We need to see transparency in how our taxes are used.
We should not be surprised if the Irish Water fiasco is the cause of public censure by the United Nations Environment Programme given the amount of trees that will have been cut down just to accommodate the many millions of deserved column inches that have been consumed. In fact, if anything, Irish Water may well be the antithesis of water conservation given the deal government has now put before the people in order to stave off electoral decimation.
Equally we should expect bestseller text books to be written on how not to set up a public utility or perhaps how not to go about persuading a highly sceptical public that they should welcome paying another tax. Indeed, there’s at least one book in describing the arrogance and even incompetence of our government and our highly paid unaccountable senior civil servants in the foolhardiness of setting up a semi-state to gouge even more money from a taxpayer that is punch drunk from half a decade of being unfairly gouged by government, bankers and the EU.
The bottom line is that people are extremely angry that government has chosen to ignore the ordinary folk who have through their hard work, taxes and a myriad of other charges sacrificed to get this country back on its feet. It has ignored those who had little to do with the economic collapse and pandered to those who caused it and who even now continue to benefit from the largesse of government and whom have suffered minimal impact. The fact that many of these are in government, both political and permanent, makes matters all the worse.
The sad reality is until we have to pay for something we often have little regard for it. It is often said that if it costs nothing it’s worth nothing. Indeed, you could argue that the reason that 40% plus of all water entering the water supply network is lost through leaks is testament to that.
We pay for electricity and we try not to waste it. We pay for petrol and again we do not waste it if we can help it. Why should water be any different? Yes, you can argue that without water we die and that we have a right to water. However, a right to water and a right to clean potable water delivered to your house is not the same thing.
You could also argue that we already pay for water through general taxation. When a previous government eliminated rates in an effort to gain electoral advantage it eliminated any sort of property tax and any sort of services charges on which the running of an effective economy depends.
In the boom years the government lived off the fat of the land a.k.a. insanely high rates of stamp duty on new building works. With that fat it bought votes by acceding to every little wish of vested interest, pressure group, union boss, TD and county councillor to ensure its further election. But like in musical chairs the music stopped and the lolly stopped coming in. The bottom line was simple — the tax basis was far too narrow.
The reality is if we want an economy that keeps rolling along, despite the ups and downs of economic cycles, providing us with the services we need on an ongoing basis and that does not necessitate peaks and troughs in services provision, we need to find a way to broaden the tax base.
The problem is that government, political and permanent, love to see lots of lolly rolling around so that they can bestow largesse on their preferred audience. In other words they want to tax us to the hilt and will try to do this even if we have a broader and fairer tax base where we pay for what we consume. But before we go there, that grossly unfair gouger’s tax, the Universal Social Charge, has to be removed completely.
We also need to be sure that in paying for services and utilities the money we pay for our utilities is put back into the upkeep and improvement of these utilities, that they are not used for central government, like car tax is, or for ensuring that the staff of these utilities and service providers enjoy remuneration way above the national average.
In other words we need openness and transparency from those organisations that we fund and not lies, obfuscation or horse manure.
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