Social Justice Ireland’s Socio-Economic Review

The 2012 review by SJI called Shaping Ireland’s Future can be read here.

54 replies on “Social Justice Ireland’s Socio-Economic Review”

“Where does Ireland, and Irish society,want to be in 10 years time?”

I have made this call before. Unless we have a comprehensive vision (that is well articulated and the majority of us can subscribe to) and values and have the necessary TF to take the decisions that will enable that vision then we are simply lost in a wilderness and doomed to wander aimlessly.

However, we should also accept that ‘vision and values’ aren’t some one-way street e.g.

“for a nation in which all men,women and children:

• have what they require to live life with dignity, including sufficient income,
• have access to the services they need and
• are actively included in a genuinely participatory society.”

What’s missing here is what the individual should give in return to the state and what the consequences are of not participating/delivering their half of the bargain.

Formation of vision requires leadership so I am not holding my breath.

Ireland. The rudderless ship.

The comments on ‘structural reform’ are interesting but I’m only about 15 pages in and the rest will have to wait until tonight.

Some 706,000 people, including 200,00 children, are living in poverty in Ireland which is an increase of 92,000 in two years, according to a new report published today.

The Shaping Ireland’s Future report by Social Justice Ireland (SJI) said the Government needs to acknowledge Ireland’s poverty problem and called for an overhaul of social welfare saying the current system is not “fit for purpose”.

It revealed the poorest 10 per cent of households have an average disposable income of €210 a week, compared to an average of €2,276 a week for the richest 10 per cent.

SJI director Fr Sean Healy said the total tax-take needed to rise from just under 30 per cent of GDP to 34.9 per cent by broadening the tax base. He said the country could make this change and still remain a low-tax economy.

He said the tax breaks should be eliminated to improve fairness in the system as the “major beneficiaries of most tax breaks are those on the highest incomes”.

Much too socialist for my taste.
The economy needs Dirigisme and monetory sovereignty but not this Kumbaya nonsense.
First of all the tax chapter makes no reference to the money supply declines in this economy with the M3 negative for nearly 4 years now and the M1 for many months.
This may be a difficult concept for many of yee economists out there but you tax the money supply , you really don’t tax people on one level as tax is extracted from deposits.
References & tax comparisons to semi independent oil rich soon to be a colony Denmark with the help of its Lovely socialist PM & sovergin UK to the Irish EU juristiction is very very misleading.
The Irish economy badly needs base money rather then bank credit creation via a Independent Treasury ……… this can then be taxed in a envoirment of a positive money supply.

Also the economic growth from 1987 to 2000 was not in the least bit sustainable – it was characterised by a series of 3 different credit bubbles of larger & larger scale.
The post 1987 car credit bubble which was burst by the Iraq war / EMU crisis.
The bigger ECU credit bubble of 1994-99 and the Monstrous Euro credit bubble post 1999 or 2002.
Before 1987 our European masters were at least concerned with our oil dependency…….wanting a Nuke plant in place……but this morphed into Moneypoint I guess which was the largest capital project in the state at that time.
So fiscal money was spent first via Moneypoint and then credit was produced from the wealth created.
After Basle banking “reforms” …… the credit came first or at least they gave us road “structural” funds via the Albert Reynolds doe in our time moment – so that we could buy more of their cars via credit.

As for the lack of skills in this country – say that to the Irish construction workers that have to compete with Spanish labour down at Great island power station.
Much of this socialist propoganda is a rouse – they care not a jot for either the Spanish or Irish worker bees.
They are the ideological hit men for the banking slave arbitrage crowd – their views should be treated with great scepticism.

As long as we remain withen the Euro cage we will merely function as a conduit for capital flows – we must break from this sick experiment if we are to have any hope for our futures.


Usual stuff from SJI – raise taxes on the middle-middle class significantly (there’s no other way to read the “back to 2000 levels” plan), broaden the tax base but keep min wages earners out of it completely (so, in effect, narrowing it), use tax credit increases rather than rate decreases to help people (de facto narrowing).

There is a serious lack of resourse understanding withen the Anglo world (input output ratio) and even more so withen Ireland.
Also the French post war design philosophy of minimalism seems to be lost in the Euro ether.
The Brits built 3 impressive V Bombers (+ a Shorts Bomber if the other designs did not work out.) to drop a bomb on Moscow.
The French stuck a extra engine on the Mirage fighter and lengthened the fuselage a bit and made it a one way trip because there was going to be nothing to come back to.
From a national economy perspective we simply can’t afford to run 1.8 / 1.9 million private cars on the road as they are a extremely resourse intensive luxury.
How do we formulate a rational national transport policey using lets say the Y1990 level of private cars as a template ? ( 800,000 )
In a future national economy it would probally be cheaper to travel by rail to Kent station and then pay for a Taxi to somewhere in the city rather then drive all the way from Youghal as a single occupant.
People strangely don’t seem to understand these new economic equations that factor in the new resourse reality with rational domestic sovergin units.

How can Ireland stay a low tax economy while paying billions out to bank bondholders? Surely the banks won and the taxes have to go up.

