A Bedraggled ‘Celtic Tiger’ Struggles to Retrain Workers Post author By Philip Lane Post date April 20, 2012 The WSJ article is here. Categories In Uncategorized 42 Comments on A Bedraggled ‘Celtic Tiger’ Struggles to Retrain Workers ← Property Tax: ESRI Conference Paper → ESRI Environmental Economics Seminar 42 replies on “A Bedraggled ‘Celtic Tiger’ Struggles to Retrain Workers” It might appear that the workforce switching to growing industries is a way out of the recession. Not only does it help the public finances it can also contribute to an increase in GDP. However such a tactic isn’t feasible for recovery any longer. Specifically how a growing industry grows is many people organise bank loans for that sector. Money effectively comes from bank loans today so while this bring new money to the economy it brings an even higher debt. We’ve had this system for a long time and increasing mortgages have been the main reason we’ve been able to keep it functioning until now. However mortgages take two careers to repay now and cannot increase further. Growth is no longer a viable option for recovery. Issuing a portion of the money supply as permanent debt free money is one possibility for recovery. Paul Ferguson Sensible Money ‘Ireland is the only EU member state where learning a modern foreign language isn’t compulsory in school.’ That about sums up the whole education strategy in this country for the last 40 years – about as much foresight as a mole….. “So the country has had to regain its competitiveness relative to the rest of the world in a more excruciating way: by lowering the prices of goods and labor in real terms” I believe that only one half of that process is being carried out. Can Americans not write about Ireland without mentioning the bloody famine? Streuth. “The 34-year-old Dubliner looked for other hotel jobs, but found only minimum-wage positions paying €8.65 an hour” Employers were very quick to cotton on that they could get away with this. “The Irish government has responded in part with a massive retraining program” Is that true? Massive? Effective? Will get results? I don’t buy it. Even if the training is being conducted, where are the jobs? Or are we continuing to pay to train people to work outside of Ireland and never see that ‘investment’ made good within these borders? “The father of four worked at an Allergan Inc. AGN +0.27%factory in Ireland making breast implants until it shut down in 2009” Cue inappropriate joke about the venture going t1ts up. Seriously – what we need is recovery and growth. By the time that comes (if ever?) back to Ireland, even if there is some great retraining going on now, it will be ‘use it or lose it’ and we will lose it because these guys will not have the opportunith to put their new skills to practical use. I want to see a serious growth and recovery programme being taken on by Ireland, led by people who know how to turn things around. Not money spent on pushing unemployed people around courses to train for jobs that aren’t there simply to make the unemployment figures look a little better. @myself “opportunith” It was just one of those boozy PR lunches you understand. Greetings, I’ve been wondering why Ireland doesn’t try “on-bill financing”: http://www.buildup.eu/publications/22746 It would encourage innovation in technology R&D, bringing more efficient products to market, thus creating jobs for the “green economy” and improve both domestic and export market activity. Kindest regards, James The domestic economy cannot recover unless we devalue. We are caught in the similar bind with respect to the UK from that point of view. With multinationals being our financial services sector…..although we all know the IFSC is a black box. I don’t see how you can stop exporting very valuable euros for oil , frozen food , cars , foregin holidays , east european dole payments without us pulling out. The only other option is tariffs but the goverment must get permission from VW executives before they can raise the VRT tax me thinks. The best most docile boy in the class….shame he is a dunce. Pointy hats all round. @James Because we are operating in a non optimal monetary envoirment the money / oil cannot flow to the most efficient areas. The Spanish built the most extensive high speed rail system in Europe but they are running half empty because no one has the tokens to buy tickets. Ditto for Ireland. In the Europe of today its cheaper to burn Jet Kerosene & Gasoline…….enriching Arab Sheiks , Bank & BMW merchants….draining the continent of its life force. The spice must flow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcgft-iiZ_s “To pull off its recovery, Ireland is counting on a rise in exports. Exports include not only agricultural products such as milk and meat, but also pharmaceuticals, medical devices and technology services such as call-center work. Such a boost is complicated by the country’s inability to devalue its currency since joining the euro, which would make its exports cheaper.” And those exports get sent worldwide including China. We need to devalue rejoin the sterling zone or PuntNua before this mess gets a lot worse. When is the penny going to drop ? @ PR: “… where are the jobs?” Some are down on the farm but no one want to go there – yet. Devaluing for