Friday 28 October 2016

The truth about economic growth? It is actually slowing down

Published 14/07/2016 | 02:30

A trader takes a break outside the New York Stock Exchange Photo: Brendan McDermid / Reuters
A trader takes a break outside the New York Stock Exchange Photo: Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Whoopee! 26.3pc growth. We've really done it this time; the fastest-growing economy in the world; possibly the fastest-growing economy of all time. We must all be millionaires with the best health and education and social and everything else system there is. I don't know what all the worry about Brexit is; Britain, if it has any sense, will do its damnedest to join us.

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With a performance like last year, even the mighty US could give up the 'Stars and Stripes' and row in under the 'Green, White and Gold'. That really would be inversion taken to the ultimate. But then reality takes hold and we discover the whole thing is a farce. Gurus who keep crowing about our astonishing "growth" tell us the statistics don't really mean anything at all and cannot be taken seriously.

They actually admit to a bit of a sham; people and multinationals routing enormous revenue deposits through our little country so they pay little or no tax to anyone. Meanwhile, the real story is that the world is closing down on growth. Continually increasing the amount of goods and services being produced each year is no longer needed or possible in a world which over the last decade or so is producing grossly too much. Security of business and employment is in a spin; nobody can be sure of the economics of the future any more. There is talk of Italian banks latching onto deposits to keep themselves afloat; pensions are entering Neverland; savings are returning minus earnings and the Bank of England warns of 15 million UK jobs in peril from automation.

This is why people turn to extreme politics and vote against the establishment.

But the real reason is the inability of existing economic philosophy and ideology to manage an economic system transformed by modern technology.

Padraic Neary, Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

Advances in education

2x2=4, 2x3=6, 2x4=8 etc . . . the sound of tables being chanted in many Irish classrooms down through the years. Then came project-based learning and rote learning became a thing of the past.

This week, the UK Department of Education announced it is to spend £41m (€48.6m) on retraining primary teachers to use a traditionalist 'Shanghai Method' of maths teaching.

This method sees the layout of the classroom changed - out goes the carpet, and in comes rows of individual desks with every child working on their own facing the front with their eyes glued to the teacher and the interactive whiteboard.

The lesson is highly repetitive, with children going over and over the same point, with a tiny additional element added on once the whole class has mastered the previous level. The children carry out a lot of chanting and recitation of key facts to "embed" the principles.

The lessons are also much shorter (35 minutes), and then followed by unstructured play (15 minutes), before starting over again. It sounds very familiar to a lot of teachers and children of 1970s Ireland. So, are we going back to go forward? Time will tell. Parents, I suggest you keep those old table books you used in school. Who knows, they might be useful again?

Dr David O Grady, Killarney

Blaming the Russians for our ills

Ray Kinsella (Irish Independent, July 11) wrote an enlightening piece on the continued militarisation of Europe. As the EU leaders attended a summit in Warsaw, their military forces staged war games near Russia's border. This encirclement of Russia by Nato forces has been underway for quite some time, now it seems sinister forces in Brussels and Washington are hell bent on igniting a conflict with Russia at all costs, a conflict that could only lead to all-out nuclear war and the end of life on this planet.

I can only imagine the reaction of the Americans if Russian forces started playing war games along the Mexican border with the US. They've demonised Vladimir Putin because in 2000 he took control of Russia and booted out the robbers and exploiters who'd been looting the country, as Boris Yeltsin was in a stupor 24/7 for 10 years; and the ones that he didn't kick out were sent to prison for their crimes. The fact Putin put the Russian economy back on the rails and brought the chaos to an end is what's bugging certain faceless bureaucrats who are behind the war games. We would do well to remember that if it hadn't been for the Russians in the 1940s, the Nazis would have enslaved the world.

Paddy O'Brien, Balbriggan, Co Dublin

RTE keeps me hanging on

I look forward to the 'Documentary On One' (Radio 1) on Saturday. Apparently it's about James O'Sullivan, Ireland's 'elusive' hangman.

In the meantime, I'll be kept in suspense.

Tom Gilsenan, Beaumont D9

It's no longer a crisis when we act

Gavin Wylie's irrational predilection for the terms 'problem' and 'situation' as substitutes for the equally acceptable 'crisis' is symptomatic not only of pedantry, but also of a misunderstanding of the word he so abhors (Letters, July 13).

Wylie suggests that "a crisis, by definition, has no solution". This is certainly not the case. A 'crisis' is not an irresolvable catastrophe, but in fact, being derived from the Greek verb 'to decide' refers to some pivotal or crucial moment in which a consequential decision is made.

By this definition, the present difficulties in housing in this country are undoubtedly a crisis, as they present an opportunity where we must decide to act or passively watch the problem grow worse, with both options having very significant consequences on our society.

Christopher McMahon, Castleknock, Dublin 15

Access to Children's Hospital

My daughter has a complex, life-limiting medical condition and attends Temple St Children's Hospital. On Saturday she became very ill and we needed an ambulance. We live fairly close to the city and as it was a Saturday afternoon, I thought we wouldn't have a problem.

We got to Heuston Station quickly enough but then traffic was bumper to bumper - in some places, cars were blocking bus lanes so we couldn't get through.

This continued for the rest of the journey. At one point, the driver was shouting out the window to get cars onto the footpath. I couldn't believe the mayhem we had to try and get through to get my very sick child to the hospital.

The decision to build the new Children's Hospital at St James's means what happened to my little girl on Saturday will only continue to happen.

Our Government has the chance to rectify this horrendous decision now -but no one seems to be listening.

Samantha Hogan-Villena, Palmerstown, Dublin 20

Irish Independent

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