One shocking move for Ireland, in which securing a government pension is often viewed as having achieved worldly success and a ticket to permanent financial security (I've seen "personals" ads specifying that a desirable marriage partner must have vesting in a government pension), is Mr. Cowen's call to impose additional levies on the wages of 350,000 State employees — more than 15% of the total workforce. The new deductions would take an average of 7% from workers' pay for pension contributions, previously funded without such charges. Pay increases already agreed upon would be set aside for the next two years.
It sounds harsh, especially compared to Mr. Obama's continual ratcheting up of proposed spending (now in excess of $900 billion) with promises of money for all, but Mr. Cowen's realistic approach is much more responsible and, while a bitter pill for some, lets the citizens of the Republic know that government workers are not a special class, but are in the same boat as everyone else. In contrast, at a time when the president of the United States is asking for nearly $1 trillion in new spending to add to the budget, the U.S. government is the only large organization in the country that is hiring instead of imposing pay cuts, freezing new jobs, or laying off workers.
As a Certified Public Accountant, however, I know that cutting expenditures is only a third of the solution — and usually the least third. The way to turn things around in a business or a country is not simply to 1) keep an eye on what is spent, but 2) spend what you spend wisely, and, most important, 3) increase revenue, that is, help the private sector produce more, thereby generating income and increasing the tax base.
From reports in the Irish Independent and other Irish newspapers, it is clear that Mr. Cowen and his government (particularly his Finance Minister, Mr. Brian Lenihan), are carefully scrutinizing the budget to spend wisely as well as cut expenditures. We may not agree with some of their decisions, but at this point the effort itself is more than commendable, especially as Mr. Obama seems to be making every effort to invent more and more ways to spend money that doesn't even exist.
That is why the brief article in the Washington Post caught our eye, even though buried on page D7. Yesterday, not entirely by coincidence, we sent bound copies of our book, Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen to Mr. Cowen, selected members of his government, and a number of party leaders: Mr. Brian Lenihan (Minister of Finance), Mr. Charlie O'Connor (member for Dublin South West), Mr. Enda Kenny (leader, Fine Gael), Mr. Eamon Gilmore (leader, Labour), Mr. John Gormley (leader, Green Party), and, while not a representative in the Republic, Mr. Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, who has publicly called for participation of the Irish throughout the world in the reunification process — for which we believe a sound economy structured in conformity with the principles of the Just Third Way is a necessary first step, just as it is to finding a solution to the situation in the Holy Land.
We got multiple copies of Capital Homesteading to Mr. Obama's people during the campaign, and a CESJ member received the personal assurance of Mr. Obama during a rally in Nevada that he was familiar with CESJ and its work. As president, however, Mr. Obama seems to have committed himself to turning down the potholed Keynesian dead end with a bridge out rather than travel the Just Third Way.
If you would like to send copies of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen to your own legislators and representatives, individual copies can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is also available on Amazon Canada and Amazon United Kingdom.
If you are in the continental United States (that is, the "48 contiguous states"), you can purchase quantities of ten (10) or more copies at the wholesale price of $14.00 per copy, plus $1.50 per copy shipping direct from us, sending payment in advance with your name and street address (NOT a P. O. Box; UPS doesn't deliver to P. O. Boxes) to:
CESJFor 25 or more copies, or if you are in Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, or Mexico, send an e-mail to thirdway [at] cesj [dot] org before placing an order so we can calculate the shipping and let you know in advance the total amount of the bill. People generally get their books within ten business days of when we receive an order with payment.
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If you're in Ireland or the U.K., we have a contract with a printer in the Midlands, and should be able to arrange for direct bulk sales; let us know your needs.
Mr. Cowen should be applauded for his efforts to balance the Irish budget. It's now up to us to let him know there's help available — and to help him set a good example to other world leaders.