recovery? Lads, that cannot be a practical solution. Growth (as in business-as-usual) is over. We are transitioning from one economic paradigm (Permagrowth) to another (Perma un-growth). Will take about a decade for the awful truth to sink in. What have we got in to offer to foreign consumers, besides clean water, or a food surplus, or perhaps some eerily beautiful, remote spots with low habitation densities? Now seriously. Its not cheap exports that will save us. Chindia has that market by its testicles. Its our relatively benign climate. And, if we are lucky, our relatively un-polluted fresh water sources and our relatively non-degraded arable land. Trees grow quite well, as well. Our domestic economy will ‘grow down’ to a level that the citizens can support on diminished incomes. That’s it. What this article points out is the scale of the unemployment challenge. But it is being ignored in official circles, largely. It can’t be fixed by a rub of the relic from the saint of structural funds. The country needs a workfare program. Whether efforts similar to those praised by Minster Sherlock, ‘world class’ again, will impact on unemployment is doubtful – of course it would be welcome but so would winning the lottery. After twenty years of funding R&D, one can’t be sanguine given the size of the dole queues. ‘Ireland had the second-highest level of long-term unemployment of 30 countries surveyed by the OECD, after Slovakia’. That’s the most depressing line in the article. The 2nd most depressing line was this: ‘Writing in an Irish newspaper, Google Ireland executive John Herlihy last year said the company “more often than not” had to find candidates abroad. Facebook and Google were among the 10 biggest requesters of foreign work permits in Ireland last year’ Why not make language courses tax deductable at the higher rate. Or a higher tax break for a higher difficulty level/younger the student, or how about ANY language strategy at all. @Brian Without positive money growth the economy cannot seek out more efficient activities. The euros desperate attempt at bank credit based “strength” is in reality a German mercantile tactic or at least seems to be. We are exporting our collective high value euro savings to these mercantile & oil characters – they waste it on car production etc…. we buy the stuff again forming a entropy loop. Its best to add base money to people accounts…….then the waste will manifest itself in clear view and the oil will flow again. I see near empty buses every day. That is purely a monetary phenomena , its not directly a consequence of energy policies…… it is the monetary regeime not adapting to the new energy envoirment. When you credit base money to peoples accounts you are accepting that the bank credit growth model was a failure , although not a failure for all I imagine. @ Dork: OK, I buy the money growth bit – to a point. I assume you have to have a parallel increase in the price of a real asset – else you are debasing your currency. Hopefully that real asset is capable of being sold abroad to generate Forex. This is the model that used to be. Its gone – to Chindia and other points East, and it will never return. Yes, we do have surplus food to sell, and potable water. My guess would be that we could grow most of the food we consume (it would need a significant shift in dietary habit), which would reduce the imports, but there would be ructions if our Gov actually moved to curtail non-essential imports. The real villans are our own legislators in Leinster House. Unless, or until they implement genuine parliamentary and administrative restructurings – we are headed forwards into our past. Don’t mention the busses. I counted seven in a row on the Stillorgan Road the other morning. You might have been able to fill just two. @Brian Whats a asset ? or a “real asset” The bankers should have inflated Gold to 10,000+ if they wanted to keep their double entry system intact by using a useless but rare product as a “real asset” That time appears over. Just add raw base Punts or Euros ( I am not sure on that one) to each persons account. ( I am not sure as I don’t really know who has control over Euro cash…….is it the Banks or the Treasury ?) I do know the banks required a letter of comfort from our Finance mininster before the printing began so at least Finance has formal power of some sort. Maybe somebody in the bowels of the service cannot enlighten us or maybe RK Lorcan Consider this exchange between myself & Steve from Virgina. The Dork of Cork says: April 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm Cannot the banks use Gold on their double entry books using their credit mechanisms ? rather then goverment fiat – this will then fill the waste void of Industrial activities. This must explain the apperent tension between the US Treasury / NYFR $ system and the BIS gold preference that FOFOA always talks about. With the Washington FED the conduit. The absurd zero fiscal debt proposal that the euroclub proposed can only work when Gold is 10,000+ as the banking system needs a token of hypotetical value – be it goverment debt or Gold before it can lend. As mortgage assets depreciate while Gold remains or $s can be conjured up with minimum cost. There can only be one in my view , the $ or the shiney