Kane: why I'm a unionist

Andrew McCann interviews Alex Kane on why he’s a unionist. Interesting read!

  • George

    Willowfield,
    I have explained it time and again. If you can’t get your head around why a bloated public sector is bad for an economy, try this:

    In 1946 Germany was divided into West and East. Both parts had an identical economic starting point. Yet, 44 years later – West Germany was producing 6 times as much as East Germany, per capita.

    In 1953 Korea was divided into South and North. Both parts had an identical economic starting point. Yet, 51 years later South Korea produces over 40 times more than its Northern neighbour.

    And what do you think was the difference between these initially identical twins: one had an enormous public sector with central economic planning (East Germany and North Korea) – the other has a well developed private sector (West Germany and South Korea).

    Has that helped you see that a well developed private sector will generate more wealth than a bloated public one?

    Now we spend five times as much per capita on our citizens BECAUSE our public sector only accounts for 15% of our workforce and 85% work in the private sector.

    This means we have an efficient wealth generating economy which actually produces the 33 billion (national development plan 2000-20006) that we are putting into the nation’s infrastructure.

    Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland the money that comes in goes on multi-layered bureaucracy rather than the citizens of the country.

    Bloated public expenditure is the reason why NI has such a huge budget deficit. It’s not rocket science Willowfield and if you still don’t understand how having over one third of all workers in the public sector isn’t good economics just remember the Soviet Union.

  • North Antrim Realist

    Gerry O’Sullivan

    Many thanks for the email with the thread, however I still don’t see in it a convincing econoimc argument for a UI.

    All the arguments are about NI v. ROI where the actual situation is the UK v. ROI. The citizens of NI are better off in the UK than they would be in a UI that is the simple economic argument. The more it is argued that NI is a ‘basket case’ the more compelling is the argument to remain in a stable large economic unit which has guaranteed we can remain in for a long as the majority wish.

    See my post of 1:41.

  • Moderate Unionist

    George
    You make a lot sense. I agree with your analysis that public sector expenditure as %of GDP must fall to acceptable norms,but willowfield also makes sense. The point he is making is that if you just stop the subsidy, the economy will collapse and the people will riot. Given that we have spent a considerable amount of time trying to get violence out of our society the last thing we want to do is create the circumstances where it would flourish.

    I agree with you that we must develop our private sector but this is difficult because
    the domestic market is small, manufacturing has been decimated, the higher echelons of society make a lot of money in the professions and the lower echelons lack the skills and the motivation (Housing benefit DLA etc).

    Would a UI resolve these issues? I don’t think so. We can learn from the South what worked for them, but the circumstances have now changed so you can’t repeat it. The policy appeared to be invite multinationals in (low corporation tax) form clusters of skills in sectors such as pharmaceutical and software (other benefits other than tax for multinationals). This provides a base for the service economy to “service”, the huge slack in the ROI caused by prevously high unemployment and low female participation was able to exploit the opportunity. As they earnt money they wanted more housing, more services, more products. The result double digit growth, but the circumstances which created this growth are coming to an end. This will be a challenge for ROI.

    and the problem for Northern Ireland is that it is too late for these tactics. (Nortel??)

    Everybody knows the strategy and other places around the world are more attractive. FDI is extremely competive.

    So what is the next big thing. Invest NI think it is biotech, but this hasn’t really taken of yet even inplaces like Cambridge where there are genuine clusters. This is a hard question to answer and I don’t think that UI is the answer.

  • IJP

    Thanks to George for the compelling economic case, which I accept entirely.

    However, Moderate Unionist is also right. George’s economic arguments add up precisely, were we dealing with a relatively normalized and stable society. Problem is, we’re not.

    The result in practice of doing as George suggests immediately would simply be a burgeoning underclass missing out on the positives of the ‘Northern Tiger’ and wreaking havoc with Irish security forces totally unqualified and under-experienced to deal with them. Or, as MU puts it more simply: riot upon riot.

    To put my own view succinctly therefore: it is not the economic arguments that stall an all-Ireland state, it is the security arrangements.

  • George

    Moderate Unionist,
    whether a UI would work or not is speculative as we would only know how it would turn out if it actually happened although if the most successful economy in Europe can’t turn NI around who can?

    One thing is for sure, when it comes to biotech or any other new niche Northern Ireland will be in direct competition with the Irish Republic and because it can’t change as fast as we can (UK has other interests) it will lose every time.

