Tonight all across Ireland, many parents are unable to sleep, fearful of the morning which will bring another day of worry and stress about losing their home, or feeding their children, or paying an electricity bill, or finding some work, or finding somewhere safe for themselves and their children to sleep, or paying for their children’s school uniforms and books. etc…
In the past days the platforms of social media and newsrooms burned with the disclosure by the European Commission that the big industry giant Apple owed Ireland in tax an eye watering 13billion euros. We all take a very deep breath while we digest the information that is spilling out from this Report.
One would think that the Irish Government would be elated at the news. After all Ireland has undergone a major recessionary downturn and has imposed major austerity and cutbacks on Irish Citizens for the past eight years, along with new Property Tax and Water Charges. The financial crash saw tens of thousands emigrating, losing their jobs, and many losing their homes. All of which has resulted in a major homeless crisis, massive increase in child poverty and the decimation of towns and villages all across the country.
But no, the latest news reports see the Irish Government vehemently denying any wrong doing with their tax affairs with Apple and vowing that they will appeal in the Courts the European Commission findings. In doing so, thus pledging to spend more of Irish tax payer’s money fighting this. From the reaction to this on Social Media, many people like myself sat opened mouthed to this decision being made in our name by the government that is meant to represent us, the people.
With this decision to appeal and refute this 13billion tax from Apple confirmed by Irish Government Finance Minister Michael Noonan on RTE 6 One News, we were left with more questions then answers. A major question must be WHY?, and how will the governments decision benefit the Irish people? once again we are left without any real explanation.
The government’s decision to refuse this massive amount of money must not be allowed to go through without major questions being asked. And equally must not be allowed to be used as a way for it to wriggle out of accountability as to how it carries out it’s Corporate tax matters with big multinationals like Apple.
The levels of uncertainty that many people live with everyday in Ireland has been brought about by the greed, ruthlessness and inhumanity of many financial institutions, ineffective regulators, vast corporations and lily livered politicans. Years of austerity have stretched many people to breaking point and sadly some to beyond breaking point.
The impact of the Global financial downturn has long since seeped onto the streets of Ireland’s cities, towns and villages. Closed shops and boarded up, repossesed, or unfinished houses, stand starkly as symbols of the toxic decisions made in the corridors of power of major financial and politicial institutions and big corporations in this latest boom to bust game that plays itself out approximately every twenty years.
Because none of these powerful institutions and the powerful elites that run them appear to have, or indeed need, to learn any lessons to change. So they and their descendents just push the buttons of the markets like a game of monopoly. Like any addictive behaviour, loopholes are found and higher and higher risks are taken, until once again the bubble their monopoly game has created eventually bursts. Since they are in the main not directly affected in any way that causes them pain it is easy to just see it as something that happens, after all accountability dosn’t seem to be a part of the rules of their game.
So insulated are these elites from the fall out of their irresponsible and reckless decisions that they often even fail to connect their actions to the array of crises that occur due to their actions. After all, their high powered luxury lifestyles and language of the high flying market places bear no resemblance to that of the lives lived by ordinary men and women. So… the cycle of boom to bust keeps apathetically turning and repeating again and again while the average workers, mortgage holders, ill or disabled that get caught up in it’s fast moving wheels get spun off or crushed, without the powerful master drivers of finance, industry and politics at the least hardly noticing or at the worst caring.
What ever the Corporate Tax arrangements of successive Irish Governements with Apple, the arguments presented so far by this present Irish government in defense of not accepting the European Commission Findings and so refuteing the 13billion in Tax owed to Ireland, are certaintly watery to say the least. The somewhat fuzzy nature of this whole affair makes for a very big example of the inequalities that exist between the forces of wealth and power and the ordinary Irish citizen.
The complexities of high powered economics that talks and thinks in billions of euros stand in stark contrast to the men, women and children who find themselves tonight with the very real threat of being without the very basics of a roof over their head, food in their stomachs, schools uniforms and books at the beginning of a new academic year and the stark decision once again this Winter of choosing between heating or eating.
WE desperately need real Conscious Conversations not just about this Apple Tax issue, but how a system, big corporate business and government cannot see that this does not only involve economics or politics, but poses much deeper moral questions of fairness, justice and wealth distribution.
In reality there is a facade of equality as once again government’s story line echoes ‘in the best national interest’. However, this Apple Tax issue serves to highlight that this facade is fractured along many lines. Namely, the Irish Government’s willingness to fall in line with EU dictates on not burning bondholders, saving the banks with massive injection of Billions of Irish Tax Payers money and imposing crippling austerity measures hitting the most vulnerable in Irish Society. While much to the dismay of many of us, when money, a massive 13Billion of it, is available to be had in Tax from a global company and is supported by the EU to be had, the Irish government is willing to go against the EU, even go to Court to oppose it. It beggars belief.
Just think what such a massive amount of money could do for Communities and struggling individuals, families, small businesses and social enterprises all across Ireland.
Organised, conscious, collective, reasoned and civil action is called for. The narrative written in our future history books of this island nation about these times we are living through, must not be allowed to be written by those who are more influenced by and concerned with powerful market postions over honesty, fairness and truth.
The pursuit of self interest, or more precisely the pursuit of self interest in terms of commercial and private profit making, can be a major force for material progression, however, it can also be single mindedly ill-adapted to what is required in the pursuit of social justice, equality and the fair distribution of wealth.
So WE are left with 13billion questions. Let’s continue the Conscious Conversation on the ‘moral’ equality of people over economic self interest and the inherent tendency of market forces to perpetuate great disparities in terms of social conditions… Corporate Social Responsibility is not just for fine days and fair days but must be an inherent part of a moral and ethical conscious way to do business, which serves the interests of ALL.
Bernadette Phillips is Founder of New Insights For Change intuitive guidance for conscious living… she is a Social Scientist, Social Activist, Writer, Speaker, Poet and Blogger.