The great Irish utility carve up as reported by the New Ross Standard
Has there been any recent developments ?

“InternationaBy ELAINE FURLONG
Tuesday March 06 2012
NEGOTIATIONS ARE understood to be underway to buy Great Island along with Endesa’s other Irish power stations.
Two groups from the United States and Singapore have visited the Spanish utility giant’s Irish power stations in recent weeks and are believed to be in negotiations to buy them.
It is also understood that a Korean group have viewed Endesa’s power stations at Great Island and months.
In 2009, Endesa paid €450 million for four former ESB power stations and it is now reported that US venture capitalist firm Contourglobal is in talks with Endesa to acquire the Irish assets for €300 million.
Executives from the company are understood to have visited Great Island and Tarbert before Christmas, while a delegation from a Singapore company also visited the two power stations.
Endesa was purchased by the Italian power giant Enel in an €11 billion deal in 2009 and since then Enel has been eager to sell the Irish assets, it is understood.
Preparatory work is currently underway at Great Island for a multi million Euro redevelopment of the ESB plant into a natural gas electricity generating power station. A multi-million Euro pipeline is to carry a gas supply to the proposed €250 million Combined Cycle Gas Turbine electricity generating plant”

The internationals are like Vultures picking , scratching and fighting over a debt carcass with little meat remaining.
Any thoughts Paul Hunt ?

I guess the ECB boys are having quite some fun mulling over how they turned the lowest rank 1rst world country into something approaching 2nd world or indeed potentially Dickensian.
It been quite some series of Shock therpay sessions these past 2 to 3 decades.
Its a quite sad place now – broken in so many ways.

Englishman 1.20 :

“The tourist board are not doing their job.”
“Its one of the nicest counties in Ireland.”
“You come here, they stick you on a minibus”
“Its bad enough you actually walk a mile to the ship”
“these bureaucrats are a waste of time”

Dork – I have travelled on all the Northern & North west rail lines in Scotland…….. other then in Mid Winter they are always full or half full.
Some train stations were even built outside Estate houses in the middle of nowhere for Christ sake.
We are dealing with a very deep failure in this country.
Its partially as a result of our inappropriate monetory policey since 1979 at least which appeared to make some activities worthwhile when they were clearly not.
They are extractive.
Although I guess it is amplified by the culture of the place…

But the problems are clearly not fiscal – they are of a monetory nature & a very extreme form of monetory distortion at that.

Monetary for all those Monetary Mutants out there.
The place is about to physically collapse in the interests of a privatised monetary system where the exchequer cannot or will not produce tokens.
The country needs to produce its own tokens and stop exporting its money.

Why are not all Irish Economists screaming this from on High ?

Its obvious for all to see, even Dorks

@ Dork

Look what’s on the same page as your barrow link

Government is now paying the consortium that built the motorway non performance fees! FFS.

And what about the Dublin conference centre? Same PPP sh#te. Costs govt more than 500Eur PER VISITOR again because numbers are not stacking up.

STATE PAYMENTS of more than €43 million have been made to the consortium behind the National Convention Centre since its opening in Dublin’s docklands one year ago.
The payments represent a subsidy of more than €500 for each visitor to events held in the centre since last August. The payments are part of the 2007 public-private partnership deal agreed by the then government with the Treasury Holdings-led consortium, Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin.

That is real money.

The Govt can borrow from the EFSF for far less! But ideology won didn’t it?

Irish people function as a conduit for international capital.
We are not even Slaves as slaves have value.
We don’t have a national economy in this country …….domestic demand has collapsed because we export a huge amount of high value euros to pay for Interest , oil & cars yet they don’t care about the remaining rump internal economy as we have no value to them now.
This leaves nothing for social activities such as going down to the pub or club with the lads.
People sadly drink at home watching telly in their little coccon hoping to block the nasty world out….. but its getting closer & closer.
The main reason for this is monetary , although the Health & Euro fascists played their part.
Anything involving Irish labour is expensive , while imports are cheap.
This has changed the entire culture & fabric of the place & society with devastating results.
Its the reason why we are so passive I guess – we don’t interact with our mates down at the club anymore because we simply can’t afford it.
The dynamism & spirit has gone from the place as we have no forum , no common ground.
They will take everything from us if we allow this darkness to continue.
The GAA & even the Ruger clubs will disappear from memory as they run out of Euros which are functioning as a store of value rather then as a medium of exchange.
There has been a complete misallocation of resourses during the credit boom and now a misallocation and destruction of this once not so bad society during a completly unnecessary money deflation phase.

I am sorry – many people may think I am a conspiracy nut but this was / is a planned attack on us.
Its clear to see – they wish to break this society up.


This is a serious document. In terms of the ‘broader social scientific analysis’ called for by The Governor many moons ago [and which, of course, has yet to begin] this analysis by SJI is particularly strong on identifying many of those ‘False Assumption’ and ‘Policy Failures’ (pp. 15-16) that got us into the present mess, and which continue to be spouted by the present Policy Makers and Power Brokers.

Anyone on the blog care to challenge any of these? (behond The Dork’s simplistic dismissal as socialist without probably having even scanned the document!)

@Sean Healy et al

Keep up the good work.

PS – from a domestic economy / resourse perspective a pedestrian bridge from Plunkett station to Waterford Bus station would have been money well spent as it would involve less money exports through intelligent elegant design philosophy.
As I said you don’t need a Big Vulcan to Nuke Moscow.

PS whenever I go Mitchelstown direction I avoid the toll to Dublin….the road is nearly empty during certain times of the day.
Its what Micheal Hudson calls a tollboot economy ,there is no purpose to it other then extraction.
We are all George Baileys caught up withen a dark nightmare.

@The Dork

U now takin up 50% of the thread! U in danger of morphing to Dork the Troll …

@ DoD

Any idea what Fr Sean thinks of the site value, corporation and wealth tax regimes being extended to the Catholic church’s operations? Also, re the bank liability guarantee, does he have a view on the church’s own indemnification granted by the FF govt for their slightly reprehensible behaviour?

@Bond Eoin Bond

email and I expect that you will receive a reply from Sean Healy.

BTW I make a distinction between SJI and the Catholic Church Hierarchy -I’m only alleged to be a postmetaphysical ‘cricket lovin kommie’ as one of of our regular commenters once put it on this blog. I plead the fifth (-; at the mo.

Do you challenge any of the 8 False Assumptions or Policy Failures identified in this report? It is essentially a ‘republican’ document, in the european kantian pragmatist sense, which I support.

On the two issues you raise, I have no probs in challenging them.

@The Dork
Ta. Glad you read it. Do you challenge any of the 8 False Assumptions or Policy Failures (leaving Oil and Gold to one side for the mo!)

Well I believe that Marxs labour theory of value is very relevant to the discussion……… the rate of profit is falling no matter what they do now (or as Steve from Virgina would say, the rate of waste is falling) as the world is nearly fully globalised & also resourse constrained.

Therefore they should address the core of the problem rather then dance around it.
This is why I have a problem with this document.
Goverments must produce more fiat or bankers must buy Gold to fill the profit void on their double entry books)
This is the $ / Gold Bitch fight I am always banging on about , there can only be one and all that.
When for example more gov fiat is produced less bank credit waste is tolerated (cars ,Houses etc) and more goods are freed up for final consumption (people will drive around in ever decreasing circles)
However the great crime that the bankers are engaging in Ireland , Greece and the planet is that they are limiting either production of fiat or gold buying on their double entry books.
Me thinks they have got too greedy as a higher Gold price needs a more diverse buying public , which conversely they appear not to want.
Similarly all value could flow into fiat $s but Congress needs to increase its “debt”.
Me thinks its gone beyond the broaden the tax base argument at this stage don’t you think ?
Which is why I think Ireland should just produce fiat of some kind to reduce the waste of deflation and free up end resourses.
Perhaps Steve is correct , don’t produce Punts but new Euros and collapse the Soviet because if you produce punts you might give away your oil ration.
Who blinks first is the question in suppose.

As for failure to overcome infrastrutual defecits and all that – well under this current monetory system the transport system is not working as too many resourses / input costs go into road transport i.e. its a false physical world as a result of a false monetary world ,its not a false monetary world as a result of the physical world.
As at any given time the physical world just is – but the bankers refuse to change their monatary games resulting in debt , death & destruction.
So therefore its hard to plan for the future – however the UK rise in Train passenger numbers points to where people will go when more Fiat and less bank credit is produced – so it is prudent to use our available resourses at the moment to prepare for this transition.
If we get a so called phase transition things could switch rapidly , its how to manage this I guess is difficult , especially if you want to channel wealth to your friends but if you get too greedy the system will collapse.

These are the strange power dynamics that are happening on this now small world David.

are you sure Dorks posts are incomprehensible? should you try reading them again? maybe only parts of his posts are lost on you – but that can happen with any poster cant it?

I happen to think his views are the most interesting on this website.

Is it possible you could just scroll past any DOC comments as opposed to calling for their moderation?

I’ve read up to about p.50 and I think it is an excellent work and I’ll be coming back for more.

Like the ‘Happiness’ document these are big slow-burners and probably can’t/won’t get the sttention they deserve in the thread system.

But – mouse wheels at the ready – it does remind me of a strange event at the one day economics conference in January organised by Stephen Kinsella, et al.

Myself and Richard Fedigan were loafing at the back of the session on employment chaired by Joan Burton: it came to the end and questions were invited. I hopped up straight away and asked one for Aedin Doris about unemployment and one for Philip O’Connell (ESRI) about culture. They were proper short questions not speeches. Half way through the second Joan, as chair, said ‘one question only’, so I finished the sentence I was on and called ‘done!’ and that was that – the one question rule hadn’t been stated, but there you are.

Later in the questions, Fr Sean Healy (if he’s reading he can correct my memory), got up and made a big fat long speech containing a number of the points in the document. I didn’t know who he was at the time – I don’t remember him saying his name, but there seemed to be a general assumption that he was known. Joan made no serious attempt to stop him, and I increasing felt either he should be on the panel or, well, not.

At the end of all that Joan Burton then chatted to him across the hall by name – again assuming we all knew each other, and again from memory, completely blanked all the points he was making without even passing any nuggets on the the panellists who might have responded to them.

The whole thing reminded me of The Duchy of Grand Fenwick with the loyal opposition loyally opposing the loyal government.

@Gavin Kostick,

I’m surprised that you sound so surprised. Do you not realise that you, irrespective of how accomplished your peers might think you are – and, I expect, for good reason, have not yet been recognised as a ‘person of standing’ by the people who move in these ‘charmed circles’?

Come on. Surely you don’t think you live in a genuine democratic republic?

@Paul Hunt

I’m surprised that you sound so surprised.

One forgets sometimes how the Irish establishment works, I do wonder whether it is any worse than the rest of Europe though (Are the Scandinavians better?).

I think if we were a little less deferential and polite things might change. A little touch of fear might improve behaviour.


Every society has its own pecking order; but some are less dysfunctional and less exclusive than others. Enforcing deference and politeness is a tool to suppress dissent. The murmering in the academic seminar rooms is a perfect example. A ‘little touch of fear’ is not necessary. Just some alternative locations of power in a properly functioning parliament, effective local governance, independent and non-captured, but fully accountable, economic regulation and effective representation of the collective interests of consumers.

@Bond. Eoin Bond.
re “Usual stuff from SJI – raise taxes on the middle-middle class significantly ..”

That is a bit harsh. Lets remember that people Sean Healy represents are most unlikey to work in banks or the financial industry or to be bank bandholders, either directly or indirectly. Those particular people were the beneficiaries of the biggest welfare cheque ever written by a State in relation to the finances of that State.

Your comment reminds very much of Lloyd George’s Limehouse speech.

“I say their day of reckoning is at hand – Limehouse, 30 July 1909

A few months ago a meeting was held not far from this hall in the heart of the City of London, demanding that the Government should launch into enormous expenditure on the Navy. That meeting ended up with a resolution promising that those who passed the resolution would give financial support to the Government in their undertaking. There have been two or three meetings held in the City of London since, attended by the same class of people but not ending up with a resolution promising to pay. On the contrary, we are spending the money, but they wont pay. What has happened since to alter their tone? Simply that we have sent in the bill. We started our four Dreadnoughts. They cost eight millions of money. We promised them four more. They cost another eight millions.

Somebody has got to pay; and then these gentlemen say: Perfectly true; somebody has got to pay but we would rather that somebody were somebody else. We started building; we wanted money to pay for the building; so we sent the hat round. We sent it round amongst the workmen and winders of Derbyshire and Yorkshire, the weavers of High Peak and the Scotsmen of Dumfries who, like all their countrymen, know the value of money. They all dropped in their coppers. We went round Belgravia; and there has been such a howl ever since that it has completely deafened us. ”

“Somebody has got to pay; and then these gentlemen say: Perfectly true; somebody has got to pay but we would rather that somebody were somebody else.”

That is so true of the many who supported the bank bailout, but what somebody else to bear the cost.

@ Paul Hunt

Just to be clear – I was in no way shape or form surprised at being asked to keep it short and neither did I then, or in any other forum, expect to be to treated in any other way than a straight contributor.

Perhaps I am naive in expecting, in a public meeting, all contributors being treated in much the same way.

I have been on marches at the time of the UK miners’ strike, against the UK Poll tax, on Anti-Nazi League demos, in all kinds of public meetings and even debates with Arther Scargill. In all of these there was a painful attempt to make sure all voices were heard.

In none of those did I think it was a case of everyone knowing their place and, as you know, no one can tear into the left quite like the left. Those events were always filled with contrary opinions and passionate disagreement. The importance of keeping a tight control on proceedings was important because important things were at stake.

What I was struck with on that occasion of the economics debate was:

(a) How a left politician had simply and casually moved to a ‘what can you do’ position.
(b) How left opposition had a toytown quality of being an officially tolerated and indulged nagging voice.
(c) And underlying assumption that people there knew who was imprtant and what was really going on.

Going back to the miners’ strike. It was a nasty but powerful, serious class struggle in which the great forces of labour lost. The UK is poorer as a result. The mighty north was lost. I still grieve for it.

Class war is a complex business but it really hasn’t been engaged yet in Ireland.

@Gavin Kostick,

Back all those years ago when it came to the ‘national question’, Dev said “Labour must wait”. And it’s being waiting ever since while FF went ahead and secured the votes of the ‘men of no property’ who would, and should, have been a major part of Labour’s natural constituency.

Some of the descendants of these ‘men of no property’ drifted back to Labour at the last election, but their allegiance is tenuous; it’s more a case of being repelled by FF than being attracted to the Labour cause – coupled with an instinctive, atavistic dislike of the Blueshirts.

We don’t need ‘class war’; we need the restoration of effective institutions of democratic governance to resolve the inevitable conflicts that arise between the various economic and social interests in any advanced economy – conflicts that have been suppressed and smothered by successive governments over the last quarter of a century bribing these various interests at the expense of the majority of consumers and citizens.

