I never cease to be amazed by the apparent stupidity of people in positions of power and privilege in Irish society. Two extracts from Indo articles follow, please read:
"A DISTRICT Court judge has told a public court sitting that his income has plummeted by €2,000 a month.
Judge Sean MacBride made the announcement in response to a man who the court heard had verbally attacked public sector workers.
Cavan District Court heard this week that it was "an insult to say that civil servants are not paying their way in the current economic climate".
Judge MacBride's comments were made after he heard evidence of how a farmer arrested for dangerous driving told investigating gardai that "my taxes are paying your wages and had they nothing better to do than waste my time".
In response Judge MacBride said to the man: "How dare you insult civil servants like that."
The judge told the farmer that his own income was down by €2,000 a month due to the introduction of the Universal Social Charge and other levies.
Sharply criticising some national media reports, which he said suggested judges were not taking pay hits, Judge MacBride said the vast majority of his colleagues had suffered pay cuts and levies.
District court judges appointed post-Budget 2010 earn a salary of €132,300, while those appointed before the Budget earn just under €148,000.
The discrepancy arises because the Government is constitutionally unable to cut the pay of existing judges... "
How dare an overpaid public sector employee (albeit a judge), with a job for life, be so distracted by the facts of a case before him by a simple observation on a issue crucial to the future of the country. How out of touch can they be?
For the the good judge's information, private sector workers also pay the USC. Even farmers pay it. It is probably, when you think about it, the only such income tax the country has ever had. Private sector workers have also been contributing to their pensions for years.
Now read the following extract from yesterday’s Sindo:
"Greed and recklessness of fat cat elite has gone on long enough
Unless we end public sector excess Europe will become more hostile
By DANIEL McCONNELL CHIEF REPORTER
The Government's smash and grab of €470m a year from private pension pots is being done, they said, because there is nowhere else to get the money. Of course, that's not true.
In truth, here in Ireland, there exists a fat cat public sector elite, allowed to develop over decades, which has so far -- for numerous, often dubious, reasons -- remained largely unscathed and sheltered from the impact of this country's worst-ever recession.
Much of the criticism of Ireland from Angela Merkel's Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy's France and David Cameron's Britain doesn't just relate to our banking problems but to the incredible levels of excess in terms of salaries and pensions enjoyed by many at the top of our public sector.
Today, we examine a number of key areas where real savings can and must be made, if Ireland is to restore its reputation, credibility and most importantly its sovereignty.
Judges in Ireland are, along with their British counterparts, the best paid in the world.
Leader of the judges in terms of pay is the chief justice John Murray, who takes home €295,916 for every year he works.
Because of the Constitutional guarantee that they are to remain totally independent from the political system, the Irish judiciary were exempt from public sector pay cuts announced by former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in 2009.
A High Court judge earns a basic pay of €243,080, plus lots of allowances (which are tax free). Compare this to the salaries of their counterparts in Spain, who are paid €107,000 a year, and their German equivalents, who receive €108,000 a year, according to official figures obtained by this newspaper.
Despite the voluntary sacrifice by many judges of about 10 per cent of their salary, a number of judges have declined to make any sacrifice to the national cause.
Worse still, most are granted a full pension after 15 years.
This means, according to pension experts, that the pension of a High Court judge is worth approximately €121,500 and this would require a funded pension of approximately €4.86m.
Experts say that a fully- funded public sector pension, when all add-on benefits are included, is worth about 40 times the annual amount received by the pensioner.
That means, if a High Court judge gets a full pension after 15 years, s/he gets an annual salary of €243,080 and a nominal tax-free pension contribution of approximately €333,333 per annum.
Judges are one of two groups of state employees who get special tax-free exemptions on their allowances and expenses. The country's judges racked up €1.6m in expenses last year. Figures showed 149 members of the judiciary cut their claims by almost a third over the last two years, from €2.4m in 2008..."
If the current Fine Gael / Labour coalition has no appetite to tackle the problem of a leeching, out-of-touch, upper-echelon public service (and I know this blog has many public service readers... though I assume they are not judges) the best thing we can hope for is continued economic crisis to force their hands.
And jobs-for-life judges paid above European norms, so easily distracted and so out of touch, should be the first to be hit.
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