Lessons From Ireland

We have just about made it all the way around the island of Ireland. We went into Northern Ireland yesterday, another country, and wow just when I thought Ireland was expensive, Northern Ireland is even more expensive. By the way, the history of Ireland is very interesting, especially the fact that Northern Ireland, which is predominately protestant decided to stay connected with England. However, no matter how much money I have spent here, I have to say it has been a wonderful experience. The people have been great, and the country is lovely.

The sayings of the people are lovely. Thanks a million is great! Lovely! How you doing! And I have heard top of the morning to you, once in Dubln. But the one thing that I have seen in the people is a passion for living and relationships.

The editorials in the newspaper are very passionate. They care about their opinions and beliefs. They care about each other, and are very family oriented. It is quite refreshing. I saw that in Thomas a gentleman I played golf with in Ballinrobe. We were discussing Irish entitlements and why Ireland is going broke and he was quite passionate with his response.

The fact is Ireland has an entitlement system that is incredible. According to Thomas, and later Kevin who I met at Rosses Point in a restaurant, the Irish receive a child allowance. Depending on how many children they have a family could receive a monthly check from the government of 600 Euros. This equates to about $10,800 US. This amount is not based on how much one makes. A person making six figures would get the same amount. On top of this it is tax free. Thomas told me about housing allowances, energy allowances, etc. There are some Irish who are receiving about 30,000 Euros in entitlements. This works out to be about $45,000 US, tax free. A few days ago there were protests in Dublin about the government’s desire to eliminate the child benefit. But the fact is the Irish, who’s GDP is much smaller than ours, has a huge deficit when it comes to revenue coming into the country and entitlements going out to the people.

Another issue in Ireland is the lack of productivity. Many of the stores open at 10am. This is not a bad thing per se, but they also close around 5pm. They are only open for 7 hours. The only things open longer than that are the pubs. But why would any one have to work more, they get 30,000 per year in entitlements?

Another lesson from Ireland came from a gentlemen named Kevin. I was sitting in a restaurant having a cup of coffee when he and I started talking. He was a doctor and had just fired an employee. The employee worked well for 10 years, but for some reason started missing time and not doing her work. He tried for several months to find out why but she would not talk, etc. He finally had to come to an agreement with her about a termination price. He said it cost him 13,500 Euro’s to dismiss her for poor performance. He had to pay her off so he could fire her for not doing her job.

As much as I get irritated about the US and our problems, I still think we are the greatest country in the world. We do need to find an equilibrium with entitlements. We can’t have 46 million people without healthcare. We also need to provide opportunities for people to move out of low income jobs, if they want to. As much as I hate the thought of paying more taxes, I think we need to. And I hate the fact that an employer can fire someone for just being old, obviously they do it in a manner that would not be considered illegal in the courts.

We need to deal with these issues now, not in August when our credit rating goes down. We need to be proactive and creative. We are not Greece or Ireland, we are the richest nation in the world that leads the world in innovation. Why don’t we start acting like it and solve our problems creatively. Lets show these Europeans what it means to be great!

And that is my thought for the day from Ireland!


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