It’s been a while since an update, but here‘s a fascinating piece from ‘The Independent Institute’ on the Philosopher Alvin Planinga receiving the Rescher Prize. I spent some time with the Institute during the summer of 2009, and can attest to the continuous stream of excellent and thought-provoking pieces from their research fellows on economic and social issues.
Although division has arised in the parliamentary party, Fine Gael announced over the weekend plans to launch referenda on a number of issues if elected in the next national election – including the abolition of Seanad Éireann. The Irish Times carries full details.
Given the enormous patronage power that the Seanad offers to the Taoiseach and the rest of the political establishment, this is either an extremely foolish move by Enda Kenny or a truly noble one. The question is: will the public reward him enough to balance the internal political opprobrium?
The College Historical Society recently hosted a debate on whether the decline of American global economic dominance was to be welcomed or feared. It was eventually concluded that America’s influence on the rest of the world was broadly positive: in promoting good state institutions, pro-market policy and international development aid.
This author disagrees however. After all, geopolitics is simply a market for power and influence and America was until recently a monopoly vender. As any economist knows, that’s bad news for consumers.
The Irish Times reports on the continuing failure to reach a settlement on devolution in Northern Ireland. Given the critical importance of these talks though, it may be prudent to give into the demands of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and radically revise the current policy on parades.
The DUP have very little incentive to agree on a date for devolution currently, especially given the upcoming elections in the UK. It is politically impossible for their leader, Peter Robinson, to concede this issue without looking extremely weak – unless he can sell it to his people with a minor victory. The other parties to the talks need to accept these political realities.
It seems on first inspection that the trade unions miscalculated by announcing their concessions on public sector reform before the pay cuts were certain not to have been instituted. By going public, they cannot avoid either complying or suffering serious public disdain.
The ‘concessions’ would have the effect of hugely improving the quality of public service provided to Irish tax-payers, and create incentives to eliminate the culture of mediocrity which has subsisted for so long.
Ireland’s police force, an Garda Síochána, are threatening to take action in light of public pay cuts. Although not legal according to the constitution, past examples of disobedience amongst law enforcement in Ireland include the ‘Blue Flu’ of 1998.
The reality is that no government can properly negotiate with a national police force on even footing, as long as no real alternative exists. Could private security provide the answer? By supplanting national law enforcement, maintaining accountability, promoting competition amongst service providers, and ensuring that society cannot be blackmailed by public workers with the threat of chaos.
The public sector strikers might as well be protesting against the recession, as though such a beast could be tamed by opprobrium. They seem to be confusing the dire economic circumstances facing the state and public finances, with some discretionary government policy that can be reconsidered.
Quite simply, the government has to cut back on public sector pay, and quite significantly so. According to the Department of Finance, the Irish government has suffered a €26 billion deficit in expenditure over revenue thus far in 2009. Next year, it could be worse.