From top: David Mcwilliams in Saturday’s Irish Times; Eamonn Kelly
Eamonn Kelly writes;
David McWilliams’ article in Saturday’s Irish Times about how people who give out about the multi-nationals are a bit backward, a bit “old Ireland” in their outlook.
But what he failed to see is that people who criticise all the breaks the multi-nationals get are really critiquing in a deflected manner all the breaks that the Irish people don’t get when they want to start a business.
Implicit in the multi-national deals and the manner in which successive sycophantic governments clamour to please corporate America is the idea that the Irish people in and of themselves are clueless about business and dependent on someone else making jobs for us.
This despite the fact that the boast of our superior educated workforce is what the IDA always leads with as a selling point to multi-nationals.
But if you’re an Irish person wanting to start a business it is awkward to the point of being punitive in setting it up and running it. And should the business fail the system is designed to whip away the safety net of welfare at the very time you might need it.
It seems then that everyone and everything is invested in and given breaks except the Irish people. Public monies ear-marked for retraining the workforce, for instance, were handed out in the millions to two British companies who provided no retraining for the investment but only a kind of policing of unemployed people.
The message is clear from the top. The Irish people are not worth investing in but are only useful as drones for corporate America who get all the breaks to use us, basically.
I’m not suggesting that we fling out the multi-nationals. That would be stupid. But this is the kind of “stupidity” that McWilliams was suggesting lay behind critiquing the multi-national deal.
What I am suggesting is that we invest in Irish would-be entrepreneurs and local businesses with the same confidence and generosity as we have been affording to multi-nationals.
By not investing in the Irish people you create a self-fulfilling prophecy that local entrepreneurs are unable to create employment. This reinforces the old national inferiority complex that informs the present system of attracting multi-national investment.
So contrary to McWilliams’ view that people who criticise the multi-nationals are somehow “backward”, the truth is that the system engineered by Lemass for a different Irish population made up of mainly farmers and labourers, is still being run as if the people haven’t changed.
A system based on an acknowledgment of a national inferiority complex, a need for creating employment for a workforce of mainly uneducated and unskilled labour and the luring of friends in America to make jobs for us.
Everything about it is dependent. But that’s not us any more. It’s the system is backward, not the people, as McWilliams implies.
The irony of this is that David McWilliams who presents himself as the progressive face of economics appears to be arguing that we return to the “innocence” of the Lemass era and show gratitude towards the multi-nationals.
If that’s not a big-red-flag clue to a post-colonial authoritarian issue I don’t know what is.
Eamonn Kelly is a freelance writer