A big headline but a simple conundrum. In January, the Journal reported that, “State takes in nearly €51 billion in record year for tax collection.” OK so far? In a sub heading they add that, “Including the sale of 29% of its AIB shares the government collected over €58 billion last year” (2017). Except that the AIB sale was for only €3.4 billion? Where did the other €3.6 billion come from???
Then on the 28th April this year, the Examiner reported that, “€58bn was spent delivering public services last year, up from €51.8bn in 2016.” However, the total tax take for 2016 was €47.9 billion, which we were told, was the next highest total ever collected. So the tax take is creeping up but the spending is creeping up faster.
And yet, what about the public services we are paying more for? Let’s look at a few. The Gardai are in meltdown as scandal after scandal among the upper ranks leads to lies and resignations. The rank and file are demoralised, the mid ranks retiring en-masse and serious crime is on the rise. In education, the teachers are on the warpath looking for more money and less hours and stress. Every single man, woman and child in the State is paying €12,340 each a year for this stae of affairs.
And let’s look at what else we get in return. We pay for our own refuse collection, soon to be on a per-weight basis. They want to charge us for recycling soon as well. It is not too long ago that that they pleaded and then praised us for sifting out our recycling for them, now they want to punish us for it. Then there’s water that they tried to charge us twice for, don’t forget that because they won’t leave that alone for too long. The roads, apart from the motorways, are in shit, urban planning grinding everything to a halt and because they reneged on their responsibility to provide social housing, the homeless problem became a crisis.
And if I said cervical smears and double-jobbing consultants, you’d immediately think meltdown. The HSE is beyond a farce and it gets the lion’s share of the public services funding. Of the 317,500 public servants, over 100,000 of them work for the HSE. Yet last February, Frail elderly patients were being left on trolleys for days while enduring “sub-human conditions” as hospitals grappled with record levels of overcrowding.
Dr James Gray, emergency consultant at Tallaght Hospital, said conditions in its A&E were dangerous and it was so cramped it amounted to an evacuation hazard. In a blistering memo to Health Minister Simon Harris he said one 84-year-old patient was forced to wait on a trolley for an entire day, while a 64-year-old was suffering a delay of four days. The hospital was struggling with a lack of staff and beds. They are “institutionally abused,” he told the minister. Dr Emily O’Conor, spokeswoman for emergency consultants, warned that the overcrowding is costing lives. In another incident, a patient received an appointment this year for New Year’s Day 2024 after being referred to St Vincent’s Hospital for neurology treatment. That’s a six year wait for treatment!!!! Neurological disorders can affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the peripheral nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, and the muscular system. That’s a sentence of six years in hell for some poor suffering bastard and for what? And yet, “Hospital beds lie idle as patients languish on public waiting lists.” the Independent reported earlier.
But there is some good news for the taxpayer. “TDs are in line for two pay rises worth more than €3,600 on the first day of the new year, (2018) – and the Taoiseach’s pay is set to soar by more than €21,000 in the next three years under a new wage deal. Wages of deputies would rise from €89,965 to more than €93,598 on January 1 because of a wage increase due under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, plus a second pay rise of 1pc due under a new extension to that deal.” Doesn’t that make you feel better? The salary for the Taoiseach will rise from €190,233 to €211,588. Now Leo can buy something nice for his Mom & Dad out of the €4,069 a week that you give him.
Does it give you that warm fuzzy feeling at all?