Talk to a self-employed person in Ireland today and you’re sure to get the full beal bocht lecture about how the evil state is crushing the entrepreneurial class and oppressing the wealth creators.

Commercial rates are certain to get a mention. Our glorious business dynamos are utterly opposed to paying for public services but are so insistent on having services provided that they won’t even shake a bit of salt on the footpath to clear snow if the state doesn’t do it for them. Far better it seems, that customers stay at home.

When they’ve exhausted the rates rant they’ll switch into overdrive to tell you how they’re treated differently to everyone else by the Social Welfare system. This topic is guaranteed to move what you may have thought was a sane and reasonable person to a foaming-at-the-mouth, hysterical, lunatic. And the bizarre thing about it is the rage is based on a lie.

The self-employed are treated exactly the same as anyone else by the welfare system. If they pay for benefits they can avail of them and where they’re not entitled to benefits they are entitled to apply for welfare allowances on the very same basis as any other person.

Well now there’s a proposal with government to deal with one of the ‘inequalities’ that our poor entrepreneurs must labour under. The Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare has suggested that the self-employed should be allowed to pay for and earn an entitlement to sickness benefit on the same basis as employees.

You might suppose that this would be a cause for some elation in the business community. After all, it would deal with what they constantly claim is a gross unfairness. Alas that’s not the way Irish business operates.

Organisations representing the self-employed are apoplectic in their denunciation of the proposal. The problem you see, isn’t access to benefits, it’s having to pay for them. They want entitlement to the same benefits as employees but they don’t want to pay the same price as employees.

The Advisory Group has called their bluff. If they don’t accept this proposal they’ll never again have any credibility when they moan about welfare benefits.

And they will moan.

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