David McWilliams: Why the young are priced out of the Irish economy

Ireland’s model of 'rentier capitalism' is stacked against the younger generation

The rentier capitalist model encourages endemic cronyism. Generationally, it squeezes the young. Photograph: iStock

The rentier capitalist model encourages endemic cronyism. Generationally, it squeezes the young. Photograph: iStock

The annual hullabaloo about RTÉ presenters’ salaries focuses attention on the licence fee. In this system, a captured audience is obliged to pay a fee to an organisation, whether it uses the service of not. Irish citizens risk jail if they don’t stump up to pay the salaries of these presenters. It seems quite anachronistic. 

Unlike the BBC, RTÉ also raises private advertising revenue. Some justify this fee on grounds of culture, others don’t. Economically, this arrangement is a form of capitalism, “rentier capitalism”, prevalent in Ireland, where anointed organisations are preferred and are allowed to operate in a grey area – half public, half private – where budgets are soft, the market is captured and over-runs are common. 

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