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No excuse not to pay home charge

THE ongoing household charge fiasco provides us with just the latest wretched example of how, like the famously stupid Bourbon's, we still neither forget nor learn from our mistakes.

Phil Hogan, after little more than a year in office, certainly appears to have learnt nothing from the varying mistakes of Martin Cullen and Noel Dempsey. But while Mr Hogan makes an excellent villain, he is not the only one, for this latest mess is also another example of how the 'Angola' of Environment is as bad for your political wellbeing as the Department of Health.

As with electronic voting, the handling of this mess has been defined by contempt for the citizens and bountiful examples of systemic incompetence. Such a dyspeptic combination will surprise few for the same department has presided over the collapse of our water infrastructure; an iniquitous culture of taxing private enterprise to finance bureaucratic largesse; the loose self-regulation of the building industry that created a thousand Priory Halls; and a form of local government that combines stupefied incompetence with venality. Mr Hogan would be wise to come up with answers as to why there has been no reform.

We, however, have our own questions to answer, for it is past time that the self-serving hypocrisy about refusing to pay the household charge being some inspirational display of "people power" was challenged. As part of such a process it would also be no bad thing if disingenuous politicians and trade union leaders refrained from conjuring up the spectre of fearful old-age pensioners as a bulwark against this, and almost every other act of social progress.

Refusing to pay this charge is nothing more than another manifestation of our ongoing culture of civic irresponsibility. Of course, if you genuinely believe this selfish individualism, where tax in Ireland is avoided by billionaires, pensioners and self-proclaimed paupers, is a victimless crime, then our "sophisticated" voters are entitled to embrace the political theories of "role models" like Sinn Fein and Michael Wallace. But, as Mr Kenny may yet learn when it comes to a different matter, they shouldn't complain if after lying down with mongrels they wake with fleas.

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