Re: Re: Dublin Port – Feasible or not?
I would agree completely, dodger, about comparing like with like and I also agree that our economic success does compare very favourably with the likes of Germany. The problem is, if we cannot compare Ireland to Germany and Austria â€“ considered wealthy and developed countries, at least for the last 30 years, and we cannot compare Ireland with Spain â€“ considered to be traditionally poor and limited economically and infrastructurally, who then can we compare Ireland to? Indeed, why do we need to compare it to any other country at all? We need to compare it with other EU countries as that is exactly how the concept of the Celtic Tiger was derived â€“ by comparing the statistics of our economic growth against those of our European neighbours. This is where the politicians get their ammunition to crow about the Celtic Tiger and it is where the journalists source their comparative information. Of course there is nothing wrong with this, unless of course it is not in the best interests of the State. And this appears to be one case where that is happening. Ireland was , oddly enough, more than happy to compare itself to Germany in the 70s and 80s when it meant getting more money out of the EU!
Returning to the issue of comparing like with like. In the 1920s and 1930s, Germany was an economic dead-end. In the â€˜40s, it was an economic dead-end. Much of the 50s and 60s focussed on re-building and putting some very basic infrastructure back in place. In the 70s things started to get better and have done so up until quite recently really. In other words, it went from a position where it had less than nothing (flattened cities, no political infrastructure, no medical supplies, no industry worth speaking of, no public transport, devastated ports and airports and, most of all, no manpower!). In about 30 years it went from the severest infrastructural and industrial deficit imaginable to become the biggest economy in Europe. Not bad. Yes, the Marshall Plan was a big element of this redevelopment â€“ this is undeniable. It provided the finances to get Germany back on its feet. Following that, however, was it US companies that strengthened Germanyâ€™s economy in the 70s and 80s? â€“ no, it was indigenous German industry (BMW, VW, Mercedes, Krupps, Phillips, Siemens etc) that brought it back on its feet and largely kept it there. At the same time, Germany continued to fund us here in Ireland via the EU!!!
Lets consider Ireland. In the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, it had no major war to contend with, its limited infrastructure (mostly from colonial times!) remained limited, it had no drastic shortage of manpower. It had, however, a reasonable level of political and social stability. In addition, it started to benefit from an injection of funds that probably on a per head of population basis was similar to that of the Marshall Plan in Germany â€“ it enjoyed the billions injected into it each year from the EU. Unlike Germany, however, Ireland has not enjoyed a serious development of sustainable indigenous industry as a result, rather it has continued to depend on external investment, primarily from the US. Since the 1990s, we have enjoyed 15 years of prosperity, but it remains dependent on that external investment and is, therefore, precarious. Neither have we enjoyed a level of infrastructural development that might rightly have been expected during this period of time.
Ireland is truly Europeâ€™s Hamlet â€“ incapable of serious action.