Is the Budget a topic for a homily on the Good News?
The Central Statistics Office, according to its most recent data, shows there was a significant change in Disposable Household Income between 2009 and 2010. That’s the “take-home” amount after deduction of taxes, social insurance, and such charges. All amounts here are averages over the group. Social Justice Ireland (socialjustice.ie) analysed the data.
Dividing the population into 10 equal parts, the 10% who had the lowest disposable income in 2009 received €10,973; in 2010, this reduced by €2,045 to €8,928.
The 10% with the highest income in 2009 received €118,667. In 2010 this increased by €4,870 to €123,547. This increase alone is more than half of the disposable income of those on lowest income.
Over a longer period, from 1980 – 2010, we see a similar pattern when we look at the share of the total income of everyone in the country.
In 1980, those in the lowest 10% received 3% of the total national income. In 2010, this went down to 2.06%.
In 1980, those in the highest 10% received 24.20% of the total national income. In 2010, this increased to 28.5%.
This increase alone is twice the total income of those on lowest income.
So, in 1980, the wealthiest received about 8 times as much as those with least. In 2010, they received about 14 times as much as those with least.
Most shocking of all is that people do not seem shocked to hear this, as if it’s the normal way of things, or that it’s wrong but there’s nothing whatever we can do about it.
This is clearly not a sign of a just society. Of course, those with most contribute most to taxation, but they are well cushioned. How can it be just and fair that those with least are again losing out in the Budget announced on December 5? Is this the kind of republic we want? The government has a tough job, but they did not have to insist that those with least would again have to suffer yet more loss. There were other options which would bring in just as much or more.
Where is the Christian voice in this? On Sunday 16 December we read of people coming to John the Baptist, and he tells them: “Whoever has two coats, let them give to a person who has none.” This is not how the Budget this year, and for many years, has been decided. Many voluntary organisations do magnificent work in helping, but they should not be faced with the enormous increase in demands. Why are official church voices silent? The Gospel, the Good News, shows a different way.