And we badly need (perhaps at the next election?) a re-alignment of the political factions based on disputation about the boundaries of the state and about the roles of markets and private enterprise. We’ve been cursed by the two and a half main parties seeing the state as the provider of all the goodies. Unlike FF and Labour, FG has always been a bit prissy, priggish and pompous about its use of the power and resources of the state, but this is generally ‘for show’. When they get their snouts in the trough they take to it with a gusto that would make the average FFer blush.

Labour is also hamstrung by its requirement to represent the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised while attending to the demands of the ‘aristocrats of labour’ within its ranks. It tends to finesse this by relying on the happy-clappy, airy-fairy, ‘should be, but never will be’ utopian clap-trap found in documents such as this SJI one.

@ Joseph

IFSC employs around 1.5% of the work force, the broader banking system another 1%. The SJI proposals will impact very negatively (ie 10%+ effective tax increases) on something more akin to 30-40%.

@Mr. Bond,

I’m surprised you seem to getting a bit het up by the clap-trap in this document. This is all warm and fuzzy, well-intentioned and doubtless deeply heartfelt pablum that hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of comprising the manifesto of an electable government in the modern era.

This naive belief in the omnipotence and omniscience of the state, in the extent of this universal moral sentiment we should all feel and in the use of taxation to secure all of the surplus value that should accrue to labour and the blind abhorrence and ignorance of markets coupled with a failure to grasp the nature of effective democratic institutions might appeal to quite a few of the well-intentioned – and a few of the cunning, but I can’t see it securing the alegiance of a majority of Irish citizens.

@ PH

good to see ya back dude. I’m a big admirer of your sheltered-sector grenades, even if you don’t think they are having much impact. I think if nothing else, it’s stops those sectors trying to advance too much amidst the current economic anarchy.

As for these guys, I expect next to no one to actually care too much about it, but 250-odd pages deserves some sort of response…

@The Dork from Cork

Lots done on the labour theory of value, labour process theory, the open wing of human capital etc but most of this has been turned on its head by the financialization of the earthlings – in a transistion phase here in hibernia one would need to ‘dump’ between 70 and 100 billion of this odious socialized debt to bring the irish base and superstructure back into some sort of recognizable picture; as it stands, citizen serfs are simply the equivalent of the slaves in the iridium mines on the planet ScrewedP189 that Seven-of-9 warns her students about.

@Paul Hunt
Which of the False Assumptions or Policy Failures do you challenge?

You have a serious BLIND SPOT on anything which might disturb your fixation on the distinction between roight and Left. Bond, at least, engages – and we need serious discussion, not puerile name calling, between all shades of opinion from left, roight and centre.

@Mr. Bond,

Thank you. As for this nonsense I was going to let it go until I noted Mr. Kostick’s apparent bewilderment. And I was a little surprised to see that you felt compelled to do your civic duty…

As for our friends in the sheltered sectors, I gather they’re mightily pleased with the job they’ve done on the Troika’s structural reform proposals. The Government’s arrogance and complacency is truly mind-boggling, but perfectly understandable since they’re knee-deep in perfectly biddable lobby fodder.

As I mentioned on another thread, I’m just waiting for ‘events’. There are some issues and problems bubbling in a few corners that this smug shower have overlooked in their arrogance and complacency – and these erupting in unexpected ways could easily blind-side them. Then the fun could begin.

@D O’D,

The catalogue isn’t too far off the mark, the diagnosis is dire and the proposed solutions are, well, just off-the-wall..

All that matters is devising and applying the institutions and procedures that govern the acquisition, exercise and retention – and restraint on the exercise – of economic and political power. It isn’t a matter of right or left. Sometimes the right has good ideas; sometimes the left. But both equally can generate some seriously damaging nonsense.

Progress Paul, progress. I’m with you on the ‘gougers’ in the sheltered sectors … who are winning nicely.

This is one reason to respect and debate opinions of SJI who explicitly take the position of those like Blind Biddy, who had the few pennies pilferred from her apron pockets and her disablility allowance by X-Minister Mary Hanafin to pay off those ‘bond holders of history’ … that said, it radicalised her no end. Look at her now, swanning around with that one-eyed Shia Sheik, doing deals with the Taureg in the Sahel, training up the Citizens’ Army, and keeping that white bazooka in pristine operational condition in readiness for … er … events!

@Sean Healy

Well, it appears that the 8 False Assumption and Policy Failures remain unchallenged on the blog.

Text from Blind Biddy:

Hi Sean! Can you handle a bazooka?

You just don’t get it.
The power of the monetary envoirment is well …………all powerful.

You can tinker with the economy all day long but if you are working withen the wrong monetary ecosystem it is pointless.
Goverments can make money just as easily as banks can – they just lack the will or are more likely deeply corrupt.

@The Dork

I do get the all powerful – I’m merely looking at forms of ameliorization at the mo as there is insufficient understanding let alone support to overthrow it – and as Genghis Khan put it – only a fool goes into a battle she/he knows she/he cannot win.

