I was reading this thread on AskAboutMoney this morning about last weeks TV programme “In Search of the Pope’s Children” fronted by the author of the original book, David McWilliams. The second episode was to be on tonight. First things first, I didn’t watch the programme, and I haven’t read the book, and I won’t be watching tonight either.
A comment on the thread which made me think was the following – “He claimed the foundations of the New Ireland aren’t half as stable as we’d like to believe saying it was founded upon three economic factors: cheap credit, cheap energy and cheap labour.”
Something that’s been occupying my mind in recent months has been based on how people are funding their childrens education, and their own retirement funds. To my untrained eyes, and from reading many newspaper articles and many of the posts on AskAboutMoney, it appears that most people are “investing” in order to provide for those future financial needs.
People are buying property (home or abroad), or their investing in special childrens education savings accounts, or they investing in the stock market or market based funds. All this is to take money now, and hope that it earns more money in order to have funds for their future needs. And there’s nothing wrong with any of this.
But what does any of this do for our own Irish economy in the long run? The reason I raise this was that in the early 1980’s my father set up his own business which started off employing 3 people, peaked at 45, and had a constant average of about 25 until he sold it in the late 1990’s.
The three reasons he gave for setting up this business were:
To get away from his existing jobs
To fund his kids passage through college
To set himself up for his retirement
By the time he sold the business, he’d successfully met all three targets and he began what is still a very fruitful and enjoyable retirement.
However, at the same time as he met his own three personal goals there, he also provided employment in a small town in the west of Ireland for large numbers of people during the nearly 20 years he ran the company. As well as sorting himself and his family out, he was also helping the financial goals of many many other people and families at the same time through the employment he provided. This was particularly important given the timing of when he set up the business – in the darker days of the 1980’s.
People today investing in property or stocks, I believe, don’t have that same positive impact on the Irish economy as my father did – especially when the investment leaves the country. I personally have a concern about that and where the country will end up if we continue down that path.