NamaWineLake has an excellent post on the relatively simple point that if the Kenny Report (first published in 1974) was implemented tomorrow the government could save the money that it expects to raise from the Household charge. Although capital programs have been cut back they are still acquiring land in order to build roads etc. The price of this land is not fixed but is based on the market and at the moment should the government expresses an interest in the land in order to build stuff on it, lo and behold the price changes.
“An acre of land might be worth €6-15,000 an acre in terms of its existing use, but once the State decides it needs it for infrastructure, that price can rocket to well over €100,000 an acre. Not convinced? Why not ask the Limerick land-owner who pocketed €10.4m for a contribution from his land-holding so that a tunnel scheme might have been built; indeed €56.5m was spent on land acquisition in that one Limerick scheme alone.”
The now well known recommendation was that the state should pay a 25% premium on top of the existing value of the land in the case of a compulsory acquisition.
NamaWineLake suggests that should this be implemented now the government could save itself €160m on future acquisitions, the same amount that’s expected to be raised from the flat rate household charge on 80% of the homes in the South.
There is also a comment in the post about how successive governments which have included Fianna Fail, Labour, Fine Gael and the Green Party, have failed to implement the report even though many of them either championed it when it was published or inserted the promise to implement it into their Election Manifesto. There is a wonderfully bleak irony in the fact that the Green Party did so and then went on to rubber stamp the creation of NAMA which flies in the face of the recommendations of the Kenny Report.
It’s worth noting that the reason that NWL was able to link to the original report was because Conor scanned it and put it up on the web in June 2009 from one of the few copies that are publically available in the National Library. Since then only two people, as far as I know, have referred to it with a link – that is NamaWineLake and Gavin Sheridan of the Story.ie. Both are excellent bloggers but neither would describe themselves as leftwing.
Joe Higgins and the other TDs who are campaigning against the household charge are though. I listened to Joe talking on Pat Kenny earlier on this morning and it was obvious to me that Joe was on the winning side of the argument. Everything he said was right. He was calm, rational, and convincing. Importantly he was on top of the detail of the bill, including many of the draconian measure it includes around failure to pay. In fact it seemed that Pat Kenny was sympathetic although scandalously he was suggesting that people might be better off just leaving the country! Joe, however, correctly put the campaign against the household charge within the need to challenge the whole austerity program which was simply taking money from working people and using it pay off the banking debt.
But a campaign that potentially puts working people in an even worse position by being liable for serious personal debt when they do not pay is somewhat flawed from a practical point of view. How do you coordinate it? How do you support people when they are already under considerable financial pressure and with the amount of effort that is required to do so how can you possibly focus on the rest of austerity program and campaign against the failure of the enture system which is leading to the disolution of the Irish economy.
Would it not be better to focus on a simple suggestion that comes out of NWL’s post, to implement the Kenny Report in order to realise savings of the same magnititude? A simple quid pro quo: stop the household charge and instead implement the report.
The usefulness of this comes from the fact that there can be no rational objection to it. As NWL points out, with the 25% premium landowners are still getting a very good deal at a time when prices of land are continuing to fall. Surely when every available cent is being carefully counted and all available means of raising revenue examined, as we are constantly being told, this government would jump at such an opportunity?
Of course the suggestion would not be accepted. Indeed it would be feircely resisted. But that in itself seems like one of the most positive aspects of it. Then Leftwing TDs could demand to know why cannot be implement and to argue to the people that it shows how this country is really run.
And if they are still not sure why the Kenny Report has never been, and under this and any future rightwing government, would never be implemented they can always pick up a copy of Conor’s book Sins of the Father and turn to the chapter on housing which discusses the Kenny Report.
For Joe and anyone else who has not read the book the reason that the Kenny Report has not being implemented in part or in full is because the ‘comprador’ class in Ireland, that particularly disfunctional layer of people who control government and fuckup in business; populate and stymie the professions; crowd senior management with their tax accountancy and Smufit Business School qualifications negating all other forms of thinking and join daddy’s media company in order to ensure that no one who wants to work in media in this country goes off message cannot look beyond unproductive property speculation as a way as making money within Ireland. This is why, historically, profits earned by Irish based companies were not ploughed back into the businesses in order to build it, but were put into property speculation instead. Of course, not all of their money was put into property speculation. Most of it was and is still siphoned abroad.
So, Joe, ask Santa for a copy of Conor’s book for Xmas. Available in all good bookshops and as an eBook for trendy types who might be lucky to get a Kindle Reader in their stocking. An ideal Christmas present for those interested in cogently challenging the political establishment in order to build campaign based on the realities of the Irish economy.
For anyone else interested, here’s the Kenny Report. Don’t say that we didn’t give you anything.