I take the developed Kantian Pragmatist Troika view of the socio-psyco-economic Money, Power, & Lifeworld; first has completely captured the second and is slowly digesting the serfs in the third. This is war, and present Money System is winning hands-down. Serfs of the World, Wise Up, Unite, & Fight!

@Gavin Kostick

‘Class war is a complex business but it really hasn’t been engaged yet in Ireland.’

Very perceptive of you Gavin. Yet class remains one of the most social scientifically valid predictors of life chances and outcomes on this Island. Spose this might be why the Island has such a Middle Class Welfare State, unlike other West EU regions.

Spose we have to wait until the boyos and girlies in east Belfast, Ballymurphy, Ballymun, the Shankhill, Moyross, Knocknaheeny et al and the struggling working class and undereducated wise up a bit ………. I reckon it will be the likes of Blind Biddy and the fairer sex who will lead it, if ever, the supine appears to reign supreme with the Irish male – must be all that SOMA!

PH / BJB – you’re both blinkered and complacent, how about this:

Sinn Fein – wouldn’t rule them out of being in power after the next election carried into office by foaming-at-the-mouth voters who would be delighted to see more wealth redistribution and some white collar heads on pikes


I found your comment above in some way linking Fr Sean Healy with the Deal FF did with the catholic church to be totally below the belt.
Its not like you but when someone (virtually the only one) representing the lowest decile from an economic standpoint produces a document calling for people in the highest decile to pay more tax and why it will help society as whole, the gloves come off.

You then go on in a further comment to defend the indefensible when when Joseph Ryan makes an excellent point about those who asked for the bank bailout have to be willing to make a contribution.

“IFSC employs around 1.5% of the work force, the broader banking system another 1%. The SJI proposals will impact very negatively (ie 10%+ effective tax increases) on something more akin to 30-40%.”

Oh so because the shadow banking sector in the IFSC employ a lot of people they shouldn’t be asked to make a significant contribution?
Even though they were the ones that benefited most from the bank bailout and are one of the best paid (even now) sectors of the economy?

Don’t you think you could have declared your interest by stating you are one of these people employed in this industry?

It would have alerted other commentators to see just how self serving your comments were and allowed them to judge them on that basis.
It would also help them understand why you uncharacteristically lost your cool with someone whose life’s work has been based on defending the poorest people in our society.

Scratch the surface with most believers in the free market church and you will find a self serving individual who believe that they are superior beings whose blossoming should not be curtailed by anything as churlish as paying toward the betterment of society. That’s why they all abandon their beliefs when the banks go bust. Capitalism is just for the little people after all.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The real reason someone like Fr. Healy gets your goat is because he makes you feel bad about yourself.

FYI I have no connection with SJI.

Authors should be commended for a wide ranging and lengthy scope of the doc. It has its faults but its best at analysing income distribution and social supports for those at or beneath the poverty line. Its not so good on getting a handle on macroeconomic issues related to the operation of the global financial system. For example, it has some on Tobin Tax and proposed EA FTT, but little on
the FED/ECB QE/LTRO spree feeding the banks with liquidity. The shadow banking system of naked shorting, OTC derivatives, manipulation of currency and commodity markets and socialisation of banking and consequent democratic deficit, look elsewhere for more. There is no discussion of the euro as a currency and its operation and impact from a wider macroeconomic viewpoint. Expect no critique on disparities between core surpluses and peripheral deficits or ECB issues such as ELA. But it does call for write down of PN’s. Its principle fault is it does not outline clearly enough the state of Ireland’s economic collapse; the ship it describes can be made to change course, there is no message that we are sunk! Because it fails to grasp this point, it doesn’t deal with radical solutions, such as leaving the euro. The crisis in personal debt is inadequately dealt with, “”The report of the Inter-Departmental Mortgage ArrearsWorking Group (2011) made a range of recommendations, including, new bankruptcy legislation, nonjudicial debt
settlement options and further mortgage restructuring solutions”. Band aid solutions are welcome, but so are bigger solutions such as using the National Pension Reserve Fund accompanied by a hefty EFSF bond to repurchase all mortgages at scaled writedowns according to severity of mortgage balloon, eg 30% writedown for mortgages purchased 2006-2004, 20% for 2002-2004 etc. This would provide greater value than bailing out toxic banks and the casino developers.The document has quite a good deal on income distribution but again, income distribution as a measure of wealth and tax is not a good index at the top 1%. The Bono’s and Dennis O Brien’s I’m sure through tax exile loopholes that also allow locals to invest in debt extraction with both financial engineering of paper and property investments can end up with a tax rate that hides their true wealth. But the document does consider ways to address the anomaly, but it could have done more to expose the scams. “Social Justice Ireland believes that Ireland should
increase its total tax-take to 34.9% of GDP” which is fair enough; it has data comparing us to countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Belgium. But it has no data on the efficiency of our social services, value for money, that we comparably get from other countries such as the above eg the salaries/allowances afforded to Irish politicians, the whole question of wastage in the public service; the question of whether there ought to be upper income ceilings in public life. The document does contain some rubbish: “Furthermore,this focus on individualism has had another
equally negative effect on Irish society,the emergence of anxiety as a constant in Ireland’s core.”