stuff. Reply steve from virginia says: April 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm the banking system needs a token of hypothetical value – be it government debt or Gold before it can lend. … a risk-free asset, in other words. This is indeed the Euro-problem, the absence of a true, risk-free asset. Not even the German debt is worth anything over the longer term … Even without the energy undertones, the EU economies are poorly structured and subject to speculative attacks (as are underway right now). Why not attack? The incentives to do so are greater than to not do so, it’s free ‘money’! There is no return at all to simply holding EU debt to maturity, this is something Gail Tverberg sez over and over: who will lend for 30 years post-peak? Would a ‘post-modern’ government produce gold fiat currency in place of fiat paper currency? Right now, giving the example of Turkey and Vietnam, the answer is no … and for all the BAU reasons. At the same time, if the government was to produce ANY circulating fiat it would tend to rebalance the debt markets because free money would flow away from the speculators: they cannot refuse to lend b/c the government will step in and make a bid. Sometimes I think this is what FOFOA is driving at, but other times I’m not sure. He is trying to square the circle of desired increased gold prices on one hand against the requirement of any hard currency that there is a fixed relationship between the currency and ‘some good’ that it buys, that is, the government sets the price of ‘some good’ and defends that price. For instance, we now have a close price relationship/not-quite-peg between dollars and petroleum. (There was an actual peg by way of Texas Railroad Commission). As with all pegs, the tendency is for it to be in disequilibrium (Minsky). Minsky did not specifically discuss exchange rates (including money- or interest rates) outside of the credit markets but his ‘accelerated disequilibrium principle’ applies to exchange rates as well. The managers who require a fixed relationship between the good and the currency otherwise there is no peg and some other good becomes the ‘risk-free asset’. Within the relationship between crude/dollar: the price level where petroleum becomes the risk-free asset is much lower than what the petroleum supply/demand relationship would indicate. Market forces push prices higher (causing debt instability) and the point where petro is the R-F asset is the point where crude is not on the market because lifting costs are higher than price. This is big reason why industrial markets are as conflicted as they are now. Industry needs high crude prices, to pay for all that fracking. At the same time it needs low price/high dollar worth. As long as the world uses oil as primary component of economic activity, it will sweep aside the use of gold as ‘money’. I’m sure there is a three-way gold-crude-cash arb out there, but I have to do more investigating/thinking. Filling in the blanks requires a lot more explanation, but your observation is apt. The tension between the high-price/low price dynamics results in confusion, which is taking place now because our current ‘hard’ petro-money is volatile for a whole host of reasons unconnected to the efforts of the managers to stuff the crude price into some kind of corner. Problem #1 is the managers do not grasp the implications of low crude prices, they only see the rewards that fall to pandering. The bottom line in all cases is political: the surviving system will offer a longer-term horizon acting in the interests of the entire ‘country’ rather than those of a few well-connected millionaires. Dork again ….. he said when fiat is isssued (issue / tax currency) the money flows away from speculators ……. why ? Their leverage is reduced. The problem is we don’t have a fiat system in operation withen Europe , we don’t even have a debt system. We have a criminal system where the rules are changed to favour the powerful such as the Anglo bond thingy which was a Hybrid Fiat / debt issuance. I don’t think nothing like it has been done before. This is what I think Colm Mc is banging on about and he makes a very good point. “Risk free assets” require a peg of some kind……they typically work for a few decades at least giving some stability until that stability creates a inherent instability withen the system. @ Dork that seems to be a very big picture view point of the larger dynamics of what seems to be going on in the world right now BTW what did you make of Steve keen with his debt jubilee idea i think i have it but i maybe wrong writedown debt by x amount of borrowers ie mortgage holders and credit by x amount of non borrows non mortgage holders so that you keep the money supply neutral and that you lift the huge burdens on people and return to a functioning economy again @ Paul Ferguson i think you are correct that the money supply is the key as we are paying down on these massive debts it is effectivly destroying the money supply which makes it virtually impossible to grow the economy meanwhile Europe is looking on with blinkered and vested views that dont seem to have our interests at heart and we are about to put on an economic straight jacket that does not deal with any of our fundamental problems and puts of in an austere world