Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Comfort from US Heritage Foundation: we may be broke, but we’re economically free!

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.

1 comment:

Donagh said...

Your web-based observations puts you in good company. Paul Krugman made the same point in his most recent column:

And wide-open, loosely regulated financial systems characterized many of the other recipients of large capital inflows. This may explain the almost eerie correlation between conservative praise two or three years ago and economic disaster today. “Reforms have made Iceland a Nordic tiger,” declared a paper from the Cato Institute. “How Ireland Became the Celtic Tiger” was the title of one Heritage Foundation article; “The Estonian Economic Miracle” was the title of another. All three nations are in deep crisis now.

Now of course, tax increases and pay cuts are the price of our lovely freedom.