Prime Time Late Debate: ‘Ooo Sweden, very attractive’

According to RTE’s Donagh Diamond the purpose of education is to make money, working hard means being wealthy, equality is taxation and taxation is concerned with taking money from wealthy people, Sweden is an example of economic neo-liberalism and, most surprisingly, the banking bailout bonanza never happened.”

Donagh Diamond’s contributions, interjections and questions to panelists on RTE’s ‘Prime Time Late Debate‘:

To Richard Boyd Barrett:

“Would you be in favour of absolute equality?”

“Interestingly the man from Tasc said that leveling down was his exact expression” “in your ideal society…does everybody end up with pretty much equal wealth? In short, what the plain people of Ireland might call, are we talking about communism?” “A more attractive style of communism?”

“…you’re talking about a very very even divvy up of the resources, a very even divvy up of wealth. I mean, just how even are we talking?”

“In your ideal, I’m trying to get a straight forward thing, in your ideal society are there wealthy people?”

“I’m just talking about slightly better off people, when people work hard can they keep their money?”

To Cormoc Lucey:

“Is it possible to level everybody up?”

“That comment of Michael McDowell’s, that wasn’t seen as very centrist.”

To Ivana Bacik:

“Where do you stand on this whole question of equality of outcome versus equality of opportunity?”

[McDowell seemed to be striving for inequality in society] “Of course he never said that, though all of you on the Left seem to imply that he did.”

To Mary Fitzpatrick:

“Where do you stand on this question of equality of outcome, equality of opportunity? I suppose I might ask, where does Fianna Fail stand? Because people seem to suggest that Fianna Fail stands where ever it suits them at any particular  moment in history.”

“…should people have equal share of the pie? Should they just get health care, equal education and then compete? These are the issues we are discussing…”

“…let me suggest that maybe it’s the furthest possible from abstract, because if you believe in some very very real form of equality of outcome you would take a lot of tax from people who are wealthy you would redistribute it to people are less wealthy. The question of tax immediately arises as soon as you talk about the question of equality, I think that is something your constituents are deeply concerned about.”

“…in a system where we are having equality of outcome, much much would have to be taken from the wealthy people and redistributed to people, where do you stand on that?”

To Michael Taft:

“Where do you stand on this whole question of, I mean you’re involved in Tasc, we had Nat O’Connor there, where do you stand on equality of outcome or equality of opportunity?”

“Just let me stop you there, there is always this reference to the Nordic countries, I always wonder quite how much people here know about the Nordic countries, Sweden, which is the country referred to most often, has just re-elected a centre right government, it cut back welfare dramatically because it thought there was no incentive to work. The incentive to work was so bad that 16% of its entire current budget was spent on sick pay. Their finance minister says one of the key things they did was introduce more private provision in health care. They’ve introduced free profit making schools. This model, the Left cites, it’s not the sort of model you would really be citing if you knew what was going on in Sweden.”

[The centre-right government was only elected when they abandoned their free market type of Thatcherite policies and actually adapted the social democratic model] “They cut back social welfare though.”

To Lucinda Creighton:

“Where do you stand on this debate? Which, in essence, there seems to be a trade off between the amount of growth you want in an economy, the amount of incentive, perhaps an American style, it was mentioned, perhaps a Boston style economy versus a more European style economy which may be much more equal, but…might not grow so quick.”

[Investment in education provides a level playing field, or well it ought to] “But it doesn’t really though.”

“…no matter how fair your education system, there are going to be lucky people and unlucky people, there are going to people that by the time they are four years of age will have very involved parents who are going to probably be involved teaching since they were virtually born. They may be just lucky in terms of genetics, so if you have a system, if you have a dynamic American style system that focuses only on the equality of opportunity, wouldn’t that essentially mean that the person who is not so lucky or not so smart is just never gonna get rich?[my emphasis]

To Eoin O’Broin:

“One of the catch cries of Sinn Fein for as long as I can remember was equality, and it might not have caught the public’s imagination in 2007, but do you think it’s going to catch the imagination this time? Exactly what sort of equality are you looking for?”

[The Swedish Christian Democratic government…rejects the idea that we are all individuals struggling against each other to try and get on in society and they…] “We are all individuals aren’t we?”

“Since we insist on talking about Sweden, and despite how doubtful I am about talking about it, would you be in favour of their sort of taxes as well?…It’s not a million miles from twice the total tax take.”

“Do you think people watching this programme will think ‘Ooo Sweden, very attractive’? About the total tax take.”

“It is not slightly higher…It is not slightly higher…They don’t get more take home pay in their pocket.”

To Eamon Ryan:

“You’ve actually been in government and had to make decisions, where do you fall in this debate?”

[The governments job is to put some constraints on the market, still leave it free to operate in some instances, but to avoid the inherent…] “Only free in some instances?!” […instability and unfairness in the free market system…]

To Ivana Bacik:

“One of the key issues of course is how much money people get to keep, among the three largest parties you’re the party that is suggesting that this correction, if you’ll excuse the use of the term, that we have to undergo will be done by about half taxes and about half expenditure cuts. That’s the direct opposite of all the economic advice, the OECD advice, the ESRI pointed that out to us. Everybody says that the most successful adjustments are done by a greater proportion of expenditure cuts. Why does the Labour Party know better?”

“It might interest your voters in south county Dublin, you could be a fairly ordinary teacher and another public servant and between them they’d be on €100,000 a year.” [No, it’s an individual income]

To Cormoc Lucey:

“…fortunately we have an accountant here…the budgets during this economic correction we have been going through, have they been focused overwhelming on the poorest in society?”

To Ivana Bacik:

“We have seen, essentially, what the government was saying is that we can’t have huge numbers of people outside the tax net. If you were in government you would have had to do the same thing.”

“What troubles me about this is there is a huge amount of economic literature that says that if you are to through these sort of fiscal problems, and a large number of countries, including Ireland in 1989 is included in the OECD study, and they say that people who know these things and who study these things say that the preponderance, if you wanted to succeed, should be expenditure cuts, and the Labour Party seems to be blithely rejecting that.”

To Eamon Ryan:

“Just a straight forward issue, privatisation of services, we are going to have to deal with it aren’t we?”

[We shouldn’t be ideological on it] “We have no money so we don’t have to worry about that.”

It goes on for another 10 mins.

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