Next Generation Ireland

Am a bit late to this, but better late than never. Ronan Lyons, who has indirectly contributed a lot of material to this blog, and Ed Burke are co-editors of a new book called Next Generation Ireland. The book includes contributions from Ronan Lyons and Ed Burke themselves who give an introductory essay. Ronan also provides a chapter on improving the public sector and a co-authored chapter with Stephen Kinsella on improving fiscal policy in terms of both levels and composition. Eoin O’Malley takes on the issue of political and governmental reform. Michael Courtney has a chapter on identity, migration and citizenship. Michael King offers a chapter on improving competitiveness. Joseph Curtin has a chapter on environmental issues. Aoibhin de Burca has a chapter on North-South and Ireland-UK relations. Neil Sands and Nicola White provide an essay on the global extent of Irish identity and the importance of thinking along these dimensions. Co-editor Ed Burke’s final chapter is on Irish foreign policy.

Please feel free to use this post to debate aspects of the book if you have read it. Might also be worth debating what qualities the next generation of people who influence policy and business in Ireland should possess.

37 thoughts on “Next Generation Ireland”

  1. Excellent book from what iv seen/heard
    “Might also be worth debating what qualities the next generation of people who influence policy and business in Ireland should possess.”
    Might I suggest a passport, fluency in a non-English language and personal mobility?

  2. @ Brian Lucey

    Your advice echoed that which I have given to my daughter since 07 who is studying Business & Finance with Spanish (learning Portuguese on her own).

    Hopefully heading off to her first Internship in one of the authors of the financial doom in summer.

    She laughed.

    One on the inside? 🙂

  3. Liam, thanks for starting the discussion here. I’ll also take this opportunity to note that the book is not aimed at experts; it’s a book aimed the “interested citizen”. We have also done our best to ensure consistency of style across chapters as I’m aware multi-author works can often be little more than a collection of essays.

    Personally, I found editing the book to be an excellent learning experience for areas of Government policy outside an economist’s comfort zone. I’ve put up my thoughts on what I learnt from the process here:
    http://www.ronanlyons.com/2011/03/23/next-generation-ireland-ideas-for-the-years-ahead/

    PS. Just the other day, the eBook version went live, for those abroad/looking to minimise their carbon footprint. It’s available here: http://www.blackhallpublishing.com/index.php/ebook/next-generation-ireland-ebook.html

  4. @ BL

    Would it kill you to write ‘I’ve’ or ‘I have’, instead of the roman numerial for 4.

  5. Might also be worth debating what qualities the next generation of people who influence policy and business in Ireland should possess.

    “Family, religion, friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business. ” -Monty Burns

    @ Ordinary man

    Spanish and Portuguese sound like good options. There is some talk about learning Chinese. I know there are more Chinese than speakers of Spanish or Portuguese, but its far easier to get a proficient level of a Romance language, than Chinese, plus its easier to do an Erasmus year in Spain or Portugal than travel to China. I think too much emphasis is based on French, at the expense of other European languages.

  6. @ Rory O’Farrell

    On the Monty Bruns quote, there is certainly an element of truth in that ask any commercial lawyer ! 🙂

    You are right as regards the Chinese (2,500 engineers a week qualifying there, a week!).

    I think also that Urdu is a language we are not looking at because a lot of educated Indians actually speak English. The economic potential of India is, I am told, truly immence – infrastructure not withstanding.

    As regards French, I think it is more cultural than practical, unless you are going to France or West Africa – so I agree with you there.

    Family and business give her connections in Portugal and South America but you never know – she could opt for the Diplomatic Service ! 🙂

  7. “Might also be worth debating what qualities the next generation of people who influence policy and business in Ireland should possess.”

    Energy, bounce, integrity, initiative, social and intellectual curiosity, cultural breadth, lack of deference to authority particularly patriarchies, articulacy, a sense of justice, social solidarity and civic pride, ability to change and adapt without being weather vanes, a sense of what a flourishing society entails, commitment, GSOH and the ability to tell the wood from the trees.

    Having posted that, I shall go off and read the book.

  8. This is a welcome book and as a member of ‘the next generation’ I look forward to reading it. Congrats.

    The only concern I have (and it is a general concern with how we approach public policy in Ireland) is whether Ireland is examined and contextualised in a comparative European perspective? I am sure many of the authors do this?

