Tuesday 27 September 2016

So, when is a tax a fair tax? Can it ever be fair?

Published 22/05/2014 | 02:30

Former environment minister Phil Hogan
Former environment minister Phil Hogan
Miley Cyrus covered a song by The Smiths

So, let's take a quick wander around the average person's pay packet, shall we?

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Well, the chances are you were first hit with a pay freeze, which was a pain. Then, most likely, the promised pay freeze eventually morphed into an actual pay cut, with many people losing 10pc off the top.

Then there was the Universal Social Charge which seemed to be designed to help nobody and hinder all of us.

And let's not forget the property charge. Because you know what? Irish people just didn't pay enough when they bought their house. I know, from my own point of view, I feel that having paid a mansion price for an ordinary gaff, I really, really wanted to be ripped off one more time.

And as tomorrow's cavalcade of lunatics and careerists line up and parade themselves like they're working girls in some bunny ranch from hell, one clarion call has been ringing loud and clear – water charges.

In fact, one young wan in my constituency is running, it would appear, entirely on the basis of opposition to the new charges.

Water, she loftily informs us, is the most basic thing in the world and trying to charge us for using it is a bit like trying to charge us for breathing air. That's all very fine and dandy but only if you suffer from the increasingly prevalent condition known as being hard of thinking.

Because the water we use, unlike the air, is not a natural resource, it's a product. It is a product that is refined, treated and recycled and that costs money.

In fact, standing for election purely on the opposition to water charges makes about as much sense as standing for election on the promise that if you win, you'll give everyone a free puppy. It's a nice idea but one that, sadly, is hardly grounded in reality.

Yes, the infrastructure and pipe system is a joke. Yes, we are all bloody sick of paying for things that used to be gratis.

And yes, we should all be fretful about any supposed tax like this because, as history has shown us, there's always the likelihood that the Government will simply move the funds from one pot and put them into a different one entirely.

But that doesn't change the fact that none of us have an automatic right to free water and it is beyond stupid to expect to have a constant supply of the stuff on, well, on tap.

This is a classic example of the politics of delusion – the delusion that the State should provide everything for nothing.

Although on second thoughts, it is even more pernicious than that – because some of our friends on the Left claim that they can pay for water charges through the new introduction of a 'wealth' tax. This would see rich people – those who have more than a hundred quid in their pocket after their weekly bills have been paid, it would appear – being forced to hand over their hard-earned money to those who haven't earned it.

Call it 'income redistribution' if you want. Call it 'levelling the playing field' or, my favourite, call it 'building for a fairer future'. But it is theft, pure and simple; the politics of envy which would see money taken from working people and handed over to those who don't work.

Will the Government make a monumental balls of the water charge? Probably. For starters, all these extraneous charges could have been bundled into one staggered bill which would reduce hassle for the consumer and free up some of the bureaucracy. But then we like bureaucracy in this country – particularly the well-paid kind.

Nobody wants to be pay extra for something we have always taken for granted.

But nobody argues that we shouldn't have to pay for the electricity that powers our home, or the gas that heats it.

So what's the difference?

HMV - They are terrible people

As you obviously know, the brilliant 5 Seconds of Summer are meeting fans in HMV Dundrum this Saturday. Yeah, I know, I haven't slept in a week, either. And nor have their fans, it would appear.

In fact, having taken the monstrous decision to limit the number of tickets to 300, the evil record store has been on the receiving end of the wrath of teenage girls. And, as we all know, there is no wrath more terrifying.

Obviously – or 'obvs', as these little women like to say – the fact that there are only 300 passes has resulted in some of the fans being left out. And, equally obvs, said fans have reacted with typical stoicism and equanimity.

One of them promised that "I'm literally willing to sell an organ for one (ticket)" while HMV's Twitter feed soon descended into the kind of hysterical name calling and eye gouging of a ferocity that you'd normally only see at an Indo works outing. In fact, the fans have complained that because there are thousands of them, it is like totally unfair to limit the numbers and HMV's online feed quickly descended into a grammar massacre as fans vied with each other to show how they have loved the band all their life since they first heard them last week.

So, c'mon HMV, let more of the fans in. What the hell is wrong with you? Don't you know that 5 Seconds of Summer love their fans more than any other band in the world and they would be distraught if they thought their following was being treated in this way?

Here's the Public Service bit of the column – I'd steer well clear of Dundrum on Saturday afternoon, if I were you . . .

No, No, No

I know it's a bit weird to have two yoof stories in one day but somebody has to say no! I was so outraged that I even rang Liveline, but, as usual, I didn't get on air. Playing in Dublin the other night, Miley Cyrus decided to do a cover of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

No. Just no. Stop it woman. Is nothing sacred any more?

Honestly – something should be done, Joe.

Irish Independent

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