Budget reaction: 'I feel like a feudal peasant. I can take no more'


THE READERS: What you said on irishtimes.com this weekCitizens feel disenfranchised, powerless and ignored,  but history shows there is a breaking point

Wednesday was Budget day, when the Government announced a range of measures that will affect almost every adult in the State.

They included a property tax, reduced child benefit, extended PRSI and cuts in entitlements for elderly people.There were rises in excise duty on alcohol and cigarettes, increased motor taxes, a higher third-level student-registration charge and an increase in Dirt, the tax on savings.

Two of the more controversial measures were a cut to the respite grant that is provided to carers each year and to the treatment of maternity benefit as taxable income from July 1st next.

Below is a selection of the reader comments on our website.

Having deliberately ignored the Budget as it evolved live yesterday, I met a friend last night who had done the same thing. Both of us had been news junkies in the past and would not have missed a syllable of the speeches. I feel like a medieval or feudal peasant; they had no power over how great lords and kings decided how the world was run, so they just got on with their hard lives until they could bear no more, then they revolted.

Nowadays I feel disenfranchised and powerless as my middle-of-the-road opinions are ignored and decisions I disagree with are imposed one upon another with bugger all I can do about it. So I choose to ignore the farcical democracy we have become until like the small men of long ago I can take no more.

My opinion and my vote are irrelevant. I voted for leaders and got followers. The only courage they have is our courage, the ability to bear hardship while they live very well, like great lords and kings indeed. HughByrne

I don’t understand this attack on lower- and middle-income wage earners, families and the vulnerable. While I expected this a bit from FG, Labour rolling happily along behind will have a lasting legacy. How can any right-minded true believing leftist party stand behind such an attack on so many of its core support? Freakystare

They should cut Dáil allowances to 10 per cent, not by 10 per cent if they’re serious about this, but they’re not. The Minister for Finance can attack our PRSI but he can’t touch a bank man’s overpay? That’s upside down. mcsherryp

The tax take yesterday was very poor. Growth in our economy is unlikely. The possibility of reducing spending further without cutting social welfare and public sector pay is remote? We must scrap the Croke Park Agreement, not extend it. McNamaraJoe

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Budget was about jobs, opportunities and businesses with an emphasis on the small and medium enterprises sector.

I run a small enterprise and don’t see any basis for Enda’s statement. There’s certainly nothing there for me. In fact the PRSI changes would make me less likely to take on new staff. I guess it’s lucky the property tax is self assessed as I’d say my house, like every other Irish house, is worth about a tenner. GregoryWilmot

How can this Government justify cutting the carers’ respite grant? Carers get so little as it is to look after the most vulnerable in society. They should be ashamed as a Government for not supporting carers who have little time off from a full-time responsibility that is both stressful and 24/7. AvrilRyan

It seems to me that there are many extra taxes specifically targeted at the better off, such as property (wealth) tax, increased universal social charge on those with generous pension annuities, capping tax relief for those contributing to large pension pots, increased capital gains tax on large inheritances, increased Dirt tax on those lucky enough to have savings, etc etc.

These “revenue-raising” measures seem to more than dwarf any cutbacks in welfare payments, so I’m not quite sure where this high level of indignation is coming from? The fact that the top 5 per cent of society here pay more than 50 per cent of the taxes in this country, and that Ireland still has fairly generous welfare and public pay rates by EU standards, seems to have been lost sight of in something of a knee-jerk reaction in the media and on these pages.

Spending on average €12 billion more than we collect in taxes every year for the past five years is not the definition of “austerity” . . . it’s actually called “living beyond our means”. I know it’s not a popular thing to say on these pages, but we actually need to stop increasing taxes and instead accelerate our efforts in reducing costs. Politicians and commentators who suggest otherwise are charlatans preying on people’s anger and disillusionment . . . and judging by the comments here, they are having a field day. RonanFurlong

Yeah, what a beautiful Budget, hammering the low and middle income, when at the same time high Cs and high earners are just a bit requested to participate to the mess that some of them brought in. Meanwhile, the lump sums, handshake, bonuses and retirement with massive benefits keeps going on, and all the guys asleep at the wheel before the crisis enjoy their financial security. TessierFrancois

It’s the same old story: the rich and powerful protect their lavish lifestyles on the backs of the poor. But history shows there’s a breaking point: witness the French, Russian and American Revolutions. Dear Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake” to the masses who lacked even bread literally cost her her head on the guillotine. When that breaking point will come in Ireland, no one knows. The economic stranglehold of the Brits on the Irish finally led to the Brits being driven out. When people are hungry, they have nothing to lose. “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” “Take the money from the poor pensioners, but leave my big pay cheque and Government limousine and expense accounts alone.” Put Enda and the rest of the crowd on the average pensioner’s income. It’s a crying shame that many fought and died for independence, only to have the country fall into the hands of these pariahs, who’ve never done an honest day’s work. ArthurCholakis

There we are! €1 on top of the €1.965 = €2.965 duty! Include 23 per cent VAT. A bottle at €7 means €4.27 in tax on a bottle. Until, midnight tonight I am an independent wine retailer in a dying sector. 50,000 jobs have already been lost. The late Brian Lenihan had brought back the duty to manageable levels after increasing it by 20 per cent in 2008. He had “learned from his lesson,” he explained a year later. It is now a race to the bottom. In a contracting economy margins keep the smallest of businesses just about alive. essomeric

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