Can the Irish left get beyond ‘eating the rich’?

In the Irish Times, Vincent Browne is in as trenchant a mood as he was on TV 3 last night with Senator Dan Boyle… Browne is unequivocal: the government has failed, but the solution is obvious:

Produce a clear plan that requires the rich to bear the burden of the adjustments required and protect the poor, the unemployed, the sick, the vulnerable and children, with the members of the Government leading the way by taking the first and deepest hit.

Or as Gerard would have it: Eat the Rich!:

Such leftest populism (or ‘politics of envy’ as others might choose to put it) is one of the reasons the Irish Left has been left in the ha’penny place for so long. To be successful, the next generation of Irish political leadership will need to be broad enough to tackle the huge range of challenges coming at it.

More soberly, David Stevens and Alex Evans note in a new article for Renewal Magazine that:

Tip O’Neill famously observed that ‘all politics is local’, but today, the drivers of political success and failure are predominantly global. In a world as complex and interdependent as ours, risks multiply. Their impact, meanwhile, is unevenly distributed. While one group of people reap the benefits of an action, others feel the pain, as conflict, economic turbulence, disease or resource shortages disrupt their lives. Failure can also cascade from one system to another, a prospect that has become increasingly likely in a ‘just-in-time’ world.

In response, we need to get serious about how to make global, national and local systems more resilient. This is an imposing challenge. A new politics will be needed, one that is internationalist by default, but also hard-headed about the perils of globalisation. Governance systems will have to take on arduous new functions and slough off some old ones. Renewed attention must also be paid to subsidiarity, the tricky task of determining which function should be discharged where.

Interestingly they trick out the two ends of an argument that is raging in troubled economies all over the west:

Liberals have long argued for the diffusion of power. As Hayek argued, centralised control is not possible over systems ‘which no brain has designed but which [have] grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals’ (Hayek, 19 74). He, after all, was awarded a Nobel prize over thirty years ago for his ‘penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena’. Classical liberalism, however, has consistently been troubled by government attempts to create public goods. The result is an instinctive opposition to regulation, which leaves little room for attempts to
manage unstable global systems.

Social democrats, finally, understand the importance of public goods and are prepared to act forcefully to protect the vulnerable. They are also willing to act boldly to manage global instability. However, they have the weakness of being instinctive meddlers, crowding out the initiative of other actors and risking over-centralisation in the face of distributed risks.

No one else in Irish politics is advocating the positive use of public goods to help bring the economy through this global crisis (that’s not obfuscating, it is an abundant reality Vincent). But this temptation towards meddling, is the bigger problem for the Irish left with an opportunity to present itself as a credible candidate for leading the next government.

Indeed, Labour, the largest and most politically serious of the left (or progressive) parties, has not only this problem, but the inheritance of Fianna Fail’s highly solipsistic and corrosive social partnership system. As Evans and Stevens note:

This is a time when states will be under pressure to take on new, and onerous, responsibilities, such as taking responsibility for regulating carbon and other scarce resources. Unprecedented institutional innovation will be needed if these responsibilities are to be discharged without imposing unsustainable levels of cost. It is surely therefore time to put the ‘nanny state’ out of her misery, while we search for a more sustainable relationship between government and state.

Lastly, the challenge:

In the end, resilience is about a politics that is ‘progressive’ in a pure sense. Rather than following the ideological imprint of a bygone age, we need to be prepared to take a broad view of the systems that we depend on – and re-order our priorities to ensure that every action we take helps strengthen and defend them.

That takes courage, and a farsighted vision of the future. The question is not ‘what risks do we want to avoid?’ but ‘what do we want to be resilient for?’

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  • Hmmm, lot of generalisations here, which hint at the interconnection between a lot of poltiical thinkig. Essentially the current crisis highlights the limitations of power that Governments have, in Ireland or the UK, whether they choose to be ‘meddlesome or not.

    BTW – Loved the Motorhead tune (one of Lemmy’s few film roles) and a classic slab of ‘Head rockin’. Aerosmith also have a song called Eat the Rich with lyrics apropos if the rich bankers bonus culture 🙂

  • I think Mick part of the problem is that the response to this crisis among many of the middle and upper classes has been eat the poor, and so the left is naturally responding in kind. Especially when we recall how was the irresponsible speculating of massive corporate banks that got us all into this mess in the first place.

