You just got to love this line. We have gone from rent to interest payments being ‘dead money’!
I don’t remember paying thousands upon thousands of euros in PRSI to the banks!
Is Mary Hanafin aware how banks treat people (not connected to politicians) who are in mortgage arrears? Has she looked into the effect an arrangement with a bank might have on one’s credit rating. Any proposals to make people talk to their banks should only be brought in where there is a statutory obligation on the bank to meet with the mortgage holder and to give a reply in writing stating the bank’s reason for its stance. Really though, either we have been paying for social insurance or we haven’t.
I was thinking about this last night. Not mortgage and rent supplement specifically, but payment of tax and particularly PRSI. While you are employed, you get nothing from your PRSI. People who are not employed get Social Insurance services that you have to pay for without charge - medical cards, household benefits, free glasses, dentistry, etc. Lots of the benefits are health based. I don’t specifically begrudge them to the people who get them, but I was wondering about the utility of this - we penalise the productive section of the population to prioritise the unproductive. Would it not be more economically efficient to return welfare to its traditional role - keep productive workers healthy?
Likewise much of the emphasis has been on those who are unable to afford their mortgages due to unemployment. Those who cannot move to different employment or to be closer to their current employment due to negative equity are a greater cost to the economy, no?
Unfortunately just as the Irish economy became distorted so did the welfare system. Money flooded through the economy creating all sorts of imbalances and rather than actually address them the government simply tried to mitigate their effects - thus the assumption became that if something was expensive you could afford it if you working but if you weren’t then the government should help.
The problem was of course many many people who were working just couldn’t match the spending power of construction workers earning 50 or 60k. We all know the cycle that followed where workers had to get more and more wage hikes to chase prices but prices increased faster than that.
So now at the end of cycle workers are stuck simultaneously paying the full cost of everything while also funding the provision of it for everyone else. We also see the continuation of the old policies in that the benefits of paying PRSI are being completely stripped away.
I’d say tackling the welfare system will be an even tougher job than the public service. I mean just look at the outcry over the christmas bonus and the very modest reduction in the last budget.
My brother works for about €70 more than he could get on welfare and that doesn’t include the €50 he spends on petrol going to/from work. His wage is quite ordinary for someone on the west coast so it gives you a hint of the sheer scale of the problem.
Actually, up to last year, everyone with the requisite number of PRSI contribs got basic dental and optical care - free teeth and eye checkups, dental cleaning and filling, and an amount glasses or contact lenses every two years.
I’ve been working since the '90s and haven’t paid for an eye exam or dental checkup for years.
All that’s changed in the last budget, of course, as that one smallish benefit - that allows people to feel connected with “the state” and getting something back for their contribution to the community - has been taken away.
(*of course I’m also an evil public servant, leeching off the blood of hardwoking taxpayers. On my day off, too!)
And this is my point. The cuts are being targeted at those who can afford them. But those are also the same people who are paying for them for everyone.
What’s beneficial about feeling connected to the State?
If you are funding it, it is beneficial to feel that you are also benefitting from it. If you do not feel you benefit from it in any way, you will take a dimmer view of funding…
It sounds like you’re saying the actual benefit one receives from the connection is subordinate to the feeling said connection evokes. I’m a net contributor to the State and, as far as I can tell, it screws up the distribution of available resources pretty badly. I feel connected to the State alright, but there’s little benefit that I can see.
Hmm interesting statements from both of you, I have to say I have never felt connected to the state I’ve always felt like I was on the outside looking in at the other kiddies in the sweetshop while Im out in the snow. That could possibly be as a result of coming across the border 12 years ago, “let me in ya shower” or maybe its something to do with being born in the north to a nationalist family and that statelet being run by Orangemen.
I use the same argument on the universality of child benefit, or free university fees - it doesn’t matter that the rich get it. What matters is that they contribute and they feel good about contributing (so don’t go to extreme measures to avoid contributing). These small cuts in entitlement which only affect those who pay their own way reduce their sense of goodness.