    We learnt an awful lot in the miserable 80’s including making sure the border doesn’t ruin us any more which, for example, is why we still have no fuel tax. Simple rule, let the garages north of the border close this time around.

    The higher fuel rates don’t affect the UK as a whole but they are ruining certain Northern Irish businesses.

    My main problem with Willowfield’s position is the idea that the British exchequer will continue to pay the subsidy so there isn’t a major problem.

    The time is fast approaching when economic realities will dictate that the people of Northern Ireland will have to start paying to cut this deficit and unfortunately they are starting from a position of institutional and economic weakness.

    I’m not advocating sacking 120,000 public sector workers overnight (the excess number currently in place) but I would expect that people at least try put together a long-term plan to address this, to start trying to get the numbers down.

    The Irish Republic also had a bloated public service. Our national debt was running at 122% of GDP in the 80’s and we were one step away from the IMF being called in. No British exchequer to bail us out.

    Tough calls and deep spending cuts were made and after around 10 years of pain our economy took off. Now the national debt (the real stealth tax) is down to 30%, the lowest in the EU after Luxembourg.

    Northern Ireland has yet to take its economic medicine and until it does nothing will change.

    The irony is that a UI would probably only be feasible after Northern Ireland turned itself around.
    Many in the region might then think: we’ve done it ourselves, who needs a UI now.

  • Moderate Unionist

    b>George
    I agree 100% with your last post. See below

    My Post at November 2, 2004 11:34 PM

    Finally,if I were a Nationalist I would encourage the economy of NI because it makes a UI possible (not the other way round) and as Unionist I want to build the economy because it gives me some measure of independance (not an independant Ulster).

    Thanks for an excellent analysis. Earlier, I asked you for your source on the subvention. Can you point me in the right direction?

  • George

    Moderate Unionist,

    The latest subvention figure I got was from Hansard
    here where Nigel Dodds asked the question of the Chancellor in the House of Commons in 2003.

  • maca

    IJP
    “it is not the economic arguments that stall an all-Ireland state, it is the security arrangements”

    I probably asked this before in one of the 300 earlier discussins on a UI.
    For a UI to happen wouldn’t it take considerable support from within the (ex-)Unionist community? In that case could we not expect minimal ‘civil unrest’?
    If nationalist/republican parties supported union with Britain would we have seen half the trouble of the last 30 years?

    As for security, i’d envision joint Irish-British or Irish-UN security forces for a number of years and perhaps retention of the PSNI. Just guessing…

  • willowfield

    George

    I have explained it time and again.

    You haven

  • willowfield

    … and even then, it would only be of necessity, rather than desire, that a government would be forced to cut public services, with very undesirable a social and economic consequences.

  • North Antrim Realist

    Willow

    You are wasting your time, George and other posters in here aren’t interested in facts only in some fuzzy logic theory surrounded in green mists that someday, somehow a UI will solve all the problems.

    NI problems must be solved within the UK before anyone could even contemplate a UI, but then if they were solved why would any one want a UI in the first place.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    If you believe having a public sector that accounts for over a third of the economy is beneficial then there is nothing I can say that can help you.
    Just ask yourself why does Northern Ireland need 8 billion in subventions a year just to stay afloat? Why can’t it sustain itself? Where is this net wealth you speak of?

    Just like East Germany, Northern Ireland’s economy would collapse overnight if it wasn’t artificially sustained. This is simple economics that fortunately others are able to grasp, if not you.

    You are still confusing public sector waste with government investment and capital expenditure. While the Irish Republic is building roads, schools etc, NI is paying people for jobs that are superfluous, a glorified dole scheme. You’ll be telling me the dole generates net wealth next. It’s no difference to paying people to do nothing of economic value as is the case in the public sector in NI. Tell me the difference Willowfield.

    If you think having a public sector generates wealth and a dynamic economy why is it that there are only 39% of the population in employment (677,000) as opposed to 46% in the Irish Republic, which has similar demographics.

    That’s 102,000 people in Northern Ireland not on the unemployment register (add that to the 120,000 superfluous public sector jobs) but you probably actually believe that Northern Ireland has 4.9% unemployment.

    As I said cloud cuckoo land. I hope it stays fine for you in your dreamworld of no recessions and no responsibility Willowfield, I really do.

  • willowfield

    George

    If you believe having a public sector that accounts for over a third of the economy is beneficial then there is nothing I can say that can help you.

