March 26, 2015

If teachers' morale is low, they should learn something new

Posted in Irish Independent · 82 comments ·

There can be few better feelings than successfully explaining something to someone and watching their face and their reaction, as something that was confusing and difficult becomes clear and straightforward. It is a beautiful thing to see the weight of incomprehension being replaced by the freedom of understanding.

You don’t have to be Einstein to have your own small eureka moment. We can all have a moment when perplexity is elbowed away by clarity, when the void is filled. But to get to this moment, we need good teachers. To be good learners, we need good tutors.

This is why teaching is so important – not because of what people learn, but because of what these small eureka moments do deep inside us. They give us confidence, the self-assurance to go to the next challenge. Emotionally, particularly for teenagers, these moments are crucial and their developmental impact should never be underestimated.

I love teaching economics, mainly because I cherish those moments when a student moves from the soul-destroying “I can’t understand” stage to the beautiful “Wow, I get it” revelatory instance. These are magic moments that teachers live for and, if I had my time again, I think I would focus more on teaching.

It disturbs me to hear that Irish teachers are beset by low morale. Speaking last week, and ahead of the teachers’ conferences which kick off at Easter, the President of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Professor Dáire Keogh, said it was vital that, “teacher confidence be restored for fear that the profession deteriorates – like in the UK and US – where low morale and extraordinary rates of teacher attrition have undermined learning in those countries”.

This statement struck me as quite interesting, because a few weeks ago I spoke to the students of one such comprehensive school, Newpark Comprehensive in Dublin. Dozens of economics students at Newpark turned up and we had an extremely lively discussion. The kids seemed to be the product of a healthy teaching environment; they were brimming with questions, unafraid to challenge and extremely well able to talk about a whole variety of economic subjects. If their teachers suffered from low morale, it certainly didn’t show up on these teenagers.

Maybe Newpark School is an exception. If, in general, teachers’ morale in Ireland is low, what can change it?

Since teachers’ attitudes and enthusiasm is a huge determinant of how they communicate to pupils, teachers’ morale is a concern for all of us.

One aspect of Professor Keogh’s speech that was particularly revealing was when he spoke of teachers’ unwillingness to change and adapt to the new ideas regarding teaching, exams and the structure of the education system here. He made the point that with regard to the proposed changes in the Junior Cert exam, now championed by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan, teachers were, “alienated and distrustful, even of initiatives which may be to their professional benefit”.

If the teachers can’t implement these changes after all these years, what chance does Ireland have of executing bigger changes, such as the type of educational revolutions being led by teachers in Finland?

Finland is so important because Finland has what is regarded as the best education system in the world.

We all know that changing education is difficult and change for change’s sake is a silly notion, although it has the appeal of being seen to do something. However, a look at what the Finns are up to now shows you how far away from a flexible education system we have.

Finland, the world leader in literacy and numeracy, is about to scrap teaching by subjects in secondary school. So rather than have an hour of maths followed by an hour of biology, followed by an hour of Spanish, the Finns are going to teach not discrete subjects but related phenomena.

This comes in response to students complaining about the relevance of subjects. All of us will remember questioning the relevance of lots of material and not seeing the point of certain parts of the syllabus.

The Finns have decided to counter this by teaching related topics together, such as the European Union, which will involve history, geography, languages and culture in one related package, making the link for students between the various different subjects. The plan is that the subjects are not isolated in an intellectual ghetto but are seen as part of a greater whole.

For less academic children, the Finns are proposing initiatives like “cafeteria services” lessons. This would include maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills. This recognises that tourism is a growing industry and that teaching chemistry to people who are intending to work in bars mightn’t be the cleverest use of everyone’s time. According to an article on, there are other changes too.

The Finns will abandon the traditional class architecture of rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead, there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.

This is all aimed at making school more relevant and more realistic so that pupils see the classroom as part of their life rather than some form of temporary social quarantine.

When you think about it, it is amazing how school is the only place in our world where copying is regarded as a crime and being quiet for hours on end is rewarded.

In the rest of our everyday lives, copying from each other and exchanging ideas is called collaboration and is rewarded as the building block of teamwork.

According to the head of our country’s teacher training college, teachers’ morale is very low. Things that improve your morale are challenges, change and pushing yourself towards new goals.

Your morale improves when you set aside your own limitations and try to adapt to something new, when you try to learn something new.

Like pupils, teachers too can have their own personal eureka moments. Maybe they just have to embrace the challenge of change to experience, once again, the glorious freedom of learning new things rather than the crippling paralysis of sticking with what you know.

  1. uncle fester

    More money = higher teacher morale
    Simple as

    • SMOKEY

      More brains would be more like it. Im finding that the average Irish teacher, these days, is, well, just average. Get it?

  2. michaelcoughlan

    Hi David,

    Any chance you could teach Professor Hone-a-scam how to be a central banker and economist:

    From the article:

    “However, Juliet Tennent of Goodbody Stockbrokers said upward pressure on residential property prices was likely to continue for some time as increasing demand had so far seen a very slow supply response.”

    In other words CB policy will restrict supply. What they didn’t say was this means: sky-rocketing rents and underemployment in house building due to a much weaker supply side response.

    Miss Tennent needs to be taught how to interpret data: She says: “house prices will rise because of poor supply side response” even though prices are FALLING.

    Brogan says it clearly: The CB’s are in control. If prices are allowed to RISE in the SHORT TERM it will allow ME to go back to work AND young people to see their rents falling as the solution to the rising prices will mean an increase in supply in what should be a free market response to rising prices.

    Hone-a-scam has got it backwards. No wonder his salary is so big and the teachers have taken a huge hit to their salaries. The teachers I suppose like you try to do their jobs properly and we know where that gets you in Poluba. For getting it BACKWARDS Miss Tennent too must be on a massive salary.

    Best regards,


    • Colin


      I thought the anti-ponzi scheme stance was ‘cheap property good, expensive property bad’. Are you arguing for more suckers to become debt slaves to more expensive property?

      • michaelcoughlan

        Hi Colin,

        Not at all. I hold a genuine view that the way to bring down prices for houses and rents sustainably in the medium to long term is to increase supply.

        What will happen now is renters will be fleeced and cash buyers will remain king meaning that middle aged and retired people with lump sums will continue squeeze out first time buyers.


        • Colin

          Hi Michael,

          There is no bottomless pit of cash buyers out there in my opinion. I reckon the cash buyers sector has already been almost exhausted. Don’t believe what the media want you to believe. Remember, its in everyone else’s interest for you to pay as much as possible for your property – from the government with their vat, the estate agent’s fee, the solicitor’s fee, the builder’s margin, the landowner’s markup etc…

          If I had a spare €300,000 lying around, I would not invest in property – the hassle alone would drive me bananas.

    • EugeneN


      You want rising prices to generate supply to cause lower prices?

      Stick to bricklaying.


    Seth Godin posted this on his blog today:
    The kind of listening we’re trained to do in school and at work is passive listening. Sit still. Get through it. Figure out what’s going to be on the test and ignore the rest. Your eyes can glaze over, but don’t let it show. Try not to nod off. People are talking, and they’d like the illusion of listening to accompany that. Don’t interrupt.

    Passive listening is letting the other person talk.

    Active listening, on the other hand, requires that you interrupt when you need a clarification, and it requires that you ask a truly difficult question when the speaker is finished.

    If it’s worth listening to, it’s worth questioning until you understand it.

    • I’ll agree with that. sounds like our real estate seminars and educational updates. Some of us were known for asking questions. Others said they were glad to hear the questions as they were introduced to ideas that they would not consider otherwise.

  4. mishco

    Active listening is very important, and the best teachers will encourage it, Socratic-style. They will also notice if eyes glaze over and try to explain something more clearly until the students understand. They will be patient,
    well-prepared, will empathise with their students because they’ve bothered to find out a bit about their backgrounds, they will speak clearly and slowly, they will provide feedback for homework, they will be humourous but also firm, and they will be fair to all, without favouring. That’s just a few of the things that money CAN’T buy. If they’re just in it for the money, they are in the wrong job, and should take up day-trading or sell insurance.

    The ideas of the new Finnish system are brilliant. They must have some good brains at the top there. I wonder if there are financial incentives for teachers
    in Finland to act as trail-blazers in various ways for the new ideas. That to
    me is where money CAN be used as a carrot in a healthy education system. If
    morale is low, then extra money can go to those who come up with good ideas and/or put new thinking into action. Hopefully these people and ideas can raise the morale of the rest. But, hey, first you do need a healthy education system, with good brains at the top as well as lower down the hierarchy!

  5. Adelaide

    Modern schooling evolved from a hybrid of the military training camp and the monastitic training monastery. Two enterprises in the subjugation of the self (conquered) and the mind (converted).
    Ask yourself this question. “Would our capitalistic society continue if home-schooling was compulsory rather than public-shcoling? What type of society would emerge from a nation of home-schoolers?” Public schools are holding pens for the worker bees’ children, the parents intuitively sense it and the teachers definitely know it (I have several teacher friends who confess their primary role is to corral and baby-sit others’ offspring) while the children/teenagers take it oh so seriously. There is nothing more sad and pathetic than to see frazzled parents dump their children at the school gate in all weathers and madly scurrying off to then not see them again till it’s dark, it’s lunacy, a sick society borne from a dead-hand capitalist economy that serves only the profiteers and money-creators.

    • sravrannies

      Your on form today Adelaide!

    • michaelcoughlan

      on fire today Adelaide fair play to you.

      More and more people are switching to the Steiner schools.


      • The Steiner School people are headbangers who teach astrology, reincarnation, homeopathy and other ludicrous pseudosciences.

        BUT (and it’s a big but) – they lie about what they teach so that they can get more people in the door (and get their money – which is what they are really after).

        ERGO, they are not only headbangers – they are lying, dishonest, thieving headbangers.

        • michaelcoughlan


          The Steiner school in Tuamgraney in Clare is a state national school.


          • Nutjobs and mountebanks.

          • Deco

            Was there a brown envelope being passed somewhere ?

          • mishco

            The Steiner schools are a good example of alternative thinking in education. Some people criticise them them as they don’t follow the conventional wisdom. They lay a strong emphasis on the individual, on artistic as well as intellectual development, and on creativity, among other things (as outlined clearly in the link above).

            They are also unpopular with many parents as their kids are believed to find it difficult to adjust to the system once they leave school. In other words, if you are taught to think outside the box, you won’t fit easily into the box, if that’s your thing.

            If is a state national school, then more power to them, even if it took a brown envelope (which I doubt very much). At least it is an alternative to the monopoly of Dear Leader Mother Church!

        • joebrolly

          yes, dead right filling the children’s heads with nonsense.I went to a school that thought me there was this guy who seen everything you did and if he didn’t like it you went to a place filled with fire for all time. And get this you were supposed to go to this building every week and eat a piece of his body!

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Adelaide,

      I don’t think that you could describe the west as capitalist for years. Feudalist, fascist or asset stripping etc but not capitalist.


    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Adelaide,

      This is the explanation of EC Reigel I subscribe to. It seems your interpretation is diferent:

      From the article:

      “IN A COMMUNITY MONEY IS ISSUED BY A BUYER. Such a money issuer, must, in exchange for the goods and services he buys from the market, place other goods or services into the market. Thus money as a money instrument is evidence of a purchase that is issued by a purchaser to the seller. Therefore, money is actually backed by the value surrendered by the seller and potentially backed by a value in the possession of the next seller. To print bills and mint coins is not to issue or create money. This has no more monetary significance than if you were to write a cheque and leave it in your chequebook.”

      Best regards,


      • Prof Quigley:

        Should the level of inflation currently in place be allowed to continue, sound money will be driven out by bad “fiat” legal tender. This problem will only be resolved when our leaders come to terms with the realisation
        that there is a natural law governing the issuance of media of exchange, and if this law continues to be broken by socialist ideology, the very bedrock of the western tradition of freedom and individuality will be broken.

        Published In Financial Sense Online 2007

        Flight From Inflation
        The Monetary Alternative
        E.C. Riegel

        Seems as if nobody likes central bank fiat money, if any thought is put into the opinion!

        • EugeneN

          If only reality actually was proving the internet fiat currency haters right. We are in times of massive deflation, even after printing fiat money.

          • What you describe is a retracting economy or recession or depression.
            Inflation is at all times a monetary event. The printing of money or the expansion of the money supply does not add to wealth.

            The current inflation of the money supply manifests itself in an all time high in bond prices. a corresponding all time low in interest rates both in mega bubble territory.

            The stock markets are in record high levels.

            None of this indicates a thriving economy but merely a large stash of cash looking for real returns they are unable to find.

            Also the measure used to calculate inflation is flawed. Rising prices as observed and paid by you and me are the result of monetary inflation. Theses observed prices are ignored and or manipulated by government to give a lower figure than reality.

            Thus inflation is calculated to be 0-1.5% p.a. when in fact what people actually buy is going up at 6-10%. Necessaries are rising in price while optional goods are falling.

            john Williams of has unemployment in the US at 23% and inflation at 8%

            That is the reality. A credit based monetary inflation producing a depression.
            Later as the economy collapses and the currencies become unwanted inflation will be all too apparent and move to double digit hyper inflation.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Yes tony and moronman forgot that the euro is inflating etc.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Tony.

            The article is so important I have synopsised it and posted it directly. McWilliams will continue to talk through his hole about deflation and sound money but your field based evidence is far more telling.

            The Price Of Ground Beef Has DOUBLED Since The Last Financial Crisis
            By Michael Snyder, on March 25th, 2015

            Since the depths of the last recession, the price of ground beef in the United States has doubled. Has your pay check doubled since then? Even though the Federal Reserve insists that we are in a “low inflation” environment, the government’s own numbers show that the price of ground beef has been on an unprecedented run over the past six years. In early 2009, the average price of a pound of ground beef was hovering near 2 dollars. In February, it hit a brand new all-time record high of $4.238 per pound. Even just 12 months ago, the price of ground beef was sitting at $3.555 per pound. So we are talking about a huge increase.

            And this hits American families where they really live. Each year, the average American consumes approximately 270 pounds of meat. The only nation in the world that eats more meat than we do is Luxembourg. If the pay checks of American workers were going up fast enough to deal with this increase, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But of course that is not happening. In an article just last week, I showed that real median household income is a couple thousand dollars lower now than it was during the depths of the last recession. The middle class is being squeezed, and we are rapidly getting to the point where burgers are going to be considered a “luxury” item.

            In addition, the price of food overall has been steadily rising for years. It boggles the mind that the Federal Reserve can claim that we are in a “low inflation” environment. Anyone that goes grocery shopping feels the pain of these rising prices every time that they go to the store. Almost half of all Americans (47 percent) do not put a single penny out of their pay checks into savings.

            One of the primary reasons why so many Americans are not saving any money is because many families simply cannot save any money. Their pay checks are stagnant while the cost of living just keeps going up and up. There simply are not enough “good jobs” out there any more. Our economy continues to bleed middle class jobs and the competition for the jobs that remain is quite intense.

            Do you know what the two most common occupations in America today are? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are “retail sales clerk” and “cashier”. And of course neither of those “occupations” pays even close to what is required to support a middle class family.

            On average, a retail sales clerk makes $24,020 a year, and a cashier makes $20,670 a year. Because the quality of our jobs has declined so much, there are millions of American families today in which both the mother and the father are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet each month. But don’t worry, the Federal Reserve says that we are nearly at “full employment“, and Barack Obama says that everything is going to be just fine.

            Actually, the truth is that things are about to get a lot worse. At this point, we are even getting pessimistic numbers out of the Federal Reserve. Just this week we learned that the Fed is now projecting that economic growth for the first quarter of 2015 will be barely above zero.

            From almost 2.5% GDP growth expectations in February, The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model has now collapsed its estimates of Q1 GDP growth to just 0.2% – plunging from +1.4% just 2 weeks ago. The reality of plunging capex and no decoupling is starting to rear its ugly head in the hard data and as the sun warms things up, weather will start to lose its ability to sway sentiment.

            We are at a turning point. The bubble of false stability that we have been living in is rapidly coming to an end, and when people start to realize that another great economic crisis is coming there is going to be a lot of panic.

            And as far as food prices go, they are just going to keep taking a bigger chunk out of all of our wallets.
            As high as prices are already, the truth is that your food dollars are never going to go farther than they do right now. So let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

    • EugeneN

      When the elites were home-schooled we had feudalism.

      There is of course no proof that home schooling produces left liberal anti-capitalists. In fact many capitalists think that schooling removes entrepreneurialism, and in its most common form in the US home schooling breeds intolerant creationists.

      What would a nation of home schoolers provide? Unsocialised brats with the opinions of their parents.

  6. Deco

    The current Education minister gets an “F”.

    The previous one, did not even deserve an “F” grade. And FF/GP/PDs were also mad when in control.

    The Finns are moving towards more flexibility, more trust of the teaching profession to drive results.

    In Ireland’s institutional state, there is one initiative after another towards centralization of power and control. Endless interference. The Dept of Ed was even used to find a quango for a former LP leaders missus. [ who incidentally sold a school site in the back of nowhere, for half a million after protracted “negotiations”).

    David – good on you for standing up and being counted on this matter. Ireland is going in the wrong direction, in terms of education and learning. The knowledge economy is really just a fudge. A crash course in daftness, pointless nonsense, narcissism, and solo-runs.

    Primary level, second level, and third level. And it is endemic in third level. Third level seems to have escaped any criticism once again – though it is absurdly overfunded in terms of being stuffed with cronies, wasters, and chancers.

    There is a new conformity being constructed.

  7. zapit

    “If I had my time again, I think I would focus more on teaching”
    You are teaching. Teaching a lot of people

    • Colin

      I fully agree with you. David is an excellent teacher, but I do suspect he has made a Faustian bargain with the whole sound money argument as outlined by head boy Brogan.

      • Colin

        I think the sound money brigade are economic antideluvians and have little grasp of the dynamic of macroeconomics…just to set you straight on where I stand on this stuff!

        • michaelcoughlan

          it’s a pity you don’t explain it a bit better.

        • michaelcoughlan

          This will explain why gold is vital and misunderstood by people like you.

        • michaelcoughlan

          You suffer from the stockholm syndrome dathi. A happy serf and exponent of the system destroying the future of the young fella you bring to soccer and all the rest of us.


        • “I think the sound money brigade are economic antideluvians and have little grasp of the dynamic of macroeconomics…just to set you straight on where I stand on this stuff!”

          Nice opinion. Why pray tell?
          What is your reasoning behind such a statement?

          Do you think that the 95% of the world who disagree with you are all nut jobs?

          Do you think that the central bankers do a good job.?

          Perhaps you were not allowed to ask any questions while you wended through the schooling process. Perhaps you were told what to think and regurgitate the same to brilliant acclaim. Perhaps you never learned to think out of the box.

          The time to do so has arrived.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Tony,

            McWilliams has nailed his colours to the mast twice on this point. It caused me to sit back and see if I had my own bias re sound money.

            What I suspect is that he misunderstands the difference between sound money and sound currency.

            My two pence worth is that the money HAS TO BE sound but the currency has to be capable of being expanded to prevent economic expansion being constrained.

            This would happen if large transactions or indeed tiny ones were needed because of the inability to simply hand over a huge amount of metal or subdivide the gold or silver coins enough to facilitate the transaction.


          • StephenKenny

            The view of the current majority of macroeconomists is based on the premise that down-turns, of whatever scale, in economies are just parts of a cycle.
            While waiting for the cycle to turn, the state ‘bridges’ the fall in aggregate demand, i.e. spending. This keeps people in jobs, keep the money flowing, and keeps businesses alive. Th only questions they ask are when to start, how far to go, how fast to go, when to start to pull out, and how fast to pull out (lots of graphs here).

            It’s a nice idea.

            The trouble is that it seems to ignore the premise of a capitalist society, i.e. than tin which businessmen gauge risk/performance, and look for opportunities to arbitrage the resultant perceived risk.
            The more the state covers up the period of reckoning of the risks taken in the previous ‘up’ cycle, the more the businessmen realise that they can make a profit by, effectively, arbitraging the state intervention.
            The optimal way to achieve this is to bet massively on the arbitrage – i.e. use huge leverage on whatever it is.
            Since the profit comes from the scale of the bet, they obviously look for opportunities that are highly volatile, and which are easy to take a bet on.

            Given this, the idea of starting some sort of productive business (by which I mean one which creates a lot of direct, up, and down stream employment i.e. wages) is just to hard ,takes too much skill, and has a very low potential upside – you have to do all that stuff with growing the business.

            Much easier, quicker, and able to support far more massive leverage is betting on various asset classes: Property trading, stocks and shares, and other financial and tradable instruments.

            This isn’t immediate, it’s an evolutionary process – the people who make the money aren’t those who create stuff, but those who hold out ‘promise’ of massive profits tomorrow i.e. it’s speculative. So, gradually, more and more people get involved in the profitable sectors of the economy – i.e. the speculative sectors.

            This is now so firmly established in our psychie that we’re all quite happy with the idea that a profitless online business, with a single product and no identifiable business model, is worth more money than most car companies.

            This is Gresham’s Law – ‘bad money driving out good’. it’s not crazy people, it’s not dodgy people, it’s rational people doing the right thing in the environment that they find themselves.

            For the past 40 years, every time the ‘cycle’ headed down, the macroeconomists leaped into action, and ‘bridged’ the recession (to some extent). And every time this happened, more and more people moved further and further into speculation, at the expense of wealth creation. They did this because they were being sensible.

            The economy is reacting to this financial bridging, just as bacteria are ‘reacting’ to anti-biotics. That’s the trouble – it’s systemic.

          • Michael

            “My two pence worth is that the money HAS TO BE sound but the currency has to be capable of being expanded to prevent economic expansion being constrained.”

            There is no requirement for the money supply to be expanded in order to have an expanding economy.

            In fact an expanding money supply tends to produce a malfuctioning economy as it caused malinvestment by giving incorrect signals to the participants.

            At present is is obvious that the expansion of the money supply has ruined the economy.
            It matters not what kind of money it is , but if expanded or inflated will have negative consequences for the economy.

            As a brief example of an increased economy being handled by the same money supply.

            10 people all do work for each other worth $10 a job. They all meet at a pub and only one person has a $10 bill. That person pays the second and the second the third and so on around the circle until the $10 bill arrived back at the first person. All are now paid with the one $10 bill.

            Now increase the work done to $100 a piece and the bill circulates 10 times and the 100 dollars debt to each is paid. There is no need to expand the money supply at any time.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Tony,

            You made the same mistake mcwilliams makes. Money is different to currency. Money must be sound and reflect the underlying value. The currency supply must be able to increase and decrease to suit the circumstances.


          • michaelcoughlan


            Excellent post.

            One observation:

            “The more the state covers up the period of reckoning of the risks taken in the previous ‘up’ cycle, the more the businessmen realise that they can make a profit by, effectively, arbitraging the state intervention”

            The state isn’t engaging in fiscal stimulus it’s propping up the banks which isn’t Keynesian, its covering up the ben bernanke Fed whoever madness.

          • michael

            There is no case where you can justify that money supply , however you describe it, be increased in order to expand an economy.

            It is always adisaster

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Tony,

            I don’t advocate increasing the money supply. I advocate having flexibility in the currency.

            For example:

            Lets say a warehouse containing 1 billion of euro notes burned just before 1 billion in debts needed to be settled. Well the printing presses would simply just produce another billion notes and business would carry on.

            Lets say a ship containing 1 billion in gold sank on its way to pay the debts of the country sending it and the only way to replace it was to mine another billion that would take a long time and in the meantime trade could grind to a halt.

            Thats the point that Keynesian people make re sound money I think. McWilliams won’t correct me if I am wrong so I don’t know for sure but thats my best explanation at the moment.



        • Pat Flannery

          “antideluvians”? Are they folks who disbelieve the Biblical story of the Flood? Or did you mean “antediluvians”, meaning “before the Flood”? If so, does your use of Biblical terms suggest that you subscribe to a Biblical view of economic history?

          I would agree that folks who lived before the Biblical Flood probably had “little grasp of the dynamic of macroeconomics” – if I actually believed in the Biblical story of the Flood. Therefore I agree with Michael that “it’s a pity you don’t explain it a bit better”.

          So, for those of us who have but a little grasp of the Bible, please set us straight in non-Biblical language where you stand on this sound money stuff. Or alternately please explain the macroeconomics of the antediluvian period in simple Biblical terms that we can all understand.

          Personally, I don’t want to be perceived as an “antideluvian” – or an antediluvian for that matter. I genuinely want to improve my grasp of the dynamic of macroeconomics as it relates to the current controversy over sound money.

  8. DB4545

    I think you hit all the key points in the article David. Finland is highly relevant and is the model we should perhaps aspire to. Finland pays its teachers well and therefore attracts highly qualified and highly able candidates for the teaching profession. Newpark Comprehensive is an excellent school however it’s hardly representative. It may not be fee paying but its location ensures that it serves a very affluent catchment area and it is very well resourced. Given those access to resources it could be argued that most schools could attain excellent results. If we need to focus on the efficient use of scarce resources it might be prudent to introduce a mechanism to prevent politicians “holding on” to their teaching job (at vast expense to taxpayers) and preventing a substitute from taking up a full time position. The temporary teacher system is grossly unfair and needs to be reformed. It’s clear that it’s being used to maintain the family business in both politics and teaching at taxpayer expense.

  9. davybunyip

    Hi David,
    Just a few points to make.
    1) Finnish teachers highest paid in Europe
    2) Finnish teachers have half the class contact time irish teachers have to prepare thought provoking and informative lessons.
    3) irish teachers already have introduced continuous assessment and other strategies as part of existing junior cert but what they definitely don’t want to do is have to mark their own students work on the grounds that it is not objective.
    4) if the new junior cert was really about preparing students for the future then why can you not study junior cert computing science or I.t as you can in scotland since the early eighties!
    5) teachers constantly portrayed as striking for extra holidays and such when what they are standing up for is the integrity of the state examinations. This combined with increases in pupil teacher ratio, deplorable working conditions and a 18 percent pay cut may have something to do with their poor morale.

    David talks about the finn’s streaming their education system in a manner somewhat akin to the old comprehensive grammar school system that was such a disaster in England with kids having to sit the 11 plus exam and thereafter being assigned to a school based on that exam: whether a vocational school or an academic school! If that’s Finnish education then no thanks!

    • sravrannies

      “Research has now found that the education system in Finland offers the best value for money, with teachers achieving high Pisa scores, despite getting moderate salaries and teaching relatively large classes.”

    • StephenKenny

      On the pay front, take a look at:

      Finnish teachers are actually quite badly paid, compared to others. They also have a worse pupil-to-teacher ratio.

      We all know what’s going to happen in Finland: They’ll start off with a blitz of ‘sample-of-one’ coverage, extolling it’s glorious success; we’ll get continual announcements that it’s reaching new and glorious heights of achievement; and then suddenly, out of the blue, they’ll scrap the whole thing.

      The education system HAS to be designed for the bottom quartile, not the upper: The upper sections have massive parental support, money to do ‘educational’ things; more opportunities to engage with people who are doing complex and challenging activities and work; encouragement to do all sorts of things. That’s where you find the bright-eyed tv-advert children They’re never the problem.

      The problem is to support those who have little or no other support, from almost anti-educational backgrounds. How many children hear, or believe from their surroundings, that education is a waste of money? They are who the education system needs to be designed for. Thos who are surrounded by other children who laugh at the teachers, pour scorn at enthusiasm and interest, and so on.

      It is a very well known fact that it takes a few percent of ‘bad apples’ in a school to destroy it’s social structure. Give too much freedom, and the 90+% will suffer.

      Just saying.

    • mishco

      Irish PM highest paid in Europe!

    • coldblow

      davybunyip: “the old comprehensive grammar school system that was such a disaster in England”

      The comprehensive system replaced the grammar school system for egalitarian reasons. In areas where grammar schools operated about a fifth or a quarter of the brightest children (who passed the 11 plus) got in while the remainder went to seconderay modern schools (a few went to technical schools). This had the effect of giving children from poor backgrounds the chance to educate themselves and strikingly increased social mobility after WW2. Comprehensive education was idntroduced, I think, in the late 60s and 70s. It is now against the law in England to open new grammar schools. The result has been (along with the introduction of exciting modern methods of teaching, probably the kind David has in mind) of reducing standards across the board so that most comprehensives are now the new sec. modern. In the few areas where comprehensive schools are of a high standard selection is by wealth as the cost of housing is inflated in the catchment areas. Otherwise they must pay for a private education. Middle class parents are also better skilled at using sharp elbows to negotiate the intricacies of getting into one of the better state schools. Education Minister Michael Gove has received high praise in the liberal press (ie all the papers) for sending his daughter to a state school, Greycoats I think it is called. Its intake is overwhelmingly middle class and the uniforms are to be bought in a high class shop in Chelsea. Tony Blair did something similar. Such schools are comprehensive in the same way that 10 Downing St is an inner city terraced house.

      Church schools are a handy way of doing this and it is apparently common to see parents return to the faith (be it Catholic or Anglican) in order to increase the chances of getting their children in. I still remember a good friend of mine at grammar school telling me, when we were 15 or 16, that he and his well-off middle class parents were practically atheists and only used their Catholicism to get him into the shcol. I couldn’t imagine my own parents doing this. I think the closest to this in Ireland is the gaelscoileanna. There was a big surplus of applications to get their children into the school my son attended, near Ballinteer. Like my wife I speak fluent Irish (despite my London accent speaking English). In both scenarios the hypocrisy is obvious.

      Why was comprehensivization introduced? The motive was ideological and egalitarian and the result has been an ossification of wealth and class differences. Was this cynically planned? No, it is more the stupidity of received opinion. I am also persuaded by the argument that many middle class parents could not accept the stigma of having their child sent to a secondary modern while the postman’s went to grammar school, but I don’t think this was the main reason.

      As for condemning a child for life there is no reason you couldn’t refine the system to allow some mobility at a later age, perhaps allowing hard-working and intelligent children from the sec mods to go to grammar school and swapping them with some of the jack the lads from the back of the grammar school class (David’s bright future entrepreneurs) who don’t like school anyway. Perhaps the latter could just be discharged directly into the outside world to entrepreneuriate.

  10. The class is still in session. Have you yet learned who really controls the world and what you can do about it. The central bankers provide the funding to fight the wars the power mad want.
    The financing land on the back of the tax payer. cut off the funding and the ability to wage war evaporates.

  11. Those who think there is deflation should read this real life cost of doing business

    While gold is suppressed to fit the Fed’s meme of low inflation, nay even deflation here is a real world account of inflation by the logistics department of a major lumber mill. Quite the contrast to CPI data and all other MSM drivel. I have highlighted the pertinent parts.

    Date: March 25th, 2015
    To: Our Value Customers
    From: Navi Hansraj, Inside Sales Manager
    Mike DiBenedetto, Logistics Manager
    Re: Transportation Industry

    As weather breaks throughout the country and demand for flatbed truck and rail deliveries increase, expect capacityconstrengths and rate fluctuations to be more prevalent. Please contact your Inside Sales Representative or access our HEW freight portal at for current freight rates and equipment availability. The following is a brief outlook of the transportation industry for 2015.

    Transportation Industry Challenges and Outlook and Expectations for 2015

    Challenges to the transportation industry are nothing new. Although we have seen an improvement in business demand, carriers are still facing consistent legislative changes, rising operation costs, driver shortages and other barriers across the nation. Hopefully, the following will provide a good understanding of some of the current & future challenges that the trucking industry is facing.

    1. Driver Shortage:
    There are fewer drivers on the road right now than at any time in the last 20 years.

    2. Driver Pay and Turnover:
    As construction, manufacturing and local job market opportunities continue to improve, carriers are being forced to increase driver pay to adequately compensate the driver market. Industry wide turnover average i s 99% for larger fleets and 82% among smaller fleets. The average cost of turnover is $7,923 per driver.

    3. Increased Tractor Downtime:
    Recent regulations have required heavy truck manufacturers to make extensive reductions in emissions.

    These regulations have increased the overall complexity of trucking; the most demanding changes were mandated in 2013. As a result, the industry is experiencing an increased amount of lost utilization which also correlates back to the driver shortage because drivers are becoming frustrated with the new requirements. A driver can be down in a shop up to 4-5 days before being pulled into a bay to receive the proper diagnosis.
    4. New Truck Emission Surcharges:
    Approximately $28K in new emission surcharges have been added to new equipment costs since 2007.

    5. Operating Costs Continue to Increase:
    Equipment Costs: Tractor Equipment costs have increased 25% since 2007.
    Tolls: Toll rates have gone up 11% from 2012-2013. Pending the crossroad, a one way trip can cost nearly$250 per trip and 23% of total costs.
    General Liability & Workers Compensation: Carrier’s premiums have been on the rise for years and are expected to continue to rise in 2015.
    Compensation premiums increased by 9% from 2011 to 2012 prices increased by 5% to aggregate Fuel and Maintenance Costs: Diesel costs have continued to creep up the past few years. years. Maintenance costs have went up 17% since 2010

    As more Federal Regulations take effect, the trucking industry will continue to lack qualified drivers companies that cannot financially meet these mandatory changes will ultimately fail. Truckload turnover could reach 150% in 2016.

    There will be less capacity available to handle the improving economy and projected increased product volumes in the coming years. We saw historically high load especially during 2Q & 3Q, in 2015 remains to be seen.

    Line-haul rates will continue to be volatile as capacity remains tight. Potential mid to double increases are expected in 2015.

    (End of article)

    -But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good yarn. Keep gold under $1200 through FND, repeat the mantra of “strong dollar”, and kick the MOPE can down the road.
    James McShirley, posted

  12. joebrolly

    It seems to me that you can no longer rely solely on someone else to educate your children, you have to put a lot of effort in yourself regardless of what institution they attend.

    Teaching them how to think is far more important than what to think in my opinion.

    as someone else pointed out basing your work on someone else’s previous effort is cause for you to be kicked out of most education systems whilst in reality it’s the best way to do things. Why reinvent the wheel ?

  13. joebrolly

    Can anyone on here tell me why no matter what McWilliams article is about, the posters on here seem to twist it back to their favorite rant.
    One fella wants to bring back the gold standard, another constantly agonizies over the property crash and those involved.

    If McWilliams wrote an article about the retirement of Henry Shefflin would Tony Brogan use the gold bars on the Kilkenny jersey as vindication of his ideas. Perhaps Michael Coughlan would find a connection between Kilkenny and the GAA s flawed championship system which keeps them at the top not unlike the irish political and economic elite.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Joe,

      You make a very valid point.

      Almost every aspect of human life is touched by the monetary madmen however: Property, student loans, teachers, farming, unemployed people, employment rights, the environment, savings, retiree’s, warfare, legal systems, businesses etc.

      In my view monetary effects need to be highlighted in each area raised by the articles written.

      Kilkenny hurling is at the top because they are better most of the time than everyone else.



    • Colin


      “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
      ? Edmund Burke

      What’s the use in having good teachers when the class will later be enslaved in debt? Sometimes you gotta look at the big picture. is central banking explained well in the classroom? Who understands how money is created out of thin air? What’s the point in obtaining 600 points in your Leaving Certificate if you lose your health, house, car, job and family in a downturn?

      As regards Shefflin, to do what he did in front of so many paying-in fans for so long for no salary, well , how could I put it economically …… it could only be achieved in Ireland.

    • Well Joe, we make comments on the topic. But when one realizes that all aspects of society are affected by the central bankers and the current system of money creation all other discussion pales.

      It is a part of the process of delusion of the people to keep them sidetracked and focus on non issues. At least keep the energy diverted from them.

      As mentioned below our education is sadly lacking and not taught at any level is the system of money creation.

      When the basic premises of our existence are corrupted and one realizes this, it is hard to debate the side issues that have no effect. Because of the money system we have a ponzi scheme of the widest magnitude foisted on the world. Not one person in a million has any inkling about this.

      This is where our education system fails and where it is crucial that re rely on “home schooling” to get the information and set this problem right.

      Please look up the creation of money and the fractional reserve system and you will find this shocking truth. We are all being scammed.

      The worst thing about this blog is that our host refuses to discuss this issue at all.
      As an acclaimed, economist, teacher , writer David is an abject failure on this particular topic. Even if he disagrees with the basic premise he could present his case and open the debate. He is dismissive because something tells him he will not win the debate and hid position will be exposed as faulty. His ego prevents exposure.

  14. joebrolly

    After such a calm and reasoned response all I can say is you are well entitled to your view and I can now see the connection between teachers, gold bars and Henry Shefflin

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Joe,

      My mates went to Perth over 5 years ago. When they got there the local GAA team could barely field a team. Now they have 3 to four teams training.

      The GAA has had many of its teams in Ireland destroyed because of this recession.


  15. gearoidin o dwyer

    I normally agree with your analysis and insights but must admit that I find your approach to low teacher morale simplistic and surprising. While I agree that having the freedom to embrace – but more so to create – positive change is a key to high morale in any aspect of one’s life, it is not the fear of change which is causing low morale amongst teachers. The predictable ‘teachers fear and dislike change’ line, regularly repeated serves only to distract from the reality of the situation in Irish education. I, as a teacher of 26 years, relish change… productive, well-thought out, effective change. Not the poorly-thought out, unproductive, detrimental changes which are often forced upon teachers in Irish education eg. some elements of the proposed new Junior Certificate (JCSA). Furthermore, and in my opinion, more importantly I am disappointed to see your lack of understanding of the effects on teachers’ morale of the cumulative effects of pay-cuts, USC, FEMPI, additional administrative work-load etc. etc. Many of my colleagues – not just newer members but well-established teachers – are struggling to buy/rent a property, pay a mortgage if they are lucky enough to be on the property ladder already, are unable to safeguard their salary by contributing to payment protection policy, cannot afford decent health care and are facing pension poverty. In the face of these daily challenges, the ‘joy’ of seeing a student’s face light up with comprehension quickly disappears.

  16. SMOKEY

    Speaking of teaching, someone should teach Germanwings a lesson and shut them down for having blood on their hands.

  17. “Lets say a warehouse containing 1 billion of euro notes burned just before 1 billion in debts needed to be settled. Well the printing presses would simply just produce another billion notes and business would carry on.
    Lets say a ship containing 1 billion in gold sank on its way to pay the debts of the country sending it and the only way to replace it was to mine another billion that would take a long time and in the meantime trade could grind to a halt.
    Thats the point that Keynesian people make re sound money I think. McWilliams won’t correct me if I am wrong so I don’t know for sure but thats my best explanation at the moment.

    I don’t think so Michael!!
    Would you also print up new currency to replace the warehouse. Ever tom, Dick, and Harry would have their hand out for new cash all the time.

    “Hey , I lost my wallet and it had a hundred grand in it. I need a replacement!”

    As far as the bullion loss, Too bad. It should have been insured.

    In the greater scheme of things there is always enough money in circulation no matter the quantity. The loss of bullion may temporarily leave less in circulation which implies a shortage. That would make everyone elses’ bullion a little more valuable and require less of it to buy the goods available. Thus we have deflation.

    As the value of the money had increased someone with a stash will release some into circulation to by something the want at the less cost in terms of bullion.
    This will add to the money supply and so inflate the supply marginally causing the value of everyone elses bullion to fall again.

    Millions of people acting in concert in their own self interest will regulate the amount of money in circulation. There will always be just the correct amount according to the demand for money or not as the case may be.

    Any interference in this process distorts the market place and off we go again on the wild inflation/deflation, boom and bust cycles of the central banking system.

    Is this macro-economics, David. How do you see this?

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Tony.

      Re the 1bn or the ship of bullion I meant from the govt perspective.

      If you had 100k in your wallet and it was insured and verifiably lost then no problem print another 100k.

      “As far as the bullion loss, Too bad. It should have been insured.”

      Insured with what? A guarantee to replace the 1bn bullion with 1bn fiat?

      The deflation you refer to is Bad deflation because it occurs due to a reduction in the total amount of metal in circulation or put another way due to an increase in the value of that metal left in circulation.

      This proves in my view the point McWilliams is making re sound money. Good deflation comes from an increase in productivity.

      The paper iou’s will have to circulate as currency but this fiat will still need to be backed by metal or commodities in storage which can’t be increased or reduced willy nilly only increased in line with the productive economy. The best way to do that I feel is to embrace riegel.

      The purchaser (not the FED as believed by bernanke nor the govt as believed by Bill Still) creates new money by placing into the economy a valuable good or service to exchange for items already there. Once he does this an increase in the fiat can and must happen to reflect the new wealth created but this fiat MUST be backed by metal in storage to protect the value of the fiat circulating.

      best regards and respectfully,


      • “The deflation you refer to is Bad deflation because it occurs due to a reduction in the total amount of metal in circulation or put another way due to an increase in the value of that metal left in circulation.”

        Not really Michael
        The deflation caused by such an event will be minuscule.
        Such deflation will make every saver a winner by increasing the purchase power if those savings.
        Far superior and beneficial compared to the institutionalized inflation forced on every saver now so that the whole world of savers is less well off every year for the last 100 years.

        Tell me Michel how does a Valun get into existence in practice. Who issues the currency and under whose authority.

        Sound money is issued by no one, belongs to no one and exists because of consensus from the wider community. As demand for money increases people convert other PM objects to gold. As the demand for money decreases then people convert bullion to other items like an apple watch.

        Imagine if the gold price were not suppressed by the central bank and government chicanery what the price of gold would be. Allow it to reflect true inflation and lets say $20,000 an ounce. Not many apple watches would be made, but there would be more money in circulation.

        I just do not get this idea that mankind will regulate money of any sort without there being dire consequences. Best thing is for all to get their meddling fingers out of it.

        The only legislation needed is that where money is concerned that no one is allowed to monitor, meddle or manipulate. Ban interest too. That’s it.

        • people convert other PM objects to gold.

          Should read convert other PM objects to gold money.

        • zapit

          Seems to me that more and more people are realising that almost all money (the electronic deposits) is created by banks when they lend, and destroyed by banks when loans are repayed (apart from the interest – they keep that). This means it is inevitable there will boom and bust cycles.

          What enhances the effect is the fact that banks lend/create 80% of money towards the buying of assets/property, rather than towards businesses and industry – thereby inflating asset and property prices.

          Such an arrangement can never be sustained without people eventually defaulting. Defaulting is inevitable. Mathematically, it is necessary that the interest portion of overall debt gets bigger and bigger. When people start defaulting the banks get nervous about the economy and reduce their lending. This causes money supply to reduce, and so causes more people to default. So the..banks get even more insecure about the economy and reduce their lending further. This self-feeding cycle results in recession, until once again the banks feel secure enough to lend, and the cycle start over.

          Because of this more and more people (still too few) are realising we need fundamental reform of our money system, such that: money is not created out of debt; it’s primary function being a token of exchange; banks relegated to being just intermediaries between borrowers and savers; and the amount of new money needed (if any) being periodically (say annually?) decided by the sovereign.

          I’d love to know peoples opinion on this.

  18. coldblow

    David is an excellent economist and journalist and I have learnt a great deal from him I know he won’t take it personally if I say I hardly agree with any of this article. I’m sure he knows this anyway.

    Just to take one thing to discuss, that of ‘relevance’. I don’t know if anyone ever read The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury which satirizes many of the then-new trendy ideas about education.

    At the start of fourth year the history teacher, an Irish priest, former headmaster and ferocious caner according to reports, entered into the new spirit of the age by asking us which period we would like to study. We could take (I think) the 17th and 18th centuries or the modern period. I liked the idea of the former, not least because it sounded remote enough to actually be ‘historical’. However, the lads at the back of the class pushed vociferously (of course) for modern history. This was because it was more ‘relevant’ and they could ask their grandparents about some of the more recent stuff. Of course they got their way. As it happens I’m pleased they did as it is more interesting than earlier periods and more, er, relevant. The lads of course, now that they had won this little victory for classroom democrary, couldn’t care less anyway.

  19. Based on sound scholarship, (primarily the Austrian School) they argue that such a society must be
    built on honest money; of which we at Hinde are also advocates.

  20. michaelcoughlan

    Hi Tony,

    Capital controls in France. Only a matter of time now.


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