Paula Clancy: Looking for something else on the web, I came across Ireland’s entry in the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the right-wing Heritage Foundation in the United States. According to this entry, the Irish economy is the 4th freest in the world – and 1st in Europe. The report was obviously prepared some time late last year, and transports one back to a halcyon age where “Ireland’s efficient business environment continues to attract significant foreign investment” and our “competitive financial system [….] facilitates dynamic entrepreneurial activity” while “all financial institutions are in private hands” and Irish banks are “well capitalised”.
The report also lauds our “flexible labour regulations” which mean that “dismissing a redundant employee is relatively easy”, and notes approvingly that “the overall freedom to conduct a business is well protected under Ireland’s regulatory environment”.
With an astonishing lack of prescience, the Heritage Foundation – whose mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense” – fails to discern even the glimmer of a dark cloud in this vista of economic freedom.
Now that the clouds are here, I guess we can comfort ourselves with the thought that we may be broke – but at least we’re economically free.