    Good God – are you incapable of reading. I think this is now the FIFTH TIME that I have stated that I do not think this: THE PRIVATE SECTOR NEEDS TO BE DEVELOPED.

    Just ask yourself why does Northern Ireland need 8 billion in subventions a year just to stay afloat? Why can’t it sustain itself? Where is this net wealth you speak of?

    I’VE ALREADY ANSWERED THIS, but just for your benefit I’ll repeat it. The subvention is no more than the transfer from the centre to the region. Every region, NI included, needs public spending. The reason NI receives more than it raises in tax revenue is because the private sector is weak. Given this, the fact that we get net receipts from London is actually net wealth – it is money entering the economy – get it?

    Just like East Germany, Northern Ireland’s economy would collapse overnight if it wasn’t artificially sustained.

    And you advocate collapse!!

    This is simple economics that fortunately others are able to grasp, if not you.

    I do grasp it. That is why I oppose the slashing of public spending and support the development of the private sector!!

    You are still confusing public sector waste with government investment and capital expenditure.

    I’m not.

    While the Irish Republic is building roads, schools etc, NI is paying people for jobs that are superfluous, a glorified dole scheme.

    NI also builds roads and schools. The Republic also pays people for public sector jobs. Tell me which jobs are superfluous. You may be arguing for trimming down on administration, etc., but that is already happening within the UK, and it does not amount to the “slashing” of public expenditure which could only result in the stopping of road and school-building!!

    It’s no difference to paying people to do nothing of economic value as is the case in the public sector in NI. Tell me the difference Willowfield.

    If you think there is no difference between paying someone unemployment benefits and paying someone to do a job in the public sector, then you are a fool.

    If you think having a public sector generates wealth and a dynamic economy why is it that there are only 39% of the population in employment (677,000) as opposed to 46% in the Irish Republic, which has similar demographics.

    The Irish Republic is a self-financing state. NI is a region of a self-financing state. Public employment brings wealth into the region from the centre. IT’S NOT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    “NI is a region of a self-financing state. Public employment brings wealth into the region from the centre. IT’S NOT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND”

    Apart from the absolute economic madness of that sentence I’ve answered already in another way this so please read my comments:

    “My main problem with Willowfield’s position is the idea that the British exchequer will continue to pay the subsidy so there isn’t a major problem.”

    Also, read this again regarding collapse:
    “I’m not advocating sacking 120,000 public sector workers overnight (the excess number currently in place) but I would expect that people at least try put together a long-term plan to address this, to start trying to get the numbers down.”

    As I said I’m not advocating collapse although it’s reassuring to see you at least admit NI can’t run itself despite your whacky economic theory that waste generates wealth. I mention public sector reductions and you say “FOR THE FIFTH TIME” private sector blah blah and sure aren’t the British going to pay for our profligacy forever blah blah.

    One question because I think we’ve taken this one as far as we can go:
    Do you accept there is a bloated public sector Northern Ireland which is an unsustainable burden on the economy? Yes or no. No private sector bluster please.

  • willowfield

    George

    “NI is a region of a self-financing state. Public employment brings wealth into the region from the centre. IT’S NOT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND”

    Apart from the absolute economic madness of that sentence I’ve answered already in another way this so please read my comments:

    How is it “economic madness”? It’s a simple truth.

    “My main problem with Willowfield’s position is the idea that the British exchequer will continue to pay the subsidy so there isn’t a major problem.”

    Well, my main problem with George’s position is that he thinks that government should not provide public services on a uniform basis, but that the standard of public services in each reason should match the amount of tax revenue – Rolls-Royce public services in Kent (where people are less in need of them), ill-equipped public services in Tyne & Wear, NI (where people are more in need of them).

    Sorry George, not interested. (And I note you don’t propose that, say, Leitrim should have its public services slashed because it doesn’t generate as much wealth as Dublin.)

    You are an economic fascist! Even further to the right of Thatcher!

    “I’m not advocating sacking 120,000 public sector workers overnight (the excess number currently in place) but I would expect that people at least try put together a long-term plan to address this, to start trying to get the numbers down.”

    You’re trying to tackle the problem at the wrong end, George. You need to have a successful private sector in place before you can afford to “slash” public jobs. And, even then, you still need to provide public services at a uniform standard to the rest of the UK (or ROI in the case of a united Ireland.)

    Further, you STILL have to explain what these 120,000 “excess” jobs are. Too many nurses? Too many teachers?