I can also add that the roll-back on the safety net for the unemployed, i.e. the removal of benfits rather than allowances (the ones you get having worked) is also going to reduce this connection. If you bought insurance and paid for it all your life and then, just before you needed to claim on it, the rules were changed so that you could no longer claim, you’d be rightly pissed. This is no different.
Depends on your definition of beneficial. I reckon that the more that productive people feel connected to the State, the more interest they take in its outcome. In Ireland I think the connection is very passive - the routes for influencing how things are done are limited. If you feel the State is exploiting you without actual benefit back to you then you’ve less of an interest in building a better future for you because experience shows you don’t get the benefits.
This is one of the reasons I’m somewhat disillusioned about how things are done in Ireland. I think we - collectively need to see what we want to achieve. Currently, the only want I see from the media/structure is a desire for things to be the way they were in 2005 or so. But the way things were in 2005 is a direct cause of the way things are now so that’s not viable. I think there’s also this feeling of deserving people and undeserving people - so that - if you even take the whole property debacle, there’s a feeling that some people deserve the right to buy a house and some people don’t. IE, people earning less than me. This is across the board.
I have not worked out whether it’s pure competition - I wanna be better than you - lack of confidence - I wanna feel special - or what. But it’s sucking away at society, allows quick-buckism to fester and values people on superficial grounds.
Nobody I know seems to be absolutely happy with themselves as people - they mark their level of success in terms of asset acquisition competition more than anything.
In other words, we pay tax for the common benefit of all but the taxpayers are only seeing slight benefits in terms of 1) roadbuilding and 2) a reasonably good Revenue department. Not seeing for example, a competent health service and education is also a mess just to take two examples.
Engagement could change this but we’re not engaging.
Ah, you see, actual benefit is more important than a mere feeling of benefit. Child benefit and free university, at least for people prosperous enough to be net contributors, are all about producing a feeling and suckering people into that ‘connection’. All in all, I’d prefer the real thing. I’d give up free university in a second for proper primary school facilities.
Have never been convinced it should be an either or situation. Someone once wrote on a blog about 6 years ago that on balance, the money going towards health in Ireland was more than adequately but that the whole system needed to be looked at in terms of processes. I sort of see the point; and it’s true for lots of things.
I see it in other things; not just education and health - I mean, I pay tax and my water supply system has not been maintained. I pay tax and roads are allowed to fester.
These are communal good things also.
Not everything that is good for the public has to be a public good. I’d argue that your water and roads are in such crap shape because you’re paying for them communally!
Yeah, because one is the cause of the other…
But you are missing the point. Proper primary school facilities are a universal benefit. You are not expected to pay more for primary school depending on how wealthy you are, although you are expected to pay for your childrens’ uniform and books, as well as the near ubiquitous parental ‘contribution’. Actually, maybe you get the point, but just choose a different example.
Wait until your children are university age and the ‘free’ education is taken away for those who have an income (i.e. it is means tested). You have little chance to save for it because you are busy paying for the free education of the current generation and all the other fees that only those who fail a means test have to pay. In this situation, you will be better off sending your child abroad to a ‘free’ system elsewhere in Europe where they can claim the fees off the Irish state. Still, we can’t all be educated on this small island, can we?
Well, what I pay in childcare already more than equals the ongoing cost of a university education, so I’ve already got a budget line for that. Saving doesn’t come into it. If university is still free when my kids are grown, I’m gonna go on some awesome holidays. Or save belatedly for my retirement.
I’ll say two more things:
- I don’t think government should be in the business of producing good feelings; it should be in the business of producing good outcomes, which then can produce good feelings. IMO we get way more focus on the former and very little on the latter.
- I’m being a bit antic here to make an ideological point.
Actually, I just remembered. I’m saving all the child benefit to pay for college when they start means-testing it.