    I think one of the biggest challenges for the next generation is to stop thinking so ‘Irish’. To really challenge the tradition of complacency, group think, anti-intellectual, anti-left, cute hoorism and back scratching that dominates Irish business and politics. Ireland has to start learning from the experience of other small open European economies if it is to adapt to future challenges facing a small open economy on the periphery of Europe. There is simply no point comparing Ireland to the UK or the USA anymore.

    This is not to say we can automatically cut and paste the corporatist success of Netherlands, Finland, Austria or Denmark given our historically diverse political-institutional contexts. But, there is still a lot to learn, particularly in the remaining policy areas available to national governments in a shared monetary union (and global economy); fiscal, labour market and social policy.

    I am currently based in the Netherlands and when Irish public policy is examined comparatively one is immediately confronted the conundrum: how can Ireland maintain a low tax model yet simultaneously expect the same level of public service as our European partners? Furthermore, how long can Ireland sustain an industrial and developmental socio-economic policy premised on low cost and FDI?

    It seems that there is trend and public discourse emerging in Ireland that we were not ‘liberal market’ enough over the past 15 years. That is, we attempted a hybrid between Anglo-liberal and Euro-social public policies and we should revert to a purer version of former. I think this would be a policy and institutional mistake.

    The success of small open European economies is premised on a wider tax base, higher marginal and effective tax rates, higher levels of employer contribution to social insurance, higher levels of public spending (particularly education), strong indigenous enterprise, embedded systems of collective bargaining in wage setting, flexible yet secure labour markets (flexicurity), higher levels of part time employment to distribute work in a down turn, well funded child care support. Finally social welfare is considered an active process of support to ensure the collective well being and capabilities of its citizens. Ireland has a long road to travel to become more Euro-Irish but it is essential if we are to ‘save the future’.

  9. @Adian R,

    I am also curious about the conundrum you describe. I’ve been hoping that the political leadership would argue publicly for making some sort of choice, as is it seems that no decision has been made and Ireland is drifting (for lack of a better word) towards a new ‘normal’.

    The new ‘normal’ will be different to the bubble times and it will be different to what is today.

    If a policy has been chosen, then I’m not sure what the policy is. If a policy has not been chosen, then I’d have to say that not choosing is irresponsible by the political leadership and my personal opinion is that the political leadership should be asked where they are leading Ireland. Towards the US, UK, French, German, Greek or Nordic model? (or?)

  10. @Aidan R

    ‘The success of small open European economies is premised on a wider tax base, higher marginal and effective tax rates, higher levels of employer contribution to social insurance, higher levels of public spending (particularly education), strong indigenous enterprise, embedded systems of collective bargaining in wage setting, flexible yet secure labour markets (flexicurity), higher levels of part time employment to distribute work in a down turn, well funded child care support. Finally social welfare is considered an active process of support to ensure the collective well being and capabilities of its citizens.

    Just thought that was worth reading again … (-;

  11. I really don’t see how saying that Ireland should have strong indigenous enterprise, enough money for high social welfare rates, etc. is an economic policy.

    Obviously if Ireland were wealthier, then Ireland would be wealthier. That’s not a policy. That’s an aspiration.

    We did try high marginal tax rates, you know, in the eighties, but it turns out that Irish people dislike tax more than Danes. We are blessed by the absence of the massive pension crush that will hit the big-state, old-people SOEs in a few years. Denmark may have the rich world’s largest public sector: how will they pay those pensions? Note that Sweden and Denmark began this welfare state experiment as rich states and have accepted a slower economic growth rate; this would have been a disgraceful recommendation for Ireland. Finally, note that Sweden, Denmark etc. have been reducing rather than increasing the sizes of their welfare states, indicating that for a given cultural endowment, the ability to enforce redistribution while ensuring prosperity decreases with time.

    I fear that the idolisation of the Nordic model is “presentism” and typical of a viewpoint that ignores history. We need solutions to the problems of the Irish in 2011, rather than those of the Danes in 1968.

  12. @ Edward

    I see no idolisation of the Nordic model in the above comments (this, I assume, refers to the traditional social democratic bargain associated with Keynesian macro-economic demand managment that does not exist anymore?).

    The Danish and Dutch combination social protection/security with the neccessary flexibility for a market economy emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000’s not 1968. The use of strategic economic planning is generally considered rational in Europe not a messy intervention in ontologically autonomous markets.

