March 25, 2009
We have gone astray, and we all know it. To right this wrong is simpler to do now than later. We have the benefit of necessity and the opportunity which this presents cannot be passed over.
Our cost-base has gone pear-shaped. This is why the multi-nationals are packing their bags.
The government has shaped these costs so now they are carrying the can for the dole queues which lengthen daily.
We must do the following:
1. Nationalise at least one of the main supermarket chains, setting up a purchasing/distribution hub in the UK to service it with competitively priced products.
2. Introduce a price-control section to the Department of Consumer Affairs. This is to monitor clothing, food, pharmaceuticals, doctors fees, essential services.This can be used to impose super-taxes on the other supermarkets/ international retailers who are pricing differently in Ireland to elsewhere, while setting limits for fees chargeable in Ireland for essential services.
3. Completing the above will result in substantial savings for consumers on a daily basis. This, along with the reduction in interest rates, leaves the door open for reducing the following:
Civil service pay, including nurses, firemen, teachers, et al. Establish what the average pay is for all these jobs across developed EU nations (perhaps England, Germany and France) and set that as the pay to apply in Ireland.
Unemployment benefits and allowances must also be reduced. They are too high. The savings which will accrue from reduced costs for consumers must be used by the government. This money can go toward funding the increasing dole queue, subsidising new jobs, or simply to keep the national debt from getting bigger than it has to.
Rent allowances must be modified to a system similar to Germany, where the apartment you rent must be within a certain size, depending on whether you are single, married or with children.This is of particular importance in cities where accommodation costs are higher.
Given the reduced interest rate, a 20% cut in rents above a certain level is acceptable. Changes in market rents are often not reflected in rents paid by social welfare recipients.
A process of voluntary relocation for unemployed persons to take advantage of lower accommodation costs in rural locations should be pursued, while initiating an online-university programme to up-skill those currently unemployed. This can be followed anywhere in Ireland. A register of merit should be established to encourage responsible and selfless behaviour by those receiving benefits. This should lead to enhanced job prospects for those on the register.
We must also cut the minimum wage. It was traditionally linked to the minimum wage in England. Sterling has tanked and we are stuck with wage costs which inhibit survival for many businesses struggling to compete. We should look to Germany for instruction on this, as they have a well-developed system which has allowed it to become Europe’s centre of industry.
We must introduce wage supports, if necessary, to enhance wages being paid. This might be limited to manufacturing jobs. There were many schemes already in Ireland: back to work allowance and FIS. A combination of these should be considered.
As for those who are unemployed: there should be a facility for their working on a part-time basis in consideration of the benefits being paid. It is better for everyone to maintain the spirit of a nation at work, rather than a nation looking for work. There are many different skills available. Let’s harness them for the good of everybody. Doing this maintains their skills, something which a few years being unemployed might erode.
The unfortunate truth is that we will find it impossible to regain our position if we fail to embrace the economic norms accepted by other EU nations.
Finally, we need to start a new international lobby group. The aim of this group is to tame China. I live in what was the furniture capital of Ireland: Monaghan. Now its the imported furniture capital of Ireland. China will NEVER buy from us. Let’s turn the tide against the Chinas of this world. We really can live without her.
As for elections, all the politicians know that Ireland is in Last Chance Saloon. The choices are few. An election is only a distraction, while what is needed is ACTION.