WE are coming to the end of the war waged on this economy since 2008. The banks are the aggressors, the victims are households, and this economic struggle has gone on longer than most conflicts.
The financial damage inflicted on ordinary people has been immense. Job losses, pay cuts, huge levels of mortgage arrears, mental anguish and a list of austerity taxes as long as your arm are just some of the collateral damage of the economic terrorism unleashed by the banks.
But there is a way to at least partially force the banks to make up for the economic misery they have inflicted on this country.
We need some form of restitution that will put manners on them, and will also mean some much-needed tax relief for families.
A good way to do this would be to triple the size of the levy imposed on banks in the last Budget, using the funds raised from it to cut that awful austerity tax - the Universal Social Charge (USC).
No doubt the banks will attempt to pass on the higher levy to consumers in the form of higher charges and fees and more expensive loans.
But that could be resisted by proper regulation from the Central Bank.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan introduced a levy on banks of €150m a year in the last Budget.
The levy is supposed to reflect the role played by these financial institutions in the crash, and is based on the level of deposits they take in.
There is no reason why this levy should not be tripled to €450m a year in next month's Budget.
The funds raised would be enough to shave 1pc off the higher rate of USC, taking it from 7pc to 6pc. A single-income couple on €60,000 would gain €440 in a year from this, according to Ernst & Young. A double-income couple, with joint income of €60,000, would gain €580 a year.
Changes to the USC give a much bigger benefit to taxpayers than even a 1pc reduction in the top income tax rate coming down to 40pc.
You can be sure the banks, and their cheerleaders, would go nuts.
But it needs to be remembered that AIB and Bank of Ireland are back making profits again.
And these two in particular are earning massive profit margins on new mortgages. At a time when the European Central Bank rate is just 0.05pc, they have variable mortgage rates of 4.5pc. This means profits of €300 a month on a new €200,000 mortgage.
That is usurious. You can get a mortgage for less in almost every country in the eurozone.
We bailed them out, and the thanks householders have got from the banks is higher fees and charges, deposit savings rates that are constantly falling and sky-high lending rates. It is well past time we got something back from the banking brats.
Sunday Indo Business