Tuesday 6 December 2016

Carol Hunt : 'Filthy rich' capitalist image is far from reality

The entrepreneurial 'working poor' have become a very disadvantaged group

Published 16/12/2012 | 05:00

OPEN ALL HOURS: Few entrepreneurs are like the TV character Arkwright, played by the late Ronnie Barker
OPEN ALL HOURS: Few entrepreneurs are like the TV character Arkwright, played by the late Ronnie Barker

THERE'S an odd bit of analysis in last week's Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) report on household wealth (or poverty) which struck me as very revealing. It concerned the fact that nearly half (44 per cent) of what we call the "working poor" are self-employed.

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Now, the "party-line" in Ireland has always been that the self-employed or small business-owners are capitalist go-getters, squeezing the life-blood out of the system and their poor impoverished employees, while sending all their kids to college on state-funded grants.

Even now, entrepreneurs whose businesses have collapsed are viewed with suspicion, as people assume they have millions stashed in some offshore island and are only crying poverty to get out of paying their creditors. And in some cases, this is true. Other stories about bust developers, who owe gazillions, earning hefty wage packets while "helping" out Nama, or living the high life abroad don't help to alter the public perception that all people who work for themselves are creaming it.

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