Political price of doing the right thing


A chara, – Stephen Collins contends that politicians are punished for “doing the right thing”. The article focuses on the current unrest in France (“Emmanuel Macron pays price for doing the right thing”, Opinion & Analysis, December 6th).

Measures to curb or eliminate the use of fossil fuels, among many other measures, are a necessity as the world struggles with the catastrophic effects of climate change.

However, there is, predictably, nary a mention in the article of such minor details as the real impact of Mr Macron’s reforms on the workers whose jobs and livelihoods are for the time being intertwined with fossil-fuel use.

There is no reference to a just transition for these workers. There can be no mature analysis of the cause of the unrest if such germane matters are considered unworthy of attention.

Mr Collins concludes that Fianna Fáil was likewise punished for “doing the right thing”, “the right thing” in this case being offering up the State as collateral in a bailout of private bank debt – including, inexplicably and unjustifiably, unsecured senior bondholders – with the resulting immiseration of my generation and generations to come. – Is mise,


Dublin 8.

Sir, – Stephen Collins paints a picture of a beleaguered “leader” trying to do the right thing beset by a thuggish “unholy alliance of right- and left-wing extremists. However, the fuel-tax plan was but a catalyst that sent simmering resentment at growing inequality under Mr Macron’s leadership over the edge. Interviews with people across France told a similar story of who the cost of living is now crippling, with working people seeing their pay running out earlier and earlier each month.

Instead of addressing such issues, last year, Mr Macron slashed wealth tax and introduced a flat rate on capital gains, compounding inequity. The accusation at the time was that the cuts were a reward for wealthy people who financed his political campaign.

Whatever about that, it most certainly was not the “right thing” for a leader to be doing when inequality was rising sharply. Indeed the economist Thomas Piketty said the measures were a “historical error” that would only fuel economic inequality.

Contrary to what your columnist asserts, that “in politics, there is often no reward for doing the right thing”, there are many rewards awaiting such politics. As we at home are seeing at first hand the suffering that is being caused by the same policies that Mr Macron pursues, our times are crying out for politicians who will do the right thing. That entails ditching, once and for all, the failed neoliberal fiscal model and beginning a programme that ensures that whatever we have is distributed with a modicum of justice and ensures that every citizen has access to at least the basics to allow them to live with dignity, security and some ease.

What greater reward would any politician want? It should also be said that there is now some urgency in this matter. – Yours, etc,