FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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. 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
November 13, 2019
Vijay Prashad
After Evo, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia
Charles Pierson
How Not to End a Forever War
Kenneth Surin
“We’ll See You on the Barricades”: Bojo Johnson’s Poundshop Churchill Imitation
Nick Alexandrov
Murder Like It’s 1495: U.S.-Backed Counterinsurgency in the Philippines
George Ochenski
Montana’s Radioactive Waste Legacy
Brian Terrell
A Doubtful Proposition: a Reflection on the Trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7
Nick Pemberton
Assange, Zuckerberg and Free Speech
James Bovard
The “Officer Friendly” Police Fantasy
Dean Baker
The Logic of Medical Co-Payments
Jeff Mackler
Chicago Teachers Divided Over Strike Settlement
Binoy Kampmark
The ISC Report: Russian Connections in Albion?
Norman Solomon
Biden and Bloomberg Want Uncle Sam to Defer to Uncle Scrooge
Jesse Jackson
Risking Lives in Endless Wars is Morally Wrong and a Strategic Failure
Manuel García, Jr.
Criminalated Warmongers
November 12, 2019
Nino Pagliccia
Bolivia and Venezuela: Two Countries, But Same Hybrid War
Patrick Cockburn
How Iran-Backed Forces Are Taking Over Iraq
Jonathan Cook
Israel is Silencing the Last Voices Trying to Stop Abuses Against Palestinians
Jim Kavanagh
Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to Pillage
Susan Babbitt
Fidel, Three Years Later
Dean Baker
A Bold Plan to Strengthen and Improve Social Security is What America Needs
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Trump’s Crime Against Humanity
Victor Grossman
The Wall and General Pyrrhus
Yoko Liriano
De Facto Martial Law in the Philippines
Ana Paula Vargas – Vijay Prashad
Lula is Free: Can Socialism Be Restored?
Thomas Knapp
Explainer: No, House Democrats Aren’t Violating Trump’s Rights
Wim Laven
Serve With Honor, Honor Those Who Serve; or Support Trump?
Colin Todhunter
Agrarian Crisis and Malnutrition: GM Agriculture Is Not the Answer
Binoy Kampmark
Walls in the Head: “Ostalgia” and the Berlin Wall Three Decades Later
Akio Tanaka
Response to Pete Dolack Articles on WBAI and Pacifica
Nyla Ali Khan
Bigotry and Ideology in India and Kashmir: the Legacy of the Babri Masjid Mosque
Yves Engler
Canada Backs Coup Against Bolivia’s President
November 11, 2019
Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider
Class War Violence: Centralia 1919
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
“Other Than Honorable?” Veterans With “Bad Paper” Seek Long Overdue Benefits
Peter Linebaugh
The Worm in the Apple
Joseph Natoli
In the Looming Shadow of Civil War
Robert Fisk
How the Syrian Democratic Forces Were Suddenly Transformed into “Kurdish Forces”
Patrick Cockburn
David Cameron and the Decline of British Leadership
Naomi Oreskes
The Greatest Scam in History: How the Energy Companies Took Us All
Fred Gardner
Most Iraq and Afghanistan Vets now Regret the Mission
Howard Lisnoff
The Dubious Case of Washing Machines and Student Performance
Nino Pagliccia
The Secret of Cuba’s Success: International Solidarity
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections
Kim C. Domenico
To Overthrow Radical Evil, Part II: A Grandmother’s Proposal
Marc Levy
Veterans’ Day: Four Poems
Weekend Edition
November 08, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Real Constitutional Crisis: The Constitution
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail