News Letters

Wednesday 28 September 2016

'Economists at dawn' were like Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Published 27/09/2015 | 02:30

David McWilliams: disagreeing while fundamentally agreeing
David McWilliams: disagreeing while fundamentally agreeing

I see the Irish Independent has pitted two heavyweight economists - David McWilliams and Dan O'Brien - against each other to great fanfare. 'Economists at dawn' makes a very alluring headline but when examined, their 'battle' appears very like that of Tweedledum and Tweedledee; agreeing to disagree by fundamentally agreeing with each other. Interestingly, Lewis Carroll's pair of disagreeing agree'ers are considered mirror images of each other trying vainly to disagree while their innermost thinking is entirely at one.

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This is a great problems with economists of the moment, and I fear we suffer greatly from them all apparently agreeing on the basics. There appears absolute consensus that we have simply experienced another 'recession' and are mounting a 'recovery'. Sadly, no economist says: "No, this is different. This time core economic activity has been transformed."

There are three inter-related areas of utter transformation; ability to produce, need for growth and dependence on human labour, or work. Since the dawn of history, the human race has suffered a fundamental inability to produce all the goods and services needed for the human race to live healthily in comfort and abundance.

The other area of extraordinary change is in reduction of dependence on human labour; simply put, our technology can create great abundance while constantly reducing reliance for work. This is what the Industrial Revolution always did; create machines which displaced human labour in the production process. Computerisation has changed the goalposts. These are realities which economists all over the world appear to overlook. We need a real 'battle' of thought and innovation between economists, politicians and the media, and indeed all of us. 'Victory' of thought in such a battle could ensure that rather than deny it, we embrace and enjoy to the full an entirely new and wonderful economic opportunity that modern technology has placed within our grasp.

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo.


Minister's U-turn on cyclists

The inevitable has come to pass. While it was only a short time ago since Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe decided to exclude cyclists from fixed charge notices and allowed them to use footpaths, pedestrians and observers will have noticed a marked increase in cyclists availing of this dispensation throughout the country.

A recent survey in the Wilton Area of Cork City has shown a two-fold increase since the minister told his colleague, Jerry Buttimer TD, that "it is appropriate and necessary for cyclists to use footpaths where there is danger on the roads".

As expected and predicted, cyclists can now use footpaths with impunity as well as immunity from prosecution, as they can rightly claim that virtually all urban roads are dangerous due to uncontrolled speeding, lack of proper cycleways, giant potholes, poor road design and a general lack of any coherent traffic management.

The minister, in the process, has substantially increased the danger for all pedestrians, both young and old, many of whom have been subjected to intimidation, abuse and injury even before his ill-advised intervention.

Mr Donohoe has done a complete u-turn on this issues and his edict contravenes the Rules of the Road, which states unambiguously on page 195, 'Never cycle on a footpath' and 'Don't cycle on a footpath' under the cycling safety section.

John Leahy

Wilton Road, Cork


Regulatory authorities to blame

Surely it is the regulatory authority of each country, which carried out the certification of the VW emissions, that is to blame for the delay in detecting the scam. Martina Devlin, in her article in the Irish Independent, (Thursday Comment) refers to how the "business elite regards itself as beyond the law". The authorities should have detected the scam earlier and thus minimised the loss to states in taxes. Car buyers can then know that the car they purchase will have correct emissions figures.

Joe Dowling,



German efficiency at play

Am I alone in having a sneaking regard for the technical ingenuity, professional excellence and sheer effrontery of Volkswagen's software engineers?

Dr John Doherty

Vienna, Austria


Irish solution to drink-drive law

Recent coverage re our drink-drive laws brings to mind the case of a fella being stopped at a Garda checkpoint.

"Have you been drinking sir?" asks the garda. "Oh yes, nine or maybe ten pints," comes the reply. "Blow into this bag so," commands the garda. "Why, do you not believe me?" says the driver.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin


City and county's different needs

A few years ago, Dublin was divided into four local councils on the grounds that it had become too unwieldy due to the size of the population.

Now some group has decided that the second biggest city in the State and the largest county should be amalgamated. Will not that entity be unwieldy also? We're told it will save money. Surely, by now, the world and his dog must know that money saving is, like the unicorn, a beautiful myth.

All that will really be accomplished will be to abolish two important entities (City and County Councils) to create a body likely to be riven by internal divisions, as urban and rural dwellers have different perspectives and needs in so many areas. Please let sense prevail.

Pat Browne

Blackrock, Cork


Sinn Féin's closed society

Your editorial of September 19 is not so precise. Sinn Féin did not get a mandate in the 1918 election, as they got only 47pc of the votes cast, but they did get a majority of the seats. A progressive revolution is from a closed society to an open society. The UK was an open, creative society. At that stage, it had innovated about 90pc of the technology of the world - trains, steam-powered steel ships, Maxim guns, to name a few.

In medicine, it developed anaesthetics, the cure for smallpox, later TB and, with the US, a cure for polio. Sinn Féin's closed society was based separation, self-sufficiency, defence of the status quo, and fear of progress and liberalism.

Industry was set up behind a protective barrier of tariffs and could only be owned by Irish citizens. The opposite is the way to peace and prosperity. The world is interdependent and only by co-operation and integration will trade grow and technologies improve. Knowledge is power and big units are essential to push out the frontiers of knowledge. Ireland is now a province of the EU and we have gone from a potato-chip economy to a computer-chip economy.

James Mathers

Address with editor

Irish Independent

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