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Economics, Ireland, Media, Politics

Subsidising Those Who Don’t Pay

The title of this article could more appropriately be attributed to corporations, who, through various loopholes, pay virtually no tax which would benefit Irish society, but this has been well documented and discussed here before.

What the title refers to however, is the suggestion among some in the media (today it was Pat Kenny), that those who do pay water charges will be subsidising those who don’t.  In actual fact he said those that “will not pay” as opposed to those who “cannot pay”, so as not to appear too uncaring – but fundamentally, what’s the difference?  In the light of corporations paying virtually no tax this appears an obscene way to approach the question of who’s “not paying” for what. Of course, it’s also an attempt to smear the water charges boycotters as selfish, wreckless individuals with no social responsibility or awareness, who obviously do not consider the harm they’re doing to the kind people who intend to pay water charges (it should be noted, that many people who intend to pay, are not doing so because they agree with water charges, but out of duress).  Again this would seem an obscene way of portraying boycotters and protesters, as it is undoubtedly their strong social conscience which drives them in such massive numbers to public protests and meetings across the country about the future of Irish society.

But what validity does Kenny’s argument have?  Surely it strengthens the argument on the Right2Water and #WeWontPay sides that people should just refuse to pay?   If you refuse to register or pay for water charges, Irish Water will fail, and nobody will be “subsidising” anyone.  The argument reminds me of how, during the First World War, those calling for recruits stigmatized conscientious objectors on the death of their fellow countrymen – another futile event on behalf of the rich in which the poor suffered horrifically.

Irish-Water-Charity-Appeal-YouTube-1Even if the percentage of the population who are not paying remains roughly the same, the numbers are still large enough to render Irish Water a failed entity.  Then nobody will be paying for water charges as they will undoubtedly be abolished.

But, even if those who have registered start paying their bills, the bills are set by the amount of water that you use, not by how many people still have not paid.  Simply arguing that bills are subsidising for those who are not paying water charges is nonsense. If anything, it suggests that Irish Water only intend to increase their prices in the future anyway and may be looking for an excuse to do so, as there are credible concerns that the entity will be privatised as the refuse collections were.  Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, Irish taxpayers already pay for water.  This too has been well documented, including the  fact that we also pay for water through our motor tax!



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