    I suspect, though, that you simply mean streamlining administration – fewer departments and public bodies – which is already happening in the UK, doesn’t amount to the “slashing” of public spending, and will have little impact on the economy, except perhaps a slight negative impact.

    As I said I’m not advocating collapse although it’s reassuring to see you at least admit NI can’t run itself despite your whacky [sic] economic theory that waste generates wealth.

    When did I say that waste generates wealth? I said that net transfers of wealth into NI creates wealth in NI. That is self-evident. Are you incapable of comprehending this basic mathematical fact?

    I mention public sector reductions and you say “FOR THE FIFTH TIME” private sector blah blah and sure aren’t the British going to pay for our profligacy forever blah blah.

    If you think the UK is going to move away from uniform public services then you are mistaken. As for “profligacy”, if you actually mean there are too many public bodies, this has already been recognised and is being recognised within the UK and therefore has no bearing whatsoever on the question of a untied Ireland, nor on your claim that a united Ireland would improve the NI economy.

    You have miserably failed to provide any sort of case whatsoever that a united Ireland would improve the economy. All you have been able to say is that the ROI would “slash public spending” (despite then contradicting yourself by boasting that the ROI actually spends five times more than the UK!) without any sort of explanation as to how this would boost the economy. The reality is that it would damage the economy.

    The answer to boosting the economy is to develop the private sector. Slashing public spending and public services will actually damage the private sector.

    Do you accept there is a bloated public sector Northern Ireland which is an unsustainable burden on the economy? Yes or no. No private sector bluster please.

    I accept that the public sector is inefficient, due to the excess of bodies. I do not accept that is is an “unsustainable burden” because (a) it is not a burden, it is actually a benefit to the economy to bring wealth into NI from the centre, and (b) it is sustainable as the NI budget is a small fraction of UK public spending, and within the NI budget the amount spent on inefficiency is a tinier fraction still.

    Now, please, please, please, explain how “slashing” public spending – with higher unemployment, less money in the economy, public services unable to cope with demand, and private sector damaged by a shrunken market – would benefit the NI economy.

  • George

    Is that a yes or a no Willowfield?

  • willowfield

    Read the answer and work it out for yourself.

    Still waiting for your explanation. Why so difficult? Could it be because your argument makes no sense?

  • IJP

    George

    I must say you don’t strike me as someone caught in the ‘fuzzy mists of Irish nationalism’ – keep up this fine debate!

    However, one correction. The figure given by Boateng is, basically, the entire government spend in NI. However, NI itself would contribute

  • Moderate Unionist

    George
    Thanks for the link
    IJP
    I agree. Which is why I wanted the source.

    Willowfield and George
    Maybe you are getting a little excited about this. There is lots of common ground.

    There is a problem with the economy, it is over dependant on subvention. In the short term this isn’t going away. In the long term it must. How do we get there. Peace, political stability and decisive action by the leadership of the community on the issue. Are there any signs of this. Certainly not on the last issue.

    I think you should both stand for representative office. Of course I only have one vote.

  • George

    ijp,
    thanks for the heads up on the Boateng subvention figure, I don’t easy getting figures on the state of the Northern Ireland economy.

    Willowfield,
    I tried to figure it out and can’t. Yes or no.

  • George

    Ok Willowfield,
    I’ll keep going on this one. I just can’t get the right of Thatcher quote out of my head.

    You say your main problem is that I think government should not provide public services on a uniform basis, but that the standard of public services in each reason should match the amount of tax revenue. You also said
    “When did I say that waste generates wealth? I said that net transfers of wealth into NI creates wealth in NI.”

    Net transfer of money does not equal net transfer of wealth. You could transfer the money and then burn it for example. I am saying that money put into a bloated public sector is waste and a subvention that doesn’t generate wealth or benefit should be restructured so that it does. I’m not saying stop all subventions, I am saying stop relying on them and stop using them as an excuse not to have to implement desperately needed economic reforms.

    For me this means, for example let’s say, stopping employing yet another librarian that isn’t needed because there are no other jobs around and instead using the money to educate or build infrastructure so as to create a region which attracts employment and investment, the true generators of wealth. A librarian is of benefit to the economy but a superfluous librarian is not and certainly doesn’t generate wealth .

    Here we obviously disagree fundamentally in that you think the subvention is automatically generating wealth.

