Why don’t leaders stop trying to get blood out of a stone?

Yesterday we had the fifth of what will be a longer series of savage budgets.

Further burdens have been placed on our shoulders to pay off professional financial gamblers aka bondholders, and to keep our politicians and senior public servants in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to.

In saying this, we should not forget the massive burden that we are being asked to carry to fund the lifestyle of senior bankers, current and retired, since many of them are now State employees.

However, we can look at an issue that will undoubtedly enfold from the budget as sure as night follows day.

Last week, the Cork City Council management was reported to have taken exception to comments made by Judge Olann Kelleher who had been dealing with cases related to the failure by hundreds of businesses to pay commercial rates.

The judge had criticised the high commercial rates applied by Cork City Council and asked “if anyone was looking at the connection between high rates and the closure of shops and offices?”

He said he had 170 cases on his list at Cork District Court and he would have over 200 more in the fortnight before Christmas.

He was not apparently disputing that the money was owed but was concerned at how it appeared to be dealt with by the council.

We can be sure that this is a familiar story right across the country as government, national and local, seek more and more funds to pay for the obligations that they have taken on.

Unfortunately, business is failing, particularly retail business, as government takes more and more out of people’s pockets to fund day-to-day spending.

But to pay tax you must first make a profit. Very many companies, particularly in retail but also those servicing retail, are finding business and getting paid more difficult every day. Making any profit is getting harder and harder. That is only set to worsen in the year ahead. Councils need to pay heed to this.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s budget, more people will have considerably less money, as a whole raft of new charges kick in. Water is due to be metered very soon and costs could be up to €500 per year including a fixed annual charge to pay for the initial installation of the meter. The property tax is going to take hundreds of euro a year from households. These figures do not seem like much but when you add them to increased universal charges and the rest, and increased school costs, third-level charges, the price of all of the main utilities, all of which are set by government and you start getting to serious numbers.

I know where my priorities would be. Feeding, clothing and keeping my family warm would be major priorities followed by health and education.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is coming into play once again in our lives.

Survival is now the main driver for many, while self- actualisation is getting further and further away.

If government imposes its threats to have the revenue commissioners try to take “blood from stones” there will be hell to pay.

Having judges complain about hard-hearted local government will be the least of our worries.

I might have been wrong when I started to pen this. However, I doubt if our remote coalition will take on the vested interests that are satisfied with our economic subjugation.



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