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 Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery

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PostSubject: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:38 pm

The purpose of this thread is for people to list any specific solutions they may have for the economic woes and future problems that beset us.

Please don't comment on or critique other people's ideas. The end result should just be a list of ideas. Otherwise we will get way off topic too quickly.

Please be as specific as possible with ideas, e.g., instead of saying "reduce the public sector payroll" (which everybody agrees with) one might say "have a pay freeze for all people earning over €50,000" or "allow headmasters total discretion as to what roles special needs teachers are to fulfill".

Some initial ideas to get the bal rolling:

Bring in a fast-track process (in so far as may be compatible with EU law) to allow the Minister for the Environment to grant full regulatory and planning permission for any technology project which the minister thinks will may help address the global environmental catastrophe.

Redirect capital expenditure towards repairing our water infrastructure and installing water meters, in particular, getting low skilled workers to repair leaks on private property.

Address our regulatory problems by allowing these roles to be taken on by a multinational or EU body. This should share costs and expertise amongst nations.

Increase the pupil teacher ratio further. Some teachers have told me it is the least damaging way to make cuts in education.

Bring in a law to make all upwards only rent review clauses ineffective.

In any recapitalisation of the banks, make the banks agree to write of portions of loans to people with devalued land assets (builders et al) subject to the land owners having to pay 70% CGT on any gain in the value of the land above the revaluation and subject to the builders paying an additional 10% income tax on all income. This should ensure that land values hit the bottom but the economy keeps moving.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:31 pm

Junk the Evoting Machines.

Stop Metro North

Stop all road schemes for which contracts have not been signed

Put plan in place for energy independence.

Tax profits on gas

One off claw-back tax on land sales capital gains since 2005.

(Just a start)
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:28 pm

Invest in small Irish businesses!
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:31 pm

And mine!
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:31 pm

End the tax incentives (write offs) for private hospitals and clinics
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:27 pm

A recovery can only be based on an expansion of trade.
Therefore the banks need to recapitalised if necessary.
Ensure that business costs are as low as possible.
Regulation should be based on fear, rather than red tape and bureaucrats. Take out a high flying businessman/banker who broke the rules and throw the book at him. 30 years behind bars. Same with the politicos.

We also need good transportation and educational services. MOre investment here.

However we have a problem. Our government has spectacularly mismanaged the national finances and the nation will be broke. Cuts need to be made and yet we need more investment. Personally I think that localism and direct democracy are the only way to solve this paradox.
This will stop the expensive problem of big ineffcient government.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:57 pm

Build local industries around our natural resources especially energy, water and food -

Energy
Something needs to be done with An Coillte so there is more incentive to plant native trees for leisure (park) and quick-growing stuff too to offset energy imports of coal and oil (and CO2 fines) and create a local, wood-processing and burning economy. Reduce taxes on goods like stoves which might help fuel this industry.

Roll out a national plan for home insulation. Launch a very low-cost (~3%) loan scheme of 5k, 10k and 20k packages where homeowners living in sub-standard houses can avail of these loans over 5-10 years. This would give employment, generate business and contribute to the national energy bill, particularly imports.

Get some research going into micro-generation of electricity too - there are windmills and solar panels than can be stuck at the side or back of a house and could again contribute significantly to household bills which would be an incentive for homeowners to buy into such schemes.

Pump some money into research for seaweed or algae production of fuels - we could be exporting this stuff. Just 40k would do me for a start, thanks.

Eating -
Get local councils to purchase or rent land or if they have any to use it as allotment areas for vegetable growing. Charge some rent for this. This should have the effect of supplying some produce while collecting some cash while educating people and knitting communities together. It might give some teenagers around the place an incentive to get involved.

Review the restaurant licensing laws so as to make it easier for businesses to start into the food area - I would particularly like to see more food halls around the place but I see eating out as part of an entertainment culture that would be useful for economic growth in a qualitative way.

We're losing upto 60% of our water through leakage - fix it dear Henry. With this and other utilities (energy) we should establish a goal - say 10% leakage by 2015. The public should not pay for this.

Roll out a new political and voting culture entirely. Fine Gael will go for this (I hope) so other parties should jump on it. Local budgets where the electorate vote on them. This might stimulate moribund areas of the public service into some action thereby leveraging some value out of them. It would be a process of education for the public initially and could be architected initially by students of politics and economics. I envisage a system whereby voters can contribute ideas to a forum even like this - submissions get individually responded to locally, regionally, nationally.

