Ireland is a relatively young State and though the British left us with a fairly sophisticated set of systems for Government, the paddies who came to power tended toward simplicity. When it came to taxation therefore, their preference was to apply a flat rate to cover everything needed to be done.
For this reason, the charges to run the public utilities were just added to general taxation centrally and then when the money came in, it was apportioned out regionally to the local government services. This portion of the lump of tax money we all paid was to cover roads, lighting, public parks & libraries, bin collections, water and a few others I have forgotten about. Taxation rates were pretty high in Ireland right from the start and that continues to this day. I remember over sixty per cent being taken from my pay packet before I got it even back in the seventies.
Then a Government introduced road tax, or that is the first one I remember. As usual, it was small to begin with but after a couple of years, the price went up. Non-Irish readers may be surprised at how adamantly against water charges we now are but there is a genuine reason for that. When the separate road tax came in, the general rate of income tax did not go down, thus making it a double taxation. The story is the same now with the water tax. As regards refuse collection, the Government decided to privatize it but though bin collections were not compulsory, you could hardly let your domestic waste build up. But when the council workers stopped coming, again the income tax rates did not come down to reflect the fact. So we were still paying Central Government to collect our waste, if you get my meaning. But we were now paying a private company a flat rate per month to do it also.
Then last month the first rumblings of a charge per weight began. Those private companies who have their feet firmly under the table are looking to screw more money out of us. It brings starkly to mind the endless debates on public versus private. There was uproar of course and the new Government is fragile because they'd already made a bollox of Irish Water and are running scared now that the bin row will topple them yet again. Honestly, the way those arrogant politicians treat us you'd swear they think we are a bunch of fucking idiots with more money than sense.
The first trick they tried to pull was some mealy-mouthed shit about how we'd pay less by weight. But the standing charge we already pay is to stay the same and the pay-by-weight charge is an extra. The lie was there for all to see. The true state of affairs was outlined by the Journal. But undaunted, Minister Simon Coveney is quoted as saying, “This is about bringing people with us,” emphasising that. "The aim was to introduce the charges in a way that households welcome”. It never ceases to amaze me that these fuckers have the brass neck to claim that all of us want to pay more for everything. Do they imagine we are all sitting at home looking at a mountain of cash on the floor and agonizing on who to hand it over to? Do they really believe their own bullshit? Even worse than that, are there actually people out there struggling like the rest of us, who think that they should support extra charges and double-taxation for some confused reason?
There is a prevailing philosophy in Leinster House that hitting us for an extra fiver a week here and a fiver a week there will somehow slip under our radar. I have heard these people smugly argue the relative price of a pint of water over a pint of beer. Is the assumption that we are too stupid to think that we don't wash our dishes in beer, or take beer showers or baths nor beer the flowers in summer? Comparing water and beer is facile, mis-leading and condescending to us all. Speaking of beer, the puritans are pushing to have that go up also. Car insurance, home insurance, house prices, rental prices and just about every other thing has or is going up and still the Government squeeze us more. There is a touch of the "Let them eat cake," about all of it.
And I finish by also pointing out the sense of unreality that pervades everywhere. I was inside Leinster House for a meeting this week and I can attest to the fact that the species who inhabit that place are operating in some parallel universe utterly divorced from our own day-to-day reality. A huge chasm between the rulers and the ruled has opened up and no meaningful communication can now take place between the two groups. Our political leaders appear to blame us for voting for uncertainty, never once looking at themselves for the mess. We voted for uncertainty to avoid the certainty of being ripped off for another five years if we had voted like before. History is littered with the corpses of smug leaders who have stolen incessantly from their people. It tends to build slowly before it inevitably explodes. They got a warning from us at the last election but far from chastened, the new bin charges show they intend to continue as if it never happened.
No good will come from this!