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Key to driving the economy lies in sound economic ideology


Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Brendan Keenan is rather dismissive of Henry Ford (Irish Independent March 12, 2015) who through automation, price reduction and $5 a day was the catalyst for consumer economics which have dominated the world ever since.

He broke the mould; he changed the ideology, his initiative gave impetus to the economic roller coaster which has taken us to the unprecedented success we enjoy today. Henry's remark "history is bunk" certainly resonates with the economic history Mr Keenan and his peers rely on to guide us through this unprecedented, successful economic period, which we foolishly identify as "recession". This is not "recession" but transformation to the very best economic time that ever existed, with an abundance of practically everything and the reduction of a reliance on human labour.

Henry Ford took automation, production and work onto an entirely new plateau in the early 20th century.

Computerisation has taken automation, production and work onto a much higher plateau in the early 21st century.

The latest remedy appears to be quantitative easing; doing exactly what the banks were doing a decade ago and which is credited with getting us into this mess in the first place.

Pumping billions in non-existent money into economies in a desperate attempt to resurrect growth and employment is not the answer. It can't be done; the era of growth and hard work is over, just as the era of horse power was over when Henry's 'Tin Lizzy' took to the road.

Instead of "growth" we need planned and controlled restraint of economic output and we need employment policies to generate a lot more jobs from a lot less work. It will probably mean the Government employing a lot more people, as private industry requires less and less human input. This is an enormous step for economic ideology but it must be taken to match the enormous step already taken by technological genius.

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

Towards a republic

I agree with Professor John A Murphy (Irish Independent, Letters, March 7) that Ireland became a state on December 6, 1922.

Ireland got dominion status only, it got full independence on December 11, 1931, with the passing of the 'Statute of Westminster 1931'. All the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth - Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Irish Free State were given legislative independence.

It was considered to be a change of 'love of power' - as in the old Empire - to 'the power of love' between equals as in the Commonwealth. The Free State got rid of the oath, the governor and the right of appeal to the (JCPC) Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The next important date was the passing of the 1937 referendum on the Irish Constitution. Ireland was declared a republic in 1948. The latter three all passed without any violence.

Noel Flannery


Capital concerns

The new National Children's Hospital should be renamed the Dublin Children's Hospital. It should not be in a city centre location.

Take, for example, the mother from Donegal who has to bring a sick child weekly to the Mater Hospital.

She drives from Donegal to the outskirts of Dublin then gets a taxi to the Mater at a cost of roughly €20. She then faces a return journey for the same cost and difficulty.

Developer Noel Smith offered a green field site, west of Dublin, low rise buildings, no basement and with grounds. It was refused. Why?

Decentralisation, brought forward by Charlie McCreevy, was a brilliant idea. Dublin does not need more houses, it needs less people.

Some 40pc of drinking water is leaking from Dublin's mains. Solution: drain the Shannon. We, the people, continue to fund schemes to make Dublin even bigger and unmanageable.

Tom Hassett


Tribute to Terry Pratchett

I think many, many people around the world can say the most books from one author they have on their shelves are written by Terry Pratchett. And that is the most wonderful thing I can ever say about him. I hope that is a suitable tribute, my friend, and sends you on wings to whatever sunny place you end up, matey. The luggage will be waiting for you with flapping tongue, whizzing feet and open lid. What a buggerance.

Nigel Fennell

Churchtown, Dublin 14

De Valera's economics

In an article on the relative educational success of small farm families ('The children of the small farmer inherited the earth' March 11) David McWilliams did a disservice to the economic record of early Fianna Fáil governments. He claimed that in the 1930s "Éamon de Valera's self-sufficient economy collapsed, meaning there wasn't a sniff of a job away from the farm" and went on to refer to "De Valera's dingbat economics". The reality is much more interesting.

When Fianna Fáil first came to power in 1932, Ireland, as with the world at large, was already suffering the pain of the great depression. Policies were put in place to substitute goods manufactured in Ireland for imported goods. This was done by imposing tariffs on imports while encouraging the development of indigenous industry. In line with practice in Scandinavia and Germany, a state bank, the Industrial Credit Company, was established in 1933 to help finance industrial projects. New firms emerged to manufacture, for the home market, products such as footwear, apparel, textiles and farm machinery. Public investment boosted employment in construction. Electricity generation stations based on the indigenous resources of water power and peat were built, as were public libraries, vocational schools, administrative offices and public housing schemes. Dreary and unhealthy urban tenements were torn down.

Employment outside farming increased during the 1930s. Rural areas suffered because agricultural exports were cut due to the "economic war" with Britain. However, in the towns and cities there was an increase in economic activity. By 1960, 30pc of the workforce was employed in industry whereas in 1930 it was 15pc. Progress was not spectacular but it was real and meaningful.

Tim O'Sullivan

Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Irish Independent