A very Irish story

If we were to choose one reform to improve Irish governance, what would it be? I would probably start with our libel laws, which directly allow mediocre bullies to shut down legitimate discussion and dissent, and indirectly help promote a culture of groupthink. We need more information and more discussion in this country, not less. And the Independent has done us a huge favour by releasing the Anglo tapes.

The law can stifle the dissemination of information and debate in other ways as well. I’ve no idea why the DPP has asked the Indo to stop releasing more tapes, assuming that this Irish Times story is true. All the Irish Times tells us is that “it expressed concern about the potential consequences of the emergence of certain other information into the public domain.” No doubt the DPP has its reasons. But the cost to the general public both in Ireland and abroad is high, since we all need more information, not less, about how bankers behave in practice.

Art Media Unemployment

Data journalism handbook

Via the excellent Flowing data, an interesting free guidebook: the Data Journalism Handbook.

Worth a look, including for the link to a rather good interactive data visualisation from the New York Times of 2009 “The Jobless Rate for People Like You“.


Establishment thinking

According to the Irish Times,

The pessimists argue the euro is going to collapse and that will make it all irrelevant, but these are the same people, from far right and far left, who urged burning bondholders, collapsing the banking system and refusing to accept the terms of the bailout.

So, if you are worried that the euro is facing an existential crisis and may be on the brink of collapse, if the right policy choices are not taken quickly, then you are on the far left or far right. Take that, Wolfgang Münchau! And you are also on the far left or the far right if you were not in favour of Irish taxpayers paying back unguaranteed bondholders. Take that, Morgan Kelly, Karl Whelan, and many others too numerous to mention! And of course, if you were in favour of not paying back unguaranteed bondholders, then this meant that you were either in favour of collapsing the banking system, or prepared to accept such a collapse as a consequence of the policies you were advocating (their wording is a little ambiguous here, but the last nine words of that quotation suggest that the former interpretation is what the IT had in mind).

(As an aside, who are these pessimists who argue that the collapse of the euro “will make it all (i.e. getting Ireland back to creditworthiness) irrelevant?” And should Irish policy makers not be thinking hard about what to do in such an event? Would it not be irresponsible for them to refuse to contemplate such an eventuality? And should we not be doing our bit to head off such an eventuality by pointing out to governments with more fiscal space than ourselves that the Irish experience clearly shows that even in a small, open economy the confidence fairy does not exist, and that a policy of generalised eurozone austerity will be disastrous?)

Nice to see such rigourous and nuanced thinking from the IT.