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February 2008

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the saint

Very interesting piece about income . Is that before or after tax?

J McConnell

> undoubtedly more appropriate measures of living standards and well being would not yield those sorts of comparisons.

As someone who has lived in the US for many years and spent extended periods of time back in Europe (Ireland, UK , France) over the last few years I would have to say that the difference in the standard of living between the US and the EU are even greater than the Swedish study indicate.

When I do the numbers for myself, someone at the high end of the high-tech pay-scale, my net disposable income would drop almost 60% if I moved to Ireland, a bit less for the UK, and a lot more for France and Italy. The lower salaries and much higher tax are a major factor but the biggest single difference is the much higher cost for the necessities of life, housing, food, car, etc. Plus all the things you take for granted in the US that are quite simply unaffordable or unobtainable in Europe.

The only people who seem to be paid more in Europe than in the US are civil servants.

As for quality of life - its no contest. Its a lot more pleasant to earn ones living and live ones life in the US than anywhere I know in Europe.

Dublin in particular is a pretty nasty place to live and work.


An election issue? In the present climate of an impending SSIA windfall in the lead up to a general election, and continued white-washing of the true state of the economy, I doubt that Berlin will stand much of a chance. I have not read Rabbitte's rebuttal of the idea of outsourcing being simply a maritime phenomenon, but as recent comments from economists discussing last year's income tax takes show there is a school of opinion that while we may have more jobs, the quality of that employment is lower. My first hand experience tells me that that "qaulity" of employment that is being lost is the very thing you hint at- pensions, health care, union representation and other benefits that the civil service and some indigenous manufacturing companies took for granted for a long time. Many more of us are "outsourced" via foreign companies that specialise in that sort of thing. In short the very things which protected the Irish worker are now virtually gone from the private sector. Is it impossible to have those kind of benefits and remain competitive as an economy? Possibly. However, all things that rise, will eventually fall. When this economic cycle in Ireland is over what will we be left with? Little by the way of manufacturing jobs, mortgages up to our ears, no pensions. Oh, and we will all be living in Arklow and Kinnegad. Those of us who aren't now, probably never will be as the gap increases between rich and poor.
Until then however, as they government would like us all to believe, we've never had it so good.

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