March 22, 2009

We need workfare, not welfare

Posted in Banks · 171 comments ·

The video shop in Monaghan town is packed with young men. This is where local people come to go online. There are three banks of computers, all busy. The two lads beside me have their CVs out, trying to send them to as many prospective employers as possible. They’ve both been on the dole since Christmas.

Down the road, outside the town, a young professional man, – a father of four – is contemplating the future after being laid off for the first time in 20 years. The day before, in Ashbourne, three SR Technics workers were chatting about their next moves. These men, with years of experience in aircraft maintenance, were coming to terms with the fact that a company, which was profitable with order books out to 2010,was winding down because of an investment decision made in the Gulf.

Last Friday, in Waterford, at the Waterford Crystal souvenir shop, the workers occupying the premises await their fate. Today is the deadline to accept a compensation package from the new owners. Earlier this week Taoiseach Brian Cowen presented shamrock to US President Barack Obama in a Waterford Crystal bowl. Now it is likely that crystal will never again be manufactured here.

This is Ireland. Unemployment is escalating in every town and suburb. Keeping people in employment should be the number one priority of all economic policy now. This does not mean that budgetary squeezing should be postponed indefinitely, but it is not the immediate overarching concern.

At its most basic, in order to keep unemployment low, we have to accept that all the old rules need to be torn up. Ideas such as shareholder value, the primacy of private capital and minimal state intervention need to be thrown out.

If you doubt this reassessment, listen to what Jack Welch – the poster boy for shareholder value – has to say. He is now arguing, like Alan Greenspan, that the markets sometimes don’t right themselves.

Sometimes, you need to drop old ideas and adopt new ones, and have the confidence to admit that you are not infallible. Obama is doing it with the full backing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

By having the confidence to meet new challenges with new(sometimes old) ideas, the Americans are showing an extraordinary intellectual vibrancy in the face of economic fragility.

We in Ireland have to do the same; if we want to keep unemployment low, we have to make labour cheap and boost demand.

To do this, we must cut income tax and raise property tax as the central aspect of our revenue strategy. The reason is clear: if we tax work now and make it more expensive, there will be fewer jobs to go around. If we tax property now, we will extract real cash out of this most useless and socially divisive of assets.

The secondary objective of economic policy now should be to create inflation, not deflation, because only by creating inflationary expectations can we wriggle out of the liquidity trap we have set for ourselves. Otherwise, deflation and its handmaiden, crippling debt payments, will generate unprecedented levels of unemployment, emigration and social tensions.

If the state does not control this process, the process will control it. It is pretty simple, really. For this intellectual courage and leadership we must turn to the civil service mandarins who run our country. Where is the TK Whitaker of our generation?

Unfortunately and unforgivably, he does not exist. Our politicians should realise that they will take the blame for the inertia of senior mandarins because we are going down the European route, adopting the economics of 26cHerbert Hoovers when we need the imagination of one FDR.

In Obama, the US has its FDR, whereas all we have are the same old platitudes from the same old people, who don’t seem to be able to analyse the pros and cons of our situation.

The first thing we need to do is to think like a country in a monetary union, not the petrified Ireland of the 1980s with a shaky currency and excessive real interest rates to match. What is there not to understand about monetary union? We have given up control over our interest rates and our exchange rate; in return, we have bought the ability to borrow in downturns without exchange rate risk. We will not run out of money unless they kick us out.

Therefore, we have signed up to an economic pact which is based on the idea that, in recessions, the mechanism for easing the downturn is fiscal policy. This is the logic of the EMU, and is also the deal that Germany and France signed up to. (Realising the economic logic of this, the ECB stuck the 3 per cent budget deficit rule into the Maastricht Treaty.)

But this rule is nonsense, and has been broken wholesale. As was the case in Sweden and Finland in the 1990s, and Britain and the US now, the budget deficits will breach 10 per cent of GDP – and go higher. This reaction is not limited to countries.

A company with financing dilemmas raises money through a rights issue, while at the same time sorting out its internal mess. It doesn’t cap the rights issue, the market does. And despite all the talk, there are no real financing constraints on Ireland now. Sorting out our mess begins with the banks. But here, the omens are not good. The man charged with making the next move with our banks, Peter Bacon, has said that the figure for bad loans may be worse than the banks first suggested. Well, fancy that! The banks lied about their balance sheets? They underestimated their own recklessness? Never!

As this column has been warning for some time now, the bad debts of the Irish banks will be at least €40 billion, and this figure may be conservative. The reason is simple: the main banks went mad between 2005 and 2008, almost doubling their loan books with borrowed money. They lent to everything, particularly property. Now all is in freefall.

Thus, we have to set up a bad bank or asset management company to manage the Irish property portfolio.This is the only way to get monetary policy going again. In the meantime, we should not squeeze the blood out of the economy by raising taxes or cutting sensible spending too much. We need to engage with ideas like work fare, as opposed to welfare. The state should take stakes in businesses like SRTechnics, and these places should be reopened as public private partnerships.

The world has changed dramatically, and we have to change with it. This means abandoning ideas which we regarded as sacred, borrowing in the downturn to pay back in the upswing.

  1. Happen to be a docmuentary on the history channel about Fort Knox. Very interesting indeed, appartently there is $200 billion worth of gold bullion in the secret chambers!! Enough to bail out our economy! However there is a problem…..or two. First of all you have to get by 3 metal fences (monitored by watchtowers)- which may have landmines in between them. Then you have to skip by a possible laser security system, that could be backed up by machine guns coming out of four battery’s. Then if thats not enough, it is also the location of the most powerful United States army camp, with the most advances tank and air warfare technology inside- with hundreds of soliders ready on call to respond to any potential trouble in fort knox (which is also monitored 24-7 inside, with even the people who move the bullion monitored!!).
    How about lads, with a few Kellogs nutra grain bars, and a few bottles of lucozade could Cowen and Mary Harney manage the mission impossible, and manage to get away with all this gold?? Lol the Americans sure take no nonsens or risk in regards to national security, wonder where the gombeens in this country have stored our bullion (somewhere around Dumcondra or Offaly perhaps?- the truth is out there!)

    • Tim

      Davi-Again, sorry, but €200billion is a “spit in the ocean” of Ireland’s corporate (non-banking) debt of €1,600 billion.

      That is the REAL problem; not the “public service deficit”.

      “Look over here! , look over here!” can only work for so long, when you are asking people to look at a mouse, while there is an Elephant in the room.

    • gadfly55

      Tim, I could not have said it better. RTE is running a dis-information campaign to keep us hopeful. They even pulled George Lee’s strings for reasons to be cheerful, and hauled on the Irish manager of some American fund calling for pay cuts and expenditure slashing in Government while CEOs of banks, etc. won’t work for less than 500 large. JackO’Connor was given some time to make sense on Sunday afternoon, whoever was listening, while Mary Hanafin was cheering out of context Bernanke hopes for upturn, on Marion Fine if we can keep the rich happy and Olivia Leery of Democratic chaos put GERMANS and FASCISTS in the same sentence as the possible source of the last resort moving us away from the sacrosanct sovereign corporate tax rate. The establishment is terrified of the people, who as George Lee described in his account on Sunday TV, are way ahead of everybody else in knowing what is what. The time is now for bringing the establishment down, in the street, with rolling national strikes to paralyse the government and force an election.

      • severelyltd

        RTE is our very own FAUX news. We for the most part are conditioned by the 2 channel system to take what they say verbatim. Why do we pay a television license? Why do you need a license to broadcast? Why are there no opposition TV or Radio channels? RTE news ran a story only a few weeks ago about the great value in property in London. My jaw hit the ground. Until we start hearing the truth we will treat everything with scepticism. When we are told the truth confidence may return. This is a necessary step to our economic recovery.

      • G

        saw that joker talking about the inefficient State and the need for cuts, unemployment etc which to me was just a spiral downward and easy to know this guy wouldn’t be taking the hit – no compassion, no imagination – same failed thinking that caused this mess, the so called inefficient State is bailing out the asses of his buddies in the corporate world. I expect nothing else from an ‘Irishman’ with a faux American accent working for an American corporation, who fools who? The dancer or the dance……….

        Thought Lee was good overall on his analysis………but yes the ‘press’ is being got to………..

        Jokers the lot!

  2. All reasonable stuff. High taxes on labour blunts a nation’s creativity and entrepreneuriship. (whether direct or indirect in the form of high VAT & other duties on normal goods like cars). However, we’ve had high taxes on property too, in the form of stamp duty. Our major bubble creating initiative was to provide tax reliefs on rental income from property. These were huge and encouraged “top up” buying of property to avoid paying tax. I know several compulsive house buyers and their portfolios of over priced interest-only-mortgaged houses are staggering. When we look back at this I’m sure we’ll see the coincidence of these reliefs with cheap debt gave us a wildly damaging property boom which now threatens the solvency of our country. End these relief’s immediately. They’re estimated at 500 million/year in lost taxation revenue and benefit the very rich in an disproportionate manner.

    As for the EMU, if we stay we’ll sacrifice our corporation tax regime and will lose the rest of our multinationals. It’s as simple as that. We’ll need one bailout after another while we struggle with fiscal policy made in Germany and almost entirely unsuited to the situation in which we find ourselves. We’ll all suffer pain over the next few years as the potential solutions appear too radical for our hyper conservative politicians to comprehend. Have we a single man or woman of vision in the Dail and, if so, how will they make themselves heard?

    • Colin_in_exile


      “However, we’ve had high taxes on property too, in the form of stamp duty.”

      Its not quite the truth. Do you remember about 2 years ago, there was an add on tv, narrated by “Miley from Glenroe”, advising senior citizens about cashing in on some of their equity in their home? So, yer man gets out his wheelbarrow and throws a dozen or so bricks in it, and heads down to the local garage and looks at a nice brand new car and tells the car dealer “I’ll take the silver one”.

      Our silver haired fancy dan friend has not paid property tax. He has not paid stamp duty either, or if he has, it was so long ago, and for so little, he can’t remember anymore. But he has a medical card, probably an apartment in Spain, a bus pass, shopping trips to London with the missus, free tv licence and phone rental, eats out for lunch 3 times a week.

      While I would prioritise going after Fingleton & co, the silver generation are a class of people who need to be tackled and asked to contribute more, including stumping up property tax, and if it means they can’t choose the car they want, tough!

      • Tim

        Colin_in_exile, Fair enough; this society DID transfer, erroniously, its wealth from the younger to the older during the “Boom”, so bring it back.

        • Ruairi

          @ Colin In exile and Tim,

          While the money did leak into various corners of Irish societies in various amounts, and while some of our silver-haired did do very well and also so did some farmers, until the real heavy-hitters are made to leak money (tax exiles and developers etc), we should not attack the elderly (in my view).

          Why do I say this? Because I believe that much of the money they earned was HARD earned unlike much of what constitutes what we call work today.

          All notion of intelligence (political discourse, business insight) has departed this island in the last 10+ years. I said before on this forum that oil execs were busy ‘cleaning up’ old tesco-savaged rural petrol stations and selling them on as development land or indeed building housing on them. This is where the hardcore brains of Irish business went. This is what happened to Greencore’s land assets.

          Tonight on the Week in Politics, Brendan Smith TD, stated that while government could not control private pay awards, it could show its fiarness through a progressive tax system. Let us hope that such words are NOT the hollow words of the majority of Irish politicians.

          Mary Hanafin spouts on about dole cheats, crippling the Irish economy. has anyone calculated what tens of thousands of people queueing for many hours (across the gamut of their application for Jobseekers benefit or Allowance adds up to (she’s known about this queuing issue since October)? You must be ‘available for work’ they say. My ar*e. Apparently when people must claim their dues from the Irish state, they should be damned glad to get them at all !! This is part of the welfare mentality; foisted on the public by the state, and not the other way around. Begekel, if you are reading (I’m sure you are and have done some homework since I hope?), does the news that 100′s queued for potential jobs in fast food joints in Galway recently point in any way to the strong desire of most Irish people to work work work. The only ones who don’t want to work in Ireland are regulators and senior civil servants. Everyone else is facing a mountain of artificial debt with very little means to tackle it, now that the tap has been turned off.
          The state, through daft child benefit levels, upped house prices. Now some may say that was a recycling of state money, given the levels of duties on tax on a new home. But the 2 main benefactors of landowners and developers filtered that money on its way to government coffers.

          So I say again, as I’ve said before, there is less incompetence than any of you believe. Wills, although beating a solitary note on a drum capable of rather more Bonzo-like melodies, is uncannily correct that this is a systemic foisting of cruelty on the nation of Ireland. If a bank can tell you or a developer that the landbank / house etc is not worth what it once was, then so too must the principal of ALL loans be reduced now. Will this affect Ireland internationally? I suspect so. Will it bring about more equality in Ireland by obliterating what is essentially FAKE money, fake value and return hard work and earned value to their proper core roles? Yes. It is not far-fetched to consider reduction of principals. Its is something strongly wished for by some US pundits, the better end-game of Obama’s sop to the houseowning public. The EU needs to wipe the slate clean and reduce principals. But I do not expect this to happen. I expect ordinary people to suffer. I expect old women to cry. I expect people like me, born in the wrong era, to right wrongs when the time comes (God forbid it does though).

          Our right to self-determination and basic quality of life has been jeopardised by the hands of the few. Those same rights are now being taunted by kite-flying German backbenchers; with many clambering to soften the words after the horse has bolted. We will see many kite-flyers and political derring-doers as the months advance.

          Malcolm stated before that personal debt is sacrosanct and will be clawed back. He is correct. There are only accidents and anomalies in life to those who aren’t up high enough (helicopter view Martin Cullen?) to see the larger cobweb.

          ps Why didn’t McCreevy recommend a patriotic doubler on Bernard (An Mullach Abú) Dunne and The Bise in Green. I got a nice wedge out of it. I suppose they’re too busy getting their assignments in pre- the G20 (oops I mean Budget) deadline in early April

          • Colin_in_exile


            Maybe you have a cushy number (are you an electrician in one of our power stations pulling a six figure salary who is also unsackable?), but most people who work these days have it harder than our parents generation.

            My father was one of the many who had a cushy number, my mother didn’t need to work fulltime, and when my Dad come home, after his short commute, everyday at 5:30, his dinner was on the table for him, the newspaper was handed to him afterwards, then the remote contol for the tv, then his slippers. How many of us can expect such a lifestyle today?

            Our parent’s generation had archaic work practices, productivity was unheard of, working extra hours without being paid overtime was a foreign concept and jobs were for life. If you read David’s book “The Pope’s Children”, you’ll see the young workforce who got jobs with the MNCs had to develop an American work ethic, far different to the one their fathers had.

          • Ruairi

            Colin In exile, no I am not an electrician and no, I never had a state job in my life either. I worked in sales myself so thats hardly a cushy number.

            But back to our parents’ generation: – Most of the people in the community I grew up in in the Midlands worked on farms or Bord na Mona or perhaps in factories or distilleries. They did not have an easy time of it and did not have the rosemantic life that you describe. I suggest you keep personal presumptions and comments offsite; lest others presume your arguments were less than objective.

          • Colin_in_exile


            So you work in sales, I agree, not a cushy number especially in this era of credit crunch, my point being there AREN’T as many cushy numbers these days, well, not compared to say 30 years ago, so in fact WE have it harder, meaning your earlier comment of “Because I believe that much of the money they earned was HARD earned unlike much of what constitutes what we call work today.” is now incorrect.