Individualism is associated with greed, make up your own mind on why they bother to labour that point. The herd like mentality was a core root of our problems in the tiger years. There are selfless individuals in every field whose work everyone benefits from in sport, the arts, science; the herd is the herd and usually like to be invisible.

But overall, the document is an excellent piece of work even taking its limitations into account 🙂

@eamon morann

Scratch the surface with most believers in the free market church and you will find a self serving individual who believe that they are superior beings whose blossoming should not be curtailed by anything as churlish as paying toward the betterment of society. That’s why they all abandon their beliefs when the banks go bust. Capitalism is just for the little people after all.

Just so, and I think you can make a reasonable call on a persons personality when they display more anger and contempt towards advocates of the poor than advocates of the rich. This was a revealing thread.

Last word to the Warren Buffett, a rich white American English speaking financial capitalist who has more of a social conscience than the ECB, this boards free market fundamentalists, the FAC and the EC combined.

There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.

@ Bond,

“IFSC employs around 1.5% of the work force, the broader banking system another 1%. The SJI proposals will impact very negatively (ie 10%+ effective tax increases) on something more akin to 30-40%.”

IFSC will increasingly come under pressure as eg Hilda Solis US Secretary of Labour hauls back the MNC CT and Double Irish scams operated through the IFSC.

Bonuses, salaries in the pillar banks given these banks have been rescued by taxpayers should have been culled far more than they have been. Taxation can often be an inefficient method of cutting costs. As a sweeper for the financial sector, I suspect the real reason of your putdown of the Socio-Economic Review doc above, is its support for industry wide Financial Reform of financial services, eg its support for Tobin and FTT taxes.

I should add the document prefers the GNP over GDP method of analysis of economic data. Its about time the shadow banking sector gave proper account of itself that statisticians can use to assess the true effect of financial institutions including the IFSC on economic performance. Perhaps the Regulator, NTMA should be more involved at this level to avoid the schenanigans of dynamic loss making ‘pillars’ such as Anglo.

@ Eamonn

1. Fr Healy is I’m sure a very honest and noble man. He’s also a director of CORI, which the Catholic Church is quite obviously the main component of. The Catholic Church got it’s own bailout from the State. It’s not irrelevant or unfair to brung that up.

2. The 1.5-3.0% IFSC workforce point was actually meant as the opposite of how you read it – I’m saying they employ a relatively small amount of the total workforce, so therefore any tax hikes would impact on a large multiple of this in terms of non-IFSC workers.

3. Fr Healy doesnt make me feel bad about myself. I cant even take most of his suggestions seriously. What makes me feel bad about myself is the acknowledgment that hundreds of thousands of middle-middle class earners are struggling, while I self admittedly am ok. Fr Healy’s document does absolutely nothing to help anyone who is above the poverty line, yet is struggling despite having a full time job and already paying lots of taxes – middle middle class families. His document helps those who either don’t work or pay very little in taxes as is, despite our already generous social welfare system and ultra-progressive taxation system. Fr Healy wasnt happy with how much went to this section of the economy during the boom, and he’s not happy now. I get the feeling he’ll never be happy. The middle-middle class, who probably make up the bulk of the workforce keeping the economy ticking over, have no voice in this economy in contrast.

@ Bond

‘The middle-middle class, who probably make up the bulk of the workforce keeping the economy ticking over, have no voice in this economy in contrast.’

That’s a seriously subversive thought. What your saying is that the Dail doesn’t represent the interests of most of those who vote the deputies into office. Something is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark.

How has it come to pass that so many ‘ordinary’ party TDs end up as lobby fodder, and apparently wthout capacity for critical thought. How did that conduct come to be respected and rewarded ?
Meanwhile many of the the folk represented by CORI don’t even bother to vote. In many cases, they don’t see any point or pupose in politics. Given the private dominance of so much media, and the consumer/celebrity culture which is so assiduosly marketed, that’s hardly an accident.


I also welcome the contribution that Fr Healy has made (and continues to do so with this report) to national debate over the years in Ireland and am glad that this excellent site has opened a thread on this.

There is a lot of reading in the report and so I must admit that I have only “skimmed” through it. I also have to admit that, like Dork, I also feel it is a little too “socialist” from my point of view.

Quite possibly a lot of points could have been made without resorting to ideology even though I share (with the report authors) an instinctive distate for where the neo-liberal experiment has taken Ireland and Europe.

Just because neo liberalism has been an unmitigated disaster (especially since it started hiding behind the veil of “Liberalism”) does not necessarily mean that “hard left” Socialism is the panacea. IMHO as with any problems (and poverty/ inequality is a “problem”) the solutions tend to come from a variety of ideas and compromises.

In relation to the report I would like to make four observations while maintaining the deepest respect for Fr Healy and making no claims to have extensively studied the report :

1) I feel it is essential that we separate the concept of tax and social insurance contribution. The former should mainly be seen in the context of “running” the country such as justice, education, public administration etc while the latter should deal with health care, social protection, pensions and poverty thresholds.

