The furore over Ireland's Household Charge has degenerated in to an argument about numbers: how many had or had not registered and paid by the March 31st deadline; how many attended the protest outside Fine Gael's ardh fleish over the weekend.
Spin and miss-information continues to characterise the debate with those opposed to the charge being the worst culprits. Their campaign is full of scaremongering about the supposed unfairness of the charge which will, they claim, bear most heavily on those least able to pay.
Many people who will quite genuinely find it hard to set aside €100 towards the cost of local government services are angry and distressed. The truth is that most of the poorest citizens are exempt from the charge so the cynical rabble rousing by various bodies of the extreme left in Irish politics is playing unnecessarily on their fears.
House owners are the only people eligible to pay this charge. Tenants are not. And organisations that provide social housing - local authorities, housing associations - are also exempt from the charge.
The protest leaders harp on about the need to tax the wealthy more heavily than the poor. Show me a landlord who is not wealthy and I will show you someone who thought he or she could make a quick buck out of property during the boom years; someone, in other words, whose greed got us into this mess in the first place.
Cynicism of the extreme left
The leaders of this protest are cynically manipulating ignorant and ill-informed people. The level of ignorance and distance from reality was illustrated for me by one of the crassest statements I have ever heard. It came from a woman following a protest meeting in Tullamore last week. Interviewed on local radio she likened the situation in Ireland to that in Syria. The clip was repeated on several news bulletins throughout the day so there is no question that I might have miss-heard.
Now you can argue all you like about the number of people attending protests or registering to pay the charge but I can tell you with absolute certainty how many Irish refugees are streaming into Northern Ireland as a result of having their homes destroyed by government shelling. And I don't think anyone would dispute the figure.
What motivates the leaders of this protest? There can be little doubt that for some it is envy. For others it is the desire to create a socialist republic in which wealth would be taken from the successful and used to shore up an already featherbedded bureaucracy. Have such people not read any history? Have they seen what life is like for ordinary citizens in the planet's only remaining socialist republic? The people starve whilst their government develops nuclear weapons.
I deplore the notion that some people are in receipt of rewards out of all proportion to their contribution to society. But it is too easy to forget that unless that money is buried in a hole in the ground it inevitably finds its way back into the economy, as its (temporary) holders spend or invest it. Both activities are much more likely to create jobs for ordinary people than is any programme devised by a socialist administration.