The Economist on Piketty May 6, 2014Posted by Tomboktu in Books, Capitalism, Economics, Inequality, Journalism, Marxism, Taxation Policy, The political discourse, The Right.
I bought the Economist because the cover said it has an article about Piketty. (Reading articles about his book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, is quicker than reading the book!)
The headline on the actual article is weird: “Bigger than Marx”. That is true neither of the physical heft of the book nor, if everything I have read about it so far is valid, of the contents.
And then the content of the Economist’s review: 13 paragraphs: two are neutral; four approving; seven critical of the book. The Economist cites five critics of his thesis or aspects of it and zero supporters.
Not that I’m terribly surprised at their overall view, but they might have been subtler. Or maybe I should applaud their transparency.
“Income Inequality: Evidence and Policy Implications” March 25, 2013Posted by Tomboktu in Economics, Inequality, Taxation Policy, Uncategorized.
Emmanuel Saez does not propose replacing capitalism, but within its terms, this is a useful lecture that could do with an airing here.
Tax and income — a detail of our political priorities November 11, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Ethics, Ireland, Justice, Taxation Policy.
This morning, I saw the breakningnews.ie story on what I assume is a “Sunday press release” from Mattie McGrath. The answer to a parliamentary question he asked established that 1,700 employees in four Irish banks
earn receive more than €100,000 each.
In a moment of (poor-taste) whimsy, I wondered if anybody in IBEC is rewriting Martin Niemöller’s famous poem:
First they came for the top civil servants,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a civil servant.
Then they came for the judges,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a judge.
Then they came for the balied-out bankers,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a balied-out banker.
But I don’t think they need worry. I don’t hear the high earnings in the private sector questioned — whether that is the publicly traded companies whose financial results are public records or the legally private firms (like Dunnes Stores), where all is secret.
What I did hear though, was that on Friday, our good deputies put some time into debating Eoghan Murphy’s Tax Transparency Bill 2012. I am not surprised that the deputies understanding of tax transparency is ineffective and that the Bill is pointless. Real tax transparency would follow the Nordic model, where the amount of tax paid by everybody is a public record.
A peculiar tax break May 2, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Crazed nonsense..., Inequality, Taxation Policy.
The May issue of Alive! was delivered to my house today. I am not happy to see that it is a registered charity. They advertise the fact because
- If you pay PAYE and your total donation to Alive! was €250 or more in 2011 we can reclaim your tax.
Please ask us for a for or Tel 01 4048187 for more info.
- If you are self-assessed or a company and your donation to Aive! was €250 or more in 2011 you can clain tax releief on your donation.
How can an organisation that is so overtly political have been granted charitable status?
Broad approval for economic plan November 20, 2010Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Taxation Policy.
Not, I note, in the interests of its citizens (or its residents).
PPPs, they just don’t work June 1, 2007Posted by franklittle in Economics, Irish Election 2007, Irish Labour Party, Irish Politics, Sinn Féin, Taxation Policy.
A couple of days ago, having wandered into Andersonstown News publisher Mairtín Ó Muilleoir’s blog following a rightly critical analysis of his review of the election on the inimitable Splintered Sunrise, I left a comment disagreeing with his analysis. His latest post, which I saw when I went back to see if there was a reply, seems to suggest that Sinn Féin in the South should drop it’s objections to PPPs. If that is a misunderstanding, I apologise, but that’s the sense I got.
A positive reference to PPPs is, for me, like waving red rags at the running of the bulls.
Public Private Partnerships do not work. Let’s for a moment leave aside the traditional, and by no means invalid, left criticism of them. That they transfer unionised public sector workers into un-unionised and often abused private sector workers. That they transfer control of community facilities to for-profit companies who refuse to allow the community to use them for purposes other than that for which they were built, like schools for example being closed to residents meetings. That construction is often shoddy and getting repairs and cleaning done often extremely difficult leaving children with poor facilities ion a state of disrepair.
Look at it simply from a value for money point of view. Two examples. The first in education. The Comptroller & Auditor General has exposed the fact that PPPs are more expensive than normal state construction. This is because not only can the state borrow for capital investment at a better rate than business, but the state does not need a profit margin.
The building of schools under PPP in the South was estimated by the Department to cost 6% less than under normal procurement. The C&AG’s report in 2004, found they will cost between 8% and 15% MORE than under normal procurement.
So the only argument put in favour of PPPs, that they save the state money and off-load risk to the private sector is a nonsense.
But wait a minute, maybe it’s an isolated case. Maybe elsewhere PPPs are functioning perfectly. Well, let’s take road-building. Here’s a good example in road-building from the Irish Independent. One section of the Dublin to Galway motorway was built by the state. Another section of it was built under Public Private Partnership. Cost of the state built section worked out at 8.1 million Euros per kilometre. Cost of the PPP built section worked out at 14.1 millioon Euros per kilometre. The PPP section, by the way, will have a toll on it for almost three decades, up to 2035 so the taxpayer gets to pay again, and again, and again.
Bear in mind as well that not taken into account there is the fact that the company with the PPP contract can write off it’s construction costs against it’s Corporation Tax liability, something Labour’s Joan Burton rightly went ballistic over.
