Every time you open a newspaper or turn on the news, the headlines are dominated by Ukraine. It is certainly a very important issue but also a very confusing one. Like most people you probably don’t quite understand what it is about. You have probably figured out that it involves a lot of protests, something to do with the President, Europe might be involved and now the Russians are intervening. But it probably seems like a great muddle of similar names, unfamiliar geography and complicated geo-political affairs. If you’re confused by all of this, don’t worry, everyone (including the Ukrainians) probably are, but hopefully this post will make things a bit clearer. Continue reading
There are many arguments that can be used against gun control and while I disagree with them all, some are plausible. However, there is one that is so completely absurd that it hardly deserves the dignity of a rebuttal. This is the notion that genocides were preceded by gun control and that taking away people’s guns is the first step towards taking away their freedom and finally their lives. This argument is filled with so much paranoia and historical inaccuracies that it is a wonder that anyone takes it seriously. Yet American politics is so extreme that a fanatical argument like this can find widespread support among conservatives. Continue reading
Reading Mein Kampf is a very strange experience. The book and its author are so infamous that I almost feel like I have to preface what I say with the obvious statement that I am not a Nazi. But then why would I want to read a book by one of the most evil men in history? Hitler was unlike anyone else. His vicious hatred and the horrific acts he committed are something that none of us can understand. So out of historical curiosity, I decided to try and get an insight into the mind of this dictator. How could he possibly justify his evil ideology? Continue reading
Feminists claim that one example of sexism in society is the fact that women get paid less than men. Conservatives counter by claiming that this difference is not due to sexism but to actual differences between men and women. They claim that men are better educated, have more experience and specialise in better paying (often more dangerous jobs). So which is it? Is the gender pay gap an example of sexism in society or is it just a myth that denies genuine differences in work done? Continue reading
The government has been celebrating Ireland’s recent exit from the Troika bailout and have proclaimed that Ireland is now on the road to recovery. The Taoiseach addressed the nation to celebrate the regaining of Ireland’s economic sovereignty. But are we out of the woods yet? Is Ireland facing a new dawn that leaves the nightmare of the recession behind or is it only a mirage of false hope while we are still stuck in the mud? Continue reading
In debate libertarians argue that their ideology is based on freedom, all they want is to be free of government interference. After all, liberty is so important to them they put it in their name. But how can anyone disagree with that? Do social democrats hate liberty? What I have found is that in the debates between left and right, people are arguing past each other rather than with each other. So the left does believe in freedom, but they just view it differently. In this sense there are two types of freedom. There is negative liberty or freedom from, which is the main principle advocated by the right and there is positive liberty or freedom to, which is the main principle advocated by the left. Continue reading
If you open any economic textbook you will find a standard explanation of how banks operate. The basic story is that a person deposits some money (say €100) into a bank which then saves a percent of this (say 10%) as a reserve and then lends out the rest. This €90 is then deposited by whoever receives the loan, 10% of which is saved and the rest is lent out. This goes on and on until the original €100 has become €1,000. It is easy to see why students are told this story; it is simple, intuitive and gives them a basic idea of banking. Unfortunately, it is wrong.
There is strong evidence that contrary to the above story (known as the loanable funds theory) the banking system works the other way around. Deposits don’t create loans; loans create deposits (this is known as endogenous money). This is a more complicated story but a more realistic one that can better guide our view of the economy. Continue reading