for ten to twenty years the Euro is looking more everyday like the grave we dug for ourselves @Clintideal I think Keens write down of debt idea involves the crediting of accounts, but people who are in debt must use that money in their checking accounts to reduce their personnel debt. This will increase the ratio of the goverments money supply , reducing “the markets” leverage. To avoid resourse (especially oil) overuse amongest non debtors I would like to see a increase of taxes on oil consumption such as a increase of home heating oil to motor fuel prices and some such etc etc. Issue tax issue tax issue tax……..A fiat system As for the Euro…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88iiMUKepSE Mods. Would it not be easier to give Dork his own blog? Increasingly it’s hard to wade through the comments to get to any meaningful nuggets @Bundesboy “What is the procedure when someone dies ? , what is the administrative procedure ?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8mmxqIUNzU No point crying over spilt milk but I used to wonder during the bubble about retraining some 100,000 computer illiterate construction workers. June 2006: For nine years, American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jnr wrote, that the government had treated business as though it had “discovered the philosopher’s stone which could transmute the uncertainties of the capitalist system into permanent prosperity.” Schlesinger was referring to the Roaring Twenties and in the ninth year of the present Irish Government combination, with an Exchequer awash with cash, and SSIA partytime just getting underway, it’s becoming evident to more than just economists, that the free lunch has yet to be invented. Not alone is there not a path to permanent prosperity, but strikingly, the Government has singularly failed to use a period of unprecedented economic wealth and stability, to introduce significant reforms that would increase our chances of building on the gains of the past decade. …Cassandras are seldom welcome during partytime and while the aftermath may not follow Louis XIV’s après moi, le deluge prediction, as we head to stormier waters, we will surely wonder why so little was done, when we had an unprecedented period to set the foundations for more challenging times. 2006: The free lunch has yet to be invented – the tipping point for the Irish economy: http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10006332.shtml @Ordinary Man Not alone do we not make living second language education compulsory in Primary and Secondary schools we heavily subsidise Gaelic language schools that are dotted all over the country. Some of my close relatives actually subject their children to this organised waste of the child’s time and intellectual capabilities. I tell them they should be charged with child abuse but they are so hung up on Erin go Bragh and the Gaelic is essential support groups, that you might as well talk to the wall. It saddens me to see those children go on to university and continue with their Gaelic studies so as they can get a job at Walmart in Boston. There are good jobs in France and Germany and in addition they can see their mother monthly courtesy of low cost and frequent flights. As a matter of fact the best thing our gov’t could do is support the Goethe Institut and Alliance Francaise to provide our unemployed university graduates with sufficient language skills to get a job in a well governed country. It does not look to me, likely that Ireland is going to enter the realm of well governed countries any time soon. The Irish abroad have prospered mightily give more of us the opportunity to reach our potential. @ Ordinary man: Misssed your comment above: “‘Ireland is the only EU member state where learning a modern foreign language isn’t compulsory in school.” Nope. We do have compulsory teaching of a ‘foreign’ language. Its known as Gale-ik (sic). When (well, maybe if) our emerging Nationalist Socialist party (SF) gets its collective feet under that cabinet table – then its Gawl-ik all around. 😎 Dork. That Keen fellow. Time was (a few years back) when he was less dogmatic and more sensible. Still, he has a point. Debt writedowns and writeoffs are essential – though the principle is indigestable – for the moment anyway. I would not favour giving any critters (apart from you and I!!!) any Moolah into their private bank accounts. Cancel all debts, and mortgages on your principle private residence (provided you live in it 365.5 days per annum for 60 months continuous). Residences will be worth about only 30% – 50% of their current value in a few years time, anyway. Most incomes will also be lower. All credit cards go into the shredder. Put a 1000% tax on mobilephone calls. Lot easier that this property and water tax codology! (I am very in favour of paying for potable water that is provided as a public good. Its a tad expensive). Watch the TV schedules. Will be a few ‘grow-your-own’ programmes soon. And Duggie Stew will be on about us catching lots of rain! 🙂 Some PR guy is going to be busy this weekend. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/insurance/9217435/Aviva-sacks-more-than-1300-workers-by-mistake.html Of course, the mistake might have been that the emails were meant to be for what’s left of Aviva in Ireland. @Mickey Hickey “There are good jobs in France and Germany ” +1 on your comments about Gaelic and talking to the wall. Interesting… I was talking to a French graduate last night – couldn’t find a job in Paris so came here and got one. It’s a good job we don’t have an Irish Daily Telegraph. The readers would be up in arms about all those Johnny foreigners coming here and stealing our jobs. @ PR Guy Great story from Aviva @ Brian Woods Snr Strictly off topic. I note that the plucky Danes are generating about 20% of their energy requirements through wind power and are looking to increase it. The Portugese aren’t far behind. How come wind generation in Ireland is much smaller by comparison? Could Ireland hit the same levels as other windy countries? @Gavin Kostick It’s a few years old, but the basics are: How come wind generation in Ireland is much smaller by comparison? Could Ireland hit the same levels as other windy countries? http://incoteco.com/upload/CIEN.158.2.66.pdf One of the difficulties for Ireland is that offshore wind is more problematic here – much like our oil and gas industries. A second is limited interconnectedness to larger markets with variable capacity. @Hogan Wind energy is a scam http://www.iea.org/stats/pdf_graphs/DKTPESPI.pdf http://www.iea.org/stats/pdf_graphs/FRTPESPI.pdf 2 Sizewell B reactors would provide most of the base load for Ireland with NG power plants taking care of peaks. @ GavinC: Yes we could: with terms and conditions. Its a failure to engage in a meaningful intellectual manner with a topic of significant importance. Its not that we lack the required technical and administrative experience. What we actually lack are (real) leaders: ones with vision, energy and a pair of functioning testicles. Paul Hunt would have the correct explanation for this. Regulatory capture and customer looting. I do not exactly share Dork’s view on re-usables, but there are some very tricky technical details involved, such that the puffers, shills and snake-oil salespersons can completely mesmerize the ill-informed. Back to PH again. I am not a Nuclear fan … but, we could, and should construct small-scale, liquid-bed Thorium reactors. Hazardous, but if run by our army or navy engineers, would be low-risk. I think we might need 20. @Brian Even the UK cannot execute a Nuclear programme now………. it ran down the last of its capability in that area during the early 1990s. The only boffins that exist now are in the financial industry. We in Ireland should just concentrate on doing simple 19th century things , laying down rails and installing wood stoves as most of the wealth is gone. The Danes are blessed with the Kattegat and Skagerrak which has shallow flat rock formations near to shore. If the wind is Force 3 in the North Sea and the Baltic it is Force 5 in Katt and Skagg. The Danes have taken full advantage of this wild, rough area without much interference from the Greens. In Ireland the seas are rougher and the flat rock formations off shore are few and far between. Onshore the complainers, moaners and ologoners come out of the woodwork at the mere hint of progress. They are entitled to cheap electricity and the Gov’t’s job is to provide it without any visible evidence as to how it is being produced. @ PR Guy I would not be surprised if the French person employed in Ireland was needed because of his ability to communicate in both French and English. My wife has got Gov’t jobs where there were no foreign hiring policies because the Gov’t advertised for a high level of capability in German, French and English in Patent applications and commercial correspondence. Languages open doors that would otherwise remain shut. @ Bundesboy The Dork of Cork is a long time, significant and essential participant on this Blog. He has lately branched out internationally. He does not write for people with short attention spans. It simply amazes me where he gets such in depth data on transport. @ Mickey Hickey Yes, languages do open doors, but there is a lot more to language than issues of individual employability. It wasn’t always about French and German either. ‘ It is instructive to ponder the reasons advanced for the loss of the (Gaelic) language in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The most frequent argument is that the language had to be abandoned to ensure Irish participation in the economic progress of the modern world, because ‘Irish doesn’t sell the cow’. Only a knowledge of English could bring Ireland into the mainstream of material progress by facilitating intercourse with the more advanced British economy, and thus enabling the proverbial cow to be sold at a remunerative price. Strictly speaking, this argument, could explain the acquisition of English, but not the loss of Irish, unless it be assumed that Irish brains were too small to accommodate two languages, or that the Irish were simply too lazy, or too utilitarian, to be bothered with the less materially useful one’ Ireland 1912-85 Politics and Society. Joseph Lee Lee goes on to make very interesting and useful comparisons between Ireland and other small European counties such as Finland and Denmark, which made excellent economic progress while retaining their native languages. He sees the language issue as situated within