The final cut
Published 07/12/2012 | 05:00
• My mother had many sayings, but one is particularly apt. The spelling of the name is a guess, but . . . "It's like Mick Foosey's ass. Just when he had it trained to live on nothing, it died."
Our economy is just about there.
• The Minister said yesterday that he sees no reason why the taxpayer should subsidise private pensions over €60,000. Does that set a precedent for ministers' pensions? Should the taxpayer not pay beyond €60,000 to them as well?
• The Budget for 2013 has given us a new realignment of Irish politics. It is as follows: Far left: Socialist Party. Left: Sinn Fein. Centre: Fianna Fail. Right: Fine Gael. Far right: Labour. Party names nowadays very rarely represent the nature of the party's policies. It is the same in countries everywhere.
Duleek, Co Meath
• Having just listened to the Budget speech, it's a relief to know that our 'vulnerable' politicians have got off lightly:
– A token 10pc off Party Leaders' Allowances.
– The end of the unvouched, 'no questions asked' €15,000 per annum allowance.
– Politicians having to move to the higher vouched allowance, which, though reduced by 10pc, will still be higher than the abolished no-questions-asked allowance. However, only 10pc of those on the 'vouched' allowance will be subject to audit!
– No mention of any changes to the controversial 'turning up money' (officially the travel and accommodation allowance). Presumably the rationale is that it is already 'vouched' by clocking in. So, 'vulnerable' Dublin TDs will continue to get €12,000 per annum, tax-free, to turn up.
– No mention of increasing the pension levy on retired politician pensioners getting €100,000 plus.
Just one piece of hardship – the scrapping of the ministerial severance payments. OMG!
Ranelagh, Dublin 6
• Ministers Noonan and Howlin are honourable men and are no doubt doing their best to rescue the country from economic disaster. It is a great tragedy that neither they nor their legions of advisers, nor indeed the many commentators who examine the entrails, appear aware of the reality of work and growth in the 21st century.
Economic capability has surged forward since computerisation. The situation has been compounded by the elimination of need for a vast amount of human labour. Growth will be the exception in the future, as most developed economies are reaching full growth status.
Where growth is possible, it will be achieved by very sophisticated technology in a very short time, with minimal generation of employment.
The authors of this Budget appear totally unaware that this is now a world of an abundance of practically everything except work. We are well advanced into a 'work-free world' and must concentrate our efforts on creation of more jobs from less work.
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo
• So there we have it. When Mr Noonan stood up to begin his Budget speech, the annual salary paid to the President and Taoiseach was €200,000. The Tanaiste got €184,000, ministers got €170,000, and junior ministers got €130,000 – and that's before the myriad tax-free expenses and allowances are added.
Then of course there are the judges and the long list of previous office-holders who are still living it large at our expense and who have made no contribution to the sacrifices everyone else has had to make. There won't be any of them worrying this evening about how to heat the house or maintain their health cover.
When Mr Noonan sat down, nothing had changed for these people. Those hoping this Government would live up to its mandate and finally bring in a fully transparent and accountable Oireachtas expenses system will be very disappointed.
But of course in Ireland, where there are people the age of Mr Noonan and Mr Kenny running the Government, whose mentality on ethics was set in the 1970s, it's far easier to attack the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged children, who never get to see the inside of a minister's office, instead of facing down the fat cats who get to walk the corridors of government departments and have free access to ministers whenever they want.
After all, the fat cats have paid for their access, with their corporate donations to Fine Gael, and Mr Noonan must now be seen to deliver for them. They won't be disappointed.
Canary Wharf, London
• If I hear once more the mantra 'Every other country has introduced a property tax, so it's only right that Ireland does the same', I will not be responsible for my actions.
The point that is never made, however, is that the introduction of a property tax in these countries was never made against a backdrop of an already collapsed economy, in the midst of an austerity programme. Neither were any of them committed to giving billions of euro of their taxpayers' hard-earned cash to unsecured bondholders.
There is a time and a place for everything when it comes to balancing a nation's books, but asking property owners to cough up hundreds of euro on properties whose values have been decimated, and on which thousands on stamp duty has already been paid, while each successive Budget sucks ever more spending power from their ever decreasing incomes, doesn't strike me as the right time. The Government might yet rue this imposition.
Blessington, Co Wicklow