Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sad Naked Greed of Ireland's Legislators

The entire world is in trouble.
And it is generally agreed, that, well, greed is what has caused the problems for us all.
We - I - have pointed the finger at bankers. And they are, without any doubt, guilty.
But here in Ireland, there is another group which is as greedy. Another group that appears to be in utter and total denial. Another group which seems to believe that it should make no sacrifice whatever in the current climate. Another group that says one thing and does another.
And that is the group of people made up of our elected representatives.

We have 166 TDs, Members of Parliament, men and women elected almost two years ago to represent us in the legislature.
They receive, on average salaries of more than €100,000 a year. Some earn considerably more having been elected a long time ago.
On top of that, they receive an allowance for actually turning up every day.
This size of this historic payment depends on how far it is they live from Dublin. More than 25k - and you can be sure hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens live considerably further away than that - and they pick up around €150. Tax free. Every day.
And incredibly, if they live closer, they receive a payment of a bit more than half that to COMPENSATE them for not living further away. Can you believe it?
They receive tax free allowances for their phones.
They can mail 21,000 items a year, free. They often use this allowance to send Christmas cards to constituents they don’t even know.
They also receive financial help to run their constituency offices - offices that exist largely as part of their re-election campaigns.
Many TDs use state money - our money - to pay members of the families to do this work.
And they receive travelling expenses.
And they receive general, unvouched expenses. That is to say, that unlike the rest of us, they do not have to provide receipts. They just claim the money. Tax free.
Some claim up to €80,000 a year - tax free (I don’t mind saying that again) and on top of salaries of €100,000 or more.
How many TDs have suggested that, as tens of thousands of people lose their jobs. as tens of thousands of others are forced to take pay cuts, as families lose their homes, as people struggle to keep their heads about water, that they, our public representatives, should look at cutting some of what they get?
Not one.
Not a single one.
We do not have one TD, one public representative who thinks that what they are getting is, in the current situation, a bit much, a tiny bit inequitable, a wee bit unfair.
We do not have one TD, socialist, Christian or otherwise, who thinks they should give up one red cent of what they get, paid for by us.
We do not have one decent person, one with a conscience, one with the tiniest bit of moral fibre which would nudge them in the way of saying: This is wrong.
They live in their own world of short days, long holidays and, compared with the rest of us, wealth.
And it is desperately, terribly sad that it is so.

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