The Bord Snip Nua Report

Before I listened to anything the media had to say yesterday, I took the liberty of having a scan through the Bord Snip report, which suggests 17,000 public sector job cuts, slashes in welfare spending and a plethora of charge increases, before tackling the rough job of siphoning out the propoganda from the reality.

What of course was most interesting to me in the report, and something which isn't obliquely pointed out, but you can hear it from the screams of fear of the anti-poverty industry, was the plans to combine lots of different bodies who quite honestly, are all doing the same thing.

For example, we all know about the forced amalgamations of bodies like the Equality Authority, Combat Poverty etc, but what beats me is how so many of these bodies somehow managed to become de facto state bodies in the first place? Why are what are effectively bodies supposedly representing community activists now part of the long arm of the state? For example, another one I notice is Citizens Information. Effectively, all of the people working for these different advocate groups have become employees of the state, with all the (as we now know) inherently unfair and often unjustified salaries of as much as 50% more than equivalent private sector jobs, generous perks and guaranteed pensions. Its ironic that the very people who decry inequality in our society are also the very people who benefit generously from being on the upper hand where that inequality is concerned.

One thing that is harrowing, however, is the appalling lack of planning inherent in the document. There is a long and extensive appendix showing the obscene payments made to welfare recipient families with children who have the misfortune of living in the private rented sector. What the report does not point out, and more pertinently, is the likely earnings of such families in the event of them being forced to work. For example, its all very well to moan that a family with 2 adults and 2 children gets 37k a year in benefits, but if both adults were to take up jobs on 30k a year they'd be more than 12k better off in net cash terms - now 1000 euros a month is an awful lot of money, so surely the state would be better off in figuring out why wilful self-impoverishment is so much the choice of a large bastion of professional social welfare recipients, when the reality is that they could be so much more better off. By this I mean deliberating asking for what reasons a couple of hundred thousand adults in this country have opted out of the world of work in the long term, moving from benefit to benefit and agency to agency. Simply forcing them to work by further impoverishing them, but in doing so punishing a large chunk of others who've been laid off over the last 18 months after working their entire lives, much of it subsidising the parasite welfare class through taxation.

Its interesting that page after page in what amounts to over 400 pages of documentation shows that a huge chunk of welfare payments is in rent subsidies, yet barely a paragraph is dedicated to this hugely contentious issue, whereby basically, the state subsisidises miniature shanty towns in mostly urban areas, increasing the wealth of thousands of amateur bad landlords while enabling a lifestyle of pleasant if squalid idleness for tens of thousands. The unintended consequences not only include decrepid standards in a large chunk of the rented sector, but the maximum rents payable have effectively created a baseline rent in most parts of the supposedly "free market" sector, thus artificially inflating rents for those who do pay it for themselves, often choking further their ability to save for a place of their own some day.

Another item I did find alarming was the suggestion that lifetime tenancies for local authority housing be ended (why?) and tenants situations be "reassessed" every 5 years. Why? So that they can be dumped back into the market housing sector? I do agree, however, with restricting sales of public authority housing, since it depletes the overall social housing stock, to the detriment of future tenants. But what again it doesn't answer is how public housing has been a massive enabler for those who otherwise would be stuck on welfare perpetually.

Lastly, I really had to ask, have the state not done their maths? Because if the public sector dumps a fresh 17,000 people into already massive dole queues, surely this will cost the state more? If the figure of an average of 20k per year per recipient is still used, and even if overall benefits are cut by 5%, this still means that providing welfare for those 17,000 freshly laid off public servants will cost the state an extra 320 million euros a year, surely killing off so much of the proposed savings?

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