September 28, 2006

Ireland Update: “From One of the Poorest to One of the Richest”

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:10 pm

National Review writer Reuven Brenner observes, and asks why (HT NixGuy):

How did Ireland go from being among the poorest places in Western Europe to one of the richest? How did it attract the headquarters of 1,000 international companies? How did it come to rank, by some measures, among the EU’s top 15 original members? With per capita GDP estimated at $37,800 (U.S.), Ireland is now tops in Western Europe.

….. where has the talent been flowing in Europe? To Ireland: Over roughly a decade, more than 400,000 newcomers have moved there, an addition of 10 percent to the Irish population.

Here’s what Ireland did — or had to do — to attract this wave of talent and ambition to its shores.

To begin, the obvious: In 1986, Ireland slashed spending in areas such as health expenditures, education, agricultural spending, roads and housing, and the military, while abolishing agencies such as the National Social Services Board, the Health Education Bureau, and regional development organizations. By 1993, government non-interest spending declined to 41 percent of GNP, down from a high of 55 percent of GNP in 1985. Subsequently, it significantly lowered corporate tax rates to 12.5 percent, at a time when the lowest corporate rates in Europe were 30 percent and U.S. rates stood at 35 percent. Since 2004, Ireland also has offered a 20 percent tax credit on research and development.

But the true miracle came when, due to these policy changes, Ireland attracted capital and pools of ambitious young people from around the globe. By now, Ireland has one of the youngest populations in the Western world.

Between 1995 and 2000, 250,000 people migrated to Ireland (about half of Irish ancestry), which had in 1996 a population of only 3.6 million. Ireland later allowed, along with Britain and Sweden, unrestricted migration to its labor markets from the 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004. Since then the number of people of Irish origin migrating to Ireland has diminished. However, more than 130,000 Poles now live there and, according to recent reports, 10,000 Eastern Europeans arrive every month, on average. A young Polish immigrant to Ireland was recently quoted saying, “If you have ambition in Poland, you come to Ireland.”

Not only Poles, but Danes, Iranians, Swedes, Chinese, and Nigerians have come to Ireland, filling both low- and high-skilled jobs. Google’s European headquarters, located in Ireland, employs 800 people. Seventy percent aren’t Irish, and these workers speak 37 languages. According to reports, the company plans to hire another 600 university-educated people, mostly from abroad.

….. Fiscal and regulatory changes are a necessary part of the prosperity equation, but they make up the easier part. The harder part is to attract and retain talent. Ireland succeeded not only because of its fiscal changes, but because the country embodies the Western tradition of openness to many tribes.

With this in mind, Western countries should keep their borders open to the movement of those hard-working “vital few.” This policy may not only bring enhanced riches to the West, but also turn out to be its best weapon against the dictatorial, close-minded, backward-looking governments from which talent would escape.

Previous Post:

August 2 — Voting with Their Feet, International Edition: Irish High Techs, and the Rest of the Country, Are Smiling

Wall Street Journal Sees the Belgian Court’s Threat to Information Flow Noted Here

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:45 am

From a subscription-only editorial today, the WSJ reacts to the Google Belgium and Google News Belgium court case covered here previously, and notes that there is plenty of reason to be concerned:

Google, meanwhile, maintains that the snippets it uses on Google News fall under the “fair use” doctrine, which allows small parts of a copyrighted work to be copied without legal liability. Fair use has yet to be fully defined for the Internet age, but the logical conclusion of the Belgian court’s decision is clear enough. If displaying a first sentence and a headline from another Web site is illegal, then so is much of what we do online: The blogger who links to a news story, the Fortune 500 company excerpting an article about itself, and all search engines could be breaking the law. Considering some American judges’ penchant for applying foreign precedent, expect one to notice and use the Belgian logic next time Google goes to court across the Atlantic.

Final GDP Growth for 2nd Quarter: 2.6%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:48 am

From AP (official release is here):

Economic growth clocked in at a 2.6 percent pace in the spring, even slower than previously thought.