    “You’re trying to tackle the problem at the wrong end, George. You need to have a successful private sector in place before you can afford to “slash” public jobs.”

    Here we disagree again. You have to cut spending on waste and redirect it. You don’t ask for more money, which, by the way would then be allocated by the very people wasting it in the first place, nameley the bloated public sector. A recipe for disaster.

    The badly run public services may take a hit initially but that’s the price. Sometimes you have to break a few eggs.

    I don’t know where these 120,000 excess jobs are exactly. I do know that having that many people in the public sector is unheard of in a functioning economy.

    The UK has 4.25 million public sector workers out of a workforce of 28.4 million which is, interestingly enough, 15%. So Ireland and the UK have similar public sector burdens, namely manageable ones.

    This is a basic mathematical fact. Surely you want NI to function? That means getting down to 15%. Are you saying NI’s public services are twice as good ast the rest of the UK because they cost twice as much? That’s the crux of the matter.

    You say that this has no bearing whatsoever on the question of a untied Ireland, nor on your claim that a united Ireland would improve the NI economy.

    We’ll have to wait and see but if NI is functioning then the main arguement that we can’t afford it fades away. This world is full of irony. It could also mean the opposite, I said that earlier.

    “The answer to boosting the economy is to develop the private sector. Slashing public spending and public services will actually damage the private sector.”
    Completely disagree. No private business wants to work in an inefficient country.

    “(a) it is not a burden, it is actually a benefit to the economy to bring wealth into NI from the centre, and (b) it is sustainable as the NI budget is a small fraction of UK public spending, and within the NI budget the amount spent on inefficiency is a tinier fraction still.”

    Completely disagree on a as above and b because you are banking on the UK continue to pay for inefficiency. It won’t as long as NI is stable because why should it. The amount spent on inefficiency is large. It looks like around 220,000 full time wages to start with – that includes those not working but not unemployed.

    “Now, please, please, please, explain how “slashing” public spending – with higher unemployment, less money in the economy, public services unable to cope with demand, and private sector damaged by a shrunken market – would benefit the NI economy.”

    The money would be used in a more beneficial way. The NI subvention is not improving the situation and won’t until there are structural changes.
    Subvention does not automatically equal wealth, it can also equal waste.

    The money could instead be used to create sustainable jobs rather than being wasted and the same amount needed 12 months later out of the central purse.

  • North Antrim Realist

    George

    You have a view on how to correct NI woes, I agree with some of it and totally disgree with other parts, e.g the UK WILL sustain the standard of living to that in the rest of the UK, nothing more nothing less, until posiibly insome distant day the people of NI decide that they want to leave the UK.

    However why would what you are proposing be best done within a UI and not as region of the UK? I believe the answer is, it wouldn’t.

  • willowfield

    George

    You say your main problem is that I think government should not provide public services on a uniform basis, but that the standard of public services in each reason should match the amount of tax revenue. You also said “When did I say that waste generates wealth? I said that net transfers of wealth into NI creates wealth in NI.”
    Net transfer of money does not equal net transfer of wealth.

    It does. If NI has x wealth today, and y wealth is transferred from London tomorrow, that means NI has (x+y) wealth.

    You could transfer the money and then burn it for example.

    Public money doesn

  • willowfield

    Never mind George’s nonsense claims that “slashing public spending” and sacking public servants when there are no private sector jobs to soak up the unemployment will improve the economy, the second part of his argument is that cutting down the size of the public sector can only happen in a united Ireland.

    Well, it’s already happening in the UK!

    15% cut in size of Civil Service

    Cuts in number of local councils

  • George

    Willowfield,
    economics is little more complicated than simple linear algebra I’m afraid. If your theory was the case then Northern Ireland as the most subvented area in Western Europe,would also be the richest. It isn’t. It is also the most subvented area in the UK but is its poorest region.
    Using the Willowfield economic model x + 83y (number of years of NI) = really rich.
    It’s not because the money is wasted and I can’t wait to see you explain why it isn’t with your x + y = x + y economic formula.

    “Public money doesn

  • George

    NAR,
    I don’t know where it would be done better is the honest answer to that. The other honest answer is that if we are to have a united Ireland I would certainly hope that it’s already done and dusted. I don’t want my pension fund pilfered to pay for some bozo hidden in the bowels of some civil service building in Belfast doing nothing of consequence.

    Willowfield,
    that’s good news that the UK will cut civil service staff in NI by 15% by 2008. So now you agree that there is waste in the public sector I assume. But what about the sandwich shop?