    By eat the poor, I mean: use unprecedented sums of taxpayers’ money to bail out those responsible, while simultaneously they call for cuts in public services and the public sector (not that a lot of southern civil servants aren’t paid far too much money, starting with the politicians). This type of thinking can also be seen in the UK, where around a dozen Tory MPs have called for the minimum wage to be made voluntary.

    There is also an – entirely justified in my view – perception that the mega rich of the Celtic Tiger (both individuals and companies) escaped anything approaching moral levels of taxation, partly due to the government running the country in their interest. It’s not that unreasonable to suggest that they should have to shoulder more of the burden instead of just the workers in the public sector, or the lower paid, as in the extra levy in the last budget.

    While people might like to see a bunch of these fuckers put up against a wall and shot, and their property seized, that isn’t going to happen. But there are credible left alternatives available. We hear a lot about tough choices and sacrifices. Let’s start with one or two of the undead banks, sucking on the taxpayers’ lifeblood. Letting them go to the wall would certainly ease the burden on the state.

    I wonder why it is that when the rest of the world is trying Kenysianism, the south is talking only of cuts. Ideology is the answer it seems to me, and it is as much at the ideological as at the level of concrete proposals if not more so, that this battle will be waged.

  • Dublin voter

    Janey Mick. You should have called this thread: “Can the Irish left stop being left and become right?”
    I’m of a left wing persuasion myself and it seems to me that Browne’s proposed solution is what being left means. (I’d quibble with hitting the members of the government first and hardest, I’d prefer to hit the wealthiest first, hardest and often.)
    But give me Browne’s solution any time ahead of your rambling, wordy obfuscations.
    We have been in thrall to neo-liberal, shrink the state, every man for himself, capitalism for a generation. And now that the bubble is burst, we get a load of neo-liberal cheerleaders saying the solution is more neo-liberal capitalism.
    Things are looking good for leftists down here at the moment. We could, just could, be looking at the end of FF hegemony over Irish life. With the right wind, we could be looking at a collapse of FF of the scale of the Christian Democrat collapse in Italy over a decade ago. Which just leaves FG to be dealt with.

  • credit crunch

    The problem with Vincent and those super rich “Lefties” like him is that they never lead the way on these things.
    Why doesn’t he set everyone an example by redistributing some of his own considerable wealth?

  • Mack

    Dublin voter

    We have been in thrall to neo-liberal, shrink the state, every man for himself, capitalism for a generation

    Nice sound bite, pity the truth is the exact opposite, and the state has expanded massively!

    Employment in Public Sector December 1998
    289,000 (including health)
    Avg. Weekly Wage
    £446.54

    Source
    http://www.cso.ie/releasespublications/documents/earnings/1999/psempearn_dec1999.pdf

    Employment in Public Sector in September 2008
    369,000 (including health)
    Avg. Weekly Wage
    €945.18

    Source
    http://www.cso.ie/releasespublications/documents/earnings/current/psempearn.pdf

  • kensei

    Produce a clear plan that requires the rich to bear the burden of the adjustments required and protect the poor, the unemployed, the sick, the vulnerable and children, with the members of the Government leading the way by taking the first and deepest hit.

    I find this worrying but for another reason. While I think a clear case can be made for the rich to take more of the strain, a system whereby 10% of the population represents 90% of the tax base is unsustainable and pushes the boundaries of what is moral. There are limits to redistribution.

    Welfare systems as originally envisaged had everyone giving and everyone receiving. There was a redistributive element but at its heart it was an epxression of social solidarity and was designed to be a cohesive force. I dislike the suggestion to take the poor complete out of tax for similar reasons. It’s like opting out of society and strikes me as a corresive force.

    Redistribution has its part to play. But it isn’t an alternative to trying to answer the hard questions of how to organically encourage a flatter distribution of wealth (but not too falt: we need incentives to climb too) and better give more equal opportunities to those without vast resources. If “soak the rich” is all you’ve got, then yes, you are a bit screwed.

  • joeCanuck

    Sounds like “A Modest Proposal” to me.

  • kensei

    Mack

    Inflation normally causes the price of goods to double every 10 years, no? So better than average, band probably better than the private sector, but slightly misleading there.

    What’s the comparative real wages?

  • One of the reasons the left finds it so hard at times, is the definition of the rich tends to be so broad as to include a lot of position that other people aspire to be. The “awful” business sector includes many self employed plumbers, taxi drivers and painters.

