It's that time of the year again when the Irish Government takes from the rich to give to the poor, Budget 2006. Except seeing how this is Ireland and the government is in awe of the rich we don't actually take any money from the rich, instead we give them tax exemptions.
Fortunately things have moved on from Robin Hoods time. Now you don't need to take from the rich to give to the poor, you can instead take from the middle classes and give to the poor and the rich.
The middle classes who pay 42% Income Tax plus 4% PRSI as well as other taxes to live, like bin tax, car tax, VAT, excise duty, and then have to pay all the little stealth taxes like the WEEE tax. In return for all the tax they pay they get... nothing. They have to pay for private health insurance and private pensions. They spend 3 to 4 hours each day commuting to soul less housing estates. They pay tolls to use the roads their taxes paid for or they pay for public transport that is late, crowded and unreliable. Then they use what money they have left to pay off a mortgage that is averaging 10 times the average industrial wage and hope interest rates don't go up too much.
So we'll see that Brian Cowen does for the middle classes, I doubt it will be anything useful. The rumors are there is a big child care package coming, but I guarantee they will make a mess of it and end up driving up the cost of childcare by the amount matching whatever assistance the government provides.
Come on Brian, surprise me, please.
Update: Ok, I was a little surprised. He was very generous to people with children. €1000 for every kid under 6. I imagine a lot of that money will end up going to creche owners who will put their prices up in response, but it looks like families with kids under 6 should be very happy, families with kids aged 6 and 1 month will be a little pissed but you cant keep everyone happy. Social welfare and the elderly won as well, though not as much.
Hanging over all this is the fact that the government tends to hide the bad news in the Finance Bill so I expect that some bad news will be on the way. Well I'll have to wait until tomorrow for the papers to calculate how I did and the Irish Times usually has a good calculator the next day. At the moment I think I'll be marginally better off but only by a token amount. Maybe next year. Maybe.