a more general set of developmental problems, and will not, I think, be at all surprised that the chickens of the Irish state are now coming home to roost. Contra BW Snr above, Sinn Fein has never been in an Irish government, so any mistakes which have been made must, in fairness, be laid at the door of other parties. Language In Ireland became highly politicised, firstly by its exclusion from the settler polity, and later by its symbolic (rather than operational) centrality for Irish nationalism. Exclusion of most southern Protestants from the new civil service was one of the outcomes, as was the imposition of compulsory Irish in national schools. The latter policy was accompanied by a general neglect of western seaboard areas, where most remaining native speakers still resided, and was at no stage likely to succeed. It was sustained because it was ideologically congenial, and essential for the consolidation of a new native elite who were intent on elbowing their way up beside the ‘West Brits’ of Dublin 2 and 4. The rise of Gaelscoileanna cannot be understood without reference to the prior failure of language restoration policies. They are a reaction, and probably a healthy one, to the pervasive Anglo Americanisation of the mainstream culture. I would guess that the flow of motivated and able emigres from the northern troubles has also contributed a lot to the sector. Gaelscoileanna can also be seen as an elite phenomenon, reflecting the spending power of an expanding and confident state. The big question is whither Ireland, and its language policies, now that the Tiger is with O’Leary in the grave ? Poverty and backwardness drove out the Gaelic language. During the famine hundreds of thousands emigrated to North America. The Gaelic speakers were at a distinct disadvantage which went as far as large massacres in some American cities. Word came back that speaking English would enhance ones prospects not just in getting employment but in surviving. Before long mothers were telling their children to pay attention to English because they would need it to get a job in Savannah, Philadelphia and Baltimore. I have had this discussion with French speaking Quebecers who feel their language is under threat and are using the same failed tactics that were used in Ireland. I tell them that all the efforts of the Gov’t are for naught if the mothers of five and six year old children do not see a prosperous future within Quebec. As for Danes, Swedes, Norwegians their languages are similar falling into the North Germanic group, they also find it easy to learn German proper. The Finns are unique in that their language bears little resemblance to any other language. Finland was occupied by the Rus (Novgorod) and later by the Swedes. Finland has had a siege mentality since the ninth century. Only the fact that it had little of value kept it from being absorbed by Sweden, Germany (Hanseatic league) or Russia. Unfortunately we had arable land which made it profitable to conquer and exploit us. We still have traces of the siege mentality which manifests itself in the small number of people who cling desperately to the past. As a matter of fact Finland is once again entering a period of high anxiety with the collapse of Nokia caused by the rise of Taiwan, Korea and China (HTC, Samsung, Huawei). I would not attempt to over intellectualise the collapse of Gaelic, some study should be given to determining when the rot set in and at what point did restoration become a hopeless case. As to the Anglo Americanisation of Irish culture. That too is a temporary phenomenon that is going the way of the Vikings. In Europe the dominant cultures are likely to be German, French, Russian. In the rest of the world China, India, Brazil, Indonesia are the contenders. Britain is in the same league as Italy and America will continue its slow decline to being one of the major powers and not the dominant one. As for me I walk the talk and make sure that my children and their offspring speak English, French and German. Spanish they learn voluntarily for vacation purposes. We are living in a big world not a mossy rock in the east Atlantic. @Mickey Hickey +1 I teach them French (because my German wouldn’t get them past the bar/restuarant) but Mrs PR Guy still insists on throwing the Gaelic in there too 🙁 In so far as retraining involves Fás, or it’s rebranded successor when it appears, it might be prudent to doubt it’s worth. Apart from my own poor opinion of the competence of large numbers of their higher ranking staff (I worked with a co. in partnership with them), there are good grounds to believe that there is an abuse of the organisation to conceal the extent of unemployment – I know of cases where individuals were, when given the choice of participating in the training schemes or losing allowances, placed on courses in calligraphy. Long-term unemployed are finding themselves (in some cases) sent on sequentiae of unrelated training courses; each lasts from a few months to over a year, and during these periods aren’t counted on the live register. Perhaps the new ‘Solas’ organisation might amend some of the problems currently existing, but I haven’t seen any evidence that there has been a real effort to bring in qualified individuals to introduce training for vocations