    The left needs to be less academic and more practical about what it is trying to achieve.

  • Neil

    Dan,

    if the suggestion, as it appears to me, is to tax the really rich more heavily than the working classes, I would assume that the decision to tax whom by how much would be based on their P60.

    So taxi man, plumber or investment banker, if they all earned a million quid last year they would all get hit the same. So I’m not sure what you’re suggesting, is it the job title that matters in this instance, for example it makes sense for lefties to suggest taxing bankers, but not a plumber who earns the same amount of money, simply because his job is a ‘working class’ job?

    Ken,

    I see what you’re saying, and it’s all pie in the sky chat, but do you not think that a balance could be struck, whereby certain big earners would be hit considerably harder than say an unemployed mother of say five kids (who is probably getting approx. 1000 per month in benefits – and fair play to them) who would also be hit, but by a lesser degree?

    Invariably, it seems to me, the losers will always be the minimum wage folks who have little representation these days.

  • Dublin voter

    Thanks Mack. Fair point.

    Here’s another one. The PAYE sector down here, which includes those public sector workers, has always paid more than its fair share of tax. Businessmen, company directors, property speculators, owners of wealth have never paid their fair share. They have always been able to avail of legal ways to avoid paying tax. Legal because the governments have always been their governments. As a leftist I believe we need a government which will change that and make them pay their fair share. If we ever do get such a government, we will hear those sectors squeal and we will see them using all their power to change that government or bend it to their will. When we hear them squealing we’ll know we are doing the right thing. Simplistic maybe but I am a simple man with simple dreams.

  • kensei

    Neil

    They should pay more but not foot the entire bill.

  • Mack

    Dublin Voter

    That’s true there are a lot of fat cats who got away with murder tax wise.

    In this current crises my friends in the private sector are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts. My friends in the public sector have to pay a little towards their superior pensions (we already have to pay towards ours). There is no chance of redundancies for them, and they are set to hit the streets this weekend. My main gripe is, with higher wages, better working conditions, better job security there is a complete lack of appreciation of how lucky they have it. In order to keep the public sector in the luxury, to which they have become customed – the rest of the workers (those lucky enough to hold onto their jobs) will have to pay higher taxes.

    At the minute, given the priveleged positon of state workers – left wing politics is the politics of privelege. Vested interests defending the silver spoon the rest of us will pay for. Leftist complainants about the neo-liberal policies in Ireland sounds like delusional and dangerous rhetoric to me…

  • Mack

    Should read

    Leftist complaints about neo-liberal policies in Ireland sounds like delusional and dangerous rhetoric to me…

  • Mack

    Kensei

    Rule of 72 :-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_72

    For prices to double in 10 years inflation needs to be running at a hefty 7.2%.

    Remember 30% additional workers in a decade, average wages nearly double. Most of those additional workers would be starting at the bottom (taking the overall average down), while many senior staff would have retired over that period.

  • Neil, what I’m suggesting is that the self employed plumber aspires to be a rich self employed plumber one day and for that reason he is not so keen on some of the definitions of well-off or rich that are out there.

    It’s part of the same reason why people in the US who would benefit most from the democrats end up voting republican. It’s not because they like the well off it is because they would like to be them.

    And people have a strange way of normalising their income to see themselves as normal regular people instead of better off than most. A household income of 80K per year is much better off than most but you’d be hard pressed to find too many families with that level of income who would describe themselves as better off.

  • abucs

    Instead of steady ‘never changing’ financial policies it seems common sense (for a progressive nation) to have shifting ideologies depending on the economic situation.

    Sometimes we need to give huge rewards for businessmen or indeed foreigners to create large new industries.

    Sometimes we need to create huge rewards for local businessmen to grow their smaller businesses.

    Sometimes we need to reward those who will enter into certain education in order to staff key national industries.

    Sometimes we need to address the inbalance in wealth that creates social tiers in society.

    And with all these incentives we have to ensure that nobody gets left behind and people don’t get so rich that huge numbers of them don’t need to work and on the other end huge numbers are not comfortable picking up state welfare for ever and a day.

    The problem with changing policies is that to win democratic elections you have to appeal to a certain section of the community and that voting is very much a tribal loyalty issue.

    Voters will be loyal to a party only when it represents them and parties are loathe to throw away inbuilt voter blocs that they need to get it into government.

    Hence democracy has come to be a tug of war between different social ideologies with the hope that one ideology doesn’t dominate for longer than it should.

