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Budget 2012: What TheJournal.ie's contributors are saying

TheJournal.ie brings you contributions from a huge range of people. We asked some of them to give their opinions on the Budget – and here’s what they said…

Michael Noonan with the Budget before presenting it to the Dáil
Michael Noonan with the Budget before presenting it to the Dáil
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

HERE AT TheJournal.ie we bring you contributions from a huge range of people – with everyone from A&E nurses to lifeboat captains weighing in on our Read Me opinion section.

So we’ve asked some of those who’ve written for us to give their considered opinions on the last two days’ Budget revelations. Here’s what they had to say…

Aaron McKenna has written about government transparency, internship schemes, and the impact of health cuts. He said:

There’s a dissonance in Government policy. On the one hand they’re talking about jobs, the smart economy,  and protecting the most vulnerable – but their actions don’t speak for it.

I was going through the line items for the Department of Social Protection and one of the items they’re cutting is a technological research programme. They’re also cutting a modern language programme in primary schools. It seem to me that if we want to move to a smart economy, that’s not the way to go about it.

The charges they’re imposing on private patients using public beds – that’s ultimately losing the State money, because those patients are a source of revenue for public hospitals. But they’re being driven away by these charges. There’s just a left hand-right hand approach, and the left hand doesn’t seem to know what the right hand is doing.

They’re just not digging in to fundamental reform of the system. Means testing is a great example. Our whole social welfare system should be means tested. It would cost a couple of million quid – and Michael Noonan can raise a couple of million quid; he can raise it for the Universal Social Charge exemption or anything else. But they’re not grasping this nettle. They’re trying to make cuts that are politically acceptable, but they’re not reforming.

Lisa McInerney is a regular columnist for TheJournal.ie; she has written on numerous subjects including domestic violence, social welfare, and prison rehab. She said:

I have no confidence in this budget. It strikes me very much as a collection of short-term solutions to an incredibly complex problem, as if the country’s desperately raising money to pay off a threatening loan shark (make of that metaphor what you will). There are a lot of measures here would will certainly raise money… if they were based on realistic social projections.

For example, raising VAT will mean higher prices across the board, alongside the hikes for the essentials like home heating oil and motor tax. This will, naturally, lead to a drop in consumption, and those who will feel the pinch will be lower and middle income workers; exactly the people who spend most of their income, rather than invest or hoard it. It’s counter-productive in the long term.

The cuts to disability allowances, on the other hand, just strike me as madness over plain myopia. I fail to understand how any projected savings in this sector can compensate for the difficulties this will cause our most vulnerable citizens. People with disabilities already find it more expensive just to go about their day-to-day lives; it makes no sense at all to cut any support. People with disabilities also pay tax and contribute to the fiscal health of the state. I feel this budget has let them down terribly. It’s gutting.

Liam Horan has written about returning to college after 26 years in the working world, and given career advice to readers. He said:

For all the lip service being paid towards small business, which is where we’re told all this growth is going to come from, there really is no incentive to create employment. And the VAT increase is going to damage the ability to create employment more. People in the jobs market, looking at the Budget, they’re not going to see a lot of prospects for jobs being created.

To take a simple thing – people who have gone on the Jobbridge internship scheme, they might have done so in the hope that there might be a job in it for them in the end. And I’d be worried that they might suffer a little bit, because companies that might have been intending on take someone on, might now be put off. The cost of employing people is just so high in Ireland. People don’t have a lot of room to manoeuvre.

This Budget doesn’t offer much encouragement for people in the jobs market. And for those thinking of creating jobs, the disincentives are just mounting up.

Philip O’Connor has written about being an Irishman abroad; and the complications of running a GAA team in Stockholm, Sweden. He said:

There were no real surprises. The only real surprise was that a Labour party could have such a go at the disabled and the poor of the country. But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at anything from a Labour party any more.

The other thing I noticed today was Michael Noonan’s attempt to resuscitate the property market before it’s finally dead. It’s like the inverse of the Monty Python parrot sketch. It’s just so pointless. If they could do anything wrong in the property market, they’ve done it wrong. And now, instead of just letting the market bottom out and then start it again, they’re trying this pathetic intervention.

They’ve been very, very careful not to take on any groups. So they didn’t take on old people, because they can get organised and get out and cause trouble. But they took on disabled people, because they can’t. And children, because they can’t. It’s death by a thousand brutal cuts.

Proportionately, this Budget hits the poor. The household charge is €100 whether you live on Ailesbury Road or on the worst estate, where the value of your house has gone down by half. One of the principles of taxation, if I remember anything from my economics lectures, is that it should be equitable. And this is anything but.

Full coverage of Budget 2012 on TheJournal.ie>

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Michael Freeman

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