Exercise
Establish cross-country bike lanes over a 5-year period, again it would be low-skilled work but would mean taking some land from farmers at the side of the road. Rebuild the walls you'd knock over while widening the road. Promote these lanes abroad - our countryside is some of the most beautiful in the world and there are plenty more people who would come here to cycle leisurely around the place.

Pay people to do the marathon. I would expect a grant of at least a grand to do it or if I finished it and it didn't finish me. This would reduce the bill I'll personally incur on the state when I develop a heart condition for the lack of exercise.

E-learning
Fund a series of courses for old people who want to learn computers. They'll buy them if they haven't one, they'll buy software, such courses will fund themselves I tell you. They'll rent broadband, everything. This could be part of a broader adult-literacy focus ... how can people buy stuff if they can't read what's on the wrapper ? Seriously, our literacy is as shocking as our water loss, these are the holes we need to plug up - we need to be giving our people more dignity and confidence, after all is said and done and in the end, beside the waters and the wild wind in this country there is little else than people.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:14 pm

Meat should be rationed. It is an unsustainable use of land which threatens food security and damages the environment. Veg only farming and eating should be promoted and incentivised.

Scrap the minimum wage for wait staff and ban service charges of restaurant bills.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:20 pm

Literacy for all. This should be delivered with no additional budget by RTE (proper evidence based teaching, not the usual nonsense they have on) and TG4 and online (small budget), with an army of trained volunteers: retired teachers, transition year students, fifth year's teaching fourth years and whoever else. Use phonetic teaching that actually works. Everyone in the country to be functionally literate in five years time.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:28 pm

Do everything imaginable that will promote the tourism and travel industry - this means NOT putting a tax on airplane ticket flights; if a Green incentive needs to be found then it needs to be a multi-national co-ordinated effort at associating energy with price and value or price with CO2 or something.

When we go taxing business like this we are committing economic suicide.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 2:42 pm

It strikes me that everybody is into this Green / Energy Technology lark now. The field is becoming somewhat crowded. What specific parts should we target for growth? I am thinking about fringe technologies with big long term futures. Battery technology seems a big one to me. Anyone else? Wind seems a bit saturated. Wave technology appears to be open but a lot of capital investment may be required and if somebody ese comes up with somethign better then it is all down the drain. We need to look for established and growing but not widespread technologies.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:01 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
It strikes me that everybody is into this Green / Energy Technology lark now. The field is becoming somewhat crowded. What specific parts should we target for growth? I am thinking about fringe technologies with big long term futures. Battery technology seems a big one to me. Anyone else? Wind seems a bit saturated. Wave technology appears to be open but a lot of capital investment may be required and if somebody ese comes up with somethign better then it is all down the drain. We need to look for established and growing but not widespread technologies.

Insulation material is non-sexy and low tech, but has a very high impact on building sustainability.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:16 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
It strikes me that everybody is into this Green / Energy Technology lark now. The field is becoming somewhat crowded. What specific parts should we target for growth? I am thinking about fringe technologies with big long term futures. Battery technology seems a big one to me. Anyone else? Wind seems a bit saturated. Wave technology appears to be open but a lot of capital investment may be required and if somebody ese comes up with somethign better then it is all down the drain. We need to look for established and growing but not widespread technologies.
Great question and points.

I think the energy situation should be looked at from a massive overall strategic plan point of view and questions need to be asked - Can we be 100% self sufficient and even end up exporting energy ? Do we get government to invest directly in it ? What are our limitations and natural advantages ? Do we stimulate private investment moreso than Government ? How could an energy economy spill over into the other parts ?

I'm not fully sure of the figures but don't we import upwards of 90% of our energy or is that just oil ? Massive savings could be gleaned here but as you rightly say, a lot of it will take years of development and huge investment of capital so where does the money and interest come from ?

I'm always looking at Maslow's hierarchy blown-up big scale for society-wide comprehension and plans and there's no getting away from it, energy is a basic need and we have to ask ourselves how secure we are in it. Look at Iceland - it's back to putting faith in cod now - we are heavily dependent on external supplies - it's dangerous. The Opposition should be attacking the Govt. on that one big style although they might well be.

Our natural advantages in terms of energy are our mild climate, natural growth and elemental resources of wind, wave and tidal and WOOD. I think we could do worse than to focus on literally growing our forestry industry for domestic consumption. Our forested land is paltry in area compared to other countries (is it 9% while Japan is 74% ?) Cowen was talking about borrowing 8 billion for capital investment - for what ? for roads that no one will drive on because the repo man has their cars ? Growing forestry would offset coal use and do three things immediately: offset exports, create employment and tax, offset carbon taxes. Well, not immediately as it would take up to five years before we'd have a good supply. Political parties don't make five-year plans though so they would need to come to some consensus about long-term energy sustainability.

