FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Remember Captain Boycott!

In 1880, Irish tenants turned their backs on their landlord’s rent collector and gave birth to the verb “to boycott.”  This spring, the Irish are at it again, but this time it’s property owners who are refusing to pay and their government that’s collecting.

Saturday at midnight was the deadline for Irish property owners to register to pay a new one hundred Euro property tax. It’s a flat fee, introduced this year as part of a package of taxes and cuts negotiated by the government in its $90 bailout deal with the IMF and the European Union.

To beleaguered property-tax payers elsewhere, an annual fee worth roughly $133 may not sound like a fortune but the Irish have already seen €20 billion worth of austerity measures since the crash of 2008; they’re facing billions more cuts and tax hikes, and they’re keenly aware that registering for the charge paves the way for the introduction of an annual property tax.

“Can’t Pay! Won’t Pay” declared the banners at a rally Saturday.  Property taxes themselves aren’t themselves reactionary, one unemployed Dubliner fumed to me Friday, but this charge treats all homeowners alike. What really gets protestors riled up is that while unemployment benefits, health care and education are being slashed, speculators are being paid back – full value – on risky bets. Reversing a campaign pledge, the Fine Gael/Labor Coalition government announced a €717m repayment to unsecured Anglo Irish Bank bondholders, last fall. Another €1.25 billion was repaid this January.

One Irish senator was ruled out of order when he attempted to read a list of Anglo-Irish Bank bondholders into the record in 2010. If those enjoying the windfall now resemble the investors who held the bonds in the state-owned bank then, they’re private banks and investment firms with political clout among them, Goldman Sachs Asset Management which reported a fourth-quarter profit of about $1 billion at the end of last year. Its next returns come out next week.

Just  805,500 of Ireland’s roughly 1.6 million households registered by the deadline. Is the government really going to pack the courts with homeowners, when not a single banker or speculator’s been brought to justice? That’s what Marie Mulholland, an unemployed labor and community organizer in Dublin was asking this weekend. “The mood here is miserable. Angry and fed up.” On the other hand, the household charge has strengthened the independent/socialist alliance in parliament, the United Left Alliance, which has five seats in the Dail, was recently joined by the left-nationalist Sinn Fein in supporting the boycott.

It’s worth thinking about as Americans edge up to Tax Day this April. In the 1880s, the Irish Land League campaign against Captain Boycott and his boss left the landlord with no laborers to bring in the harvest, no shop willing to sell him goods, no laundry to take in his linens. What’s it called when a society ostracizes its government?

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura. 

 

More articles by:

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail