This morning’s ruling in the Apple tax case, by the General Court of the European Union, is, no doubt, a huge relief to the Irish capitalist establishment.
The Court’s ruling that the 13 billion euro is not, in fact, owed to the Irish State, will see champagne bottles popping in government buildings, Apple and IBEC headquarters and the editorial offices of the Irish media.
We will have to wait and see if the European Commission decides to appeal this ruling.
Ordinary working people will look with horror at any celebrations. Since 2008 the Irish state has made austerity its central political policy. It is a policy shared right across the political spectrum, with the exception of the socialist Left. We have been constantly told that there is never enough money. The Apple case has exposed this for the lie that it is.
The same establishment telling us it’s broke have fought furiously these past years to ensure they didn’t have to take 13 billion from the richest company to ever exist in human history!
13 billion is pocket money to Apple Corporation who are reputed to have over 198 billion already piled up in their bank accounts.
Working people could really do with that money given the problems we face in our everyday lives. Whether it is the lack of public affordable housing; overcrowding in classrooms; a decrepit and dysfunctional public health system; or, a public transport system that is completely inadequate.
Towering over all the other problems is the chronic housing crisis. That 13 billion could potentially wipe out the public housing backlog. For instance, at a unit construction cost of 250,000 per house the 13 billion owed by Apple would pay for over 50,000 public homes. Indeed, this is the exact number of houses promised in the ‘Programme for Government’.
With today’s ruling, however, that 13 billion is headed towards Apple’s bank account.
This motley crew of a government will, of course, behind closed doors, be overjoyed that they are off the hook and can remain pals with Apple. But the vast majority of working class people will be rightly disgusted at a system which seeks to gouge from them every last euro in high prices, charges and taxes, while at the same time fighting to ensure the richest company ever known gets off scot-free from its tax obligations.
The wretched truth is that Ireland is a place where almost unbelievable profits are made every year by big business. For every euro a worker earns in wages, the capitalists end up with three euro in profits. Where dirty money is laundered; where tax bills from abroad are dodged; where the books are cooked to wring out maximum profits for the capitalist class. All of this while homelessness grows, wages are kept low and housing becomes ever more precarious.
The Apple Tax case symbolises the inherent bias, under capitalism, of states and governments towards the interests of a tiny capitalist class over the needs of millions of workers. The lessons couldn’t be clearer: we need a system change to ensure the wealth generated by society is owned, controlled and distributed according to the interests of the working class. In simple terms, in a socialist society the spectacle of a government fighting to not be paid tax by a corporation would be unthinkable.