Tuesday, September 29, 2009

RTE Frontline

Last night Pat Kenny hosted the second edition of his new current affairs show called "The Frontline". After a strong first episode on the banking and financial turmoil we're now in, yesterday's show pitted the public sector versus the private sector.

As a public sector employee married to a self employed person I can see the impact the downturn has had on both sides of the divide. Since this time last year we have moved most of my partner's tax credits over to me due to her smaller number of contracts. Even with those extra credits, my net pay is now down about 13% compared to this time last year with the extra levies, taxes etc.

All workers are being hit and the mud slinging that was encouraged last night on The Frontline didn't help one bit. Polarizing the community rather than galvanizing it together to find a solution to the current situation might make for good TV but it doesn't contribute to the debate.

While I agree with Colm McCarthy's central arguement that the state can't continue to borrow €20Bn per anumm, his slash and burn to the bottom line doesn't take into account that the jobs lost will end up increasing the social welfare budget. Also his smartass and somewhat condescending delivery definitely rub people up the wrong way.

The public sector workers on the programme didn't exactly cover themselves with glory either. Sob stories about losing benefits and making additional contributions to pensions from people in fairly secure employment won't engender support from the private sector. The public sector need to come up with a line of argument that doesn't make us seem like whiny kids. Hard facts and an acceptance that those on over €50k are actually doing alright and can afford to pay a bit more. On the other hand, the private sector need to dial down the witch-hunt mentality.

The whole political system is busted but the infighting amongst the workers is the equivalent to fiddling while Rome burns. At the moment all we're doing is throwing more petrol on the fire

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