    At this rate, Northern Ireland should be a fully functioning dynamic economy by 2021, just in time to pay for the centerary celebrations. What a party that will be. I think I’ll be heading north for that.

    This is only the beginning. Now that Northern Ireland is stable politically, Britain will no longer tolerate the waste. I’m delighted because then everyone on this island will be competing on an equal basis. An island of equals. Bring it on as my namesake would say.

  • willowfield

    George

    If your theory was the case then Northern Ireland as the most subvented area in Western Europe,would also be the richest.

    Don’t be absurd. The net income to NI through public spending is insignificant compared to net income of other areas.

    It is also the most subvented area in the UK but is its poorest region.

    Um, ever think that the latter part of your sentence is the reason for the former, and not the other way round?!

    Using the Willowfield economic model x + 83y (number of years of NI) = really rich.

    That’s not my economic model. Stop misrepresenting me please.

    It might as well be burned if it costs over twice as much to deliver the same level of public service.

    If it is being spent then that is not the same as being burned. And it doesn’t cost twice as much to provide the same level of public service.

    But they need well over twice as many people as the Irish Republic or the rest of the UK to provide the same service. I’m sorry you can’t excuse away this level of waste on economies of scale.

    First, I’ve already explained to you that the smaller the administrative area the higher the proportion spent on administration. Second, where do you get the figure of over twice as many people as the Irish Republic or rest of UK? Third, how does this demonstrate that “slashing public expenditure” will improve the economy?

    “The sandwich shop has fewer public servants to buy his sandwiches at lunchtime.”
    This is unsustainable Willowfield. You are the looper if you believe you can keep on paying people money to do jobs that add no value to the economy.

    First, your response appears to bear no relation to the statement to which you are responding. Therefore I will repeat the statement: the sandwich shop has fewer public servants to buy its sandwiches at lunchtime – how does that benefit the economy?

    Second, I’ve already explained many times that net receipts of money – whether in the form of salaries or other kind of spending – does add value the economy. Quite literally.

    I’m not making them up I’m extrapolating data. As I said if NI had 15% public sector size, which is the figure for the other regions in the UK, then there would be over 100,000 less people in the public sector.

    Your argument assumes that needs in NI are the same as needs in the rest of the UK. They’re not: NI has greater social need and is therefore in need of greater spending on public services.

    Further, even if there are 100,000 doing unnecessary jobs, sacking them will not improve the economy, which is the point you are trying to make.

    The UK has 47% of the population in work, the Irish Republic as 46% and NI has 39%.

    Yet you propose to reduce that proportion even further by shedding 100,000 jobs!! ANd you think that’ll benefit the economy? You’re nuts!

    That’s where the other 120,000 come from. I don’t know what these people are doing or where they are hanging around but one thing is for sure they’re not “unemployed” or adding benefit to the economy. Waste again.

    And your proposal is to add to the unemployed and stop paying benefits to them? That’ll really set the economy alight!!

    (PS. Ever thought that among those not in employment might be children, pensioners, sick and disabled, and housewives?)

    I think the money can be better used.

    So you’re not proposing to slash public spending: you’re proposing to “better use” it.

    THank you.

    I said not overnight. Firstly restructure, which will be hard, aiming to reduce public sector numbers by half at least over a set time to bring it to normal levels. That’s slashing in my book and I stand by it. It’s the time it takes to do it that I’m open on.

    So you want to cut the number of public servants by 50% without providing private sector jobs to soak up the additional unemployment, and you think this will improve the economy? You’re bananas!

    The key word here is cost. Northern Ireland costs too much. Not enough bang for its buck.

    We know that. Stop repeating things that are not at issue.

    And PLEASE try to understand that the cost of NI is borne not by the NI economy, but by the UK economy as a whole. In a united Ireland, that cost would have to be met by the ROI economy which is far smaller than the UK economy and therefore less able to soak it up.

    that’s good news that the UK will cut civil service staff in NI by 15% by 2008. So now you agree that there is waste in the public sector I assume. But what about the sandwich shop?

    I never denied there was “waste” (if, by this, you mean over-administration). I simply pointed out that this “waste” is of benefit to the economy since it means net income. As for the sandwich 15% fewer civil servants without a corresponding rise in private sector employment, means 15% fewer customers for the sandwich shops, which means sandwich shops closing, which is not good for the economy. Get it yet, George? Get it?

