If you have been following the news, you will know that Ireland is an economic basket case and is in danger of financial collapse and imminent default if it doesn't accept a massive bailout from the rest of the European Union.
Hard to believe Ireland was once touted by the establishment left "economic development" types as the model of the future.
Five years ago, the hapless troika of Sue Clark-Johnson, Janet Napolitano and Michael Crow went to Ireland, saw the future and pronounced that it works. The Republic devoted an entire Viewpoints section to the "Celtic Tiger" and the lessons that Irish-style central planning could provide for the backward politicians in Arizona.
Naturally Jon Talton acted as cheerleader when the three returned and announced that Government and industry need to work together in order to move Arizona forward. Here's what ASU President Michael Crow said at the time.
"Government can have a role in competitiveness," he said. "In Arizona, government is seen as evil. In Ireland, the government is designed to add to the nation's competitiveness."
Here's Talton again arguing for more centralized planning and bolstering his point with a quote from his then boss, Sue Clark Johnson.
Ireland's towering achievement brings Arizona's limitations into sharp relief. But it also shows the remarkable global opening that could belong to Arizona with the right strategy, investments and commitment. The public-private collaboration that landed T-Gen demonstrates the success of this approach.
"Arizona needs to see this as a wonderful opportunity," said Sue Clark-Johnson, chairman, CEO and publisher of The Arizona Republic, another participant.
That type of clueless cheer leading for central planning, compassionate capitalism and government sponsored economic development would be sad if it hadn't come from the three most powerful people in the state--the Governor, the Publisher of the State's largest newspaper and the President of the state's largest university.
Here was my response at the time. (This was in the days before permalinks, so scroll down to August 10th.)
So the Governor, the Publisher of the Republic and some TGen Board members headed to Ireland and decided that the secret to economic development was...more centralized planning and government subsidies for favored industries.
It reminds me of the time in 1999 when my barber told be to by Lucent on margin.
Another participant, Senate Minority Leader Phil Lopes demonstrated that he not only didn't understand economics, but was also ignorant about history, when he compared Ireland's economic miracle to...Japan.
Here was my response at the time.
Dude, Japan? Remember the 80s? Huey Lewis and the News topped the charts, Cosby was king and Japan Inc. was the way of the future. Capitalism was so dog eat dog. Why compete when you could cooperate? Pick the industries that were going to be the wave of the future and give them a leg up. Gosh that sounded good at the time. Of course Japan's economy virtually collapsed and has been bouncing along the recessionary bottom for nearly 20 years. The Nikkei averages is about half of what it was at its 1989 peak.
Remember that these were Arizona's elite--Governor, publisher, university President, Senate Minority leader--falling for the centralized planning model and citing Ireland (and Japan) as favorable examples. They then used their positions to try to move Arizona "forward" so that it could be like Ireland--all the while denigrating the unenlightened rubes in the legislature who refused to go along with Irish style government sponsored economic development.
Now Ireland has collapsed and the elites have moved on...Napolitano resigned and in so doing, wiped out the entire Arizona Democratic party. She's now in charge of strip searching children at airports. Sue Clark-Johnson presided over the downfall of Gannett and then...was appointed to the board of APS--seriously, I can't make this stuff up. Phil Lopes was crushed by Cajero Bedford. Talton moved to Seattle. The only one standing is Michael Crow who has raised tuition so much that students can't afford tuition. He'll be gone in 2012--leaving ASU worse off than he found it.
If only they had stayed in Ireland, Arizona would have been so much better off.