An animal welfare Bill that would ban hare coursing, stag hunting, fur farming and the importation of wild animals to be used in circuses
Agreed on most the above. Definitely a lot to be done on animal welfare, controls, rehousing, kill rates, regulations and monitoring. It’s not all black and white though. Devil in the detail. I’m not a hunter but I like to cast a fly as well as the next man. And I’ve been known to grace the odd point to point. Lets balance the traditions of rural Ireland with the need for protections.
10. Basic social welfare entitlements should not be cut
Well it depends. Who are the ‘vulnerable’ these days? Employers get no ‘stamps’ allowance. What about the one who can’t pay his staff or the loan on his warehouse? Or the employee with a mortgage and bills on the table but no benefits. Better or worse off than those with gauraunteed tax free income (which has risen despite deflation). Or the millionaire with a medical card and / or child benefit. I know who’s going to be first in the queue for the doctors when the child gets sick and who will hesitate until its desperate.
We need safety nets sure but the current system needs fairness and reform on all sides.
11. Overseas development aid should not be cut
Worthy principle but needs must. We can only send what we can afford. Also, we send the Irish army abroad every year who protect hundreds of thousands of refugees. That’s worth millions in development aid.
12. A massive shift of emphasis from investment in road building to public transport initiatives
We need both. Ireland has seen vast improvements with the road building program of recent years. As a public transport activist I have many views on the railway and bus program also. If at all possible, capital investment on the T21 and other projects must be maintained.