    With the absence of everybody reading from the same page, perhaps this is the best democracy can be ?

    And the left plays its part in that, as does the right.

  • Harry Flashman

    “an unemployed mother of say five kids who is probably getting approx. 1000 per month in benefits – [b]and fair play to them[/b]”

    Why?

  • Mack

    abucs

    Good post, which is why we need democracy and both the right and the left. The danger is though the political system can be abused to the benefit of favoured groups (e.g. bankers, developers, public sector workers).

    In Ireland – an advanced economy – the vast majority work in sectors exposed to market forces, they compete globally and generate the wealth that sustains the nation. A minority of workers work in the protected sector. Unusually, by international standards a right wing government greatly increased pay conditions beyond those in the private sector for those workers during a boom. Now we have a bust, those of us in the private sector are bearing the brunt of it. It is so depressing to hear leftists in Ireland complain of having it bad – when by comparision they’ve done well and will come out of this relatively unscathed. What is even worse is I hear the unions are planning industrial action over having to contribute a fraction of the cost of their defined benefit pensions.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “The problem with Vincent and those super rich “Lefties” like him is that they never lead the way on these things.”

    I agree. They knock, pour scorn but never suggest solutions!

  • runciter

    The wealthy benefited much more from the neo-liberal economy of the past few decades than the poor. Increasing inequality in wealth distribution was dismissed as a none-issue on the basis that the general trend was upwards. Now that the general trend has turned sharply downwards, the issue of distribution of resources is going to become critical. The disparities that have arisen will need to be addressed.

    The fact that the wealthy are in a better position to weather losses than the poor will be increasingly obvious to all, particularly those who are at risk of being impoverished by the recession.

    Any government that fails to recognise this fact will get rightly hammered.

  • runciter

    Now we have a bust, those of us in the private sector are bearing the brunt of it.

    Just as the private sector also reaped the greatest rewards when things were going well.

    This is the nature of “risk” – which the private sector was so keen to embrace up until very recently.

  • I have a somewhat different perspective on this matter. The most recent TNS-MRBI poll, like others over the years, has confirmed the surprising fact that contrary to the stereotype of leftwing parties and their support-base, Labour’s strongest support comes from the better off AB-class voters and weakest amongst the poorest DE-class. It confirms a theory I have about “champsgne-socialism” amongst sections of the upper middle-class and upper-classes in this country, who live differently to what they preach. In particular this helps reconcile the apparent contradiction between Labour’s purported support for workers-rights on the one hand, and their support for uncontrolled immigration – notably from the new accession states of the EU – on the other hand. Surely they must know that an abundance of cheap-labour is a precondition for displacement of Irish workers to drive down pay and conditions, as well as to exploit migrant-workers? Knowing this, it also appears strange that they are so supportive of allowing asylum-seekers to work, which they are prevented from doing (legally) in Ireland and the UK. Do they not realise that were Ireland to allow them to work, a likely consequence would be a mass-migration of bogus asylum-seekers from the UK to Ireland, with the same consequences for low-skilled, working-class Irish workers? Or is it just that – freed by their comfortable economic conditions – they just don’t care? Should we call them “socialists” at all, in the strictest sense of that term?

  • Greenflag

    Abucs ,

    Now that was a very sensible post 🙂 If the present world wide economic crisis worsens those of us who hope and wish for ‘democratic ‘ values to be upheld may see that wish ‘undermined ‘ The Western world may have the resources to ride out a year or two of no growth and may have enough social cohesion to stave off popular revolt but this is not true of the emerging economies in the rest of the world . If the Germans don’t bail out the Eastern europeans these countries will be drawn back into ‘Russian ‘ control and that’s just one example . The prospects for resource and ethno religious wars will increase dramatically .

    All of which should remind us that whereas the ‘economy ‘ is critical it’s even more important that political power does not in these circumstances and conditions end up in the hands of single interest groups be they of the left or right .

    What we have seen in over the past 20 years from the USA experience has been just that -namely the ‘control ‘ of American foreign and economic policy has been largely determined and influenced by the interests of what’s called the ‘shadow banking ‘ sector 🙁

  • Mack

    Runciter

    Just as the private sector also reaped the greatest rewards when things were going well.

    This is the nature of “risk” – which the private sector was so keen to embrace up until very recently.

