Monday 19 February 2018

Debt forgiveness: still dirty words

Writing off loans for people in Nama is fine, but not for our friends and neighbours, writes James Fitzsimons

WE live in a country where financial independence hinges on whether there is enough disposable income left after tax to pay the bills. Most people in Ireland have this independence, but not everybody does. Their lifestyles and disposable incomes may have been altered by the global downturn, but we still live in a developed economy and our standard of living is better than in most countries around the world. But even before the economic crisis, mortgage repayments ate up disposable income for many people. They were dependent on income growth to sustain repayments in the future. The combination of falling incomes and higher tax in a group that had nothing left was too much to bear.

There is a price to pay if you live in our society and share in its benefits. We may not have the best healthcare or education system in the world. Fifteen per cent of the people may be out of work. The weather could be better most of the time. And it always seems to cost more to buy things here than anywhere else. Until things get better we might even have to go abroad to find work and to support our families. But when we add it all up, Ireland is a great place to live, work and play.

We have come a long way in the past 100 years. But we have more problems than we can handle. We should work together to fix them. Not everyone in the country is in a position to fight their way back to where we were three years ago. Even then, not everyone was comfortable. The Celtic Tiger passed them by. They need our help more now than they did then.

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