    Thus, when Ireland was slashing taxes and pump priming the economy in the interest of ‘liberal markets’ (post 1997) most small open European economies were engaged in a coordinated long term development plan aimed at flexicurity.

    Furthermore, if these ‘big states’ are so crushed by their ‘public sectors’ and large ‘social spending’ why do they always emerge top of the leader board when it comes to innovation and competition?

  13. @ Adrian R

    and if I might add, quite pleasant places to live on the whole.

    Germany is great too !
    🙂

  14. The effect of the university embargo and the broader shift in the universities toward a centralised control model will have a big impact on that side of the next generation. Having new people coming into system with new and disruptive ideas is almost what defines universities and without this, they will become boring places, particularly in a context where the quango regulating them now feels empowered to make decisions at the most micro of levels.

    Its not clear why any of us care about a country as an abstract entity. It may be, as a lot of libertarians would point out, a product of brainwashing that we should all get out of our systems. Maybe, as Brian says, the next generation should head off and not look back. But to be honest I think this is a narrow-minded view. Ireland has many good features and if you were dropped randomly onto the planet, it is one of the best places to be dropped. It is not irrational to feel a tie to the place one was born and a desire to make a contribution to it. This is why it was good to see Ronan and Ed’s book and we should continue in that spirit.

  15. Another aspect of the next generation in Ireland will be the many different cultures embedded into it. The new book by Darmody, Tyrell and Song (linked below) is worth reading in that regard. Seeing the current group of children either born outside the country or to parents born outside the country grow up will be a fascinating aspect of the next generation in Ireland. This book is worth reading to see how they are getting on.

    http://bit.ly/eTlAUp

  16. Ah yes – even more words and analysis by the sound of comments so far – will read it and search for any commentary on how we overcome the second ‘Irish Disease’ – ‘Failure To Implement’…………

  17. @ Aidan R

    An excellent comment and on a topic I raised on another thread in relation to the CCCTB: the choice to be made between Berlin and Boston implicit in the pressure from Germany to recognise the inconsistencies in Irish taxation policy.

    Garret Fitzgerald has an interesting article in Saturday’s Irish Times attempting an explanation of the root of the problem viz. the near total lack of a sense of civic responsibility in Ireland.

    My own view is that we are running a mini-version of the US in Ireland, firmly anchored in Tammany Hall.

    The interesting aspect is that the approach has run out of road and is now up against the Troika of the IMF/Commission/ECB. It is an historic crossroads and the direction the country takes is what will decide the future of the next generation, irrespective of the “qualities” that they are supposedly expected to require.

    I will, however, reserve judgement until I have read but the book.

  18. Folks, with post moderator hat on I don’t think there is any harm if people want to bring this thread to a general topic on the next generation as well as the specific book.

  19. @Liam Delaney

    I note the loss of the geary behaviour blog – what you up to now these days?

  20. @David O’Donnell
    Have managed to keep busy!

    Blogs are an important part of how “new” people can get heard in places like Ireland and keeping a blog in Geary for over four years definitely was a good experience in how this works, as has popping up here the odd time. I am talking to a few different people for how to proceed on that as I would like to develop something else. I have a personal blog for the time being. Blogs, twitter etc., are an important feature for academics who want to get involved in public debate. How they develop will in part shape how a newer generation emerges with new ideas. This blog here has been amazing in keeping the idea of academic independence and willingness to critique the government alive. I am personally afraid of what will happen if/when people like Karl eventually shrug their shoulders and decide to pack it in. We are going through a very funny period in how the government thinks of itself with relation to the universities and I hope that at least some of the senior academics keep pushing.

  21. @Liam Delaney

    Well – we certainly need ‘ideas’ – and phychological/behavioural economics must have a part to play in these ……. bringing the ‘human back in’ so to speak in all its ontological messiness and complexity and power …. and saving us from the disasters that ensue when the fundamentalist ideologues wield influence in the corridors of power …..

  22. The behavioural work an interesting part David certainly and obviously something I am following. More generally, Economics is probably going through a phase of bringing back in things like psychology, economic history, history of thought and so on into the mainstream and I have to say I think this is exciting for economics. How it filters through to Irish economic policy in the medium run is an open question.