    Not true in Ireland! Thanks to benchmarking wages are 20% higher in the public sector than the private sector. Pensions are defined benefit, and index linked to pay rises, these are far more valuable than private sector defined contribution pensions. There is total job security, there are long holidays, flexi-time and paid overtime.

    What it is the nature of political pressure! Regardles of your rhetoric about the ‘wealthy’, the truth is ordinary private sector workers are going to sit this one out on the dole, go bankrupt when they can’t pay their mortgage, or if they are lucky and still have a job they will pay the for the superior benefits (salary, pension, conditions, security) of public sector workers via higher taxes.

    There is no real sense of togetherness from the left – I’ve yet to see anywillingnes to share in some pain so others may be spared catasrophic loss (families going bankrupt).

  • Mack

    Brian Boru

    How many of those Labour voting AB1’s are well paid, protected, civil servants, or those who’s income depends on the state in some way (e.g. barristers & lawyers)?

  • Greenflag

    Mack

    ‘ What is even worse is I hear the unions are planning industrial action over having to contribute a fraction of the cost of their defined benefit pensions. ‘

    Indeed -those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad 🙁

    Human greed again no different in principle from Madoff , Stanford or our own Fitzpatrick and others . It’s understandable that the public service unions should be ‘cut up’ but there must be a brain or two out there amidst them that realises that they the (the public sector ) would not be able to afford bean soup if it were not for the ‘wealth ‘ i.e taxes paid by the private sector .

    As Abucs said on his post on another thread this is not the time for ‘ideological ‘ politics of right versus left . This is about ‘international financial warfare ‘ and Ireland’s only weapon is our Euro membership and our international credit rating . If the Irish Government were to collapse or the country to be wracked by public service strikes it will just mean to the rest of the world that the Irish have become overnight necrophiliacs and are indulging in the age old monastic habit of digging their own albeit in this instance economic grave !

  • Neil

    Harry,

    My own (fairly unpopular opinion) is that people should be free to not work and to get a small amount of assistance from the state. In the scenario I mentioned I also firmly believe the reason a lot of the kids in my area are little more than hoods, is down to poor parenting. I think the kids that have their mother’s (and or fathers) at home with them, looking out for them and teaching them, are at a distinct advantage to those other kids who are literally bucked out the door and encouraged to become someone else’s problem.

    They should not be expected to have a poor standard of living. 250 quid a week amongst the hypothetical family I mentioned is not an unreasonably large amount of money in my opinion, when the various bills are paid out.

    As I mentioned I would also endorse leaving the long term unemployed to slouch about their houses for which they are entitled to enough money to stay alive, which works out at approximately 50 quid a week for food and heat. I personally choose to work as my standard of living wouldn’t survive fifty bills a week. Again I should stress that this is an opinion which would irritate some of my lefty mates…

  • Mack

    Neil

    My own (fairly unpopular opinion) is that people should be free to not work and to get a small amount of assistance from the state

    So if everyone chose this option ….

    Or what about if your dependency ratio (workers to supported non-workers) began to increase as your population aged?

  • Harry Flashman

    @ Neill

    My earliest revelation of the injustice of the welfare system came when the full time secretary of the company I worked for, a married mother who paid income tax and National Insurance as well as her own mortgage and car and who claimed not a ha’penny from the state other than her child benefit, pointed out that the single mother of three who had housing benefit, dole, free school meals, disability living allowance etc who did a few days part time work for us was bringing in twice as much income as she was.

    The secretary mildly pointed out that that seemed a little unjust, I agreed with her, I still do, that’s why I queried your “fair play to her” comment.

    @Greenflag

    Have you noticed that Madoff, whom you seem to insist on mentioning twice a day, along with Stanford and along with those other two massive Ponzi schemes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were all massive contributors to the Democrat Party of the United States?

    Funny that, isn’t it? Because if one listened to you one would believe that they were somehow linked to people who believed in fiscal conservatism.

    Why is that?

  • runciter

    Not true in Ireland! Thanks to benchmarking wages are 20% higher in the public sector than the private sector.

    Wages are not a good measure of the overall growth of wealth in the private sector, since they do not reflect the increased wealth of business owners.

    I’d be surprised if you could show me evidence that the public sector grew more quickly than the private sector during the Celtic Tiger years.

    Regardles of your rhetoric about the ‘wealthy’, the truth is ordinary private sector workers are going to sit this one out on the dole

    Generally speaking, ‘the wealthy’ does not include ‘ordinary private sector workers’.