Whatever other industries we look at that would get some return - algae or seaweed for oil creation for example - the money raised would need to be re-invested into the sector in some way. Perhaps updating the National Grid and building the Interconnector needs to be done. I'm sure there are plenty of wind companies who would build off or on shore here and we should make regulations on price and supply and enforce it.

cactus flower wrote:
Insulation material is non-sexy and low tech, but has a very high impact on building sustainability.
Absolutely. Very simple, immediate and no fuss. Give people the opportunity of low-cost loans - force the banks or credit unions to do this - of 5 and 10k to get a thorough job done on your home. 5k would go amazingly far on some houses. The savings in energy could be upto 25% and Kingspan the Irish supplier would benefit directly.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 4:03 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
Meat should be rationed. It is an unsustainable use of land which threatens food security and damages the environment. Veg only farming and eating should be promoted and incentivised.
Over my dead striploin steak and from my cold cuts. Get away with you now.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:29 pm

We need to increase the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation! Too many managers, not enough leaders (and i'm not just talking about the govt). Our economic culture, at its worst, is geared towards the opposites of inactive begrudgery and make-a-quick-buck (off each other). There needs to be a strategy to break free of over-reliance on FDI for employment and towards development of promising SMEs that are geared towards export, and provide employment. Now may not seem to be the right time, but one of the few things Cowen has said that I agree with is to be ready for a global upswing. Suggested elements:
- Education, training, upskilling - schools, universities, FAS. Particularly to encourage entrepreneurship, risk -assessment and -taking
- Generally, better economic and market intelligence available to Irish SMEs
- Govt-led conferences on developing exports, finding new markets etc.
- IDA role in not just looking for foreign companies coming to Ireland but aiming to link Irish companies with foreign firms looking for partnerships, joint ventures, niche products/services etc.
- Gathering intelligence from the Irish diaspora about market gaps and niches in their 'home' country that could be filled by irish firms

Some of these are probably done already so perhaps others have more imaginative ideas on how to develop entrepreneurship.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:33 pm

Would a system of public projects run on "co-operative" basis work?

There are thousand of highly skilled people out of work. What if there was a way to employ them on a voluntary or minimum wage basis, installing and developing national infrastructure projects, but giving each worker a share of ownership (and hence any future profit)? There need be no huge "profit motive" to drive up costs, merely honest renumeration for work put in.

Things that we otherwise cant afford now, could be done "on the cheap", by making use of people's goodwill, and lack of other occupation at the moment. These people would be direct benificiaries of the success of their work in the future.

A national fibre optic broadband network would be one such project. Others, like road and rail infrastructure, schools and civic amenities etc could be done on a model simialer to the PPP, ie leased back to the end users. The difference is that public funds (in the future when times are better) would go not to large corporations, but to the very people (architects, bricklayers, surveyors plasterers etc) whose time and labour went into
create them.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:52 pm

yehbut_nobut

That is a nice idea.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:16 pm

tonys wrote:
Zhou_Enlai wrote:
Meat should be rationed. It is an unsustainable use of land which threatens food security and damages the environment. Veg only farming and eating should be promoted and incentivised.
Over my dead striploin steak and from my cold cuts. Get away with you now.

Now I have the measure of you tonys! Too much meat is your problem Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:12 am

How about a national investment fund?? Focussed towards the more sustainable SMEs, public transport of the electrical variety and alternative energy/forestry (could also include bank recapitalisation). We buy shares, the Govt invests the moolah, we get returns in 10 + years. Safe and useful home for anyone with cash under the Bank of Mattress??
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:17 am

Recapitalise the banks:

Irish banks are unloved and at their lowest ebb in modern times. Their weakness threatens the entire economic edifice. By hook or by crook, they should be infused with a healthy dollop of capital to lend again, protect against bad debts and to help re-ignite the economy.

Join the Schengen Area:

To hell with the Brits and the Common Travel Area. We are losing huge amounts of business travel, conventions and investment as a result of the fact that people cannot easily access the Continent from Ireland as of yet. The visa situation blunts our attractiveness and would be solved by joining Schengen.

Increase investment into new energy sectors

Hydro-electricity, tidal, wind and biomass could all be exploited in this country and we need to set up grants for businesses in this sector through IDA and EI, special tax treatments, university linkages and training programmes.

