No justification for protecting the corporate sector while damaging the sick, the vulnerable and the working poor

Posted on Friday, 19 November 2010

Social Justice Ireland has challenged the current efforts by many vested interests to protect the corporate sector while allowing the weak, the vulnerable, the ill and the working poor take the hit for the reckless actions of greedy bankers, incompetent regulators and an inept government. It is important to remember that much of Ireland’s current problems were caused by elements within the corporate sector. Social Justice Ireland believes that the corporate sector, like everyone else, should make a contribution towards rescuing Ireland from its current very difficult situation. We have proposed a levy of 2.5% be placed on corporate profits until Ireland is in a position where it does not need this additional income to pay its way.

While both the IMF and the Government have said that poor people will be protected and that everything must be on the table when decisions are made concerning the adjustments required in these difficult times, this is accompanied by an insistence that: 

  • Senior bond-holders cannot be asked to bear any part of the adjustment;
  • The corporation tax rate cannot be increased;
  • A greater part of the adjustments will come through expenditure cuts rather than through tax increases.

This approach is hypocritical and deeply unjust. Either everything is on the table or it is not.

By taking so many things off the table the IMF and the Government have created a situation where most of the adjustments will be made at the expense of the weak, the sick, the vulnerable and the working poor. 

It appears that the decisions being made will ensure that those who are rich and/or strong will not be asked to make sacrifices while those who are weak and poor will bear the brunt of the required adjustments. This can be seen clearly in the endless media commentaries which assert that government must:

  • Reduce welfare rates (which will hit the weakest and poorest as well as increasing poverty);
  • Bring the working poor into the tax net which will deepen their poverty (more than a third of all households at risk of poverty are headed by a person WITH a job);
  • Reducing the funding for programmes providing services to people who are ill, old or have a disability (i.e. Ireland’s most vulnerable people).
  • Reduce the salaries of all those working in the public sector;
  • Reduce the minimum wage in the private sector.

Social Justice Ireland fully acknowledges the gravity of the present situation which has been caused by a variety of groups including bankers, regulators and government itself. Very difficult decisions must be made and made quickly if the present decline is to be reversed. It is in the interest of all Irish people that prudent decisions be made now.  

However, those decisions must be fair and just. They must also be seen to be fair and just. What Government and the IMF are proposing to do is deeply unfair and unjust. It is totally unacceptable that Government and the IMF target the sick, the poor and the vulnerable to rescue Ireland while some of those who are among Ireland’s richest and/or most powerful groups and who contributed in a major way to the current crisis are exempted from making any contribution to rectifying the situation.

Social Justice Ireland believes a fairer future is possible. We urge Government and the IMF to act fairly and justly in the coming weeks and months as they design a pathway out of the present difficult situation.