Irish legacy -

Irish legacy


Brian Topp draws lessons from Ireland’s meltdown.

The state is awash in debt (thanks in part to excessive tax cuts); the deregulated private sector has gorged itself in an orgy of speculative greed, and finally expired in a property and banking bubble; and now the working and middle class – and their children, and their grandchildren – get to pick up the tab while the winners enjoy their properties in the Grand Caymans. Nobody in Ireland stood up to the special interests. They “ran like a business.” Now the bill has come due.

These are the real stakes between those who work for moderate, prudent, incremental progressive government, moving forward within its means in the public interest, and the other side – the mouthpieces for greed and reckless irresponsibility. The shills and charlatans of the populist right, and those who fund them.


Irish legacy

  1. Ireland cut taxes and deregulated, same as the US.

    And now they're in the same mess as the US.

  2. It is just so stupid and predictable for Wherry and Topp to say that there is any connection between a socialist premier taking credit for fixing Saskatchewan and blaming Ireland`s mess on capitalism gone wild.

    Saskatchewan is solvent because of the wealth created by oil and gas, potash, uranium, massive agricultural exports, etc.—-not because an NDP premier thought he could tell the bond traders how to do their job.

    Ireland is insolvent because now that the wealth created by the massive influx of capital to their economy for private sector construction and business and public sector infrastructure has dried up, they are left with a country with little natural resources and a workforce that is highly dependent on over-paid publically funded jobs.
    If you spend more than you take in—you soon go broke.

  3. If you spend more than you take in—you soon go broke.

    Unless you work on Wall Street, then you get bailouts.

  4. LOL you don't even try for any finesse anymore Blue.

    ' that the wealth created by the massive influx of capital to their economy for private sector construction and business and public sector infrastructure has dried up'


    'workforce that is highly dependent on over-paid publically funded jobs'

  5. If I were you I might try a little introspection, then dare to adventure into a world that is just a bit different than my own. Thinking about alternate explanations at the heart of disasters can lead to avoiding them in future. There is plenty of evidence that Topp (and scores of other critical thinkers) might just be right about what happened in Ireland.

    But then I'm not you, so I suppose it's none of my business. Nonetheless, I will consider you biased and mistrust your opinions — as is my right.

  6. …..and Ireland is in the process of receiving a bailout from the EU.
    Ireland has a chance to get back on it`s feet but only if they continue to cut public spending that was allowed to increase rapidly when the boom was on. The tax revenue created by this boom is not coming back soon—Ireland tried playing with the big boys in the EU and got burnt. They can blame their predicament on the EU, on the banks on the speculators, but ultimately Ireland`s gov`t created their own mess.
    A simple rule to follow would be to not spend more than you take in—-and in good times it`s OK to spend less than you take in.

  7. Thankfully Canada's poor productivity preformance and stagnant wage levels have helped prevent the kind of prosperity growth that led to housing bubbles in some other countries.

  8. For once, I agree with the guy…

    "These are the real stakes between those who work for moderate, prudent, incremental progressive government, moving forward within its means in the public interest (read: Liberals), and the other side – the mouthpieces for greed (read: conservatives) and reckless irresponsibility (read: Topp's NDP)."

  9. And I mistrust Wherry and Topp. It is possible for a government to encourage investment and at the same time control gov`t spending during the good times because private sector investing is very mobile.

    Governments that gladly rake in tax revenue in boom times and then complain when the revenue is not there must learn to prepare for the down times.

  10. Blue, prior to joining the EEC/EU, Ireland's only trading partner of any consequence was the UK. They were one of the poorest countries in Europe faced with massive outmigration (again). By joining the EU, Ireland vastly expanded its export markets. Ireland also received billions in EU subsidies, helping to modernize their infrastructure, social services and educational system.

    Unfortunately, Ireland's government (lead by Ahern, himself a brown envelope style politician) used the budget space vacated by these EU social and infrastructure subsidies to cut corporate taxes and extend subsidies to property developers, biotech and IT companies, banks, etc., meaning they padded big companies' pockets while reducing the amount of revenue those companies paid to the government. The case against Ireland's free-wheeling politicians and business buccaneers is pretty strong.

  11. Topp's article reminds me that progressives and conservatives should be working together more in Parliament. There is a lot of overlap between NDP and Cons if only they can understand one another.