    I’ve yet to see anywillingnes to share in some pain

    How many Trade Unionists have you discussed this issue with?

  • Mack

    Runciter

    It is the ordinary private sector worker and not the business owner (apart from those who go bust) who are and will continue to bear the brunt of this downturn. Which is my point, you can blame the rich all you like – but they’re not the ones who will experience the pain. It is 36,000 of them who lost their jobs last month, it is ordinary workers in the private sector who are taking pay cuts and coping with pay freezes.

    Comparitive salaries

    Employment in Public Sector
    Avg. Weekly Wage
    €945.18

    Source
    http://www.cso.ie/releasespublications/documents/earnings/current/psempearn.pdf

    Employment in manufacturing / industrial sectors
    Avg. Weekly Wage
    €627.24

    Source
    http://www.cso.ie/releasespublications/documents/earnings/current/indearn.pdf

    That’s about 30% higher where in most European countries Industrial wages are higher. Recent reports put the public sector as 20% better paid on average than the private sector. Cowan earns more than Obama, the head of Irish Central Bank earns more than the head of the ECB.


    If business costs were lower less people would lose their jobs (think electricity, rates). If wages in the public sector were lower we may have had some scope for a fiscal stimulus now.

  • Mack

    I’ve yet to see anywillingnes to share in some pain

    How many Trade Unionists have you discussed this issue with?

    They’re are striking over contributing to their superior pensions. Actions speak louder than words.

  • runciter

    Which is my point, you can blame the rich all you like – but they’re not the ones who will experience the pain.

    I’m glad that you have come round to my original point.

    They’re are striking over contributing to their superior pensions. Actions speak louder than words.

    Their actions only demonstrate that the unions do not agree with the government’s proposed formula.

    It does not follow that they are unwilling to share any pain, as you have claimed.

  • Greenflag

    Hairy Flashheart ,

    ‘Funny that, isn’t it? Because if one listened to you one would believe that they were somehow linked to people who believed in fiscal conservatism.

    Why is that?

    Here’s a list of Madoff’s ‘grateful ‘ fiscal conservative recipients . You’ll note that one of them i.e the Presidential nominee as late as last September is on record as stating the USA’s economy is fundamentally ‘Sound ‘ . Note the list of ‘formers ‘ on the Republican side

    — Former Texas Rep. Jack Fields
    — Arizona Sen. John McCain
    — Former N.Y. Rep. Vito Fossella
    — Former Louisiana Rep. “Billy” Tauzin
    — Former N.Y. Rep. Daniel Frisa
    — Former N.Y. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato

    I read that Democrats and Republicans are not exactly ‘rushing ‘ to return Madoff’s ‘dirty ‘ money .

    So what does that tell you about human nature ?

    Meanwhile the CEO of the largest bank on the planet, Bank of America has been subpoenaed to appear before a select committee to investigate the former’s complicity in enabling Merrill Lynch to pay million dollar bonuses to some 700 employees and share 120 million among the top four executives ?

    What does that tell you about banker’s ethics ?

    Meanwhile sitting on an oriental rug inside a tent somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan Osama Bin Laden was retelling his devotees of his great coup of 9/11 against the Great Satan .

    ‘ I destroyed their financial centre so I did’

    says Obama .

    ‘I hear they’re giving out huge bonuses to people who can do that these days’ said one of his listeners .

    ‘How much of a bonus did you get for 9/11 ‘?

    asked another .

  • Mack

    Runciter

    In the middle of a crises they are going to bring the nation to a stand still, sullying (further) our international reputation. In my opinion they got off very lightly with the pension levy (it is a tiny saving on spending) – although did does hit lower paid workers hardest which I think is unfair. However, the government are elected to govern and they should let them get on with it. If we all acted like this, the country would be sunk completely in no time.

    You are kidding yourself if you think they are marching for 30% pay cuts (on the overall average, which could be achieved in large part by capping salaries at say €80,000) to bring their salaries back in line with those of private sector.

  • Mack

    Runciter

    If you are still not convinced that the left in Ireland are acting in defence of privilege, give Brian Boru’s comment on the demography of the potential voters swithcing support to labour a quick goo – hint, it’s heavily AB1’s. (Almost certainly workng in the public sector or in state protected industries like the legal profession (state protection from competition in fields such as conveyancing keeps their fees extortionately high)).