Dr Eoin Reeves, senior lecturer in Economics at University of Limerick and director of their PPP and privatisation research group has described the use of PPPs in Ireland as completely unjustified and warned against them as far back as 2001.
In an 11 page special analysis of the Private Finance Initiative in Britain completed shortly before he died, investigative journalist Paul Foot summed up the system saying:
“In every area where it has been adopted it has cost more, and will go on costing more. The PFI hysteria in the Labour Government led to an enormous transfer of power in Britain: from public, elected authorities to private, unelected corporations.”
Regrettably, it’s not on the internet, but this piece he wrote for the Guardian, although a few years old, gives a taster.
Ó Mulleoir’s argument seems to be that since McGuinness did it in the North, Shinners in the South should be prepared to do it. To be honest, I have some sympathy with McGuinness’s problem because the Executive has neither borrowing nor tax-raising power, but for a government in the South to even contemplate using PPP is little short of madness.
It is more expensive than state procurement; it amounts to a subsidy of the private sector by the taxpayer; it undermines public control of our capital infrastructure and it eliminates facilities used by communities.
PPPs, they just don’t work boys and girls.
Tax and Education. It’s the fundamentals, stupid? ..er…actually, no, not according to the Irish people it’s not… May 14, 2007Posted by WorldbyStorm in Education, Irish Election 2007, Irish Politics, Taxation Policy.
Three articles caught my eye over the last day or two.
Firstly the results of the Irish TImes/TNS mrbi poll last week which was reported in a rather thin piece by Stephen Collins on Saturday. It described how the findings demonstrated that the majority of voters were “not prepared to pay more taxes to fund public services, but they believe the Government already has enough money to fund those services, according to the Irish Times /TNS mrbi opinion poll. Stephen Collins , Political Editor, reports.”
72 percent were unwilling to pay more taxes to fund public services with a fairly derisory 23 per cent saying they would. Now, I’m no psephologist, but that 23 per cent looks fairly close to me to the core ‘left vote’ in this state. Not that if we examine self-described voters that we of the left should be too sanguine about just how great solidarity is amongst them either. According to the report: The hostility to paying more taxes was equal among supporters of all political parties, with the exception of Labour, where significantly more people said they would be prepared to pay more.
The response from Labour supporters was quite different to the rest, with 60 per cent opposed to higher taxes but 35 per cent saying they would be willing to pay more to fund public services.
Which leads to perhaps, at best, one cheer for those Labour supporters, which is considerably more than any of the other left parties deserve. Now, all polls are suspect, and perhaps this sort of poll more than most. But…all polls are also straws in the wind.
And as has been noted by others, here and here this is an unsurprising development in a political context where even the Labour Party has decided that it’s a virtuous act to cut taxation even further.
But even more fascinating is the age profile of those who are willing to see higher taxes for services. Unsurprisingly: Across age groups the youngest voters were most hostile to the notion of paying more taxes to fund services, with just 17 per cent in favour, while most support for the prospect was expressed by those in the 50-64 age group.
Seems to me there’s a lot of work to be done out there in our society to point out that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, that if people truly want better services they will cost money and that the current economic situation is unlikely to be a permanent feature of this society. It also appears that this broad opinion on taxation is not the result of any particular consideration of the matter on ideological grounds, but is instead the result of a hegemonic approach by the political establishment to this matter. In that respect neither Labour nor Sinn Féin have done the left many favours over the past couple of months where tax is concerned. But then again, nor have Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil who have pushed the line that management of expenditure is the real issue as if the good times will continue indefinitely.
The second article was perhaps a little bit more comforting. It dealt with Sinn Féin education policy, in particular their opposition to state subvention for fee paying schools. I have always found it odd that the state would allocate resources to that tranche of the private sector. I’m in complete agreement with Sean Crowe who said “parents were entitled to opt for private fee-paying schools if they wished, but the taxpayer should not be asked to provide any subsidy. He said any change in the arrangements for fee-paying schools could include special provision for a small number controlled by religious minorities.”
When one considers that €80 million is distributed to fee-paying schools in what is a fabulous example of government largesse to the middle classes the silence about this aspect of the education from the other left parties is notable. SF is also agin league tables – which again I’d be broadly agree with, and interestingly doesn’t look for the return of fees at third level. I’ve already noted previously that the removal of those fees distorted the education system by freeing up monies for middle class parents to send their children to fee paying second level schools thereby strengthening their effective opportunity. I’ve also noted previously how back in the dim dark 1950s luminaries such as Richard Crossland (hardly a man of the extreme left) recognised that only wholesale change, such as the imposition of allocated places for students from disadvantaged backgrounds would alter the nature of the private (or in the British case public) school system. I find it telling that a half century or so later the left in Ireland seems essentially uninterested in that issue. It’s a debate well worth having, just how we ensure that at the education level we can achieve the best levels of opportunity, access and – as best as is possible – outcome. It’s very possible that the answers to such a debate might not be to my liking, but that’s no reason not to engage on the topic.
Finally, a pointed little comment from John Gormley as reported in the Irish Times. He questioned Fine Gael’s decision to back away from favouring a ban on all corporate donations to political parties.
“They want to continue with the present system that goes to the very heart of planning. This goes to the root of Irish society: the relationship between developers and political parties. We are very uncomfortable with that.”
Good to see someone looking at the big picture.