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George Orwell and Joe Higgins TD

George Orwell and Joe Higgins TD

Monday, 16th February 2015

Newspeak is the fictional language in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins has a bad habit of using Newspeak when referring to lower paid workers. He incorrectly describes them as ‘working people’. This is both inexact as well being a silly use of language as every man and woman that works, in or outside the home, are ‘working people’.

…the rest of us are up to no good

The use of the term ‘working people’ is a concept to try to make out that the cohort of people that Deputy Higgins is referring to are ‘working class heroes’ put upon by the world and therefore, by implication all others are villains, getting away with economic trickery and chicanery. On Planet Higgins there are the wonderful ‘working people’ and the rest of us are somehow forever up to no good – (while apparently also not working!)

33% of self-employed earn less than €20,000 a year

The highly reputable economist Chris Johns, writing in the Irish Times, brought further clarity to the misuse of the ‘working people’ term when gave the correct statistics – as supplied by the Revenue Commissioners – that showed the real problem we have with low earners.

Mr. Johns points out that “…nearly 33 per cent of self-employed people earn less than €20,000 a year. (It’s actually worse than that because of the way self-employed income is recorded.) That’s 82,000 members of our entrepreneurial classes making a lot less than average industrial earnings. Because it is assumed they must claim expenses not allowable for PAYE workers, they don’t get similar tax credits. This means these lower-paid self-employed workers face much higher effective tax rates than their PAYE counterparts.”

It’s a thoughtcrime

At ISME our mission is to support that entrepreneurial class, the self-employed and those who create work through their enterprise. But it’s about time that national representatives, who really should know better, would grow up and stop trying to relive some imagined ‘class struggle’. If Deputy Higgins and his camp followers are honest in their endeavours, in attempting to support all ‘working people’, then he should also give voice on behalf of those amongst the self-employed who literally eke out a living. He might even lend his support to our ISME campaign for a truly egalitarian tax system, one that does not discriminate against the self-employed?

But in Newspeak that would be deemed a thoughtcrime – an occurrence or instance of controversial or socially unacceptable thoughts.