No to privatisation

Save our public services

By Kevin McLoughlin Socialist Voice June 2003

The battle against the bin tax poses the fundamental question: should essential services be geared to the needs of people or are they about making profits for big business?

Bin charges have been implemented in the vast bulk of the country, the main exception being the four local authorities of Dublin. In practically all cases, once a charge was established, it has been followed by the privatisation of the service. The cost of collection to householders has then been increased dramatically, making major profits for private companies.

Before refuse charges and privatisation, the refuse service functioned well as a publicly run service paid for through central taxation in the form of grants to the local authorities. PAYE workers pay over 80% of all tax in this country. Despite the fact that our money has built up these services over years, the government and councils have tried to get us to pay twice, with the implementation of the charge. Then in most areas, they went further by privatising the service, leaving the way open to profit hungry private capitalists to make a killing. What has happened to the taxes we paid for these services, you may well ask? Tax on big business was reduced to the tune of 1 billion last year by the reduction in corporation tax from 16% to 12.5%. That means we are subsidising big business. Put simply double taxation is "legalised" robbery.

That 1 billion could have been used to abolish all local charges and to provide for a significant improvement in other essential services for ordinary people. Instead, this approach is dismissed and we suffer blatant fraud and a rip-off which is part of an overall drive to take our wealth and put it into the back pockets of big business.

The Socialist Party has a record of defeating double taxation as in the case of the water charges, our opposition is not because there are elections next year, as with some parties, but is on principle and we also put forward a clear alternative. Public services by their very nature cannot be run for profit or on the basis of the capitalist market.

A profit based approach to essential services inevitably leads to either massive double taxes and or worse services. Essential services should be paid for through taxation and we favour the implementation of taxation reform, where those with the most wealth and assets pay the bulk of taxation. Concretely in terms of the bin tax, that means we demand: the scrapping of all local charges; increased taxation on big business; increased central government funding of local authority services; keep services public - no to privatisation.

James Connolly referred to the socialist movement as the greatest anti-theft movement in history. Not only must we do whatever we can to knock back the plans of the councils and the government regarding local charges, we need to reject the capitalist market ideology by which they are being levied. The needs of working class people must always come before the profits of the few!

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