Posts Tagged ‘Goodbody Stockbrokers

08
Apr
09

The Unemployed Budget

Like everyone else, I was paying strict attention to the telly yesterday to see how we’d be affected by the budget. This was a funny one for the unemployed, as there was the possibility that Lenihan would listen to the likes of Goodbody Stockbrokers and actually cut social welfare payments to those of us on the dole (a line elegantly countered by Fintan O’Toole in yesterday’s IT). I recall a few articles in newspapers in the last few weeks that sought to highlight the burden each individual dole recipient places on the state, which read to me like the kind of line journalists pick up from PR people who are trying to condition public opinion. I got a real sense that we were being braced for something shocking.

So, people on social welfare might be tempted to breathe a sign of relief, as on the face of it at least we seem to have gotten away with it. After the medical card blunder of last “real” budget, Brian was a lot more nervous about been seen to attack social welfare recipients. There are no major cuts in social welfare, according to the three broadsheets this morning. This of course isn’t the full story, but more on that later. The most notable cut was the abolition of the double payment at Christmas time. This has lead to witty comparisons to Ebenezer Scrooge, but frankly, I find it hard to justify a difficulty with this. I for one was not entitled to the bonus last Christmas and I don’t think I would have been this year either, and I was expected to just get on with this. Of course it’s very easy for me to say this, considering I’m a singleton who doesn’t have to worry about paying for a family Christmas. And considering the as yet undisclosed impositions that are to be place on the children’s allowance, the oncoming holidays are sure to be a difficult one for families on social welfare. To this I can only say it was always going to hurt.

Far more unforgivable, in my opinion, is the halving of dole payments for people under 20 years of age, an incentive Brian says for people to take up training. This is a basic display of ageism in that it assumes universal parental support for young people, which is not always the case. Will extra Fas and PLC places be provided for every person under 20 on the dole? I very much think not. As far as I can see, the pain this will cause does not justify the money that’s likely to be saved, which according to the Irish Independent will be €300 million.

Also unfair is the cut in rent allowance. It’s not so much the cut that’s the problem but the reasoning for it. According to Lenihan’s speech this is merely in tune with the drop in rent prices, a remark quite similar to Goodbody’s Marie Antoinette-esque belief that a cut in social welfare is justified due to a drop in inflation. This supposed that those on social welfare noticed an corresponding drop in their expenses, conveniently forgetting that the inflation drop was fuelled by a general consumer race to the bottom. For people already at the bottom there is nowhere else to go. Well, the same is true for Brian and his perception of rent prices. Suzy has gone into more detail on this here.

Apart from cuts, there was another reason unemployed people were paying attention to this budget. We wanted to see what was being done to create jobs. I’m going to leave this for people more qualified than I to discuss in detail. However, I will say it seem there was precious little announced in this regard as far as I can tell. I suppose such measures were never a consideration for this “mini” budget. Nobody of course ever believed there would be anything about this budget that could be described as “mini”. The Indo had it right today with a supplement entitled “Crisis Budget”. It was just about plugging the hole in the public finances that FF created for themselves. Creating jobs will have to wait for another day.

18
Feb
09

Dermot O’Leary can go fuck himself

I was interviewed yesterday on the lunchtime show on 102-104FM regarding this blog, where I accidentally proclaimed that I’m joining the Socialist Party. I’m not. I don’t have a problem with Joe Higgins and co (in fact, Clare Daly has helped me out with a couple of pieces I’ve done in the past), but I’m not a socialist. I am, despite my present condition, a believer in the Capitalist model, just as long as it’s even slightly regulated. The reason for my unintended commitment to Marxism was that I was thrown by the question (enquiring if I might enter politics to see if I can do a better job than the current shower), and I suddenly recalled sentiments I expressed earlier in the day as I read the papers and began to suspect the socialists are right.

Economists with Goodbody stockbrokers are warning that the economy will shrink by 6% this year, and in response the government should cut social welfare payments (which seems like a good opportunity to recall my opinion on economists. For all that people like O’Leary know, we’re better off investing in an online casino than following their advice). Naturally, I was pissed. It’s not that I’m concerned with my own pocket, at least not primarily. The issue I have with this is the signal it sends out, and what it says about the capitalist’s thinking in this crisis.

Earlier this month the government faced anger (and will probably go on to face strike action) from lower civil servants over their cost-cutting pension levy plan. In practise (and it seems Lenihan didn’t quite realise this) the higher-paid civil servants will be less affected by the levy than the rank-and-file. The burden for fixing this recession is placed squarely on the lower-paid worker. And now, in the report titled A Rocky Road Ahead by Goodbody economists Dermot O’Leary and Deirdre Ryan, the idea is to cut support for those most affected by the recession by reducing dole payments by at least 3% (as well as cutting grants for students, which again are offered to those from low-income families).

The article that covered this in yesterday’s Daily Mirror highlighted that every 1,000 on the dole cost the state €11 million. This to me sounds awfully like the repeated language used in the media last year to highlight what a burden on the taxpayer the civil service is. It conveniently pastes over the fact that the unemployed, as with the civil service, are not the ones responsible for the recession. They are, in fact, the victims of it.

And what do we do with those who are responsible? Well, they get €7 billion bailouts, legislation guaranteeing deposits, and – if they really screw up – nationalisation. All necessary, perhaps, but it does kinda suggest Marx was right.

As for the suggestion by Dermot O’Leary that unemployed people wouldn’t lose out due to a general fall in prices, people are losing out as it is. I know many people (myself included) who are being kicked out of their homes because the can’t meet mortgage and rent costs. To tell these people that they can save 5% on a bag of carrots is highly insulting.

Anyway, I want to thank 102-104FM for their interest in this blog and what I’m trying to do here. I’m still not quite sure what it is that I’m trying to do here, but I appreciate the support.