It will be over soon. The kite-flying and the boat-floating. The low-hanging fruit and the hard choices being made for poor people by wealthy people. The budget is nigh.
The trick for the government, therefore is to raise money from us in ways we don’t notice or don’t mind. Here are a few suggestions:
Why not announce that there will be a Prize Bond Draw every day for the next three years with a prize of 1 million euro? There will be a flood of new money being invested in prize bonds which is good for government coffers. And then just rig the draw so that the winner of the €1 million is always a pension-aged senior civil servant or ex-politician. That would make it very similar to the current system of general taxation. But there is less of a perception of injustice – as long as all concerned keep their mouths shut.
This Sacred Cow Went To Market…
The IMF have told us to sell assets to raise money. Rather than selling something contentious though, why not sell something we don’t necessarily feel that strongly about – like naming rights in return for sponsorship. If it is done in a targeted and smart way, companies will be eager to for associations that resonate with the public. For example – the Oireachtas sponsored by a wind-power generating company, Aras an Uachtaran named after a pension group, Dublin’s Millennium spike sponsored by a drugs company (for a number of reasons).
A truly bold government would auction off some other prize jewels. The next time there is a riot and plastic bullets fired at an under-fives camogie match in Ulster, the GAA could be nationalised under the pretext of security reasons. Then it could be auctioned off county-by-county to wealthy Middle and Far Eastern sovereign funds. Cork could be bought by the Sultan of Brunei. With his lack of local knowledge he might appoint the Sultans of Ping as the administrators. The influx of petro-dollars could lead to unfamiliar counties winning All-Irelands – albeit with a new style of playing as Lebron James and Cristiano Ronaldo reveal a childhood dream to play gaelic for Waterford.
Speaking of oil and gas – one natural resource needs to be brought back under our control – the Corrib Gas Field. Then, as soon as the Irish government becomes a threat to the hydrocarbon industry, America will invade (under Operation We’ve Stopped Pretending It’s Not About Oil). Soldiers are tourists too and the influx of hard currency will be a boost for the embattled retail trade.
By supplying a fake set of strategic bombing targets to the CIA – which they will believe, they always do – we might even achieve the demolition of our ghost estates.
If events such as Bertie Ahern telling the Nigerians how to run an economy or the government nominating a man who mis-accounted 3.6 billion euro to the European Court of Auditors have proved anything it’s clearly time for Ireland to become an international centre of satire and irony. This would provide a boost to our arts industry as summer schools would thrive on the presence of thousands of corduroy jacket-wearing playrights, novellists, scriptwriters and anyone else in the business of producing plot twists that defy belief.
Universal Social Network Charge
The presence in this country of the headquarters of Internet giants has led to a lot of palaver about our bargain-basement corporation tax-rate. In the case of Facebook, the focus of the discussion is all wrong. Rather than tax the company, why not tax the users. Two birds could be killed with one stone by discouraging the inconsequential witterings we publish on Facebook and raising some money.
Status updates that do not contain essential or new information would be deemed luxury items and therefore subject to VAT. “Just gave birth, nice one” is an exempt status. “OMG Janet got voted off X-Factor WTF?!!!” would cost money.
The true meaning of friendship could be restored by forcing it to mean something in legislation. Similar to property, on Facebook, you could nominate someone to be your Principal Private Friend and everyone after that becomes a Secondary Friend and therefore liable to a charge.
Health is not Wealth.
The health services are creaking. There are too many people and not enough services. The solution is simple: Get less people to use the services. A new style of health campaign needs to be launched discouraging, in particular, middle-aged men from getting inspected. Entitled ‘Sure I don’t want them to be poking around at me’ it would prey on that demographic’s general suspicion of the health industry. A follow up campaign encouraging self-diagnosis and treatment called “Rub It In: Salt Is Yer Only Man” would reinforce the message.
Taxes They May Not Have Thought Of
It’s the start of December so the time is now right to tax moustaches. That should be followed up shortly afterwards with a special extra tax on razors. This principle of ‘incentivise a new behaviour, then tax the behaviour’ is the similar to the forthcoming tax rises on low-emissions cars. (Also known as the carrot-and-then-slap-you-with-the-carrot’ approach).
There are many who provide a valuable service through their work but there are some services we didn’t ask for that don’t do us much good. Like flashmobs doing dances in public spaces, people at the checkouts packing your bags incorrectly with the bread being put in with the raw chicken, the people who weld the blankets to the bed in hotels so that you pull a muscle in your calf trying to free yourself. These service providers should be paying a special levy. To be decided by me.
It’s not all about money. We have to improve the mood.
The very name ‘Ireland’ has many wonderful connotations. Unfortunately it has also allowed us to be part of a rather unfortunate acronym. Therefore I propose we use Éire. Instead of being a member of the PIIGS, we would now become one of the PEIGS. Our outlook would change from depressed and maligned animal to that of a philosophical woman with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge, who could remember a time when there was real hardship.
Of course we could just try making the people who can best afford it pay their fair share and protect the poor from hardship. Although I admit, that’s a bit wacky.