Sunday 20 August 2017

Charlie Weston: Those who shout loudest are not always the worst off

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Few will have been surprised at the findings of a recent survey showing family finances are yet to recover after years of austerity. Almost three years since the bail-out Troika left this country, nearly half of the workforce is still worried about losing their jobs. And thousands worry about pay cuts, according to the 'Aviva Family Finances' report.

Our political leaders would do well to study the report.

In it they will find, in a nutshell, why voters are furious. There is a justified anger all over this country over the blowing up and inevitable collapse of our public finances and the banking crash - and over the fact that the bill for the mess has been sent to middle Ireland.

There is a disconnect between politicians and put-upon citizens, who are being forced to shell out again and again over the failures of an insider elite. Banking chiefs, high-end business consultants and corporate lawyers are making merry.

And it is the squeezed middle that is asked to carry the can for the mess.

A recent study by the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Geary Institute and Oxford University ('Economic stress and the great recession in Ireland') found that middle-income groups have been proportionately most affected by the economic crash, and not the poor, as many claim. The self-employed were hit particularly hard.

What this shows is that those who shout loudest are not always the worst-off.

Middle-Ireland has been savaged by redundancies, pay cuts, higher taxes and charges, extortionate motor insurance increases, surging health insurance premiums, a disgraceful levy on private pensions, and banks that are price gouging.

The researchers concluded that these changes are more likely to impact middle-income people.

And the reward people get for paying up? Water charges are abolished, leaving tax-compliant householders that paid up looking like patsies. And thousands who refuse to pay bin charges get the debts written off.

Large numbers of left-wing TDs now populate the Dail opposing water and waste charges, shouting that someone else should pay. They conveniently ignore the fact someone else is already paying, on the double - the middle-income mugs.

Economic victimhood abounds, with relatively well-off public servants adept at putting on the poor mouth.

The real financial pain is being suffered by the squeezed middle, particularly those in the private sector and the self-employed.

Politicians need to wake up to this fact.

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