Generosity Reflux

There is an Irish Times poll: Do you think Ireland’s social welfare system is too generous?. This comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s Irish Independent headline Dole is too generous, says top jobs expert.

The Independent report revealed:

Alan Barrett of the ESRI will present evidence to today’s conference showing that about half the immigrants who lost their jobs have stayed in Ireland.

Back when the property market started to falter and construction jobs got lost, you started to hear radio programmes reflexively wondering to what extent immigrants would now leave.
Now it seems that the government wants to know from its thinktank why not enough of the ‘New Irish’ have fucked off back to wherever it is they came from.

Anyway, the poll, in particular, ‘generosity’. I took a rush of blood to the head, and posted a comment that has not appeared yet, which was a part rehash of a brief post I wrote a long time back. The comment read:

Maybe there are some times when you can use generous and not be making a value judgement. As in ‘he poured generous lashings of chocolate sauce onto his ice cream’. But wait. The reason the lashings are described as ‘generous’ here is because people tend to like chocolate sauce. It’s what previous generations would describe as a ‘treat’.

When you talk about ‘generous’ social welfare payments, you are talking about it as though it were a treat, or something a person is privileged to receive. Civilised countries do not see social welfare payments as a privilege, but as a basic entitlement.

When the Irish Times poses this poll question, what it really means is this: are those of us middle-class people in employment being sucked dry by the unemployed? Or, are we simply too virtuous in giving so much of our money to them? The question of being sucked dry by the rich is unlikely to be raised.

To be fair to the Irish Times, there is a good Diary entry by Lara Marlowe today.

An Irishwoman’s Diary – The Irish Times – Fri, May 01, 2009

Most of the business executives who’ve been detained by workers facing factory closures were employed by subsidiaries of foreign companies (including Sony, 3M, Caterpillar). A French consultancy group now advises bosses about to announce bad news to carry a kit containing a pre-programmed cellphone, toiletry bag, change of underwear and a clean shirt.

On a radio talk show about boss-napping, a foreign correspondent expressed disbelief at the impunity enjoyed by hostage-takers. “And nobody called the police when Louis XVI was beheaded,” a French journalist snapped sarcastically.


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