Ireland's President Michael D Higgins says intellectual crisis is worse than economic crisis


Ireland's President
Michael D Higgins

I suspect I'm the only person in Ireland taking new President Michael D Higgins seriously. Truly. That's the only way I can explain why his comments yesterday have received so little attention.

Yesterday in a lengthy (and tedious) speech Higgins said: "There is now I believe an intellectual crisis that is far more serious than the economic one, the one which fills the papers; dominates the programmes in our media."

What utter tripe. I only wish Higgins had said this before last October's election because he would not be President now if he had. Oh no, during the campaign the media talked about Higgins as a poet, an academic, an activist, but they failed to press home the fact that he is also a pompous windbag.

Honestly, what planet is Higgins living on? Ireland is littered with the wreckage of a failed economy, of the effects of poor regulation and inept regulators, of a European Union that is anything but united, of a government that saddled us with public expenditures far in excess of what we can afford and Higgins thinks none of this is as serious as the need for academics to revisit the social theories of Max Weber.

{Read the whole thing for yourself, but have plenty of coffee at the ready. I told you it was tedious.}

I'm not disputing that Ireland has major issues and I welcome the input of intellectuals and academics on these issues. However, to imply that the anything that's going on in the halls of Irish academia is more important than the business failures, job losses, emigration and budget cuts in the real world is insulting to the rest of us plebeians, a.k.a. the citizens of Ireland.

I would bet that even some of those academics listening to Higgins yesterday were thinking to themselves, "Easy there Michael. All we do is argue among ourselves and then toss out occasional papers printed in journals. We don't really have any solutions. We're not going to create new businesses that will employ the jobless thousands."

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Higgins fancies himself as an intellectual. His speech is full of clues as to what he really believes should be done: people like him - thinkers - should be given a lot more authority to set down what is and what is not allowed in terms of economic policy, social policy and everywhere else that matters.

Higgins believes not only that the free market is irrational, but evil. It is sin. It must be avoided if possible, tightly controlled if not. He will tell us what we should want and when we should want it.

Higgins says the market has failed, but his model has failed too. His model was tried before and it produced a society and an economy that was great at producing chess players, but not washing machines; great at producing ballets, but not food; great at unaccountable bureaucracy, but terrible at change and freedom.

Yes, the market has wreaked havoc on Ireland, but much of that was thanks to the failure of our central planners in Dublin and Brussels. I see no reason to suppose that Higgins and his intellectual friends could do better. I'll take my chances with the market and freedom any day over Higgins' model society.


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