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Tag Archives: Tom Lyons

Here is Tom Lyons, Senior Business Correspondent at the Irish Times, reporting on a new league table on “competitiveness”:
http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/ireland-moves-up-to-15th-in-competitiveness-rankings-1.1804264

The headline reads, “Ireland moves up to 15th in competitiveness rankings”

He tells us about his source: “The World Competitiveness Yearbook is compiled annually by Swiss-based business school IMD and measures how countries manage economic and human resources to increase prosperity based on statistical criteria and a survey of 4,300 international executives.”

Here’s the problem. For citizens the debate about competitiveness has been about keeping wages low so that Ireland can compete with low wage economies. Tom’s report, however, tells us that Ireland is ranked at 15th, while China, India and Brazil are ranked 23rd, 44th and 54th respectively.

He also notes that Japan has moved up to 21st place and quotes the W.C. Yearbook: “helped by a weaker currency that has improved its competitiveness abroad”.

Clearly competitiveness is not primarily to do with low wages. Indeed it may have little to do with wages.

It might be argued that it is unreasonable to expect Tom Lyons writing for specialists in the Business and Technology supplement to explore or even mention this but “competitiveness is not primarily to do with wages” is a mere eight words. Moreover, an article could be written in the main newspaper itself advising citizens not to confuse professional measurements of competitiveness with data for use in debates about the minimum wage and other low earnings.

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Here’s the story: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/revealed-the-whistleblower-behind-crash-warnings-3088276.html

This story is ridiculous. What it states explicitly is that after the start of the debate about soft vs. hard landings at the end of Ireland’s property-bubble scam, a civil servant wanted to have Ministers warn of a possible collapse. However, the use of the word “whistleblower” misleads and it perpetuates one of the great fairy stories of recent Irish history.

A whistleblower reveals information which is vital to the public good. Without wishing to underestimate the courage of the civil servant at the centre of the story, there are two problems with this story and its framing. Firstly, the incidents related are far too late to have had an enormous bearing on avoiding the damage done to Ireland; once the “landing” appeared on the agenda, all that was in doubt was the scale of the damage.

Secondly and more importantly, what is needed is evidence of earlier civil service opposition to the virtually insane policies that created the bubble. Such evidence would tend to exonerate civil servants generally from the suspicion of utter stupidity or shameful lack of integrity. It is at this point that use of “whistleblower” perpetuates the lie.

You see, what happened in Ireland did not involve a secret and seeing it coming did not require expertise in economics. It happened in plain sight and only a complete fool could have failed to notice and failed to realise that it would end very badly. Very few of those in Ireland who are paid to think and speak (The group includes journalists, managers, teachers, politicians etc.) showed themselves competent. It is not credible that so many professionals are so wilfully ignorant or stupid that they were unaware of the approaching mess. It is more likely that they lacked the integrity to speak out again and again in opposition.

Should journalism want to redeem itself, some of its better practitioners would do well to focus on who stayed silent as the bubble was intentionally inflated before everyone’s eyes.

See here:  https://colummccaffery.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/time-for-a-clear-out-who-misled-and-who-remained-silent-as-a-completely-irish-made-fiasco-developed/