    At this rate, Northern Ireland should be a fully functioning dynamic economy by 2021, just in time to pay for the centerary celebrations. What a party that will be. I think I’ll be heading north for that.

    No, George, you don’t get it. NI will not be a fully-functioning dynamic economy unless it has a dynamic private sector. That’s not going to result from the shedding of jobs and the consequent loss of money in the economy.

  • willowfield

    George thinks making 200,000 people unemployed will improve the economy!

    Dear, dear.

  • North Antrim Realist

    George

    It is nice to know we do agree on some things!

    However I am convinced that a resolution to NI’s economic woes will best be provided within the UK, once that has been achieved (at least to the level of GB) then we can look at other considerations.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Willowfield, George
    An economy dependent upon the public sector is unsustainable. Worse, it destroys innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

    It is clear that an immediate drop in subvention or public sector head count will have severe short term implications. We are still a divided society and cannot afford the risk that social deprevation will spill out into civil unrest. The phrase “the cure is worse than the illness comes to mind”.

    However, not only must we recognise that the private sector needs to do more, we must also recognise that the public sector is inefficient.

    Those resources that we have (from whatever source and for whatever duration) must be targetted at developing a sustainable economy, because only this will enable us to deliver the services that people now demand and give the people the self respect that defines our humanity.

    It is not acceptable to say the Northern Ireland will always require a subvention (from either ROI or GB), nor is it correct to say that we must remove it immediately or completely, but it is important that recognise the reality of our current situation and take immediate and concerted action to address it. It should be a priority for our elected representatives and at the moment I don’t think it is.

  • Moderate Unionist

    NAR
    Didn’t see your post before my last one. In agreement with you once again.

  • willowfield

    An economy dependent upon the public sector is unsustainable. Worse, it destroys innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

    As I have said maybe 7 or 8 times. We need to develop the private sector to get away from public sector dependence.

    The difference is George thinks that running down the public sector – which will actually harm the private sector – is the answer! He wants to put 200,000 people on the dole! Like that’ll really kick-start the economy!

    It is not acceptable to say the Northern Ireland will always require a subvention (from either ROI or GB)

    I never said that.

    The subvention goes when NI’s tax revenue exceeds the amount of public spending. That only happens when the private sector grows. You could achieve it by running public services into the ground, but that would be disastrous for the economy.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Willowfield
    It is not acceptable to say the Northern Ireland will always require a subvention (from either ROI or GB)

    I never said that.

    I didn’t say you did. I did.

    But you did say

    The subvention goes when NI’s tax revenue exceeds the amount of public spending. That only happens when the private sector grows

    but earlier

    Not sure I agree NI is a basket case. The economy’s doing pretty well, unemployment at a 35/40 year low, house prices high, investment up, etc., etc.

    at November 2, 2004 11:44 PM.

    I am broadly (and strongly) in agreement with your key tenents. However, I have two differences of opinion.

    With George
    A hard landing on public sector finances will cause civil unrest because we are divided community. A United Ireland does not offer a panacea because we live in a global economy and the successful strategies followed by ROI are no longer novel. (Agreeing with you).

    With you
    The economy is not in great shape and the public sector is not only inefficient, but skews the economic activity, adversely affecting sustainable private sector development. So we can’t afford to just ignore it.(Agreeing with George)

    but I think we are violently agreeing with each other (NAR and IJP included). IMHO George et al, did not carry the UI argument, but made many valid observations and analysis.

  • willowfield

    MU

    The economy “not being in great shape” does not necessarily mean it is a “basket case”.

    I never said it was in “great shape”. I said it wasn’t a “basket case”.

  • Moderate Unionist

    hmmm
    OK, I’ll not split hairs.

  • North Antrim Realist

    If I can summarise

    The NI private economy has to be revitalised.

    The NI civil service numbers must be reduced in line with GB or RoI as that happens.

    On economic grounds it will be best carried out within the UK.

    Is that a fair summary

  • willowfield

    I guess. Although it’s not just the NICS which is over-administered, there are too many QUANGOs, boards and other bodies.

    The way to reduce the size of the Civil Service is to reduce the number of departments and the number of administration that is required. Little point in simply cutting numbers if the amount of administration remains the same.

    But the point remains, cutting public service jobs while the private sector remains weak will only make matters worse.

  • George

    Oops,
    link to thread for your perusal willowfield.