The news today that the proportion of Leaving Cert students taking honours maths and physics has declined confirms what third level teachers already know: mathematical literacy is poor in Ireland. There are obvious implications for the credibility of the government’s knowledge economy ‘strategy’, but since the government has little credibility anyway that is not of any great importance. The problem of low mathematical standards is, however, an important one for the economy. It is a problem for which there are no quick fixes, but which could be solved given time, willingness to change, and attention to detail. Which makes it a nice metaphor for the Irish economy more generally.