Creative accountants love a miscellaneous column because almost anything can be tossed in there to tidy up the appearance of the overall work of art. I've encountered the 'Misc.' so often over the years I presumed it must be short for mysterious. It's a sort of label when there is no other that fits. In this regard, the Governments own accounts are full of the mysterious element.
A new website has just gone up that accounts for where all your tax money goes and it too is as mysterious as it is enlightening. The single biggest outlay in 2016 at €19.8 billion was 'Social Protection' and if you're immediately thinking of those work-shy spongers on the dole, then you'd be wrong. The dole is now known as the 'Back to work allowance' and accounts for just €124 million of the total Social Protection budget. When you go into Social Protection – Expenditure (Drilldown), you get more detail of the total outlay. There are subventions and aid packages for the unemployed that bring the total for the so-called, "Working age income supports," up to 16.1 per cent of the total. But have a look at where the rest goes.
Then we see a weird one. Justice, Agriculture and Transport add up to just €5.7 billion. Justice includes the Gardai, Courts and Prisons among many other things, Transport includes all public transport services in Ireland and Agriculture is our biggest indigenous export industry. Yet in expenditure these three combined are dwarfed by our Debt Servicing EU payments. For those who don't know, that's the price of the bail-out in one year. It represents nearly one-fifth of all Government expenditure And remember also that 'debt servicing' can mean paying it off over a term or just paying off the interest only to keep the dogs at bay. Maybe we are still €200 billion in debt as David McWilliams claims.
Anyway, the Government's "Misc" column is called "Other," and it tells us a lot actually. Hidden in there is the Department of Defense costing a cool €916 million. These would be the lads whose, ahem, Air-Wing, won't fly after six o'clock. Then Foreign Affairs costs nearly as much as the army, navy and air force combined. That's some affair! But taking the biscuit is our beloved leader Dame Enda. In the Misc/Other column we learn that this guy cost us €204 million in 2016. No, I'm not kidding! What it says is Taoiseach/€204 million and you cannot drill down on this one. There's no breakdown, no devil in the detail and no explanation as to what the Mayo moron is up to with a budget like that. It's just, 2016/Taoiseach/€204 million, full stop. A private company outlaying €204 million a year would be considered a significant player. Under agriculture there is a section called, "Food safety, animal health and welfare and plant health," with exactly the same €204 million outlay as "Taoiseach."
In 2015, 'Taoiseach' spent €159 million and in 2014 he spent €142 million. Even in the heady celtic pussycat years our Bertie' only managed to piss away €186 million, perhaps losing it on a horse? But the term 'Taoiseach' of course refers to his office, or the Office of the Taoiseach. Even then, how does it cost that kind of dough to run an office for a year? You see, when we, the great unwashed are looking for an extra fiver on the old age pension, money for hospitals or a whole swathe of other necessary stuff, we are told the cash is not there. Yet it is there if you are 'Taoiseach'.
Our current leader is, ahem, a qualified schoolteacher