with genuine prospects that can be agreed by course participants. And I don’t want to make a general slander of all the staff, but there are quite a number of people who shouldn’t survive the metamorphosis from Fás to Solas – in the management end of things rather than the ‘frontline’ end of things. By the way; surely a european language is compulsorary in secondary school ? It was in my day/school. Just panning over the remarks above on wind energy – hasn’t it been ascertained that small wind-powered generators can provide at least a fifth of the average energy requirements for one-off homes where they are used ? Not mentioned much in energy-industry conversations, but worth remembering in contexts that go beyond this. @PQ: “Gaelscoileanna can also be seen as an elite phenomenon, reflecting the spending power of an expanding and confident state. ” Elite phenomenon? Sounds about Nationalistically correct. Irish is not an economically useful language. Hence its status as an official language. Who benefits from this? Yes. I thought so! As for SF: The Sicilian translation of SF is useful to get a proper sense of what they represent. National Socializm is a close second. Bear close watching. Mark, the use of re-usable wind to generate electricity should be encouraged – but with some very tight conditions. Such as; absolutely no taxpayer funded tax breaks or subsidies. Then you notice that interest dwindles very fast. When one has to bear the entire build-out and maintenance costs oneself, you tend to be a tad careful. We must, must reduce our electricity use. @ BW Snr It’s an economics blog, but politics is bound to surface occasionally. I don’t have a ‘proper sense of what SF stands for’ but it is nothing like as simple or as sinister, as you suggest. By all means criticise nationalism, but it’s not reasonable to focus exclusively on Irish nationalism. Easier to see the mote in someone else’s eye etc. @ PQ: Thanks for reply. Your welcome to you view on our National Socialist party (SF), but I regard them as deeply troubling. Their economic policies are just as daft as the current clowns’ in Leinster House. In Stormont SF are neatly hemmed in, but in our Dáil things are very different. Once installed, our Government is effectively an elected dictatorship. How do you think we got into this catastrophic economic and financial mess in the first place? What was the reaction of theTaoiseach, and ministers, to warnings and to criticism that a very hazardous credit-fuelled asset bubble was developing? Hungarian, Russian, French or other European-based nationalisms do not impact (immediately) on Irish citizens. Hence, I believe that it is entirely appropriate for me to focus on Irish nationalism. It has not gone away, you know. OK, Just one quibble Brian 🙂 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law Apologies for any double posting. Here is the correct link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law Nationalism is certainly not going away. UK Euroscepticism is one familiar form. These snippets are courtesy of Eurointelligence. ‘Budget talks in the Netherlands collapsed over the weekend, with elections now likely to happen, creating uncertainty over the pace of budget cuts and the Dutch support for the fiscal pact. The catalyst for the crisis was Geert Wilders, who refused to agree to €14bn-to-€16bn of budget cuts needed to bring the budget deficit under the 3% limit. Seven weeks of budget talks, Wilders suddenly backed out just when a deal appeared close. Attempting to explain why he walked out, Wilders lashed out at the European Union, saying the Netherlands should not blindly obey commands from Brussels. The PVV is ‘against Europe, against the 3% and against the euro,’ Wilders told reporters following the collapse of the negotiations on Saturday’ ‘Commenting the first round’s results in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung political editor Günther Nonnenmacher says that France has a ‘scary political landscape’, with one third of voters united in extremely nationalist anti European basic beliefs.’ @PQ: Nifty link. Was not aware of. The economic consequences of FF nationalism (Ireland – in 1930s) are well documented. Not that contemporary Crony Capitalism is any better. Depends what your salient ideology is. The Permagrowth paradigm of aggregate economic ‘growth’ is on life-support – even Nurse Lagarde is having her doubts about the prognosis. In such a scenario – current economic paradigm under stress and no politically agreed substitute, desperate folk (especially malinformed ones) can be easily seduced into accepting some totally inappropriate curative potion. As The Man himself said: “Your safety in turbulent times depends on your having provided for the education of the ‘inferior’ ranks as a barrier to these people being led astray by ‘enthusiasts’ and ‘malcontents’.” [Adam Smith]. Note the ‘and’. The Irish public has been consistently bamboozed and misled about our current economic and fiscal predicament, by a blizzard of PR pap – for purely political reasons. That’s trouble. I suppose that was why Political Economy was originally so named. Maybe this blog should be: irishPoliticalEconomy. Thanks again for that v-useful link. 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