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Dublin Opinion >>
Tax the rich for renewable projects
Wednesday August 27, 2014 21:36 by ordinary citizen
make Ireland the Norway of wind
when we finally get a left leaning government and we start really taxing the rich why not use the money wisely and invest it into a renewable energy model that involves Irish people buying shares in the projects and the money raised by the taxes can be used to subsidise the projects. then when we have reached 100% energy production and are exporting our energy we can use the money raised to reverse the austerity measures implemented and improve Irish society as a whole.
I saw on Eco Eye an idea that I had myself whereby Austrian people invested in renewable energy projects that supply electricity to their cities. A solar panel project reportedly sold out within 26 hours of going on sale. I had the same idea for Ireland before I saw the show. Why don't we set up Renewable Energy Shares where by people get to buy into renewable energy projects? Anybody living close to a proposed wind farm will have the first opportunity to buy the shares and then the rest will be covered by money collected nationally. What if we don't collect enough money nationally I hear you say. Well that's where electing a left leaning government comes into play.
Since the Credit Crunch in 2008 it has been the poorest in society who have suffered the most while many of the richest people have avoided paying their fair share of taxes. Many of them have moved their tax residencies to other places and the shortfall that this has left in our budgets was felt by the sick and poor in the form of cuts to services. There is a growing feeling amongst ordinary people that something should be done about this.
What I propose is that the amount of money that was saved by these people should be calculated. This figure should be doubled and the people involved should be made pay this back to the state. Even after this money has been taken from these people they will still be in the top 1% of this country but If any of these individuals, or in the case of U2 groups of individuals, claims that they cannot pay the taxes then they will have to open their books to public scrutiny. If they can prove and its evident that this tax would cripple them financially an appropriate rate will be applied by a committee made up of random members of the public so as to avoid any conflicts of interest.
The top 10% wealthiest people in Ireland were buffered from any real pain during the crash firstly by Fianna Fail then by Fine Gael. When we elect a left wing government, maybe in 2021, they will surely go after these people and rightly so. Firstly we should increase income tax on those earning over €80k a year by 3%, which a UL lecturer estimated would add at least a half a billion a year to the coffers. Thomas Piketty has highlighted a wealth tax is essential to counterbalance capitals gains over work.
These taxes could well take in billions and the way this money is used is open to debate. Its my proposition that this money be used to make this country energy independent, that the money is spent on renewable energy projects in Ireland. It has been said that we could be the Saudi Arabia of Europe for wind production. Irish Renewable Energy Shares should be created that allow Irish people to invest in this industry, a similar project is happening in Austria and has been a great success.
The first people to be offered the shares should be the people living close to the wind farms. There has been a lot of resistance to wind turbines by local people and we would like to believe that much of this would be removed if they had some investment in them. The money raised by taxing the rich combined with the money raised by selling shares should be added to whatever money is collected locally to make the projects viable. In the long term, once we are producing more than 100% of our energy from renewables and are exporting our excess and thus making money, we should use this money to subsidise offshore wind projects as well as biogas and biomass energy systems.
The Norwegians took control of their oil industry early and now the state is worth close to $1 Trillion, we could do the same with our wind. The industry should only be owned by the Irish state and the Irish investors and we should put it into our constitution that the business can never be privatised.
The Spirit of Ireland group have found several sites around Ireland where we can build large dams to pump water into when we have excess wind energy. This would then be turned in hydro energy when there is no wind and thus guarantee supply. Ideally we will invest in Tidal and Wave Power when the technology is ready because they will supply constant energy but until then wind is the best and cheapest option available to us.
The taxes raised by TAT, the other taxes and private investment by Irish individuals may not get us to the 100% energy production mark but the money saved by producing more of our own energy should be reinvested into more renewable energy projects until we reach it. Then the money being saved and earned through exporting energy should be pumped back into the services that have been hit the hardest since Austerity started. Warren Buffett, one of the worlds richest and most respected financial investors is investing $30 billion of his own money into renewable energy. If it make sense to him to do this then it should surely make sense to the Irish people.
By investing the tax money into this project we will not only be making this country one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world but we will also be setting up a system that will multiply the money raised by this tax. Another issue that will appeal to business people is that energy independence will be attractive to foreign companies. 100% of Apple's total data centre power consumption is now coming from renewable energy, Many companies want to improve their environmental credential as well as worrying about global fuel security. Ireland will be seen globally as a safe, green place to visit and invest in.
Now all we need is the political will to implement this idea.
I have set up a fb page Tax Avoidance Tax if anyone is interested in getting involved in this idea.