2)Demographics favour Ireland compared to most Western and European countries. Consequently a scenario wherebye a “3 way” shared social insurance contribution (eg 9% employee, 9% employer and 9% government) on all earned income below pension age, currently 65-66, together with an increased tax free allowance and increased medical card income limit entitlement could easily be “phased in” over 3-4 years.

In such a scenario state pensions could rise (possibly as high as 16-18000 Euro (> 300 Euro per week) and Public service pensions could be treated in the same way as occupational/optional pensions are by being a supplement to the general pension.

The problem (more like public “irritation”) of “exceptional” circumstances surrounding 50 Year old public service “pensioners” could be addressed by making an “exceptional” social insurance deduction for Public Service “pensioners” under 66 and a continuing “exceptional” social insurance deduction throughout retirement if pensions exceed 40000 (index linked) Euro per annum.

3)With more efficiency and accountabiltiy in the provision of welfare services(automatic result of a Social insurance contribution and set social insurance budget) combined social insurance and tax deductions of no more than 30% of GDP could IMHO achieve quite a lot of, if not all, of the reports “ideals” over a short space of time.

Any more than 30% of GDP would IMHO be counterproductive and not acceptable to the majority of the population. If we could stimulate growth we may even be able to bring it (not very much) below 30% of GDP.

IMHO the general public have no real taste for “Public Service bashing”but want certain excessive Public Service salaries/allowances tackled promptly coupled with real efficencies.

I also suspect most Public Servants are not entirely happy with how some Union leaders are fighting over the remaining “Troika crumbs” and would welcome a more realistic “salary cap” system which, in some cases, seem to keep “incrementing” for almost (or more than) 20 years so would cooperate fully in making the Public Service more efficient if this did not involve “across the board” pay cuts.

4) International reputation: Personally I feel too much fuss is made about our “reputation” because in reality competition in the international “reputation” stakes is not that fierce.

While the recent publications of tribunal (etc) reports make chilling reading they actually demonstrate,IMHO, that the Irish public are not prepared to tolerate or ignore certain behaviour in public life any more. “Repeat performances” by banking institutions are also, as with Scandinavia, unlikely to occur any time in the near future

I do not expect to persuade everyone with my arguments (so will avoid entering into debate) but am grateful to have the opportunity to expand on views /observation I have made about this report on twitter @Livoniangoose.

Best…L 🙂

@ Bond

Just for accuracy and to remove a source of distraction: Sean Healy is not a Director of CORI. He is Director of Social Justice Ireland which is a membership-based, independent organisation open to individuals and to groups who support the basic thrust of the values and work that form the core of Social Justice Ireland i.e. working to build a just society. The organisation is run by a Board elected by members at its AGM each year.

@ Fr Sean

Social Justice Ireland was born out of CORI Justice, was it not? While it seeks to be a more inclusive organisation than what CORI was/is, it is fundamentally the same organisation. I should add, I have nothing against SJI, only that it’s policies more or less amount to an increase in taxes on low to middle earners but a reduction in taxes on very low earners. This apparently manages to fit in with the broader SJI policy of “tax base broadening” somehow. For accuracy, simply increasing taxes on people is not the same as tax base broadening. It’s more akin to tax gouging.

@Sean Healy

Minor point:

You might add a link to your board of directors on the SJI website. I ramble on a good but about governance here.

Good point on the VB show last night, and also stressed by Minister Burton prior to her elevation to Cabinet, that the circa €10 billion in tax breaks, most still in situ, are aimed at the benefit of the more affluent and well off sections of Irish society. Interesting also to note the member of the National Forum claiming to be slightly to the left of the PDees, but I suspect the lady on your far left is somewhat to the roight of Genghis Khan, and I hope Dublin Councils get their act in order on maintaining those 500+ empty houses noted by the realist on your right.

Reminds me of Marx’s well know comment on the Irish Famine “It killed a lot of people; but it killed poor people only: the upper classes escaped almost totally unscathed”.

Blind Biddy says Hi.

In a country where we have seen employment go from 4.5 to 14.5 % it is the 10% who have lost their jobs that have been the biggest losers in this society.

According to many of the figures I have seen wages in this economy have not come down in the private sector.
Once people have held on to their jobs they are not in as bad a position as those 10%. Yes their costs have gone up and their credit has dried up but people who have lost their jobs would love the problems of this section you call the middle middle classes. Psychologically having a job is much better than not having a job.

I genuinely don’t know why you think the latter deserve more sympathy than the former.

I also disagree that the middle middle classes don’t have as big a voice as the unemployed.

You are right about one thing I doubt Sean Healy will ever be happy. Defending the interests of the poorest in our society is a thankless unending task. All the more reason to thank him for doing it.

FYI in one of the latest blogs on Ronan Lyons website he showed that the lowest decile (those on the dole) return about 17% of their payments to the government in taxes so the cost to the state of giving the €188 per week is about €156

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