    On the political side, worth thinking whether some of the new emerging leaders like Varadhkar are offering new ideas.

  23. Well I’m a firm believer in inter-disciplinarity …….. but upper-echelons continue to exist in academia as well as in the broader economy/society as well ……. conservatism is stiffling …… time for radical challenges is, if not now, when?

    Leo’s support for Irish Cricket is much appreciated – as is his decision to advertise for state boards ….. a potentially sane roight-of-centre ….. not my cup of tea, but I’d welcome pragmatic sanity in that space …

  24. @ Edward

    We did try high marginal tax rates, you know, in the eighties, but it turns out that Irish people dislike tax more than Danes.

    Really? I thought it was because Irish people disliked being unemployed, but perhaps I’m mistaken.

    @ Liam Delaney

    Varadkar is a “leader”? Hardly. It just seems a reheated version of what the Toryboys in the Uk and the Bushies in the US have been doing.

    As to NGI, I’d take it more seriously if the chairman of Golden Sachs’ local franchise weren’t recommending it.

  25. @EWI don’t have very strong views on this. He seems to be the most prominent of the politicians below the age of 40 and thus a “leader” in that sense. Pearse Doherty in Sinn Fein is someone else I do not know a lot about but has been giving impressive economic speeches. To be honest, I think he has been one of the most articulate economic commentators from the political side and maybe this is because I have set the bar very low or maybe he really does have his eye on the ball. Am not going to get into the business of endorsing candidates, particularly as the only politician I ever did complement on this blog before was George Lee!

  26. @ Liam Delaney

    I’d be inclined to go with “a low bar”, unfortunately – and not just with the politicians. I think that certain commentators’ skulls would explode if they had to think outside a cosy Sindo-IT consensus.

  27. The new generation and where it will go from here is an interesting topic. The level of education of the 2011 generation is higher than that of the 1985 version . In addition, the main recent pillars of the state- FF, the banks, the church – are all in various states of meltdown. There is definite potential. To what extent will change be possible ? One worry is the complete lack of accountability that prevails in Ireland. The big accountancy firms will still be run by those who helped drive on the Tiger over the cliff, for example.

  28. @ |Liam Delaney

    ‘ Pearse Doherty in Sinn Fein is someone else I do not know a lot about but has been giving impressive economic speeches. To be honest, I think he has been one of the most articulate economic commentators from the political side and maybe this is because I have set the bar very low or maybe he really does have his eye on the ball. ‘

    Would that be the same bar Michael and Dinny met up in before the match?

    Or is that bar intellectual, political or ‘I just don’t know what goes on up north’ sort of a bar – short memories south of Newry come Easter.

    It is just such ‘gut wrenching’ hypocritical sub-humanising comment worthy of a certain North Tipperary politician.

    It is as well he is not black or jewish – you might have landed yourself is some politically incorrect bother there.

    Oh, I didn’t vote for ‘them’ either. 🙂

  29. @seafóid

    Zero Accountability – remains at Zero Accountability.

    Stat sig*************************************

  30. What on earth are you on about????

    When I talked about setting the bar low, I meant with relation to the standard of economics debate in the Dail and nothing else.

  31. @Ordinaryman – why dont we try a first in the history of this blog and have you acknowledge that you misinterpreted my remark? Or does the fact that you comment anonymously mean you dont have to obey any basic standards for fair comment.

  32. @ Liam

    Well I am all for making history and I will gladly be the first to apologise if I have misinterpereted your remarks Liam, I do apologise.

    Maybe being just an ordinary man I missed the subtlety in your remarks !

    🙂

    My being anonymous on this site is really not the issue.

  33. You definitely misinterpreted my remarks so why don’t we end this in civil fashion by me saying apology accepted.

  34. Tried to buy the E-Version on Blackhall site – unable to – an example of the second ‘Irish Disease’ – ‘Falure to Implement’?

  35. @Vinny, am sorry to hear you had problems downloading the ebook from our website. At what point in the process did the error occur? Hopefully, you just experienced a temporary glitch. I just did a test purchase and was able to download the ebook without any problems. Please try again and if you are still having problems contact us on 01 2785090 or sales@blackhallpublishing.com so we can resolve this issue.

  36. Forgot to add: for anyone wondering about a Kindle version, we hope to have that up on the Amazon Kindle store very shortly, so keep an eye out for it.

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