Scrap the €10 air travel tax

This is a huge dent to our attractiveness as a location for people to come to visit. If we abolished this marginal tax then tourism revenues will be preserved and peripheral regions will be helped.

Invest in broadband:

We need a huge increase in broadband speed and take-up and Eamon Ryan TD's plans in this regard should be carried out. We need this infrastructure to future-proof our economy.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:37 am

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:

Join the Schengen Area:

To hell with the Brits and the Common Travel Area. We are losing huge amounts of business travel, conventions and investment as a result of the fact that people cannot easily access the Continent from Ireland as of yet. The visa situation blunts our attractiveness and would be solved by joining Schengen.

Is there actually any evidence, anecdotally or otherwise, of this or do you just believe that we should join Schengen and this seems like a suitable argument?
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:42 am

johnfás wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:

Join the Schengen Area:

To hell with the Brits and the Common Travel Area. We are losing huge amounts of business travel, conventions and investment as a result of the fact that people cannot easily access the Continent from Ireland as of yet. The visa situation blunts our attractiveness and would be solved by joining Schengen.

Is there actually any evidence, anecdotally or otherwise, of this or do you just believe that we should join Schengen and this seems like a suitable argument?

I refer you to this paper on page 13. Its argument there informs much of my thinking on this subject. It'd be great if both ourselves and Britain joined Schengen at the same time but, faced with a choice between preserving the CTA and getting in with Schengen, I feel Schengen is preferable.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:49 pm

A couple more ideas:

1. We should establish a Council of Economic Advisors. This is important as decisions on macro issues need to be taken quickly but the potential ramifications of each decision is huge.


2. We should put in place work schemes for unemployed technicians, software engineers, IT specialists, systems analysts, and managers to examine how the cost of doing business in Ireland can be reduced. We need to target all areas where we can achieve easy-win efficiencies through the re-ordering of processes or the proper use of IT. It might also be a good time to set up an autonomous unit with to oversee technology projects in the public sector. These projects need to be radically refocussed on reducing transaction costs rather than simply making departments more effective.

3. We should put in place a works scheme for the legions of unemployed lawyers getting them to examine areas of the law which need to be codified or reformed. This could have as its aim reducing transaction costs, reducing the regulatory burden on business and simplifying the law.

4. These lawyers could also develop more standard form contracts for use between private individuals in order to give a sample of the balance risks between people. This has long since been in place for contracts for the sale of land. The same needs to be done for commercial leases, agreements for lease, insurance provisions, collateral warranties in construction, professional engagement agreements, franchise agreements, software development agreements, software licensing, intellectual property agreements, indemnities and so forth. We need to draft contracts that are fair and simple to read. BTW - the Government Works contracts were not designed to be fair and are a bad model to start from. A default statutory form of lease as they have in NSW would also be an idea.

The result would be contracts and rules which could make Ireland an international model for these various areas of law and a choice of venue for international contracts and dispute resolution. The revenue would be big.

The other result would be reduced costs of doing business in Ireland because of reduced negotiation times, reduced expense in reviewing contracts etc and reduced advice required. Insurance liabilities would be better defined and so there would be reduced risk.

The benefit for the lawyers would be massive as they could become expert in an area while unemployed making them much more attractive to employers when the economy picked up.



The Civil Service has been hamstrung by a loss of expertise as various areas were privatised. There is an opportunity to tap a lot of expertise at a low cost now.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:10 pm

There are several proposals on the table for reform of the commercial law process, some of which have been implemented with success and some of which have not. A few lawyers could be put to good use in establishing a dispute resolution centre catering to arbitration and mediation among other methods. Other technical workers could be included in this process as well, providing some jobs to them and also streamlining the legal process in these technical areas and making Ireland more attractive.


Last edited by evercloserunion on Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:12 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : removed critique of previous suggestions in accordance with OP)
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas for Irish Economic Recovery   Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:01 am

More ideas:

Implement Insulation Plan Immediately

A national insulation plan would lead to thousands of jobs created, a support to the beleaguered building trade, alleviate financial burdens to do with energy costs, help our current account balance by reducing foreign energy imports and lead to a more environmental Ireland.

Invest in Research and Development

The Government should re-negotiate the capital contracts in the National Development Plan to reap hundreds of millions in savings. At least a quarter of these savings should go into Enterprise Ireland plans to help companies, especially SMEs, invest in research and development. Priority should be given within these to those who intend to export.

Re-negotiate National Debt

If we can put off interest payments for a year or so on our debt payments then we can have some relief on our budgetary situation. These savings can go into further investment in our economy in the areas of infrastructure, education and more research and development.
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