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home : opinion : opinion February 6, 2016

10/12/2012 9:12:00 AM
IN MY OPINION: Tragedy and suffering on the Emerald Isle

Bill Forhan

They're often called the PIGS of Europe. Portugal, Italy or sometimes Ireland, Greece and Spain. The countries who have ridden the wave of government supplied social policies until the financial bubble burst.

Until the politicians promises outran their economies ability to sustain the gravy train. Now the collapse is creating desperation and terrible human suffering.

Their story should be a message to us. When our leaders
promise more than our economic system can sustain the collapse is not pretty and it falls heaviest on the young people. The following excerpts are from a column by John Spain on Irish Central last week:

"One of the worst aspects of the financial crisis in Ireland is the way it has impacted on young people disproportionately...By young people, I mean not just those still in college, but those in their twenties and thirties...These include the young couples who bought houses at the top of the boom and are now struggling to pay their sky high mortgages as their income shrivels.

When they bought their dream home their pay seemed to be increasing every year; now it's shrinking, all the bonuses and overtime payments have vanished and money is getting tighter all the time. And of course they can't sell because they're deep in negative equity, with the house worth half what they paid for it, or even less.

It's not just mortgages that are causing problems either. As the government struggles to cut spending, a lot of free stuff now has to be paid for, in areas like health and education.
Meanwhile, the cost of things that are essentials, like gas, electricity, oil and even food have all increased. Petrol prices have increased sharply and for many families a car is an essential, not a luxury, with kids who have to be ferried to school and jobs to get to.

And the burden of taxes is getting heavier all the time... the effective tax rate on anything a single person here earns over $40,000 is 56.5 percent, not the much quoted 41 percent. All told, the income tax burden here is already very heavy. And if you have to pay for child care -- unlike other EU countries it's not subsidized here -- it can be very difficult to make ends meet. To say that money is tight for so many younger singles and couples here is an understatement. A survey last April by the Irish League of Credit Unions showed that up to 47 percent of Irish adults have less than $130 to spend by the end of the month once all their essential bills are paid.

The wave of unemployment here due to the financial crisis also affects younger people much more than the older generation...And they will go on paying for the mistakes that led to the financial collapse and the bailout for years to come.

All of that is only half the story, however. Where this becomes really shameful is the way the older, established section of Irish society is doing everything it can to protect its privileged position at the expense of the younger generation, no matter the their shame, the unions in the state sector have been a key player in this rotten compromise.

Younger entrants in all areas of state services are being given lower pay and poorer conditions in a trade off that allows the older workers (all unions members of long standing) to keep their privileged pay and pensions."
Our country is headed down the same path as the PIGS of Europe. The result of uncontrolled spending is not compassionate. It is not "fair." It is in fact intergenerational theft and the best example of how class warfare is not the answer to our societal problems.

Americans are an ingenious and compassionate people. We can find better ways to address our societal problems without resorting to class warfare and the failed policies that are causing the PIGS of Europe to fail.

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