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 interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

August 04, 2020
John Pilger
Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now
Dave Lindorff
Unsung Heroes of Los Alamos: Rethinking Manhattan Project Spies and the Cold War
Kenneth Good
Escalating State Repression and Covid-19: Their Impact on the Poor in Kenya
Dean Baker
We Need an Economic Survival Package Not Another Stimulus
David Rosen
Globalization and the End of the American Dream
John Feffer
The Pandemic Reveals a Europe More United Than the United States
Patrick Cockburn
The Government’s Failed Track-and-Trace System is a Disaster for England
Ramzy Baroud
‘Optimism of the Will’: Palestinian Freedom is Possible Now
CounterPunch News Service
Statement From Yale Faculty on Hydroxychloroquine and Its Use in COVID-19
Manuel García, Jr.
Ocean Heat: From the Tropics to the Poles
Sonali Kolhatkar
Why the Idea of Jobless Benefits Scares the Conservative Mind
Greta Anderson
Framing Wolves in New Mexico?
Binoy Kampmark
Pulling Out of Germany: Trump Adjusts the Military Furniture
Shawn Fremstad – Nicole Rodgers
COVID Stimulus Checks Shouldn’t Penalize One-Parent Households
Adam Shah
The 1 Percent’s Attack on Unemployment Benefits is a Sign of Our Broken Democracy
Evaggelos Vallianatos
On the Beauty of Life
B. R. Gowani
Mohammed Rafi: Singer and Human Par Excellence
David Krieger
Eight A-Bomb Haiku
August 03, 2020
Linda Pentz Gunter
The Resistible Rise of Nuclear Gangsters…and Their Downfall
John G. Russell
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Cal Winslow
Their Heroes and Ours: California’s Health Care Crisis
David Barber
Renouncing White Privilege: A Left Critique of Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility”
Linda G. Ford
Free Joy Powell! America’s Political Prisoner for Fighting Police Brutality
Prabir Purkayastha
Trump’s Withdrawal From WHO: a Cover-Up for His Abject Failure on COVID-19
Dean Baker
The Plunge in Consumption of Services Leads to a Record 32.9 Percent Drop in GDP
Ramzy Baroud
Human Rights Defenders: Palestinian Eyewitness Testimony of the Execution of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif by Israeli Soldier, Elor Azaria
Karen J. Greenberg
Accountability is Gone in America
Cesar Chelala
A Wrong Message for the Pandemic
Jonah Raskin
Chesa Boudin: Reformer in the San Francisco DA’s Office
George Wuerthner
Forest Plan Failure in the Montana Rockies
Ralph Nader
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Writes to Me!
Laura Flanders
Take on the Tech Mob Now or Perish
CounterPunch News Service
Conservationists Intervene to Oppose New Dam Project Near the Grand Canyon
Weekend Edition
July 31, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Bette Lee
Tear Gas and Thugs at the BLM Protests in Portland
Rob Urie
Russiagate, Nazis, and the CIA
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Demon Seed
T.J. Coles
The Space Wars Have Begun
Andrew Levine
Insurgents and Iconoclasts Needed (But for Now Lay Low)
Paul Street
“Time to Say the F-Word”: Why Now?
Matthew Scully
The Triple Antagonist of the Police, Policing, and Policy
Richard D. Wolff
The Consequences of Inequality Can Be Fatal
Richard C. Gross
Feds Give In, Maybe
Erik Molvar
Inside Trump’s Attack on America’s Environmental Charter
W. T. Whitney
“We Charge Genocide:” Forerunner at UN of Black Lives Matter
Brett Wilkins
The Bologna Massacre, the ‘Strategy of Tension’ and Operation Gladio
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail