There are some reasons to remain cheerful . . .
Published 11/11/2010 | 05:00
Earlier this week, I spoke at a PwC event in Dublin, at which those in attendance were asked a number of questions about the future.
The results were surprisingly upbeat. It struck me that there is a distinct difference in attitude between those who analyse and comment on the economy and those who actually make the economy work.
The reality is that despite all of the justifiable doom and gloom about the banking sector and the public finances, there are thousands of risktakers and entrepreneurs out there in the economy who get out of bed every morning and get on with the task of creating economic activity and hopefully wealth, despite, rather than because of Government.
Such people need to be encouraged rather than demonised or punished, which appears to be the attitude in some quarters.
These are the people who create and sustain employment in the economy and ultimately generate the tax revenues that fund the expenditure on areas such as social welfare and the public sector.
If we destroy the environment for such people, we will ultimately kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Hard work, effort, initiative and the generation of profits should be rewarded rather than vilified.
It is also important to be aware of the fact that manufacturing output in Ireland is now growing strongly and the export performance is starting to kick in, in a meaningful way.
This is good, but we also need to ensure that we use the opportunity presented by the current deep and painful recession to fundamentally, and permanently, reduce the cost base of the Irish economy and reform the way in which taxpayers' money is spent.
While we are at it, we should also reform the system of national and local government to create a model that works efficiently and effectively.
That does not happen at the moment, not least because Ireland has become incredibly difficult to govern due to the power of vested interest groups who are not overly concerned about the national interest.
That unfortunately is the lasting legacy of social partnership.