The latest reading on the gross domestic product, released Thursday by the Commerce Department, reinforced expectations that the economy is settling into a spell of somewhat sluggish activity.

The growth rate was weaker than the 2.9 percent figure estimated for the April-to-June quarter a month ago. Many economists were predicting that this estimate would hold and thus there would be no revision to the overall GDP figure.

Gross domestic product measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is considered the best barometer of the country’ economic standing.

This is the first quarter in quite a while where the final revision did not go up. In a previous post, I noted that the second quarter had a surprising reduction the federal spending component of GDP that I would not expect to repeat itself in future quarters. Today’s release says that this component went from a 4.5% increase in the first quarter to a 8.9% decrease — a swing of over 13%. The final 2.6% figure reported today means that the rest of the economy grew at about 3.0% in the second quarter.

Ho-Hum Hiring Headline (092806)

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 8:04 am

From Austin, TX:

Dell Adds 500 Engineering Jobs in Texas

Sep 25, 12:44 PM (ET)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Computer maker Dell Inc. (DELL) plans to hire another 500 engineers to work in its central Texas product development operations, founder and Chairman Michael Dell announced Monday.

Dell joined Gov. Rick Perry at the Texas Capitol to announce the company would immediately begin hiring new electrical, software and mechanical engineers and program managers.
Dell has 18,000 employees at its Round Rock headquarters and other Austin-area locations.

A ‘General’ Perspective on Opposition to the War in Iraq

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:59 am

Brain Shavings has it, and it is good.

Economic Perspectives from Megan McArdle and Glenn Reynolds

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 7:54 am

Megan McArdle:

So I will concur with Democratic economists to the extent that in many cases, Joe Average does not feel better off than he would be in 1970. But I disagree that this reflects reality. If Joe Average actually had to go back and live in 1973, he’d suddenly feel a lot worse off . . . even if we let him take his VCR and cell phone.

Hat-Tippee Instapundit’s response:

MEGAN MCARDLE says that things are getting better for working people in lots of measurable ways.

And people will start measuring them, as soon as there’s a Democrat in the White House.

Positivity: Crash Survivor Meets Man Who Saved Him

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:03 am

In Topeka, KS (video is at link), Josh Greening got to meet Tod Bowden:

Motorcycle crash survivor meets the man who saved his life
10:04 p.m. Thursday, September 14, 2006

24-year-old Josh Greening wrecked his motorcycle last month hitting the road at more than 70 mph.

He was lying unnoticed near the roadway for nearly an hour.

49 News helped to reunite Greening and the man who came to his rescue.

“I wonder well, how did nobody see me, but then on the other hand, you know, I’m not mad that somebody didn’t see me earlier,” survivor, Josh Greening said.

After crashing his motorcycle on highway 75 in the early morning hours of August 22, 2006, 24-year-old Josh Greening faded in and out of consciousness for more than an hour in a nearby ditch; that was before one man pulled over and made the call to 911 that may have saved Greening’s life.

“I was running late for work that day and that morning I was just having a tough time getting out of bed,” Tod Bowden said.

Tod Bowden said he thought he saw something out of place as he drove past the spot where Greening crashed.

So without knowing what he saw, Bowden turned his car around and discovered Greening lying unconscious near the road.

“I knelt down next to his head and said what ever you do, don’t move. Just lay as still as can be,” he said.

For the first time since the accident Josh and his parents had the opportunity to thank his rescuer.

“You were laying length wise, feet to the south head to the north,” Bowden said.

“I’m just so thankful that he wanted to get involved. A lot of people think I’m too busy, I don’t have time, but he was running late for work,” Josh’s mom, Rhonda Greening said.

“This was God watching over him and Tod being there and stopping when he did. A lot of things went right that didn’t have to,” Josh’s father, Gary Greening said.

And while Greening said he’s still in a lot of pain and must endure three days of physical therapy a week he said he’s glad he finally got to say thank you.

“It’s a person I’ve never met before but they stopped to see if I was okay,” Josh Greening said.