January 16, 2007
Irish Echo journalist Ray O’Hanlon has an article in the current edition on the subject of “Irelandian economics: A new breed of Irish economists ponder the future”.
There is an interview with David and Michael O’Sullivan, author of “Ireland and the Global Question.”
A stern scolding
The question revolving around David McWilliams is if can he maintain a sustainable pace.
While Michael O’Sullivan’s study veers towards the academic, McWilliams, more than any of his peers, has made economics a popular reading subject in the Celtic Tiger and post-Tiger years.
His own Web site points out that he was the first economist to predict the birth of the Tiger. So far, and lucky for its cubs, he has not predicted a de-clawed moggy.
But McWilliams, too, is wary of complacency and the status quo.
His book, “The Pope’s Children,” was the best selling non-fiction book in Ireland last year. It is set for publication in the U.S. later in 2007 and right now he is working on the sequel.
McWilliams is a busy man. He is a broadcaster and columnist, his words appearing in both the Irish Independent and Sunday Business Post.
He likes to chide. “The Pope’s Children,” to exaggerate just a little, is one of those books about everybody that is read by everybody but with every reader believing its criticism applies to everybody else.
On purely economics, McWilliams, who is 40, thinks that Ireland should think in terms of being a medieval city-state like Venice.
This, he told the Echo during a recent U.S. visit, would mean being less involved with the European Union and more aligned with the U.S. and Asia.
Ireland’s European roots, McWilliams believes, are only skin-deep.
“Ireland is culturally closer to the Anglo/American world,” he said.
At the same time, Ireland needs to be much more au fait with China. “There are 130,000 Chinese now working in the Irish economy. The problem with the EU is that Ireland becomes increasingly flat-footed tying itself into an alliance with countries whose populations are falling,” he said.
McWilliams also grates at what he says is the Irish tendency “to ignore the enormous powerhouse that is Irish America.”
Employing economic as his jumping off point, McWilliams has emerged as a wider ranging social commentator. In a recent Independent column he derided the Irish, in other words, all those who might buy his next book, as a nation of adults now behaving like spoilt little children.
At some stage between 1997 and 2007, McWilliams opined, Ireland’s emotional growth rate had become stunted.
“We became obsessed with what others have. Instead of growing up, we reverted back to infancy. Ireland’s adult population is behaving like babies … rather than making us happy, copious cash is making many people insecure.
“We have simply forgotten to grow-up and are caught somewhere between permanent infantilism and adolescence — one second overwhelmingly egocentric, the next desperately wanting to belong.
“This is this psychological challenge for Ireland over the coming decade — and economics is not up to the job. This is a political challenge and what better year to ask the questions then this election year, 2007.”
And what better year to publish a new book about all these challenges?
Full article is available here.