Most people agree that money has three main uses: as a medium of exchange (to facilitate transactions), as a store of value that can be transported and is accepted everywhere, and as a unit of account or a common measure of the value of goods and services.
Some people say that money seems to bring out the worst in many people. Because for some reason, many people want more of it, no matter what. Even if they already have more of it than they will ever be able to spend. And in most cases getting more money means taking it from other people.
Few, if any, get rich by doing an honest day of work. No policeman, nurse, teacher, carer, cleaner, lecturer will ever become a billionaire, no matter how hard they work. You can make an honest living, but if you want to make billions you have to take it from others.
Many of Ireland’s wealthiest people are taxed at a rate below that of average workers, according to the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG). “And 83 of these so-called high net worth individuals, or one in four of the total, declared taxable income of less than the average industrial wage, which is just over €36,500”, according to the findings of the report quoted by The Irish Times a few days ago.
The Irish Times says that “just 10 taxpayers from the group were responsible for 85 per cent of the €473 million income tax bill owed in total, meaning that many of the rest paid relatively little. Some declared little income for tax here, presumably due to tax residency elsewhere, while other successfully used a range of credits and reliefs to shelter income from tax.”
You couldn’t blame these rich people to look after themselves. In the same way that you couldn’t blame a plumber getting paid in cash on not declaring his income. Or those claiming unemployment and other benefits when they really are not entitled to those benefits.
Who one could blame is the government and its administration for not establishing and then enforcing rules that would prevent people taking advantage of others, in this case those who do an honest day of work and pay there taxes. Who one could blame is a society that not only allows but in some cases seems to encourage those taking advantage.
As an example, the Irish billionaire JP McManus’ “generosity is fantastic and he should be lauded for it”: the leading racehorse owner shared €3.2million with GAA county boards to support gaelic sports. Yet, the same JP McManus ‘has paid no tax in Ireland for 20 years‘.
Why does all this make me think?
Because if someone, like Jamie Sinnott around 2000, requires special schooling, they should not have to go to the High Court to secure this right. Because if someone requires ongoing, life-long therapy and support because of an accident they should not have to struggle to secure this right. Because the State says it has no money to pay for it. These rights should not depend on families and friends having to organise cake sales and raffles in order to secure funding for these, ultimately, life-saving services.
In the end, it is up to us and to our decisions, to our preferences. Do we allow people not to pay their taxes to the communities that they live in and do we allow that persons with catastrophic injuries are left behind, are left to die, because ‘there is no funding’?
I’m telling you: these are not tough choices. Especially if you are affected personally.
Am I ranting on?