            Regarding my comments, you are not a censor. Ignore my comments if you wish, but do NOT advise me on what to write, thank you very much.

          • Ruairi

            Colin in exile,

            you conveniently quote only half of my reply to you. In disarming you of your mis-perceptions regarding my work status, that did not give you free rein to ignore my core reply that the majority of the previous generations had it harder than you say. Perhaps some led non-productive existences but most worked HARD for very little until the early 90′s. A ciizen should pay tax well and ONCE. Property tax is appropriate when used appropriately. As a blunt band-aid, it is anathema to those who have scraped hard to have what they have while others either got cushy paths forward or had housing handed to them. Do not disabuse those of the 30′s to 80′s in such a facile manner. An equitable property tax is welcome.

            ps An inordinate obsession with farmer’s wealth is as unfounded as in inordinate fetish about civil servants mad pay. All of the answers are found on the centre, not the extremes of opinion. Titulation factor apart.

            I do not censor your comments. I enjoy your posts. I do find the ability to not eat humble pie when having been shown to be publicly bad-mannered a rather pig-ignorant trait. But its a free country and you are only learning ;-)

            Thank you very much.

          • Colin_in_exile


            Your work status, and anyone elses, is of no interest to me. I wasn’t wielding it as a weapon. But I do think it is wrong for these electricians etc… to be fleecing the people of Ireland

            I wasn’t trying to make you eat humble pie in public. I wouldn’t intentionally do that to anyone. I just saw that you admitted you work hard, after saying earlier that you think many of your contemporaries don’t. I think you’re doing a disservice to many people who are finding it difficult to keep a job, doing their best, making lots of sacrifices etc…

            My father worked in Ferenke, before he got his cushy number. Ferenke left Ireland because of archaic work practices which workers couldn’t show any flexibility on. My father said that with such prevailing attitudes among the workers, it was only a matter of time before Ferenke decided to pull out. My father had to go on the dole for a few months afterwards.

            Are you old enough to remember buses, when there used to be 2 employees on the bus, a driver and a conductor? Ever wonder why we don’t see it anymore?

          • Ruairi

            Colin in Exile,

            I’ll declare a truce in the interests of other posters and lurkers :-) And in respect of your service to this forum.

            I believe, from your prior posts and good retorts, that we could enjoy an excellent sparring match over pints (preferably multiple brandies or red wine though, can’t stomach pints meself, haven’t the FF physique) and find mostly common ground, if not always in content then certainly in focus.

            I believe the old folks worked very hard (mostly) but were not productive very often, in the modern sense of the word (we agree!). I believe a certain amount of empathy and budgetary consideration should be offered to them for having grown up under the shadow of pseudo-landlords and economic rent-takers in post civil war Ireland. As a wealthy midlands developer once told my father (who stupidly wasted foreign(hard)-earned money in buying a sheep farm), “there’s little point in digging a large hole, with your a**e pointed to the summer sun, if there’s no money being made from it” sic. The antithesis of which sums up the longterm governmental approach to hiring of HSE and many departmental workers. Buying votes etc . I do not wish to take a sideswipe at frontline workers here. Their work is real work.

            I’m old enough to remember that bus scenario, just :-) I’m well old enough to remember the marches in 1986, the bankruptcies, the sheer desperation that hit this country; and I hope that the budget in 2 week’s time doesn’t hyper-accelerate the return to old Ireland. Its a stone’s throw away right now. I can see the parkas (army coats) and the banning of curly wurlys again. . … :-(

            Ahh God be with the days of fascist anthems and free toothbrushes: -

            Rise and Follow Charlie

            From southern glens to Aston Shores
            The ancient cry of freedom roars
            From Northern hills to Leinster’s doors
            We’ll rise and follow Charlie

            With Charlie’s song we’ll sing as one
            With Charlie’s song we’ll sing along
            With Charlie’s song we’ll march along
            We’ll Rise and Follow Charlie

            Hail the leader, hail the man
            With Freedom’s cause it all began
            With Irish Pride in every man
            We’ll Rise and Follow Charlie

            With Charlie’s song we’ll sing as one
            With Charlie’s song we’ll sing along
            With Charlie’s song we’ll march along
            We’ll Rise and Follow Charlie

            Young and old we all approve
            He’s kept the Country on the move
            He’ll help the Nation to improve
            So Rise and Follow Charlie

            With Charlie’s song we’ll sing as one
            With Charlie’s song we’ll sing along
            With Charlie’s song we’ll march along
            We’ll Rise and Follow Charlie

          • Deco

            { With Irish Pride in every man
            We’ll Rise and Follow Charlie }
            This is exactly the sort of horse-manure that gets this country into all of it’s problems. When it is not Charlie it is Bertie, or somebody else, or some cause, or some fad or trend. It has lasted since Jack Lynch got replaced by Haughey. Lynch was a cautious humble man. He never did any man any wrong. But CJH seemed to have decided in his own mind that he was made for better things. CJH was proud. And pride led him astray many times. He espoused class, and the live of an aristocrat. He decided that he would reshape Ireland in his image. Gone was the image of an Ireland led by a softspoken working class boy from the Industrial tenements of Cork City, and in comes Lord Kinsealy with his Charvet Shirt. And really, we have gone wrong from there. Massive swathes of Ireland started following the culture of the “insidious arrogant pup”. The old Ireland of modest gentleman types survived for a few years in the person of the well intentioned, if sometimes misguided ‘Garrett the Good’, and the retiring figure of Paddy Hillery. But the “cult of the arrogant decietful pup” continued to grow. The obsession with lifestyle went mainstream. Property, gambling, property in the Sun, stag weekends in Barcelona, soccer weekends in Manchester, big cars, big four wheel drives, horses, big houses, etc.. etc.. And not just the men either. The vision of crowd of ecstatic suburban women surging forward like lemmings when Dundrum Shopping Centre was opened was another peice of Celtic Tiger Kitsch. There is a parallel to the aspirations of CJ’s former mistress. Retail therapy when real therapy was badly in order. Whilst the men lost the plot, the female half of the population came to the conclusion that they had a right to lose the plot in an even more obscene manner. Have they no self-respect ? We threw out self-respect and followed a culture of arrogance. It has failed. It has bankrupted Ireland. That is the cost of all the arrogance.

            Listened to Hanafin on the radio on Saturday talking about all the stuff we should be proud of. She was full of arrogance…She forgot to mention her abject failure to sort out the mess in the social welfare offices with all the applicants having to wait months to get their applications processed. She is nominated to do a job – not peddle arrogance !!!

            Also – I want to thank Brendan Gleeson for his film “The Tiger’s Tail” which was released in Ireland at an point that was close enough to the moment in Ireland that we could call “Peak Arrogance” in society as a whole. Brendan Gleeson – we will rise and follow you, because you are a decent man !

          • paddythepig


            As usual, your post is right on the money. I will disagree on one thing. Jack Lynch was no angel ; he bought the 1977 general election with a host of ridiculous and unsustainable giveaways. It was either highly dishonest or extremely short-sighted (take your pick), and the Irish electorate bought into the freebie, hook line and sinker.

            In doing so, Jack Lynch showed the way for future generations of FF politicians, who brought profligacy and carelessness to new levels.


        • Colin_in_exile


          If I discovered a link between pint drinking and FF, I’d have to consider changing my tipple.

          Regarding your truce, I don’t think it was that bloody a war – nobody died.

          Keep posting.


          • G

            This could the greatest opportunity for the Irish to awake and follow their own instincts, use their own brains, educate themselves and not fall for false platitutdes and ‘sure I need every vote I can get’ bullshit, it is an exciting time, and change may indeed come and not the Obamaland brand, but a real change in people who demand more from public representatives and not the odd speech at some f**king Ard Fheis, it’s exciting, and those who are losing their jobs may form the vanguard of this new movement, I feel for their struggle and pain but out of this might come something big.

        • coldblow

          Deco: “I never NEVER in my WHOLE life EVER thought I’d EVER live to SEE the day…” I will always remember the old dear’s face as she poured herself out over the evening news, convulsed in undiluted joy (to say nothing of cognitive dissonance). What was the reason for this delirium? No, “reason” isn’t the right word here. What was the precipitant, the catalyst, or as our forebears might have put it, what was the “cionsiocair” of this lady’s unbridled excitement? I hope the national broadcaster, in the course of its unspoken mission to provide a totally sterile, thought-free medium, has not yet expunged this particular item from its archive but has seen fit to preserve it for the amazement, edificationa and amusement of future generations. So what was this promised land, this new Jerusalem, this shining city upon a hill? What cosmic millennial event had exploded inside this creature’s primitive consciousness and so overwhelmed her that she had difficulty in finding language fit and adequate for the experience?

          “…when we would have our OWN SHOPPING CENTRE HERE IN DUNDRUM!”

          I used to walk past it every evening on my way home from work, a dark menacing concrete presence raised up against a troubled sky. It was like 2001 A Space Odyssey, but this was our very own obelisk, insidious and inscrutable as Homo Hibernicus (no, “Sapiens” isn’t the right word here) took his/ her first tentative baby steps into an unknowable unfathomable future…

      • Colin: I was making a general point that stamp duty applied on recent house sales, within the restrictions of the scheme in terms of house size and FTB’s, was a significant tax on house buyers. Without it, net house prices would have sailed even higher. Prices reached the maximum it was physically possible to pay within particular salary brackets. The flip side of stamp duty is that people borrowed from friends, family (those grey hairs you mention) and other institutions to pay it so it had a minimal limiting affect. The government got too used to stamp duty windfall revenue and built our public sector on this and other windfall high-consumption tax revenues. Incentives like section 23 and section 50 meant that stamp duty had even less of a limiting effect on the increase of house prices. Prices for residendences qualifying for these reliefs balooned to permit “greater relief”. The whole thing was so obviously nuts.
        I accept that those who bought their houses a long time ago realised a substantial untaxed profit on their primary residence. I’d actually like to think that some weren’t nuts enough to waste their gains by buying Irish bank shares or inexperienced investing in “sure fire” property deals in Ireland or abroad.

        • Colin_in_exile


          I’d say a huge majority of the silver generation didn’t go nuts who wasted their gains. They’re more shrewd than you’d give them credit for. But its still a great country if you are 65+. Wealth was transferred from the younger generation to the older generation, no matter what way you look at it.

          I know FTBs stumped up on stamp duty. But we’re back to the old chestnut of the neccessity of owning your own house. My view is you don’t need to own the place with the roof over your head. I know I’m swimming against the tide of Irish opinion on this one, but so be it. I will not take out a mortgage for 10 times my salary. I’d prefer to tell the estate agent / bank manager / solicitor to wait until hell freezes over.

          The problem was, many young people got hooked on property porn as DMcW pointed out, and this left estate agents in a strong position. “But Mr Sherry-Fitzgerald, I love the house, its perfect, I want it, what can you do to help me own it? Listen Miss Brown-Thomas, you have a Mammy and Daddy, don’t you? I bet they live in a nice house, and are doing ok? Now, between myself and yourself, all the young ones your age are getting dig outs from their parents, just like that Bertie fella in Drumcondra got from his pals, everyone’s at it sweetheart, so run along there and ask them for 30k or so, here’s my card, give me a ring when they say yes”. So the young people started to bid against eachother, much to the delight of estate agents.

          Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right. Of course not everyone got help from their parents. Mine, for example, told me and my siblings in no uncertain terms, that they wouldn’t give any of us a dig out, the main reason being they didn’t have that money lying around or resting in a bank account.

  3. Brollachain

    David asks “Where is the TK Whitaker of our generation?” and responds “Unfortunately and unforgivably, he does not exist. Our politicians should realise that they will take the blame for the inertia of senior mandarins…..”

    Inertia is not the word that srpings to mind when thinking of the senior public service. Note that when you talk to civil servants, they blame the politicians and when you talk to politicians, they blame the civil service.

    So let me just focus on the public service. What is striking is the amount of intrigue, the meaningless reforms and the conmplacency when faced with the exhaustion of traditional ways of doing things. The way in which the senior public service has limited Freedom of Information is an excellent example of a lack of inertia!!!!

    Over 50 years ago, during a similar time of crisis in this republic , a highly respected public servant noted that “The success of any public policy depends no less on its intrinsic merits than on the quality of the public service that executes it… The civil servant’s task is at any time a difficult one; it will not be lightened if he fails to bring the public closer into his confidence…In shaping the Civil Service to the satisfactory discharge of its present-day responsibilities, the public may reasonably expect to know how the official mind works and to understand the thought that animates it”. Patrick Lynch. Studies. 42(1953). p. 259-260

    Now compare how the current generation of senior public servants has dealt with a series of clear managerial and policy failures.

    We are all aware of the succession of reports on bad management and in at least one case, long standing illegality on the part of the central government. This incompetence has been documented in reports of Tribunals, the Comptroller and Auditor General, Dáil Committees and other inquiries. Some examples that spring to mind are:
    - The illegal charging of over 300,000 people in nursing home over a 28 year period. This gave rise a major financial, legal and administrative problem that was entirely avoidable.
    - The indifferent response to the Hepatitis C scandal
    - the PPARS Project expenditure of €131m up to August 2005
    - The €50m spent on eVoting machines
    - Poor management of Integrated ticketing for Public Transport in the Greater Dublin area, on which another €50m has been spent by the public sector
    - The failure to act on advice from many international bodies on the management of the economy. An example is that in 1999, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concern about the risks of an asset price bubble and the potential vulnerability of the banking system. The IMF Directors felt that “a peer review, particularly by supervisors from a country that had undergone a real estate boom, might be helpful.”

    In all sectors, bad management, ineffectiveness and corruption thrive on secrecy, as we have learnt from journalists, tribunals and other enquiries. Freedom of information(FoI) is one means of ensuring that we, citizens of a republic, can keep an eye on our governing classes, both elected and official.

    After the 2002 General Election, a group senior public servants recommended limitations to the 1997 Freedom of Information Act. The FoI Act was not an issue during the General Election Campaign.

    Yet the Government accepted the report prepared by this group. The Secretary General of the Government chaired this group. Other members were the Secretaries General of the Departments of Entreprise, Trade and Employment, Foreign Affairs, Transport and the Secretary General (PSMD) of the Dept of Finance. A key recommendation of this report was the introduction of up-front fees for FoI requests.

    In 2008, OECD reviewed the Public Management of Ireland. The report stated that “the government should reduce barriers to public information by making all requests under the FoI Act 1997 free and extend its reach to a wider range of state agencies…”

    Last summer, the government appointed a Task Force to develop an Action Plan for the Public Service drawing on the analysis and recommendations of the OECD review. The Secretary General of the Government chaired this 9 person group. Other members were the Secretaries General of the Departments of Education and Science, Health and Children, Environment Heritage and Local Government and the Secretary General (PSMD) of the Dept of Finance. Another member was a former Secretary-General of the Department of Entreprise, Trade and Employment. In summary, 6 (two thirds) of the nine members were or had been senior public servants.

    In November 2008, this group did not make any recommendations on either reducing the FoI fees or extending the scope of FoI.

    With Fol, we can also see the quality of the official mind, eg, the papers of the Tax Strategy Group; the fees for those managing the Bertie bowl. Without FoI, how can we be sure that low standards do not exist in high places?

    The current Senior Public Service appears completely unwilling to bring in FoI, as one key measure that would enable us to have confidence in their competence. They clearly value secrecy as a means of covering up inept management and as such, bear a major responsibility for the hole in which we now find ourselves. The Senior Public Service has shown that it does not value limiting the scope for excess by favouring one method among a whole series of checks and balances needed in government in a democracy.

    The Public Sector Task Force has failed to contribute to the design a system of government so that
    - options being considered are known to the public, in advance of decisions being taken
    - failures can be spotted more quickly
    - public officials (elected and appointed) are clearly accountable for both success and failure.

    This cast of mind allows for the continuance of the kind of ineffective management outlined above. As Prof John Kelly put in during the 1980s crisis “Ireland’s political and official rulers have largely behaved like a crew of maintenance engineers, just keeping a lot of old British structures and plant ticking over”

    • Tim

      Brollachain, such an ACCURATE post that, I will BEG you to remain here, Sir!

      Please stay – we need you!

      I am in awe of your knowledge, and would like to learn more.

      Why, for instance, must we, always (it seems), implement FAILED Brittish practices 15 years after they have been implemented, found to be failures, here?

      • G

        @ Tim

        ‘Why, for instance, must we, always (it seems), implement FAILED Brittish practices 15 years……………..’

        Postcolonial mindset – follow the leader because you were instructed for 400 years, difficult to break the cycle especially when those at key points in the system were often raised and educated in colonial tradition or with a view that somehow one of the most brutal Empires the world had ever seen was something to emulate.

        As a country, we are learning and growing, but the process is slow but this latest crisis is going to lead to a lot of growth, which is often painful.

        I have to say, the veneration of T. K. Whitaker is becoming nauseating, its cult of the leader stuff and I would expect more from mature men.

        Whitaker, was by one account, the man who shot down the Credit Union system, possibly one of the most important financial and social movements the world has ever seen.

        No one is the complete article, so lets keep it real, we have as much talent in today’s Ireland than we did in 1950s and 60s Ireland and if need be we can bring it in from abroad, lets keep things real here, Whitaker was no Messiah, with many faults, so let us get over the mourning and on with the solutions.

        To be fair David, I agreed with you on not raising taxes, which to me is like something from 1984 (I’m amazed how that mindset has survived in the Dept. of Finance), and I agree with you on targeting unemployment, by borrowing if need be! The Irish have the answers, but at the moment it is little school boy in yard syndrome, looking to others to bail us out.

        We need to take responsibility for our actions, deal with the issues quickly and firmly, get this country out of the mess, and when the dust has settled, investigate and prosecute those deemed to have committed fraudulent acts – this includes those in the Dail, and I know who is top of my list.

    • Fair play that man. Good to have you on board. Massive comment. Well done.

    • Ruairi

      I hugely admire your post. A major part of the FOI subterfuge is that its almost impossible to get accurate information on job applications and recruitment processes. Oh yes, you will get documents at times. But some will have been doctored or written up after the fact (evidence available if legally challenged :-) )

      Semi-state bodies and many quangos recruitment processes are not covered by FOI. One wonders why oh why

      • MK1

        There are many problems with the public’s access to Information and Data and FOI. One key aspect is that many key decisions and the reasoning behind them are not in fact documented at all. Decisions are made via phone call, in the lobby of a hotel, in the Dail Bar, you name it. Minutes of meetings are a feat of ‘political non-disclosure’ and can take days and several drafts before all participants are ‘happy’. Sometimes its whats not said, and in many instances things that are said are never recorded/minuted. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. So even a working FOI will only get us so far.

        But at the end of the day, the public service are controlled by the government. We vote in the government. Whether the people like it or not or whether by design or ignorance, we get what we vote for. This mess we are in is what WE (as a nation) voted for.

        That’s why I’m calling for a general election NOW. We need a purge. We need a government based on the ideas of NOW, not ideas that are stale and didnt stack up. If anything should come of this deep recession, its that the people should now realise how important their vote actually is.


      • G

        Orwell: Some animals are more equal than others, or two legs good, four legs bad.

        Employers want who they want, ‘equal opportunity’ is a wonderful concept, a bit like ‘democracy’ but people have to analyse critically and be aware.

        As we all know, putting the fee on FOI was simply a way of shutting it down, transparency is not an active word in the government’s lexicon.

    • coldblow

      Good post, Brollachain. JJ Lee in his Ireland 1912-1985 has a similar quote from Lynch. One of the underlying themes of the book, alongside the uphill struggle to replace the “possession ethic” (in land and jobs) by the “performance ethic” (Lemass dedicated himself to this and it wouldn’t have made him popular with all those vested interests!), is the poverty of official Irish thought (and unofficial too by the looks of it) since Independence. (This is a conclusion Desmond Fennell seemed to arrive at independently.) But I don’t think FOI is the best example for the following reasons:

      1 Most of the info. is freely available – the FOI route is a time-wasting bureaucratic route. A modest charge helps to discourage frivolous or vexatious requests. I heard that it had been a common thing for journalism classes to be asked ot make an FOI request as part of their coursework.
      2 Some applications would be fronted by say an accountancy firm and would be one company digging for commercial info. about a rival in a tendering process.
      3 Some requests emanate from cranks, possibly with paranoid tendencies, projecting onto the state their own failings.
      4 Even when journalists get a “story” through FOI they sometimes don’t seem to be able, or are too lazy, to put together a plausible story from the info or just deliberately falsify the picture. Eg a journalist might report in a local newspaper the state’s lack of action in purchasing land or property with “important” (but in truth tenuous) links to a major historical figure as dereliction of duty whereas theye were merely resisting a blatant attempt to extort money from public funds for the enrichment of a local landowner.
      5 FOI requests can be very time wasting and this can be used as a veiled threat by an interested party: either give us what we want or else…

      In short FOI is open to abuse, most often by elements who should not be indulged. I suppose what I am saying is that in my own belief a flawed state is merely part of a wider social fabric distinguished by the naked pursuit of self-interest. Vested interests are very good at organizing to exert pressure on govt., much better than isolated individuals. I often wonder whether the ineffeciencies in the state apparatus are often not a blessing in disguise as they lessen the overall damage to the common good. And that includes by “front line” PS services as well as administrators – I am increasingly drawn by Crotty’s proposals to cut down the state by about 90% and just give it to the people without any strings attached as a “national dividend” and let them shift for themselves from there on. On the other hand there are convincing arguments, such as DMcW is making, for heavy state interference to sort out the mess in the short term at least.

      Incidentally Lee also supplies the following quote from a Whitaker memo of 1957:
      “What is urgently necessary is NOT to know that more resources should be devoted to productive rather than non-productive purposes but rather to know what are the productive purposes to which resources should be applied and what unproductive, or relatively unproductive, activities can, with the minimum social disadvantage, be curtaile to set free resources for productive development.”

      Finally, I thought Tom Garvin was interesting on George Lee’s documentary last night. (I’m trying to get hold of one of his books.) But I do wonder about his assertion that, as opposed to nowadays, literacy was poor in the 50s (where half left school at 12 and were functionally illiterate). JJ Lee mentioned that the literacy rate 90 years ago was “verging on 100%”. If people are so highly educated nowadays how has this been reflected in their behaviour? Perhaps they are literate but “functionally illiterate”?

      • Brollachain

        Yes, many decisions are not documented. I just do not accept that as adequate in a democracy. The response to FoI is to find means for ensuring secrecy. As the sociologist Max Weber noted “Secrecy is the only power of bureaucracy”. I do not accept that nudge and winks are an adequate basis for considering options, making decisions, implementing them and then expecting us to accept that all is well-considered etc.
        What I am concerned is the use of secrecy in government policy making and implementation. There is enough evidence of government incompetence at a variety of levels and also of the attempts to hide such incompetence

        Yes, FoI is open to abuse. Who defines the elements that abuse FoI? On what basis should these elements not be indulged? This line of thinking reminds me of Brecht’s observation “Would it not be easier for the government to dissolve the people and elect another one?”

        Without FoI, how can we the citizens be sure that government is not abusing power and influence? Why should we, as citizens, give any credence to such a whimsical basis for denying FoI?
        It seems to me that the culture of the governing class does not accept that we are citizens in a republic with a written constitution. We have the rights and responsibilities of citizens, equal to those of the governing class. We citizens are more than subjects to whom the governing class may grant certain liberties, provided we conform to some unarticulated specification of how citizens are to behave as Brecht noted. As citizens in a democracy, we need checks and balances to limit the scope for excess by the powerful. FoI is one such means which can enable us to check if, and how, public debate on options is being manipulated by partial release of information, spin etc

        As a preface to responding to your specific points against FoI, I offer three quotations
        “Although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it” Pericles of Athens
        “Providence never intended to make the management of public affairs a mystery to be comprehended by a few persons of sublime genius” Jonathan Swift
        “Publicity is the soul of justice” Jeremy Bentham

        1. “Most of the info is freely available”. This is simply not true. I have made a number of requests for information that was not available as a matter of routine. It may be known to those in the inner circles who are part of the governing class who meet regularly and/or who usually sounded out about certain matters on which they may be thought to have a view and/or influence. What is wrong with journalism classes being asked to make an FoI request as part of their coursework? For any such classes, I suggest making separate FoI requests to the Depts of Finance and the Taoiseach seeking all papers, documents and records on the actions taken by those Departments following the 1999 IMF suggestion that “a peer review, particularly by supervisors from a country that had undergone a real estate boom, might be helpful.”
        2. What is wrong with companies digging for information about commercially sensitive matters? This can be protected by law, provided there is a reasonable means of appeal against such decisions. I have had this used against me by a Government Dept, when I sought a full report on matters in the domain of a state company. However, I insisted that what I was looking for was little more that was available in the annual reports. The document was released in full and has all kinds of information that was useful to what I was interested in. None of this information was commercially sensitive in any way whatsoever.
        3. Yes, citizens can be cranky. Government can be paranoid! But it is clear that government often yields to vested interests. I just want to be able to check it out when I suspect it is happening. There may be good and valid reason for favouring vested interests.
        4. If journalists lack ability or are lazy, so? It is then up to the government body to go to work to ensure that the truth of a particular decision is known far and wide. Is failure to do this an indication of laziness on the part of the public authorities?
        5. FoI is only time-wasting if the powers-that-be do not routinely make information available as a matter of course. FoI is a reminder the public service exists for citizens, on a basis of trust. We are not solely objects of adminstered or customers. FoI is a means of expressing the truth of an old Arab proverb “Trust in God. But tie your camel!” Camels have been running amok here for the past 10 years, because of too much trust!

        In summary, I disagree completely with your view that FoI is not the best example of what you term the poverty of official Irish thought. FoI will enable us to see whether or not such thought is poor.
        Let me finish with another quote from Patrick Lynch “From the clash of ideas, minds ignite.” Long may this forum and others provides a means for such clashes, as we need to ignite our imagination and reason. Less grand gestures, more quiet competence. FoI can show us when the governing classes are making grand gestures and when they are quietly competent.

    • Deco

      Brollachain – excellent post. You are stating exactly what this country’s biggest problem remains – there is a culture of incompetence in our public sector. And the further up you go in the direction of the relevant government minister to worse it gets.

      You mention the eVoting disaster. But the eVoting cost did not stop at €50 Million. These useless devices are stored. And they are stored in facilities owned by insiders who have contacts in the Department of the Environment. Many of these are members of the maFFia and the tag that formerly wagged the dog, and was then called the PDs. The cost of eVoting is rising every month. A real Noel Dempsey move that. Interestingly enough Dempsey wants tosave money by cutting backon bus routes. He is either woefully stupid or woefully inept. Perhaps he might be both.

      Excellent post, Brollachain. We need to reform the entire state structure. It is a disaster. And we need to make it transparent so that all the nepotism, incompetence and ineptitude are revealed quickly to the populace. The way to make this happen is to scare all political parties into action. If large portions of the electorate acted like “Don’t knows” then the political landscape would terrify politicians. They would not know if their local power magnate posturing game is really working.

  4. Gary

    There obviously a clear difference between the Eu approach and the US approach to handling this economic crisis. Ireland has already borrowed well beyond the 3% limit, but the peer pressure from other EU states to get are spending back under control and show some German fiscal discipline is immense. So our ability to borrow in the downturns without exchange rate risk is hampered by the political consensus of the majority of Eu countries, which are dead against more fiscal is stimulus in the short to medium term. I cant see FF trying anything radical that sits uncomfortably with this consensus. But the article does certainly highlight challenges faced by small countries within the EU.

  5. Johnny Dunne

    “If the state does not control this process, the process will control it. It is pretty simple, really. For this intellectual courage and leadership we must turn to the civil service mandarins who run our country. Where is the TK Whitaker of our generation?”

    The Department of Finance issued these ‘projections’ for the next 5 years in January – a quick glance at this to anyone with any knowledge of the irish economy and business would see many major holes and assumptions that are ‘wrong’ – look at the unemployment to max at 10%. We have less than 1.8 million in employment today and are heading for 400k and maybe 500k unemployed by the year end. How could they produce these numbers less than 3 months ago, if they understood the economy ?

    The Secretary General is called David Doyle (is he a TK Whittaker ?), he has been since 2001 taking over from John Hurley (of Central Bank ‘fame’) – has anyone ever heard him publicly speak about his ‘vision’ and understanding of the Irish economy and key drivers to stimulate economic growth ?

    To date the well resourced Department of Finance isn’t great at the prediciting numbers, even a few months ahead – a Finance Director of any company could not get away with this for so long !

  6. mcsean2163

    Well, the government is currently struggling to maintain our budget deficit at 9.5%, far in excess of the the EU’s 3% and David is insisting we should increase this by having public private partnerships in companies such as SR Technics.

    “The state should take stakes in businesses like SRTechnics, and these places should be reopened as public private partnerships.”

    SR Technics is owned by three united arab emirates investors. So by this rationale we should approach them and take a controlling interest in a company employing €4,500 people. How much will this cost? A billion? Two billion? And then we should have a public private partnership to make it inefficient and then lose more money? How many more billions will it cost to extend this policy to the rest of the failed businesses around Ireland? Trillions?

    I suspect that B Lenihan read D McWilliams proposal for a blanket bank guarantee and too the advice on board. The blanket bank guarantee has become the most investive, risky and worst piece of policy instituted by the state since the financial crisis began.

    Now we should flaunt the EU’s rules indefinitely. What if they say, ‘stop’ and we say ‘no’ and this continues and then we get kicked of the EU? Who will lend to us then?

    On our current path national debt will have more than doubled in three years. Does David want it to treble or quadruple. Even the US is not spending on a similar proportional scale to Ireland.

    What’s wrong with reigning in unaffordable public expenditure? It could be said the global presence of the US is too big to allow it to fail, like the Irish developers nationally but Ireland’s global is not that big…

    In addition, who knows, maybe if Hoover had started FDR the US would have been completely messed up…

    A wise man said to me, I could have bought a BMW but I didn’t I bought a skoda and the reason being that he couldn’t afford a BMW.

    It appears David wants us to buy a lambourghini……..

    • Mighty comment McSean and plough on. This site needs more of the same. Good man.

    • In relation to your SR Technics example there’s a trade off here. In general it may be a good idea to create a public-private partnership where the net investment in the public private partnership is the same or less than the cost to the economy of losing several thousand jobs. Taking a job out of the economy costs the amount the job holder contributed to the local economy and the national economy in terms of consumption and tax, added to the social welfare payments they then receive a receiver rather than a contributor to social insurance. It’s difficult to know what would have happened without the bank guarantee scheme and reading tea leaves doesn’t count :)

      I seem to remember that as soon as the minister had adopted it the scheme, then David posted an article explaining several reasons why the scheme was not being implemented correctly and would be problematic. Chiefly among these was not wresting control of these institutions away from those who created the mess in the first place and not being honest regarding the extent of the problem. This ineptitude, combined with the scandals is what’s making fund raising so difficult for Irish institutions. It’s not just that we got caught out, almost everyone did. It’s that we’ve been exposed as lightly regulated cowboys who might just squander every cent we borrow.

      While I agree with most of what you’re saying it’s not just a case of “reigning in unaffordable public expenditure”. Those cuts won’t occur in a vaccuum and will contribute to unemployment across retail & trade businesses. Those cuts will lead to repossessions of property and hurt the banks further. Fiscal circumspection was urged at the start of the great depression in the US. It’s not always the correct approach.

      Is it a good idea to treble or quadruple the national debt? That really depends on what we plan to do with it. If it’s just to prop up our banks without any additional benefit then let’s quit now. If increasing the national debt diversifies our economy, creates major indigenous Irish companies and creates jobs then on the face of it, it’s a good idea. Without such ideas to improve our economy and find the right niches for Ireland to play in, we’re headed many years of economic contraction. If we accept that then we’ll grimly head back to the 70s and 80s where despite having a small island with a relatively small population we need to export our people to find jobs. Do we really want that? It may be inevitable but I don’t think so.

  7. Malcolm McClure

    David says” By having the confidence to meet new challenges with new(sometimes old) ideas, the Americans are showing an extraordinary intellectual vibrancy in the face of economic fragility”.
    The WSJ is not known for outside the box thinking but it came up with an interesting solution for America’s housing surplus. –Offer US Resident status to approved, solvent foreigners who buy houses costing more than certain local thresholds ($100,000) for cash.

    I wonder if that would work in Ireland? Perhaps the nation would benefit from half a million hard-working, wealthy Indians and Chinese seeking to escape the overcrowding and family size restrictions in their homelands. Enterprise Ireland would have a field day with such an opportunity.

    • Colin_in_exile


      I don’t see any benefit from having half a million chinese and indian hard workers here. There’s very little work for them in Ireland, and only so many takeaways you want in a week. Their recent success has been based on sweatshops, apeing western technology, not innovating further on it.

      The people we need are Israelis, Germans and Canadians but I can’t see any of them coming because the first group have a history of being discriminated here and the media view them (wrongfully of course) as nasty Palestinian oppressors, the second group completely abhor our brashness (remember the German Ambassador’s comments on the visitor to the National Concert Hall whose 9 year old car embarassed him/her to make himself/herself known to remove it from where it is parked), while the third group would be abhored by our banking culture.

      I’m afraid we have to grow up and face the music oursleves, without anyone holding our hand.

      • Ruairi

        Have to say the evidence is against that Colin in exile. That tired myth is bieng pushed out by EI and PD lobbyists etc.

        Fact is that, while copying and engaging in subcontracted work for us Westies, the Chinese / Koreans / Indians have been busy busy busy innovating too. Intel has more innovation capacity in China now than it has in Ireland. Same as for most other MNCs. It was always a silly myth to begin with.

        • Colin_in_exile

          “Intel and most other MNCs” are western enterprises, not chinese / indian enterprises.

          Is a Volkswagon car made in China a triumph of Chinese Engineering?

          Waiting for your evidence to the contrary.

          Even if you are right, and have out-manouervred us (the West) in the innovation stakes, why would they come to Ireland?

          • Ruairi

            A Volkswagen car made in Czech Republic (a Skoda) is a triumph of Czech engineering and QC, which now outguns German standards and predates it historically also as a centre of engineering excellence.

            Regarding evidence to the contrary: -

   Harvard Business School

   Chinese banks taking chances on new ideas and how USA could learn

            I’m not saying I’m right Colin, I just think that ideas, capital and people flow to where there is opportunity. That’s why there’s 300m middle class now in east-coast China and why Hong Kong has stayed on its own path.

          • Colin_in_exile


            Thanks for the link.

            While Vimicro seem to have made progress in innovation, here’s what the Chinese think themselves


            And what the Indians are saying about themselves


            The top 100 Universities in the world, China have 0 entries, India has 0 entries. The west (which includes Japan & Israel) have 100 entries in the top 100.


            Czech Republic is in the West.

            I agree capital and people flow, thats why many indians and chinese pay huge fees to attend western universities.

            Again, Even if you are right, and have out-manouervred us (the West) in the innovation stakes, why would they come to Ireland?

          • We haven’t been outmanuevered in the innovation stakes. Take the example of mobile telecoms innovation. Sure China is spending a fortune but they’re still having difficulty competing with Japan and Europe. Finland is still a massively innovative country for mobile hardware and software. This seems anomalous but if they can do it…

            Chinese companies can be highly innovative at times. When in doubt they copy and because of their IPR laws it’s difficult to deal with. In Europe we spend a huge amount of money and time, fighting eachother over intellectual property rights. We’re fighting for a deeper principle perhaps. It’s the price of “freedom” and will happen in China too.

            Major innovation can come from seeds planted in a fertile patch of otherwise bad ground. What I’m getting at here, is that Ireland or anywhere else with a decent education system can do ground breaking research if we pick our niches.

            I work with Eastern European, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani IT graduates. They came here as it’s a stable country (relatively), the education system is quite good and the quality of life is quite good. Indians sometimes come because the caste system back home is frustrating. Pakistan has severe political problems. China is still controlled by a censoring and relatively harsh regime. People come here for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes just for a change. We’re actually not that bad, yet…

          • Deco

            I am not certain that India and China have 0 entries in the top 100 universities in the West. And anyway even when we have good universities in Ireland, the results are wasted by the model of management and the stupid practices widespread in Ireland in authority.

            Also this term is a bit contentious. The OECD considers Galway to the the top university in Ireland. Second place went to it’s near neighbour, UL in Limerick. This came as a shock to a lot of people in Dublin, holding the levers of power as they were often from UCD or TCD. In fact it was also a massive embarrasment to Trinners as Trinners uses a lot of energy talking itself up. So where were all these NUI Galway graduates who were deemed by the OECD to be the best in Ireland, by a considerable difference compared to their ppers ? Well, they crop up here and there. But an awful lot of these graduates are working abroad. In the US, Canada, Britain. The brightest graduates cannot get work in Ireland. So ability is not a criteria for getting a job in Ireland ? Well, a lot of the time this is very true !! So they bring their brains to New York, Toronto etc. Meanwhile we in Ireland end up with Seanie Fitzpatrick/David Drumm running Anglo, ‘Fingers’ running INBS, Fergus Duffy running EBS, and a whole collection of cronies running BOI. Plus sNeary running the Financial Regulator. Ireland is a very centralized society, and this benefits the tight, class based incestuous networks who control Irish society. It also is a repellent to our best and brightest people.

            Proof that even when we get education right in this country, the business culture, and the lack of meritocracy are reasons to obliterate any benefit.

            We are free to think. That is something they cannot control. And we are thinking. It is the one thing that they would want us to never do. :))))

      • Malcolm McClure

        Colin_in_exile: I think you are misguided in considering wealthy Indians and Chinese as merely having the potential to open take-away restaurants. To save the price of a house in Ireland requires real business and intellectual ability and that is what is needed here.
        Ireland pretends to want to base future prosperity on a high-tech economy. That requires a much higher proportion of students with backgrounds in physics, chemistry and math. Our schools are good at producing students who go into the law, teaching, media, business studies, etc. Science requires a different kind of intellectual bent and Ireland could benefit from an influx of people with that ability.
        Chinese and Indian students often excel at these subjects so their parents would be welcome on that basis alone.

        • Colin_in_exile


          The takeaway remark was tongue in cheek. Where’s your sense of humour?

          Speaking as an Engineering graduate, many students go for law and business studies because they are perceived to be easier than engineering. Ask Irish students why the chose the college course they did, and they’ll say to facilitate them having a good time in college. Anyone who completes an engineering course must be dedicated and committed to it. This is a foreign concept to many students of other courses.

          You are of course 100% correct whn you say Ireland pretends to want to base future prosperity on a high-tech economy. I know of course its just FF/PD lipservice. How? Two words, Collison Brothers.

          • Hi Colin,
            Many people choose business and legal related courses in preference to engineering as this country tends not to respect it’s engineers. The courses are tough and the jobs tended not to be as lucrative as many business or legal activiites. Whereas engineers are highly respected in Germany for example, there’s always a bit of wondering why you didn’t do something else like medicine or law in Ireland. Career guidance teachers are a problem too. Most don’t have a clue what the job of an engineer entails. It becomes a catch-all for people who have some mathematical skills but aren’t necessarily going to get over 550 points to become an actuary. Still, we do produce some excellent engineers but they either find jobs working for foreign firms in Ireland or emigrate. We rarely harness their ingenuity for indigenous industry.

  8. John Rooney

    The problem with borrowing to maintain an economy which is uncompetitive is that you still end up with an uncompetitive economy, but with a very big loan to boot!
    You must view Ireland as a business. Ireland must do as most small and not so small businesses are doing: cutting wages, cutting costs, trying to find a ‘fit’ which will see it through this difficult time.
    David is proposing a crash-and-burn mentality, spend and hope that the world will not only fix itself, but will manage to do this while becoming less competitive than Ireland…
    Dream on…

  9. Ruairi

    “If the state does not control this process, the process will control it. It is pretty simple, really. For this intellectual courage and leadership we must turn to the civil service mandarins who run our country. Where is the TK Whitaker of our generation?”

    Beowulf perhaps? Who cares about the boasting so long as he/she (new ideas folks?) ) would slays dragons, not distractionary water-monsters.

    A great landscape of opportunity lies before a decisive maverick now with elements of populist left leanings. Who’s got what it takes to re-draw the battlefield?

  10. David says we ‘need to do this’ and ‘need to do that’ frequently and I’ve no reason to doubt his opinion as he was correct in forecasting the popping of the property bubble.

    What I would like to know directly is this. Does anyone in power ever listen to David? Have they implemented any of his suggestions? Even one? Does he have an ear with someone of influence? Please be specific. I’m outside Ireland but am appalled with what has happened – I didn’t think the country was THAT corrupt and greedy. I desperately want it to work out for the best for you all in the Emerald Isle.



    • Ruairi

      Aw Adam!! Don’t burst our bubble!

      THis is the lunatic asylum. We’re on the broadband because it keeps us out of mischief. David McW is the Pied Piper for scoundrels like us.

      Powerful types still read newspapers in the morning over breakfast. You might get the odd green Party or shinner checkin in here but serious businessmen (oops I mean political representatives) like Fianna Failers and Fine gaelers have to much going on to get caught up in this internet fad. Word is they might run a few dial-up lines in for them after the next general election. At the moment, they’ll need the lines before then for the vote rigging machines that are currently in storage being expertly cared for and whispered optimistic thoughts nightly by predatorial scantily clad FF secretaries. Even machines succumb to the ‘pull’ factor laddies

  11. ‘There is loads of work everywhere and fewer Irish are willing to work .Nationally , the fields are bare and wanting for seed to be sown and food to be eaten’.
    So, what is our problem?
    What is work?
    When God made man life was great , until woman arrived then everything changed .
    So, what is work?
    Work is prayer .It is an humble act of thanksgiving to be alive and to ask for something .
    We should never stop working because it’s good for the soul.
    What is work?
    On this site we define work differently because we ‘place a value on it’ and ‘a price’.
    Are we shackling ourselves ?
    Glenstal Abbey has a virtue like many other places like it and their mindset has different priorities before the concept of value is entertained.
    We must adapt and learn from our basics before we can even stand never mind walk or run.
    Israelies wear a cap of humility to a higher order .
    We need to adapt .

  12. Woody

    Good Morning All, First of all i its good to see such interesting and well written comments. I have been following Davids writings now for some time and agree with most.

    I have been lucky or unlucky (depends what u think) enough to be invited to the Labour conference this weekend as a observer and was looking for advice, ( Im am to-date not affilated to any party)

    It would seem to me that while the opposition has been performing well they have yet to come up with a plan or a if in power we will…. statement. So i would like a hit list of a number of questions to have in my pocket when talking to these guys and gals at the weekend…

    I think Labour will have difficulties with cutting welfare, and spending in general and are avoiding the issue, would they cut vat to help the cross border shopping herds, do they agree with these strikes ? etc etc…

    • justinf

      woody – you might want to get in touch with Gavin Sheridan. He’s a political blogger who has been covering party conferences. Pretty sure he’s going to the Labour one.

      on twitter you can get in touch via

      More than likely there’ll be a gaggle of bloggers attending also with observer status whom you can mingle with.

      Hope this is of help.

    • Ruairi


      as a sunshine leftist, I would be delighted to hear back any reports of friction between the hard left and the middle (which is not really left but actually MIDDLE) left as this crisis deepens.

      The pragmatism of Ruairi Quinn versus the roots of Pat Rabbitte and even more hardcore stalworths.

      If its reduced to a powerstruggle between themselves and the unions over pay rates and claims, then it surely spells the dead man walking of leftwing mainstream politics in Ireland. The big issues at this critical juncture in our double collapsed lung economy are surely regulation, levers of control, separations of power, implementation of the late 1960s report (the name anyone?) on planning permission (we await you John Gormley) and the scant regard for the possibility of longterm joint ownership and profit-sharing from our national assets; as the Norwegians have done.

      if they tinker at the edges and discuss hypothetical wage agreements from a wounded leprous economy, then we might as well call back the brits and at least we’d get letters in the post telling us that we had benefits due to us when they were due. Unlike dear ole Oireland.

    • Ruairi

      Oh and if Bertie beats Joe Higgins to the Lifetime Socialist Achievement Award, you will let us know first won’t you? :-D

  13. justinf

    Please note that this post is a “thinking outside the box” one and I might be slaying some sacred ideas – is it time that we ditched out neutrality and joined NATO?

    I say this because the benefits might outweight disadvantages economically in two important aspects:

    1. it would allow us to develop a hi-tech defence/military industry that would encourage the likes of Intel and other tech industries to stay here – note how Silicon Valley developed – that has its roots in the defence sector. One cannot ignore that.

    2. we could lease bases to NATO forces – for example, Cork Harbour, one of the biggest natural harbours in the world, is woefully under utilised – we could lease base rights to the U.S. or French navies for their North Atlantic operations.

    3. our army would benefit from the exchange of technology with NATO members , through training and equipment. We currently have a situation where Irish career soldiers are joining either the British or American armies to get ahead in the military career ladder. Why not our own army?

    4. Shannon stopover – theres a nudge nudge wink wink “we’re neutral, but we’re not” attitude to this. Why not just go “feck it” and develop plans for an American airbase? Again, there would be economic benefits to this plus spin off benefits in terms of the supplying the base.

    Granted the above will be horrific to the neutrality lobby, but if things get worse, we will have to consider the unthinkable.

    • Ruairi

      This hasn’t received any comments until now. Its hard to imagine why.

      We should pair off the provinces with matching empires of the world. I don’t think the yanks suit Shannon best, even though they’re used to it. We could let the brits use Belfast and Ulster (oops, they already do, well that’s handy for your plans for economic vibrancy), let the Yanks have Munster because everything in de Peeple’s Republic of Caurk IS ACTUALLY larger than life, no boasting, so for sheer scale of men and mountain and derring-do it would suit the Yanks damn well. Jesus, they nearly had an armed rebellion over hurling. The Yankee Doodles would love that sort of high japes. Leinster would be reserved for the israelis because they have a lot of female officers and being into the old Krav Maga myself, I could spar with them to keep them on their toes for Bin Laden types in the backwoods and backroads of Laois and Offaly.

      And Connaught. ……. oh Connaught! Cromwell’s Hy Brasil. We would reserve that for the hinese Army, keep the roads west of the Shannon in ashockin state and never letting them know that there was more country to the east. That way, they’d never want to invade when they eeventually overrun Europe (Don’t ask me, Nostradamus said it in his weekly FT Weekend column).

      And one more thing: – Let’s give our troops a morale-boosting victory and invade Iceland. Those sorry sh1ts are the cause of the world crisis. I say we cap them one for the rest of the Western World before they turn sights on the Celtic Tiger.

  14. MK1

    Hi David,

    As always you make some interesting points:

    > Keeping people in employment should be the number one priority of all economic policy now.

    Yes, but we have to be careful as to what TYPE of employment. Jobs (at all costs) is not a solution. Public Sector funded jobs are NOT real jobs when we are borrowing to do so. Yes, we need to use public funds to stimulate real job creation. It IS about jobs. And its also about costs, reducing costs, and elsewhere taxing excessives. We need efficiency both in the private and public sectors.

    > This does not mean that budgetary squeezing should be postponed indefinitely, but it is not the immediate overarching concern.

    We have to address the budget deficit because its like part of the car has caught fire. We need to get out the extinguisher to stop it from burning the whole car. That means cutting off the ‘petrol supply’ (ie: public sector cuts). It just has to be done David.

    > Ideas such as shareholder value, the primacy of private capital and minimal state intervention need to be thrown out.

    Agreed. Minimal state intervention has been thrown out the window by all and sundry. We need to nationalise the banks to go a step further in the process.

    > listen to what Jack Welch has to say. He is now arguing, like Alan Greenspan, that the markets sometimes don’t right themselves.

    And I and many others have been arguing this for decades! Markets would be perfect if it wasnt for those ‘meddling humans’!

    > we have to make labour cheap and boost demand.

    Yes, you are right David, we need to make labour cheaper all around. How many politicians have demanded a 50% pay cut of their own packages? How many in the public sector with a salary over 100k are giving the amount of 100k back to the government? How many of those on PS pensions are saying they can live on less? How many public sector workers are saying that they will pay for all of their pension costs or reduce their pension? How many unionised private sector workers are taking voluntary pay cuts? How many workers are working harder? You see there is so much to do, so little done, and nobody will do this voluntarily due to human nature. Again, those meddling greedy humans who are nothng but self-interested in their actions. Hubris counts for nothing!

    > we must cut income tax and raise property tax as the central aspect of our revenue strategy. if we tax work now and make it more expensive, If we tax property now, we will extract real cash out

    No, taxing income wont make jobs more expensive. We need to have a wider income tax base. That may mean taxing those on lower incomes. It should mean real teeth for clamping down on the black market. People should not have to pay for being honest! It should mean abolishing employers PRSI (a real cost to employment) and putting the equivalent onto the employee/salary. It probably should mean increasing corporate taxes slightly in time. It should mean taxing luxury goods. And it should certainly mean the taxation of excessive wealth and the abolition of tax schemes. Property tax should be avoided. Wealth tax, now you’re talking, and for all Irish business owners, whether they are resident here for 143 days or indeed 0 days.

    > 3% borrowing

    True, we can breach the 3% in the short-term, but the reason for the 3% rule is to maintain Euro countries as fiscally sound and conservative, and where they cant out-borrow each other. Many euro economies are taking a hit simultaneously so the 3% rule will be breached by many. It is more aspirational, a hurdle that can be knocked rather than a barrier. But its self medicine. Its something that we SHOULD be aiming for in a couple of years to get back on track. Because even you know David that we cant borrow forever. The globe cannot borrow forever. Look where pver-borrowing has got us!

    > banks

    The banks should be nationalised. The debts should be worked out hard, extract the moneis back, clawbacks, you name it. No-one that either lent or borrowed uncontrollably should come out of this on the far side with any assets. But they should have a job.

    Yes, I fully agree, its workfare and not welfare.


    ps: @Deco, read your post but couldnt re-find it on last thread re improving Ireland’s “intellect for national management” (or something like that). That’s an unasailable task as unfortunately the masses do not think nor work intellectually. Our political system would require root and branch reform, but as the current set of turkeys are in the roost, they arent going to ‘vote for Xmas’. How do we get from here to where we should be? I dont have any answers apart from a revolution and that wont happen until things get a lot worse. No easy answer. A long-term new party with vision and principles and that stick to it could do it but its a long term generational 20 year project perhaps.

  15. Tim

    Folks, There are hundreds of thousands of us who, prior to 1996, borrowed 2.5 times our income to buy a modest home. The banks had RULES back then, and proper “stress-tests” — before their “bonus-for-lending-on-the-books-regardless-how-dodgey”culture kicked in. Having worked as a teacher for 7 years by that time, and attained the dizzying heights of the massive PS salary of £18k, I purchased a little house on a hill for £50k. Six months later, the price-tag was £67.5k and I would not have been ABLE to buy it.

    Then, this thing called the “Celtic Tiger” supposedly arrived on our shores. I was baffled for about ten years, reading the newspaper every day, listening to the radio or watching television and being told, day-n-day-out: “we are all rich”; Mary Harney and Charlie McGreavey saying, “The country is awash with money”.

    I never saw it.

    If the celtic tiger existed at all, it had been in my house and had cubs to eat me alive: I endured years of beneath-inflation so-called “pay rises” in national pay deals and watched the purchasing power of my salary drop, year in, year out. I watched other people borrow to compensate for this decrease in purchasing power; some, instead of remaining secure in the fact that they had relatively low mortgages, even re-mortgaged to splash out on SUVs — imagine! Paying for a depreciating asset over 20 years! Just to “keep up” with the Seanie Fitzs of this country!

    Now, I (and many thousands like me) am being levied every month by almost the same amount as that mortgage I got for my house, just to pay for the excesses of others — and make no mistake: 2.5 times my income was a HUGE stretch at the time. I found myself wondering how on earth young couples could manage to buy, at the top of the boom, the same 980sq ft house for nearly 8-times the price I had paid; then I discovered what they were earning was multiples of a teacher’s salary, coupled with the fact that the banks were then lending up to 6-times salary. Every thinking person could see that this was wrong.

    Shane Dempsey said, “I’d actually like to think that some weren’t nuts enough to waste their gains by buying Irish bank shares or inexperienced investing in “sure fire” property deals in Ireland or abroad.”

    I wasn’t nuts. I did not attempt to capitalise on the increased paper-value of my house — I just wanted a HOME, not an “asset”, a rung on the “property ladder”. Equity in a house, either positive or negative, is only an issue if you want to sell — I didn’t and I don’t. Some say “we all went mad”; I didn’t; I just lived a normal life, providing what I could for my family.

    George Lee said, in last night’s documentary: “We spent money we didn’t have on things we don’t need” — no, I didn’t.

    But the government has reached into my humble pockets to pay for those who did. I don’t mind helping out and paying some taxes — but almost as much every month as my original mortgage?! Jeez!

    • paddythepig


      I agree with much of your post. But answer me this.

      Why then were you knocking on doors asking people to vote FF – the facilitators of the unsustainable boom?

      Why are you still in FF, mingling with the self-same chancers who were the salesmen of the pyramid scheme that you condemn above?

      Did you see the FF hero and Ireland’s biggest gombeen, Bertie Ahern, talk shite on George Lee’s documentary, trying to get innocent people to prop up the pyramid scheme in 2006? Why did you canvas for him, and his cronies?

      Given the collapse now taking place, would you consider yourself better off to have a public sector job, or would you prefer to be on the dole, or about to join the dole queue, like 10′s of thousands of people in the private sector? Would you prefer to have no pension at all, like 10′s of thousands of people in the private sector? Which sector of the workforce should we, as a society, have the most concern for at this point?


      • Tim

        Paddy, I fully accept your question about FF – but I cannot give you any different answer to the one I have given you before.

        On the public sector job issue: remember that hundreds of PS workers have already lost their jobs and that mine is not secure either – the education cuts (specifically the increased class sizes) mean that between 1,200 and 2000 teachers WILL lose their jobs this June.

        On the pension issue, I signed a contract for this at a particular price; that price has now doubled, without my consent (a matter for another forum). I calculate that, at the current new price, I will have to live till I am at least 85 years of age just to claim back what I will have paid in.

        Statistically, this is highly unlikely.

        • paddythepig


          The PS workers losing their jobs is regrettably what has to happen. Though I would prefer public service bureaucrats and the quango-boys to get the chop before front-line staff.

          It must be said that the PS cuts you quote are negligible in comparison to the cuts that are taking place in the private sector, where the imperative to cut costs grow by the day. It’s either that, or join the dole queue.

          Contracts are neither here nor there nowadays Tim. In survival mode, it’s all a matter of what can be afforded. In many companies now, you either accept the commercial reality and the cuts that are happening, or take a walk out the door.

          Thriftcriminal, you’re spot on.


          • Tim

            Paddy, I am sorry for being so tardy in response, but I have to “follow-the-work”, as it were.

            My ONLY “axe-to-grind” is that the frontline staff (on among the lowest-paid PS people) are being attacked at the moment – not the “fat-cats”.

            I know alot of people in the PS on much lower salaries than I have and they are suffering already – let alone what will hit them on April 7.

            It has always been my view (and Mk1 disagrees, vehemently with me on this), that if you reduce the discretionary spending of the public service worker, you will send the economy into a downward spiral.

            This is because the “discretioanary spending of the PS worker” is at a very low level – but there are 300,000 of them. So the cumulative effect on the economy is not unsubstantial.

            If 300,000 people can afford €70 a week to go out to dinner in a modest restaurant, that restaurant and its owner, its manager, its chefs and its waitresses might remain in business and SUSTAIN JOBS.

            If you take (which the govt, HAS done) that €70 per week away from the 300, 000 PS workers (and it is NOT taken from the boys at the top, or the ESB or An Bord Gais, or Bord na Mona, etc. (the “semi-states) – so it is “Inequitable”), you have only REMOVED 2.1billion from the economy, because they cannot spend that, anymore.

            “Discretionary spending” is, perhaps, an issue that we should look at.

            goinghome, I am not sure what to say in response to your post – except that I am very humbled by it. I hope that you understand this in its true spirit. Thank you.

    • I didn’t either Tim. But I have zero job security and a pension that will pay me in fluff covered rolos and chewing gum wrappers when I retire. Maybe I should have lived it up, so I could have some excess to look back on fondly in my old age of penury, begging a few pence of some fine fella on a DB pension.

    • Deco

      You comment has me rolling in sarcastic laughter.

      {Then, this thing called the “Celtic Tiger” supposedly arrived on our shores. I was baffled for about ten years, reading the newspaper every day, listening to the radio or watching television and being told, day-n-day-out: “we are all rich”; Mary Harney and Charlie McGreavey saying, “The country is awash with money”.} I agree with your bemusement.

      The whole Celtic Tiger phenomenon lasted until about mid 2000. Then it was all about confidence and the people in control of the political system, the state hierarchies, and the protected private sector, peddling lies to us. A lot of the material wealth was backed by increasingly unsustainable and dangerous debt levels. This was investigated by DMcW’s documentaries. We had Ahern and the feelgood factor. Ireland became a ‘something for nothing’ society. Everybody was looking for something for nothing. This culture was at it’s most grotesque in the fashionable upmarket suburbs of Dublin. However, rational analysis of the entire phenomenon (as provided again by David McW) proved that the entire thing was an elabourate, deceptive, pointless confidence trick.

      I hope that those who made mistakes as a result of this active policy of misinformation by those in power, I hope that these unfortunate people will never take a word of what authority says seriously ever again. This is essential to cleaning up the corruption that is destroying Irish society. I hope that honest discussion will change this, and liberate ordinary people from the crooks. We can only hope.

      Though, I am also aware that the media will do whatever it is instructed to do by the vested interests. The promises of bread and circuses will continue. We need honest analysis to ensure the absurdities of such policies are known widely.

  16. Squealing Parlours with Bacon ( CowenGate ) – The smell of part of the PIIGS blood will be felt in a new wave of mass panic beginning on 2nd April and will peak on 10th .This will be a moment never before experienced in our lifetime and will never again be forgotten .This Moon will be playing a rare tune and a new rhapsody .It’s Rhythm will be Enyanamic, borrowing the Hymm Sheets from an age gone past and recalling the battles of old and the valour that up to now has been buried deep under a political / banking pyramid of shame and deceit .It’s Voice will be heard from the tune of the rare atlantic waves with white gloves ebbing against our western shorelines and being carried accross the country over the plains and to the corridors of Execution sited near a bridge and a river .This is Black Pool ( Dubh Linn ) the forgotten name that was suppose to remain so ……until NOW.
    All hearts will beat faster and stronger on the Isle and Emotion will rule and dominate the behaviour of the populace .
    To live you must slow ,to die you meet the precipice and fall over to leave behind a new Dun Aengus on an eastern shore .The revelations of the manifestations of Da Wu Yu Code will reappear before all eyes before you change to salt .


    I had the misfortune to be unemployed 4 years ago and the service provided by FAS was a joke-the worst paid jobs that few people want and a a lapsadasical approach from staff.What % of people use this service to find work? and do any of their jobs pay 30,000 or more.Shut this wasteful monolith.

  18. Philip

    One victim in all of this is the Worker and by that I mean the frontline doers. Teachers, Doctors, Mechanics, Engineers, Salesmen, blocklayers – you name it. I would also include the line managers and other coordinators needed to glue the relevant organisations together. These guys touch things and deal with the man on the street. If you were ever to make a distinction between PS and Private sector, it’s probably that there are far fewer as a proportion of total employed in the PS organisation. You get this feeling of admin everywhere and no doers.

    As one of the above doers, I can tell you that I find Jim’s and Brollachain’s comments to be particularly depressing and illustrative of how disempowered many of us are. If FF and FG are still playing civil war games as they select projects and garner / issue favours to the D4 set and if Freedom of Information is still seriously hampered, I fail to see how any of us can really make a difference.

    We have people here discussing big things all requiring fundamental reform of our institutions – which cost us a lot of money while the doers are turfed onto the streets.

    I note the comments on taxing property and spreading the tax base. But the beneficial effects of these (if any) will not be seen for a year. Ditto for money injection. And with respect to the latter, again all I see is a government trying to put off the inevitable nationalising of banks for the sake of protecting a few shareholders. The subsidary shareholders (mostly doers) seem to count for nothing.

