FLICKING through the National Competitiveness Council's (NCC) latest report, or scorecard to use the council's new term, is instructive. The report is jam-packed with charts and graphs that highlight again and again just how Ireland is struggling to keep up with the rest of the world.
It is impossible to think of a person who would not be interested in at least one section of the report, which looks at everything from pay and energy costs to education and healthcare.
We have become used to comparing ourselves with the rest of the European Union, but the NCC does us a real service by comparing us with the 28 nations in the OECD in many charts; offering a stark reminder that many countries outside Europe enjoy better services, education or business environments than we do. For a small, open economy that often competes with Israel or Singapore for investment, this is a useful way of thinking.
The charts and graphs are a call to action that must not be ignored any longer. When we read that only Sweden, India and Italy were more expensive places to enforce a business contract last year or see that our 15-year-olds are being taught for fewer hours than most of their peers abroad, we can finally understand why we are struggling.
The NCC was often ignored during the good times and employers and unions happily lived for the present rather than future. It would be madness to ignore it in the bad times as well.