Thursday 22 March 2018

Johnny Fallon: A proper stimulus package, or just another money and time wasting folly?

SINCE the times of the Romans, states have been building and improving roads. This is based on a very simple principle: roads increase the volume of people travelling, cut journey times, alleviate traffic pressures, and reduce the costs of transporting goods and workers from one place to another. It is therefore not hard to see why the government might prioritise roads in its stimulus package yesterday. It is one of the few areas an Irish government can invest in and see an immediate tangible benefit. It does, however, lack imagination.

A stimulus package in Ireland is always of questionable value. We are not as closed and small an economy as Iceland and we do not possess the large internal markets of the US or Germany. Therefore a stimulus can often fall flat on its face, delivering nothing but an outflow of cash, 1977 being an example of this. Yet something must be done to try and instil some life and confidence in our economy.

Driving out the N4 from Dublin, passing Celbridge on your right, there is a monument known as ‘Connolly’s Folly’. This was built as one of the famous famine relief programmes. Back then, although people were destitute and struggling to survive, there was a school of thought that reckoned people should not be given money for nothing and it was better to have them work for their ‘relief’.

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