    I think there is one common thread emerging and that is that the longer this recession lasts, the more pressure it will inevitably place how the PS will be paid for. Ironically as the PS fights to maintain its size, the more pressure it will bring upon itself. Of course, the PS doers will be the first to get the hit – making things worse – but then the ideas in this Blog may come more into the open. A contented society we are not anymore!

  19. goinghome

    A particular song has come into my mind when surveying these issues over the past week or so. It is Famine by Sinéad O’ Connor:

    – OK, I want to talk about Ireland
    Specifically I want to talk about the “famine”
    About the fact that there never really was one
    There was no “famine”
    See Irish people were only allowed to eat potatoes
    All of the other food
    Meat fish vegetables
    Were shipped out of the country under armed guard
    To England while the Irish people starved
    And then on the middle of all this
    They gave us money not to teach our children Irish
    And so we lost our history
    And this is what I think is still hurting me

    See we’re like a child that’s been battered
    Has to drive itself out of it’s head because it’s frightened
    Still feels all the painful feelings
    But they lose contact with the memory

    And this leads to massive self-destruction
    alcoholism, drug addiction
    All desperate attempts at running
    And in it’s worst form
    Becomes actual killing

    And if there ever is gonna be healing
    There has to be remembering
    And then grieving
    So that there then can be forgiving
    There has to be knowledge and understanding

    All the lonely people
    where do they all come from

    An American army regulation
    Says you mustn’t kill more than 10% of a nation
    ‘Cos to do so causes permanent “psychological damage”
    It’s not permanent but they didn’t know that
    Anyway during the supposed “famine”
    We lost a lot more than 10% of our nation
    Through deaths on land or on ships of emigration
    But what finally broke us was not starvation
    but it’s use in the controlling of our education
    School go on about “Black 47″
    On and on about “The terrible famine”
    But what they don’t say is in truth
    There really never was one

    (Excuse me)
    All the lonely people
    (I’m sorry, excuse me)
    Where do they all come from
    (that I can tell you in one word)
    All the lonely people
    where do they all belong

    So let’s take a look shall we
    The highest statistics of child abuse in the EEC
    And we say we’re a Christian country
    But we’ve lost contact with our history
    See we used to worship God as a mother
    We’re suffering from post traumatic stress disorder
    Look at all our old men in the pubs
    Look at all our young people on drugs
    We used to worship God as a mother
    Now look at what we’re doing to each other
    We’ve even made killers of ourselves
    The most child-like trusting people in the Universe
    And this is what’s wrong with us
    Our history books the parent figures lied to us

    I see the Irish
    As a race like a child
    That got itself bashed in the face

    And if there ever is gonna be healing
    There has to be remembering
    And then grieving
    So that there then can be forgiving
    There has to be knowledge and understanding

    All the lonely people
    Where do they all come from
    All the lonely people
    Where do they all come from
    We stand on the brink of a great achievement
    In this Ireland there is no solution
    to be found to our disagreements
    by shooting each other
    There is no real invader here
    We are all Irish in all our
    different kinds of ways
    We must not, now or ever in the future,
    show anything to each other
    except tolerance, forbearance
    and neighbourly love
    because of our tradition everyone here
    knows who he is and what God expects him to do. –

    Notes: we now bash ourselves in the face; popular narrative of what is happening has a profound effect; education is crucial when grounded in reality. In intellectual management we’ve been shown to be often self-interested, incongruent and quick to defect i.e. immature, with some growing-up to do. In the White House, Cowen said while the Americans have ambition, resources etc, we are connectors. One of the best examples on this site of that talent is Tim and it is hardly a coincidence that he is a teacher. Creating respectful spaces for diverse views with an eye equally on the importance of the past, present and future; going into the breach to link up and clarify; analysing intuitively and participating diligently, firmly when required, in good faith; including and supporting others as key to informed workable leadership; all these traits promote creativity, stave off helpless dependence on welfare etc, and are healthier than the lone wolf mentality that has us barking…

  20. Philip

    Will Fingleton cause the Greens to break the government?

    How many more log sized straws does it take?

    • Dilly

      Don’t be fooled by those guys, they are just stringing us along, waiting for their pensions. It is the usual bullshit, gombeen, crony Politics.

  21. Mikey

    “In Obama, the US has its FDR”

    I’m pretty sure Paul Krugman would not agree with this.

  22. coldblow

    Workfare. Here’s an idea that came to me around St Patrick’s Day. Now I borrow others’ ideas extensively and with good reason in that my own tend to be mad, bad or plain stoopid, and this one is no exception. It’s based on the Folklore Commission’s bailiúchán béaloidis in the 30s when school children around the country collected folklore from elderly neighbours. My father wrote it up for his own school because he had good handwriting and I saw the stuff that my uncle wrote for his. As you would expect the resulting folklore was very dull indeed, not to say mind-numbingly repetitive. As in Malcolm’s earlier suggestion re genealogy, here we could harness one of our abundant renewable natural resources (the unemployed) to create a comprehensive modern recorded oral folklore collection (perhaps something like “Queuing for a Living”) to give a snapshot of Ireland in 2009. People would be encouraged to talk, perhaps anonymously, about their lives, their opinions, fears, hopes and aspirations during the Tiger years and in their immediate aftermath. An updating of Peig on the ediphone The material could be arranged into the following categories: Broken Dreams, Broken Hearts, Broken Homes, Getting Out of It. Provisional title “Celebrating Ireland”.

    I also have another similar one in mind: to gather (again perhaps anonymously) an “alternative” oral history of strokes and nepotism in all walks of life in the living memory of the teller, ie those who were stitched up. Payment again to the raconteur and to the collector. A chance for the victims to write the history just for once. There should be a limitless supply of material out there. Perhaps the diaspora could be invited to participate. It would be an anthropological gem. Provisional title: “Pulling Strings”. We could gather together every last bit, package it and sell it, or simply give it away: a gift to the world from the Irish people.

    • Malcolm McClure

      coldblow: Excellent suggestions here. We have just lived through a decade of immense historical importance and while we are all reeling from the impact of it, we quickly forget the essence of the experience.

      We must record our memories of its impact on ourselves and our neighbours while they are still fresh in our minds. This could be extended by compiling albums of photos of wider significance taken ‘before’ and ‘after’ the Tiger decade illustrating the actual accomplishments of the energetic people who made it all happen. Urban and rural scenery has been transformed almost out of recognition. Mere statistics don’t tell the whole story.
      This will require people to volunteer relevant photos from the seventies and eighties from their personal albums of known locations accompanied by photos showing the same view today.

      Some of our experiences were good, some bad, but these stories and pictures will form learning material for future generations in Ireland who have to live with the consequences. They will also form a cautionary reality check for other nations who want to rush hell for leather towards a bright new future.

    • Ruairi

      An excellent suggestion: – Might I suggest though that, should a book be published, the front cover be 3 hour tailbacks of prestige and new motors on the M50 and the back cover be the CPSU workers striking while dole applicants queued for unknown entitlements. It encapsulates the ‘Wonder Years’ perfectly. How were they for you, boys and girls? Oooh sleazy.

      I believe your idea is top notch. However I cannot resist the suggestion of a spoof ‘Wonder Years’ meets ‘My name is Earl’ about a sorry sod growing up in pre, Celtic and post-celtic Tiger and having that rich feeling ebb and flow out through him. A Crappy Island and Fr Deco for the next decade’s amusement (no offence Deco, its Deco of Deckland that I disparage).

  23. Malcolm McClure

    Right on Mikey! In todays NYT Krugman says: ” Mr. Obama has apparently settled on a financial plan that, in essence, assumes that banks are fundamentally sound and that bankers know what they’re doing. It’s as if the president were determined to confirm the growing perception that he and his economic team are out of touch, that their economic vision is clouded by excessively close ties to Wall Street. And by the time Mr. Obama realizes that he needs to change course, his political capital may be gone.”

    Also in NYT Frank Rich says:”“President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.” “Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed.”

    These comments underline the anger out there. Its going to be a long hot summer.

  24. John Q. Public

    Coldblow and Malcolm Mclure, all we might end up doing is romanticising about the past. Why can’t we build our own businesses at home? We seem to be doing more of it in the US.

  25. Malcolm McClure

    Fair point, John Q Public. As David suggested, the priority is to create substantial jobs that will impact Ireland’s balance of payments. Analysis of what happened here is important too, but perhaps is best left to the academics.

    • Tim

      Malcolm, no. My favourite malaprope is one my father coined:

      “Tim, avoid those Universities if you can; they’re only all full of those ould EPIDEMICS”!

  26. Josey

    Banker bailouts, corporate bonuses..uhhh the mask is slipping…

    Google Video: The Obama Deception:

    • Ruairi

      Thank you for this Josey. Just finished watching it also, as Malcolm has. Intriguing and fatiguing. Like life and economics lately.

      Reminds me of how John Bruton was ‘personally summoned’ to da big Tone’s house in rural idyllic Cork many years ago to explain to him how Liberty (a Us company) got the MMDS franchise and he did not. The filthy shaggers. Does the green jersey mean NOTHING to Meath football followers? I ask ya…..

  27. Original-Ed

    David, you’re so right – these guys are behaving like accountants and to them, investment is another country unless there’s a clear line of sight to the end of the journey. As any businessman knows, investment in quality projects will always yield a return at some point in time and time being the only unknown, is ,therefore, the only risk. I seem to remember that back in my student days (had to do basic economics for engineers), anticyclical investment was considered to be the only approach to avoid meltdown in a rapidly slowing economy – listening to our ministers, they don’t appear to appreciate that and are, instead, obsessed with reining in expenditure with total disregard as to the consequences that that will have on our society right now and into the future.
    I agree with reducing pay in both public and private sectors, to bring us back into line with our competitors, but we should borrow all we possibly can for infrastructure – including, road, rail, education, telecomms and energy. Big money spent on administration is dead money and must be tackled, whereas investment in the future is a no brainer – future generations may have to pay for it, but it’s their future.
    Reducing pay across the board while borrowing to stimulate will spread the work throughout the society and keep it ticking over until the recovery comes – that way we avoid all the attendant problems associated with high unemployment and in the long term it would prove to be the cheaper solution.

  28. wills

    Hi David and Bloggers;

    I would suggest david any solutions of any kind put on the table have to be clear as to which economy in Ireland they are addressing.

    The Real economy or the Ponzi credit/debt slave economy to which Irelands political and business and economic class sold Ireland out too 15 years ago with the opening up of the ‘easy credit’ tap through anglo irish bank as an offshore op for the city of london and wall street financial oligarchs.

    Any solutions offered to assist and revitalise a bereft real economy will stand a chance.

    Any solutions offered to re-inflate the ponzi credit/debt slave bubble economy wont stand a chance unless the credit taps running out of wall street and city of london are turned back on….. and this is a whole different story…..

    For any solutions to work for the real economy i suggest the parasite economy must be seperated out from the host economy for our suggestions to stand any chance of success.

  29. wills

    @david and bloggers;

    Below follows my attempts at seperating the two, just a taster…

    Ponzi Credit is a means through which it is made possible to supply purchasing power to the laizy, greedy, avarice, sly, sh1tstirers section to be able to own stuff they hadnt or have not earned the right to buy.

    This perversion of the credit production system under protection by article 45 of our constitution, provided the main commercial banks of this country and taking up by the 100,000s who borrowed who should not have, has destroyed Irelands celtic tiger export economy, destroyed Irelands economic respect amongst its peers,

    hollowed out Irelands real economy into a carcass of its former glory,

    decimated future opportunity for our children,

    gutted the capital on which the celtic tiger export years created after the years of sacrifice,

    …is returning our society to the halls pictorial weekly politics,..incestuous backward looking the pig is in the kitchen daddys in the pub leering the barmaid the preist is the confession box molesting the young boys testicles community,..

    It has rendered our political gov impotent and flopping around on the european union deck looking like a stale oiled sleazy red cheeked drunken sailor with a pleading begging for the e.c.b to mobilize a fund in 24hours to backstop all banking in ireland and leave us in obligation to the e.u for decades with zero political power or influence of any stature,

    it has pliersed open a deep social divide between those that want to do a hard days work for a fair wage and those that want to feed off any host possible to pillage and smash and grab all you can eat before you die,

    and it is the real economy worker whos pockets will be picked come april 7 to pay for the ponzi credit malignant orgiastic feast which has drowned irish society in delinquency and gutless courage,

    …..but at least one thing has come of it,…. the lie that the ponzicon animals are quick to propagate, us irish look after one another and sure begorrah we would never see our neighbour go without….

    pass me the sick bag….

    The upcoming mini budget is not what it is been touted to be. It is a ready cash raking in exercise, chicago gangster style, scalping the lower downers taxpayers without mercy for the one and only purpose but too plug the holes of the sinking ship we all know as does the world know too, ponzi credit Ireland inc.

    ….the sooner it sinks to the abyss the better.

  30. Tim

    Malcolm, shall we “kick it off now”?

    • People sorry for straying off the topic at hand, but Tim can I ask you as a New Yorker- you weren’t in Manhattan on September 11th by any chance. There are two programmes on the discovery channel about it. Must say I admire the resilence of New Yorkers- those two buildings we’re enormous

      • Josey

        Yeah enormous buildings but three buildings collapsed that day. Go check out what happened to building number 7…!!!!

        • Where in New York at the time.F*cking hell there are evil c*nts out there. It was actally like blitz warfare. Funny I know two old women (one relative) that was in London during WWII, and also loads of people who we’re in America on 9/11, including relatives in New Jersey

        • Yeah that was rather strange, what happened did the buildings crash into it when they fell? Btw what are these telcos- the gombeens might be up to someting, and I want to know

      • Tim

        Davi-Again, No, thank God! I was not there at that time; three of my cousins were, though. Never found either.

        Anyone else interested in the way George Lee linked the current crisis to that 9/11 event?

    • Malcolm McClure

      Sorry Tim I have just watched the 2-hour Video posted by Josey above. I need time to consider the points being made there. If even a small part of that demolition of Obama checks out, then we are up against something much more serious than a few local banker scams. Maybe we all need to grow up and pay attention to a larger-scale reality and not get distracted by particular delinquencies.

      I have an extremely skeptical outlook regarding disjointed packages of quotations taken out of context but the basic argument Jones makes in this video does gel with things I have observed and read elsewhere over the years.

      I had been wondering why many things don’t make sense any more. Having recently read ‘Confessions of an economic terrorist’ by John Perkins I am beginning to detect a line of perverse logic running through all this. and I just don’t feel comfortable about the intended end product.

      What does Josey think about this?

  31. Ruairi

    While all of us numb sheep adults may be about to swllow the painful medicine, despite much toil and gnashing of teeth…………..

    has anyone told the kiddos?

    1. €10 will be a lot of pocket money from now on
    2. A €5 minimum wage will see you competing with adults of all ages and professions
    3. There’s an incoming tax on text messages.

    Holy Moley!! Redser wrote, about 2 years ago, about the zombie estates and implicitly referred to the so-called middle -class areas (everyones MC these days don’t ya know, its the Bertie dream) and that these areas would be crawling with well-dressed gougers with no bleedin phone credit man. No smoke money. No money for “Gran Turismo VII, Dublin City Centre special edition, the apocalypse”. A nightmare. Poverty is relative, but God help those soft-bred craythurs……….

