The Market for Power and Influence

17 February, 2010

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


Breaching Stalemate in Northern Ireland

3 February, 2010

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Charity Begins At The Margin

28 January, 2010

A friend of mine is a prominent member of a philanthropic business. The idea behind the organisation is very simple. They sell clothes along with the principle that you should commit an act of random kindness to a stranger each time you wear them. Profits finance charitable projects, large-scale ‘arks’.

Their objective is to enable a positive culture shift towards every-day charity, with the founder and all the employees motivated to join the company by their desire to make the world a better place. So how does charity shape up as an economic motivation?

Read the rest of this entry »

What To Give A Homeless Person For Christmas?

18 January, 2010

The festive season has just ended, and it has been a particularly harsh winter this year in Ireland. Although most of us enjoyed the snow, some two thousand homeless people in Dublin must have found it tremendously difficult.

If you’re feeling charitable, what’s the best way of manifesting this desire to help – Should I give a homeless man cash or a coffee? Because if you’re going to try and make a difference, it’s rational to maximise.

Read the rest of this entry »

Book Recommendations

6 January, 2010

A good friend of mine recently retired from a part-time job at a subsidised book store run by the Students’ Union. A relatively banal event, marked by a celebratory dinner in a top Dublin restaurant at the expense of tax-payers and students.

The student-run book store in Trinity College is inefficient and unnecessary. Since it doesn’t help the targeted demographic of underprivileged students, it should be privatised.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ninety-Five Reforms

17 December, 2009

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Guardians of the Peace?

9 December, 2009

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.

Read the rest of this entry »