17 Nov 2014

Charging the Irish

The Irish are upset that they are being asked to pay for the water they use (replacing a system of "rates" where property taxes covered the cost of water). This columnist says the charges make sense (I agree), but I see three reasons for opposition:
  1. The system -- after years of underinvestment -- is run down. People are upset at charges for a poor service. It would have been easier to raise charges after improvements arrived, but that could take years
  2. The shift from rates to charges looks like it will harm the poor and help the rich. The allocation of 57 liters, free, per person will not be acceptable for people claiming a right to use as much water as they like
  3. There's a perception that charges are directed at repaying "odious debt" from bailing out banks. I bet that charges are aimed at cost recovery alone, but it's clear that the government was too broke to continue to subsidize users
Bottom Line: Nobody likes to pay more for anything, and politicians love to hold water charges down for popularity, but users who pay for water are far more likely to get the good service they deserve as customers.

H/Ts to DL and GU