    Tim, we’ll have a revolution alright: – of vandalism and pre-pubescent idealists lashing out at the capitalist monster who has forced their mobile internet tariff back on to per minute billing. Oh Lord save us from ourselves. Will we have a revolution of the Oirish childsoldiers seeking fair phone tariffs and alcopop pricing or will we have Japanese-style teenager worhsip by shattered parents………… Ladies & gentlemen, the choice is yours. Choose wisely.

    • Philip

      You know Ruairi, I’ll start to believe in the global conspiracy theory if they manage to get the Telco companies to quickly alter their billing systems to do the taxing of texts – if they do it quickly, then this was planned yonks ago.. Until then, I place my trust in the Bible of Catch 22 and SNAFUs and the lunacy of human greed.

      • Philip

        Was watching that Obama Deception referenced by Josey. Now that I think of it, the Dot.Com bubble going bang back in 2001 could be construed as a means of disabling the further development of telecoms and IT and now they are trying to finish off the job by killing off texting…I expect mandatory taxing of Blogging soon.

        @Tim – Hurry up with whatever youre at…Looks like we might find it too expensive to use the internet in the not too distant future.

        Goodnight all.

    • Tim

      Ruairi, sorry if I mislead you; what I was referring to above when I asked Malcolm if we would “kick it off” was nothing revolutionary; rather, it was a idea that he asked me about, on the previous article’s thread, concerning asking all here to contribute to a list of the scandals in our financial/political life in Ireland (eg.: Fingleton’s €27.6 million pension).

      I think (though, of course he will speak for himself), Malcolm’s idea is that we need to see all of the problems clearly in order to set about solving them. I think it is a good idea, but I will defer to Malcolm for the “kick-off”.

      • Malcolm McClure

        Tim: As I said above, I needed time to think about the ‘Obama Conspiracy’ theory video. I’ve slept on it and I think it’s just Republican bible-belt tosh. The factors that influence Wall Street are far too complex and international to be influenced by a group of in-the-know evil genius bankers, however well-connected. Wall Street is simply an unsteerable supertanker that has run aground on an uncharted sandbank.

        I am becoming reluctant to point the finger at banking ‘scams’ without knowing more about the facts. For instance I was interested to learn from Robert Peston’s blog this morning that AIG could be picking up a share of Fred the Shred’s pension package through “directors and officers insurance”. It seems that what to us seems criminal irresponsibility is so much part of normal business practice that risk-takers can insure against being caught out.
        Even looking at AIG’s apparently irresponsible bonuses, it seems that those, too, can be justified. See:
        (A particularly thoughtful and well-informed blog series about US reaction to the global crisis)

        School teachers, like most public servants are risk averse. Risk-takers need a stronger heart to accept that they win some, lose some, in open competition with their peers. We need people like that, so should be careful where we direct our criticism.

        PS I was amused by the expression ‘Other-Than-Temporary Impairment of investment’ but apparently it’s a legit accounting expression, so it explains how John Allen couches his Delphic pronouncements.

        • Tim

          Malcolm, that’s fine; I understood that last night.

          I have not had opportunity to watch Josey’s link yet, but two hours is a long time. Is it worth it? Is it a documentary about “Tower 7″ falling in very suspicious circumstances? If so, then I have already seen it.

          • Malcolm McClure

            Tim: I also saw the Tower 7 video last year and earlier had seen various Kennedy conspiracy programmes. They all have the common denominator of selecting evidence to fit a preconceived theory. The Bilderberg conspiracy pre-supposes a desire for global dominance by enslaving the majority of people everywhere. There is never any explanation of why the supposed Central Banker culprits would want to do this, what they would gain from it and how it would lead to Peace on Earth or anything else. I have known a few people of Bilderberg status. They are single minded, clever, sometimes a bit kinked but not megalomaniacs. They are human, too and need to let off steam amongst their peers occasionally so that they can cope with the puzzles presented by this crazy world.

            The Obama Conspiracy is poorly shot and edited, overly long, and fails to convince that all those bad guys have followed a consistent agenda for over 70 years. My interest in sitting it through was purely ‘epidemic’. I was surprised on reflection that the Rush Limbergh ‘Crazy Gang’ had produced a semi-believable polemic so quickly. Of course it will influence many innocent Americans who have been brainwashed by all the previous conspiracy theories. Consequently it will have some political impact in the Mid-west and in places like Iran and Venezuela. It is worth viewing with that in mind. Objective reality doesn’t always win political battles, it is the perception that counts.

  32. Josey

    They are in the process of shutting down the internet with the coming of Internet 2 Telcos will be required to block certain classes of sites or you’ll have to pay for access thus creating a two tier internet and giving away your Identity also.

    So much more easy to manage ad filter dessent.

    See MR Rockefeller saying how we’d have been better off without it:

    • WTF? This isn’t a widespread goal is it? This is bordering on Orwellian

    • severelyltd

      A little bit off-topic but the awarding of the broadband contract to 3 is criminal.

      a. 3 wireless is not broadband under EU definition
      b. They filter traffic (blocking forums that discuss their attitude to their services)
      3. Block ports (limits services available)
      4. NAT their connections (further limits services, by reducing number of allocated IP’s)
      5. Route traffic through London ( let’s British authority’s spy on the Irish public and now the education system thanks to you minister ryan).
      6. Notoriously unstable and unusable technology.

      For €240 we could have had fiber-optic connections to every house in the country and had an IT infrastucture equal to japan , what did we get. Thin air and promises. This corruption has to end.

  33. Tim

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the elusive “They” are already doing it:

    The government supplied “Schools Broadband Initiative” already prohibits access to youtube and similar sites – I am waiting for the day that they prevent me logging in here.

    Just a tip: Check out “proxy” before its too late. You have to keep moving, as they track you along the way, but you can get things done.

    Kind regards to all.

  34. Tim

    Folks, fyi: this is the response my browser gives when I click on Josey’s link (while in work, with the broadband provided by government):

    The URL you requested has been blocked. URL =

    Davi-Again, I’m not sure your use of the word “bordering” is appropriate.

  35. Deco

    The latest scandal to emerge.

    The ‘let’s keep this hush-hush’ policy is really insightful. Even if we had competent politicians running the country, they would have their hands full. The professional sector is oriented towards minimising transparency as much as possible. In fact the professional class seems to think screwing the public is their profession. The lesson from all of this is that you cannot trust the professions. The professions, under the guise of that great oxymoron (contradiction in terms), the “self-regulating industry”, run riot. It is never self-regulating. And it is not an industry, but often more like a gate-keeper operation that exists as a parasite on the backs of everybody else in society.

    Apart from that we would all love to know how much said multi-millionaire received in the form of IDA grants etc. down the years. Did he have any contracts from the state, or any involvement in taxpayer funded state tendering ? Can the taxpayer get that back now ? This was probably all perfectly legal. But it is clearly immoral. There are similarities here with what Smiley O’Brien did concerning the sale of Esat, and his tax status.

    I just wonder if somebody started digging under Denis O’Brien what would they find ? Or the three Amigos ?

    Those of us who thought that 20% tax was a bit soft were clearly underestimating the sensitivity of those who were required to pay it :)))

  36. Deco

    I am lah-fin :))) rolling with laffter, yeah – I am on a roll with this joke(pardon the pun).
    Well spotted.
    Tim, your comment was entirely relevant.

    I just wonder will we see T-shirts or postcards. A bit like the timber dolls (Matchusckas ?) you see in Moscow and St.Petersburg. People can say that they visited Dublin, done the touristy thing, bought the T-shirt and sent home a postcard.

    Do this mean that the country is now officially in the toilet ???

    • Ruairi

      Sincerely hoping that this doesn’t spawn a naked TD dancing icon on yer desktop, customisable to your constituency.

      We simply don’t have enough AAA wiminfolk in the Dáil for that yet. Ah God be with the I-talyans……

  37. Philip

    Interesting view from abroad. Nothing new. But it’s a nice overall summary

    Was thinking about the news from the US and their go ahead with pumping 1 Trn of confetti dollars on top of the toxic dept. Markets have risen for now. I’d give it a week or so. My fear is that China will cause a run on the dollar to try and maintain the value of their reserves. If that happens, those printing machines will be working over time. I suppose it is now a case of giving the market time enough to allow banks to lend to businesses to faciliate recovery. Are there enough people with enough faith to give the system a chance? Or is this an idiotic question?

    While I agree with the end product of DMcW’s article, I think the means of achieving it by just pumping money in demands a lot of management skill. Like any business, you need to know what you are trying to do and set the objectives accordingly. The problem for Ireland is that it’s traditional Global Market is decimated and the remaining skillset are mis-aligned for what is next – and with regard to the latter, “next” is a big question.

    National survival (this is to an existantialist degree) and retention of capital assets is paramount. This is what has to be put to the people. I think we need to stabilise the viability of our communities rather than waffling about chasing after markets or hoping for an upturn that’ll bring everything back to normal. The French have no problem in this regard. If a Dell walked away, their systems would be lighting fires in the middle of the streets. Why is Ireland such a pushover?

    • Tim

      Philip, “The French have no problem in this regard. If a Dell walked away, their systems would be lighting fires in the middle of the streets. Why is Ireland such a pushover?”

      I think it is a pushover because most hard-working people still trust the unions they pay dues to and believe, erroneously, that the ICTU is on their side and working for them. Many actually believe that the game that is being played between now and National Strike Day on Monday, is reality, instead of a game. See all the media spin about it? “Don’t protest/demonstrate/strike together, ye public and private workers! Ye’ll ruin the country!”

      Yeah, like decent working people protesting will ruin a country the fat-cats have already ruined and are FORCING the ordinary decent people to pay for it!

      • Philip

        Let me be more specific. The places where I saw and fell victim to the “pushover” effect were actually in electronics manufacturing companies I worked in. Only some were MNCs. Hardly any of these companies had unions – indeed it was actively discouraged to the point of being career limiting. Most of these companies were in the then booming IT/ Telecoms sectors. Since 1998 and with acceleration after the dotcom bust in 2001 there was action to move manufacturing to the East (anywhere towards the east). No one resisted. It was regarded as low end low skilled work. The mantra “we are knowledge workers now coordinating this work and we are moving into services” – and so service centres boomed a bit and so on to financial clearance houses etc. providing hub services out of Ireland.

        I remember a number of these operations having locations in France. While Ireland rapidly climbed the “value ladder”, France dug in their heels. The french unions gave the bosses the gallic salute and guess what, the bosses realised that if they were to make any money in France, they’d better give them boys some real work to do. So while the Irish plants had their manufacturing machinery being crated and sent east (aided most willingly by Irish who bought into the mantra), our cuisine sensitive friends were getting their plants upgraded with more robotics and R&D.

        What sickens me was the way the IDA supported a lot of this nonsense. Yes, we were after all entering the “knowledge economy” and those French types are just sooo inflexible…you wait and see, no one will want to work with them soon. In fact they were the ones people went to first because they retained the real knowledge – and you know what? We started to loose the service hubs and all the knowledge areas because crating was not a problem anymore – what people forgot was that as soon as we pulled out unskilled labour we also pulled out the middle and senior management that managed it all. It was our flexibility that was our undoing. We bent to the point of not having any principles at all.

        You see, there is no mention of ponzi credit schemes etc in any of this. Indeed, before the property went completely looney, all of the above had come to pass. Our costs were rising due to genuine cost push inflation at that time – even so, we were cheaper by a mile than our French friends. I can see too how unions are of great use when used intelligently. When the rationalisations came, the unions were avoided by the bosses. Us willing Irish got wiped first (as did our US brethern – but at least jumping to another job are much easier for them at the time).

        What I believe really happened is as a result of immaturity of our institutions and as a result a tendency to ape others in our rush for comsumer goodies rather than understand what we stand for as a nation and a community. It is any wonder we were ripe for being raped by Ponzi Credit scheme.

        Over the last 8 years I have been observing the lunacy going on around me. I am in an industry that has been hurting severely for 8 years. The car park has very few 08 or 07 regs. Most are 6 years old or more. People have always been under the yoke of threat of unemployment and it shows. Very few have ball cracking mortgages…but then, many of us of crusty fcekers – chastened by the massive share losses of 2000 onwards.

        Personally, I would not give one cent extra to the public service here. I have no problem seeing the whole lot collapse in a chathartic whoosh. A 100% replacement by people I have seen thrown out of work and leaving the country would be a much better idea. They’d do the job for 50% of the cost with 100% improvement. The skillset and understanding of the current lot of what they are trying to manage is pathetic across Health, Education and Finance and industrial policy.

        • Tim

          Philip, thank you for a genuinely interesting post (perhaps because it is rather more personal than usual?).

          I confess that I am still trying to figure out, precisely, what a “ponzi credit scheme” is, so I am not yet with you on that, but the rest seems reasonable.

          I urge caution, however, on your final paragraph. From the wording, it is unclear to me whether you intend to communicate that ALL public servants could be replaced by the people you have seen “thrown out of work”, or just the administrators. If you do, in fact, mean “all” public servants, then your catharsis would fail. You cannot, reasonably, tell ME, that your guys could, simply, (and without years of training) “step-in” and replace teachers, gardai and nurses and produce “100% improvement at 50% of cost”.

          I am pretty sure that you did not mean it that way, but you can understand why I just had to point it out.

          • Philip

            Fromtliners whether in PS or Private are the victims here. Let’s be sane here – PS is an essential part of Private sector operations. One cannot exist without the other. I’d say the ratio of Frontliners to backend in PS is way too low. As a result, of this, I would not overestimate the skillset in the PS.. Victims of gross mismanagement leads to organisational incompetence. Anyway, this is a whole other story and it’s not a PS vs Private debate by any means.

            The Ponzi Credit scheme: Back in the 90s you got to remember there was a kind of euphoria. Money was starting to flow. Annual pay rises and bonues and fees were rocketing. People could jump from job to job on a whim. A major problem I had to manage was keeping people in place long enough to grow a business. As salaries grew, so grew the flash and the bling and you could see people in the Dells and Microsoft making serious money on share options (several times their salary). By the late 90s, the push to the east was well underway – but as jobs were plentiful, no one cared. No one saw the foundations starting to crumble. I remember chatting to a builder friend of mine who did a lot of factories and plants. I suggested that the construction sector was now going to slow with the exit of manufacturing. All I saw were a few offices being built…simple stuff. This was 1998. He laughed and said that after a lull in 2000, he’d be up to his ears in Retail parks all round the country. He even told me the mechanism…houses would be a source of credit to keep the new found wealth and salaries propped up (maybe DMcW met the same guy :) – because I had a synopsis of the Pope Children read back to me years before the book came out). I saw senior management guys in large organisations buying tracts of land with their options and building houses on them. It was the start of the madness. The Ponzi element was the disconnect between real wages by adding value with skills AND wages from extra credit available from ones house in the face of lower interest rates. The institutions of the state which formed the social partnership to prime the pump of real wealth generation just tuned out and did not bother to roll forward 10 years or to a time when the bubble would burst.

