Today, His Excellency Bertie Ahern, the Prime Minister of Ireland spoke to a joint session of Congress. Ahern will be stepping down as Irish Premier; his legacy will be synonymous with the longest economic expansion in Irish history.
Ireland’s recent economic success is thanks to a steadfast reliance on the free market. In 1987 Ireland’s per capita income averaged about 63% of the United Kingdom’s. From 1990-1995 their economy grew more than 5% per year and from 1996 to 2000 it exploded to more than 9% per year.
Prior to the Irish economic boom, Ireland had a 13 year period of stagnation. Ireland then took an aggressive course of slashing government expenditures, abolishing federal agencies, and cutting tax rates and regulations. Much to this conservative’s delight, the government made strong pledges to abstain from deficit spending or inflate the currency, and they kept those promises!
This year, the Heritage Foundation ranked Ireland as having the worlds 3rd freest economy (click here). In case you were wondering, the United States came in at 5th place (click here), behind Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Ireland. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Ireland has outperformed all industrialized economies over the past decade.
In a period of economic downturn, solutions are needed. However those solutions should not be entrenched in big government ideas, but rather a return to more Laissez-Faire economic policies.
Legislative initiatives such as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which includes the Spending Limit Amendment to the Constitution and the Taxpayer Choice Act, are ways that will limit government involvement and encourage free enterprise.