We need a stable society as the economy lifts

On Tuesday it was reported that Vision-net.ie, described as a business risk analysis firm, mused that the ‘hallmarks of an economic recovery’ were evident.

Their belief is based on an increase in the number of new companies established this year and a reduction in the number of insolvencies.

If it is an omen for economic recovery we can only be delighted and echo ‘it’s about time’.

However, it could just be a wishful forecast of more light at the end of the tunnel — a light that we never see as it’s really only a gleam in the eye of the forecaster. Mind you, sometime it will be correct.

Vision-net.ie is in the business of business analysis and it quite rightly focuses on its own raison d’être. Unfortunately, there are other areas of the broader economy that are not doing quite as well and have yet to see even a glimmer of light.

According to Social Justice Ireland more than one million Irish people are now below the EU measurement of grinding poverty. Some 120,000 more have fallen below that EU-wide measure. A grim statistic used is that one in every five Irish children lives in poverty.

A measure of poverty that it uses is for a family of two adults and four children earning less than €469 per week, or €202 for a single person — so much for our ‘generous’ social welfare system. How will these people benefit from an economic improvement?

As we found out to our profound regret, all boats do not rise with the tide.

On the same day it was also reported that Irish hospital consultants are still among the highest paid in the world despite cuts and changed salary structures. Those figures were not plucked from the air — they are from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Indeed, the figures were adjusted for purchasing power which apparently shows that Irish publicly funded doctors are the second best paid in the OECD behind Luxembourg. Apparently, those figures do not take into account income from private practice which many publicly funded doctors enjoy.

However, our medical friends we can’t seem to keep newly-qualified doctors in Ireland with many opting to emigrate to the UK, Australia, Canada and the US every year. However, while our newly-minted medics choose to emigrate, having cost the taxpayers a minimum of €100,000 per person to educate and train, Ireland is importing doctors and nurses. There’s something wrong somewhere.

Over the last several years the use of unpaid internships has been growing. In most instances it’s little more than exploitation. What happens when the internship is up?

God knows, we are all aware that there are many thousands of low paid public sector employees who were hammered by this government and its predecessors in an effort to make ends meet.

However, whilst they may have endured pay cuts, they did not lose their jobs and continued to build their pension pots whilst tens of thousands of private sector workers and the self-employed lost virtually everything. Now there might be some justification for these low paid public sector people to seek some uplift.

Unfortunately, it’s their better paid colleagues, those being over €65,000 per annum who are making the running. The Public Service Executive Union has stated that it will not be ‘fobbed off’ and will in effect be demanding that all cuts to its members are reversed.

Six years after the taxpayer bailed out the banks over 1,200 bankers in AIB and Permanent TSB earn more than €100,000 per annum with 18 of them earning over €300,000 and another seven earning more than €400,000.

Do we really think that we will create a stable society whilst creating such imbalances? If we do we are indeed very poor judges of human nature. Yet for our economy to flourish we do need a stable society.


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