            I think DMcW fails to recognise that Ireland failed fundamentally to embed itself in the new industries it acquired. This disconnect is not just a failure of the institutions and unions, but also of DMcW and similar. They too are preaching an ideology of constant will o wisp change courtesy of the knowledge economy without having really worked in this business and fundamentally misunderstanding it’s longterm dynamic – i.e. to evolve, you need keep the roots of previous knowledge and deepen them if necessary. An example – Unions fight so much for wages and working conditions – they need to catch up with their European buddies and realise that guaranteed wages come from making sure you own as much of the value chain as possible so you can keep your options open.

  38. wills


    Ponzi credit Ireland inc. is a pushover philip, dont confuse this with the real economy ireland… i would suggest you give up the vague assertions as cover and just post transparently…

  39. wills


    ponzi credit Ireland inc traditional market or is it real economy Ireland markets,.. the two are diametrically opposed one feed and feeds and feeds and destroys the other…

  40. wills


    Just offering suggestions philip please don’t spin it any other way,… much obliged….

    • Ruairi

      Wills :-D

      Your style of ….

      • Ruairi

        posting is very disjointed and ….

        • Ruairi

          stream of consciousness …. One would have to consider a number of

          • Ruairi

            scenarios here……

            Either your vociferousness is like the WW1 Russian Tzar’s forces going forward with less than a bullet apiece a day or ….

          • Ruairi

            you have not yet discovered the range of tones available on that Bonzo-like drum and insistently beat the same one in the hope of initiating a trance-like state that oversees a perceptional paradigm shift on the part of the DMcW diaspora.

            I’m in total agreement with your observations about the ponzi economy but, recognising that complete revolution and wiping the slate clean NEVER happens (ask James Connolly via trance) and, surely accepting that most of the posters here ARE tuned in but attempt to salvage changes from within the reeking system, while also accepting that my email notification is brim-full fo one-liners whose punch-line I have already internalised, could you please bulk up the posts into single shot killer blows?

            :-D far from my place to suggest to you, but sure feck it, I like to stir things too. Love your posts, the Columbo comin back in the door stuff rattles me!! And its my style sometimes too

  41. Deco

    Fingers is now facing a tough time. His lifelong buddies running INBS might end up for the chop as well. Very similar to the Casey ‘I offered my resignation, but the board turned it down’ (so you can’t get rid of me) episode in Irish Life-Permo. These cronies always stick up for each other. And they have contempt for the rest of the population. Again as I say there is something inherently rotten in the professional sector. Eamon Dunphy said this years ago and it is very true.

    When I heard that the new director designate of INBS was refusing the post because of the government cap – I was there feeling a little bit guilty that I might have been supporting a policy that was turning good capable people away from the job. Then I found out from the article, that the head honcho designate of INBS already has director status. This is like BOI and Richie Boucher again. I mean if he already is a director, then he is part of the problem. Therefore he should be told to clear off. What exactly are his qualifications anyway – membership of Portmarnock golf Club ?

    The most important lesson we have learnt from the way things are done in this country, is to become very suspicious everytime somebody in authority provides you with assurances. That is when we can increase our certainty, that there is crooked dealing in progress.

  42. Deco – I agree with you.

  43. Tim

    Malcolm, Thanks for the tip-off; I have downloaded the film to my HD for perusal when I have the time. Most conspiracy theories only survive because they are spun as madness – to answer them in serious fashion would be to dignify them with a response – this has always been the approach of the powerful to the theorist. I am reminded strongly of the Vatican non-reaction to David Yallop. He promised to give all the royalties earned from his book to cancer research if they could disprove anything he had said in the book – the Vatican has not responded. If Albino Luciani was not murdered, would it not be a truly Chriastian act, by the Vatican, to ensure that cancer research got the millions from the book sales?

    I do, actually, believe Yallop; remember what Luciani said about artificial contraception and about the Vatican Bank (banks, again!) and Archbishop Paul Marcincus’s $250 billion syphon?

    I have come across the Bilderburg theories before and worked for some of them in New York, in 740 Park. They are human, yes, I agree; but the ones I met ARE megalomaniacs: Steinberg, Steven J Ross, Ron Lauder (I held one of his original Picasso paintings in my own hands – he had it hanging in the kitchen, which he never entered, just for his cook and maid to enjoy) – these people live on a different plant to us; nearly twenty years later, I am still unsure which of us lives in the “real” world.

    Let us not forget that we have some jumped-up “wanna-be s” in this country: the richest people in Ireland (or is that “out-of-Ireland” as tax exiles?) are pauperised by the kind of people I mention here – they would eat them for breakfast and cast not a thought. But our little buckos saw the wave as the cheap money flowed into the country and decided to ride the crest and see how high they could get – I listened to some guy on the radio this morning telling us that Fingleton’s bonus was not so bad, except that his bank was small and bigger bankers, “Like Goggin” only got 1.6 million last year. Now, Malcolm, I heard Goggin say, himself, that he was paid 2.9 million last year.

    We are definitely being lied to – that’s beyond doubt. “Conspiracy”? I dunno; I don’t like what that label does to important things that people need to hear if we want a just and equitable society. Who really wants that? Not our government, evidently; not the opposition, evidently; certainly, not the bankers and D4s – how would they elevate themselves by feeling superior if that happened?

    Deco, interesting, as usual, on “Fingers”. This interests me because, in the general scheme of banking in Ireland, he is the “small-fry”. Is he being offered as the patsy, the sacrificial lamb, the Liam Lawlor (who had the classically most effective exit strategy) of the banking fraternity? Time will tell.

    wills, from what Malcolm says, you might enjoy Josey’s link on the Bilderburgs, if you do not already know about them (which it sounds like you do, but just checkin’).

    • wills


      got the link,. thks.., an area on which one best to tread with much much caution, i’m sure you would agree. I am of the belief too that meglomaniacs are in abundance in these circles,..

      Am envious to tim, you got to hold a picasso,..!!!! a titan,…

  44. paddythepig


    Consider this. By your logic, why not increase public service pay, indeed why not hire 250K more public servants to twiddle their thumbs, and discretionary spending will increase, all will be well, and jobs will be preserved?

    The problem is that none of this would be productive, and it would have to be funded by borrowing. Lenders would see through this farce, and would not lend us the money ; the country would be bankrupt in double quick time.

    With public spending exceeding income by 20 billion this year (and revenues are not going to come back to boom levels), our existing budget already comprises a large fiscal stimulus. It is preserving a lot of people on very good money, who don’t produce anything. It is a watered down version of what is described above (BTW I do acknowledge how hard many front-line staff do work, including yourself). This will end, one way or the other, like it or not. It is unavoidable. Our existing public structures cost too much, and produce too little. This will also end, one way or the other.

    You can’t justify keeping unproductive practices alive, just to maintain ‘discretionary spending’.

    Bottom line, Ireland needs to become much more productive, innovative & lean. Forget keeping SR Technics and their ilk on life-support ; this will reward the workers of these industries to the expense of others ; it will suck money from the industries of the future, from innovative people with ideas who should be getting the support instead.

    I’m with you Tim, on getting the fat-cats. They are a disgrace. The banks are a disgrace. So are FF. Next time you’re at the Ard Fheis, instead of laughing with Willie O’Dea, you should tear strips off him. He is overpaid. He is incompetent. He was a Minister during the failure of the past 10 years. He never once questioned what was going on ; in fact, he was a cheerleader for the whole sorry episode, under the stewardship of that idiot Bertie Ahern.


    • Tim

      Paddy, not bad! You are teaching me a little (MK1 is also trying – I just CANNOT give up on PS investment in education, because the cuts are hurting my own children and the ones I teach).

      As far as the rest of the (administrative) public service is concerned, i could not give a fig; I know so many useless ones; I know of the “CIVIL” servants (the ones who are employed to sit in offices, never dealing with the “PUBLIC”), who do not even know what their job is. I get that. That’s waste and it is wrong and the money they are paid would more than pay for the “free-book-scheme” for the poor students that I teach, next September. That money would, also, easily, pay for my son to keep his 5th class teacher on €33k, instead of having to enter a joint-5th-and-6th-class, because the teacher will be let go due to the budget’s increased pupil-teacher ratio.

      I freely confess to a distinct lack of moderation of rationale when my children are involved. They are involved in this “Public-service-including-education-cuts” scenario and, so, I WILL NEVER GIVE UP. I will fight this. I will debate with anyone who will listen (I think, but I am not sure, that I convinced Deco some time ago – he will speak for himself). I will keep on banging this “Education is Important” drum, as long as I am alive, can speak, and can type.

      Even if I had no children of my own, I would still do this for the students I teach. Some of them have no fathers and I may be the only positive male role-model they have in their formative years – this is important; it is a terrible weight of responsibility and I MUST be equal to it – for them. They are ENTITLED to see a man who is willing to fight for their rights, to defend them, to care about them. Should we accept the education cut that wipes out the free book scheme for kids from poor families? Should those kids, that I know and am watching grow up, face next September and come to school without their books and admit that the reason why is that their parents could not afford to buy them the books that they need? How can a teenage girl be held up to that humility in her classroom, among her peers? What will be the psychological impact of this?

      “Economics” is 2well-and-good”, but I have to take cognisance of real children’s REAL lives.

      And I have to deal, in the classroom, with the REAL ramifications of the matters we are discussing here. I know that the worker who WILL lose his/her job tomorrow, has to deal with reality as well; but, ….. but, …. Paddy, ….. (and anyone else who might be reading),

      … we HAVE to protect the kids. They are our future.

      On a purely economic level, if we must: who will be working and paying taxes to fund our pensions, if not the kids of today?

      Why will you allow your politician to “hit” that child?


      • paddythepig


        I’m a father myself, and I admire the spirit of your comment. It makes me think that deep down you are a good man ; keep fighting for these basic rights for the kids you teach.

        I still think you need to accept the terrible economic reality that your leaders in FF and their cronies have crippled us and our kids with ; they should be hung, drawn and quartered for what they have done. The sight of them makes me want to throw up.

        I too am fighting for my kids. So that they won’t grow up in a country with zero opportunity, with the same vested interests in charge, with gombeen bankers and politicians, with crippling taxes to pay back an avoidable debt brought about due to unproductive and lazy establishment. I want my kids to be free to innovate, free to enjoy the fruits of their labour and imagination in Ireland, and not have to emigrate just because they weren’t born a Lenihan, an Ahern, a Bruton, a Kitt, an Enright, or the son or daughter of the local bank manager.

        To do that, we must get a grip on the economic situation, and drastically reduce the sucking of money from the productive economy by the fat-cats, the bureaucrats, the wasters, the self-rewarding gombeens who look after themselves and their kids, but don’t care a toss for anyone else.

        You were mingling with many of these tossers at the Ard Fheis. How you can stomach it, I don’t know.


  45. jim

    Trust me on this one,Im not making this shit up,here it goes.The Mayor of Limerick say’s we have to accept the fact that Dell could be Quitting Limerick,AND HE SUGGESTS…………….. The Government needs to start a HOUSE building programme to get the Economy going again. OOOOOhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I give up.I hope and pray its the re -building of the Moyross area He is alluding to,because if it’s not somebody collect my car it will be parked up beside The Cliff’s of Moher.

    • Tim

      jim, DO NOT give up! We must continue. I know it’s hard – and it is gonna get harder – but, you must NEVER give up. Your posts are informative, questioning and intelligent here; we need more of you – not less. This is not a joke; this is not a discussion; this IS a crisis; we need people like you; we need this forum and we need it to be as vibrant as it can be.

      Has anyone else noticed that this forum has grown, exponentially, since the crisis began to sink-in? Why is that?

      I reckon it is because we find an element of “TRUTH” here; an acknowledgement that there IS a problem, and a willingness to discuss it, an interest in trying to solve it.

      Do NOT despair, Sir! if we do not find a solution here, we must “go-down” TRYING.

      Please, keep trying, jim?

  46. noonep

    Apologies can we still subscribe to a DMcW posting?

    Much obliged

    • Tim

      noonep, you ARE here, right? I do not understand the problem. I know that the subscription process was changed a little while ago, but, surely, you must have already come through that, in order to post your question?

      I think that you can probably “fire ahead” and let’s see?

  47. jim

    John Gormless suprised me when he appointed Gerry mc the infamous board of the Dublin Docklands Authority given that He stood for the PD’s IN the 2002 general election.Gerry you might recall on his appearance on RTE’s Q&A programme told us all that pain needed to be taken by PS workers et al and to prove the validity of his contentions He was prepared to send his wife into exile in Italy for a year to save the Country over 4 million in potential future investments.Hat’s off Gerry and your advisers at KPMG,we need people like you showing us the way out of this present morass.P.S on a personal note Gerry would you be prepared to tell us who these cynical forces are,and why they dont want you on the board of the DDA.Cynical forces are a terrible thing, what say you Gerry.

    • jim

      I dont want to appear flippant,but would it be possible for me to send my next door neighbours wife to Italy for twelve months for tax reasons,how far does that loophole extend,note to self….ring KPMG first thing tomorrow.Aahhh peace in the neighbourhood.loopholes,(sorry doing my homer simpson thing again)

  48. jim

    The Government is presently flying kite’s re.income tax for all,a sort of reviving of the old turkey of “no representation without taxation” Sean Ardagh pretty much aluded to this on tonight with Vincenzo de Browned off……..I suppose its alway’s been the case of “more inclusivity in a downturn of the Economy,which is inversely proportional to inclusivity in an upturn of the Economy. I can just see the guys and girls who were flipping burgers in the Galway tent having a loving arm thrown around them now in the hour of need officially welcoming them to the club.I wonder will they get a group discount from KMPG as a sort of welcoming gift?.

  49. jim

    Thong’s are getting very tense over at INBS (sorry freudian slip there) Mickey Stickey Fingers has the old golden parachute packed and getting ready for the big jump,I think Linehan will cach him before he jumps,He ‘s only giving him a months head start,oohhhh come onn ye cynics 1 month is virtually an instant to a solicitor like Brianey.Most other Solicitors would squeeze at least three months out of the job.Im dealing with a bunch of cynics on this forum,shamefull I say …shamefull.

    • Dilly

      I think Fianna Fail and Lenihan have more important things to worry about, they are outraged at RTE, for running the story about Cowen’s nude paintings. Of course, these lads were never outraged or offended at the fact that, their Ponzi scheme bankrupted the country, or the fact that our Health Services is a joke, or even the contaminated blood scandal. They show their true colours at times like this, they will never change, they need to go.

  50. jim

    This auld recession does wonders for your geography all the same, I mean little did I know that there was an island called Nevis in the Caribbean, but its true and I read that if you wanted to buy shares in AIB through Goodbody stockbrokers at one time,then thats where you were to go.With all the branches they had all over the country,you have to agree that was a bit out of the way.I reckon that’s what caused all the confusion for the Regulator when he was suppose to be investigating the overcharging that time,sure the poor auld devil got lost and confused trying to keep up with all this International malarkey.Was that 2001 or 2002 0r 2004 now Im confused.I must ring Sheehy He was there all that time and Im sure he has a big map on his wall with pins stuck in all the branches,career Bankers are fond of their pins, unless some got knocked out by accident and then were back being confused again.I think the Government should ring this Mc Dowell fella and produce a report on Financial Regulation or did they do that already.Ah to hell with it Im lost I’ll wait until I ring Sheehy, He has a great memory for these things,career Bankers are fond of their memory’s,Im starting to repeat myself I think,good night Ireland,Sleep well.

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