    I had to read Topp's article three times – twice because I could not get past his twee nonsense about the glories of bureaucracy and had no idea what lesson Canada could learn from Ireland – but the third time I finally understood Topp's point – "Over-dependence on debt hands the keys of public policy to lenders and to their advisers."

    That's a message many economic conservatives could support but we think of it differently. Cons talk about debt to grandchildren while progs worry about technocrats losing power but we both want balanced budget at least.

  12. Tom Ford in the Winnipeg Free Press recently: " . . . Saskatchewan's current prime minister Brad Wall, a Tory, is in deep deficit country. Since coming to power, Wall has increased program spending an astounding 10.1 per cent a year, almost triple the growth of the population and inflation combined."

    Wall is currently piling on total public debt and unsustainably raiding the crown corporations for dividends.

    Not a good recipe.

  13. Point taken.
    My problem is with the hypocrisy of gov`ts that take credit for economic boom times ( Celtic Tiger ) because of their attractive corporate tax policies and then blame those same tax policies when things go back to where they once were.

  14. A corollary to that rule would be 'If your budget is balanced, don't cut taxes unless you have a plan to cut spending'.

    Right wing politicians never seem to get that one. Instead, they buy popularity with tax cuts funded by the voters' children and grandchildren.

  15. Would you say that the 2008 economic crisis (still being played out dramatically today in countries such as Ireland) is as a result of a "knowledge economy" or would it be as a result of having too little of a "knowledge economy"?

    Are you still researching for giving me an answer?

  16. …like our current federal government, no?

  17. Fair enough. Similarly, Ireland had no problem taking advantage of free market access to the EU and taking in billions in EU subsidies, but then gave a middle finger to a new EU constitution that would have required spending restraint and today scream "betrayal" and "colonialism" as the EU and IMF come in to keep them from oblivion (and from dragging the Euro zone down with them).

  18. But the govt isn't blaming their tax policies….in fact the govt is fighting to keep them

  19. Maybe not but Topp and Wherry are quick to lay blame on the tax policies that created the Celtic Tiger.

  20. I`d agree with your corollary and if the corporate tax cuts do result in a net increase in tax revenue then use that revenue to pay down the national debt.

  21. So are others…..other countries ….but not the Irish politicians.

    See….you can't spend like crazy….and cut taxes….it doesn't work.

    Bush tried that too.

  22. "Over-dependence on debt hands the keys of public policy to lenders and to their advisers."

    Too true. Neil Reynolds' laudatory article in the G&M yesterday re: Tommy Douglas was an interesting take on this.

    Plus this quote should be hammered into Naomi Klein's head, as she still is in denial about this — cf. her asinine statements about Canada's debt problems in the early 1990s.

  23. Since you haven't the faintest idea what the knowledge economy is, there is no point in playing your game.

  24. Tomorrow can be summed up in two words: Sinn Fein

  25. Thanks for mention of Douglas article. I have sent article off to my Nan – she loves Douglas, thinks he's a proper socialist and not some whippersnapper like P Trudeau.

    In the article, it mentions near the end that Douglas had 17 (!!!) consecutive budget surpluses while Premier and at the same time implementing his left wing agenda. Remarkable, wish we could do the same now.

  26. And Minister Kenney can look forward to a trickle … or flood …. of educated …
    and white … immigrants.

  27. By now it should no longer surprise me that participants such as yourself, time and again, back off as soon as a most serious question is being asked. And yet, somehow it still surprises me to what lenghts the likes of you will go in finding excuses besides yourself to avoid answering questions.

    I'm not playing any games, Emily. You don't have an answer to my posed question and then simply give up by blaming it all on me. And you wonder why anyone should take your postings seriously? I guess not, it all simply goes over your head.

  28. Don't forget Catholic!

  29. Yeah, it really sucks here in Canada, what with our regulated, stable economy.

    I wish I was in a labour riot somewhere…

  30. Tories seem to have a weird knack for that. Grant Devine did the same thing…

  31. I just happened to have my Oct 4 issue next to me here, and the first article in the business section is "Telus decides to opt out of the latest communications convergence frenzy". So, perhaps the issue is that you're only trolling Wherry's blog, and not reading the actual magazine?

  32. Hi Emily,

    FVerhoeven has a valid point. I would like to see you answer his question. Why the fear in addressing his point? I don't understand.