There’s a very simple question on many of our minds and it seems to be one that nobody is listening to: When will this Government recognise it cannot keep taking money from people’s pockets and expecting the economy to recover?
More importantly when will this Government recognise that the revenue-generation policies that it is now creating have only one purpose, and that is to make up the shortfall to allow it to keep the extended public sector in the lifestyle it has grown accustomed to. It is a simple but cynical policy.
Public servants have taken paycuts. However, the fact is that those at the top of the food chain, the middle to senior civil servants and senior public sector employees in general, and politicians and ministers in particular, even with paycuts, continue to earn more than their comparators across Europe.
When it comes to pensions these guys make out like bandits. Even lower level public servants are lucky enough to get a defined benefit pension, unlike the bulk of the private sector.
All of this would be great if this economy was generating the necessary revenue to pay these salaries and pensions. But it is not. Just to stand still we must borrow billions of euro every year. That borrowing puts us in hock forever.
Unfortunately borrowing is only part of the problem. To make up the amount it needs to maintain its current largesse, it must also find ways to take more and more money from taxpayers already pinned to the collar. In looking for this money, the depths to which it sinks know no bounds.
Most folk understood the imposition of the universal social charge was to include the old PRSI charges. However, we were soon disabused of this and discovered it was an extra charge.
In recent days we have learned that those with non-terminal cancer are to be means-tested. We learned that mental health services and community care are likely to be means-tested, too. Are these people not suffering enough already?
The fact it was announced by a Labour minister makes it all the worse.
Yet while vulnerable and already overtaxed people are having further impositions placed on their shoulders, those in a position of power are doing well. Tuesday’s headlines told us of the six-figure golden handshakes paid out to retiring gardaí.
We’ve already seen hundreds of thousands paid out to the departing heads of failed public sector organisations and regulators being paid ex gratia payments of hundreds of thousands on top of their contractual employment entitlements.
According to reports, Lucinda Creighton isn’t sure whether she will take the €46,000 or so that she is apparently entitled to for losing her job as a junior minister.
Why should we pay her this extra money? There are no valid reasons when paying such monies contributes to a reduction in health and other budgets.
ESB workers, among the best paid employees in Ireland, are taking the company to court to stop the payment of a super dividend to the Government until the shortfall in their defined benefits pensions is made good. In days of plenty we can indulge such follies — these are not those days. The people of Ireland, not ESB employees, own the ESB and are entitled to a fair return also.
This economy hasn’t got a cat-in-hell’s chance of ever recovering if we continue to pay some folk over the odds while in employment and when they retire.
We cannot continue to turn the screws on part of the population and, worse still, to unfairly reward the non-income generation portion.
As a friend said in the last few days: If we continue to pay public sector salaries that are over the top and must cut back in other areas to make such payments, more people are going to die unnecessarily.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved