I’m In A Book!

I nearly fell out of my chair with shock when I read the e-mail asking me to write a chapter for a book on Ireland’s future. Twenty young people from all different areas were to present a vision for Ireland’s future and the wonderful Lou Hodgson thought (for some reason) that I had something to offer. Six months later, the first copy of the book has arrived and it will be in shops next week. Its called “New Thinking, New Ireland” and I still cannot believe I’m part of it.


Naturally enough my chapter was to focus on economics. One thing I learned was that while I don’t find writing for a blog that hard, writing for a general audience isn’t easy. Firstly, as the scope of the chapter could be as broad as I wanted I didn’t know where to start (an example of the paradox of choice, where too many options can be paralysing). Also, I felt that this was my one shot to present whole new ideas to a general audience and to get my thoughts out into the public. Therefore I wanted it to be perfect and to address as many of Ireland’s issues as I could. This aim for perfection was also paralysing as nothing I wrote seemed good enough. This blog was hugely helpful both for improving my writing style and for providing a database of ideas that I could draw upon. Finally, after a month of agony I was able to produce a chapter I am immensely proud of that express a lot of ideas I have been thinking about and will hopefully open people’s minds.

So what did I write about? Well to find out you will have to buy the book, but I can give you an idea here. Throughout the chapter I was trying to balance the amount of information I would provide. I obviously wanted to get across as many important ideas as I could and wanted to educate people, but I didn’t want it to be overly confusing, after all most readers would know little about the economy other than it is in a mess. Hence I opted to explain it in as clear language as I could while avoiding technical terms.


So I begin by stating the dire state of the economy and economics and the need for new ideas. I then explain basic Keynesian economics (the only technical term I use in the chapter). I explain how lack of demand is the reason for the recession and unemployment, therefore we need to boost demand to end the recession. As many other writers in the book would be an entrepreneurial type and not entirely government friendly, I stressed that my argument was based on practicality and not ideology. We must rely on government spending, not because it is the best, but because no one else will spend. I work through the circular flow of income, why my spending is your income and why austerity isn’t working. I explain where the money for a stimulus would come from, the role of the markets and why the bank debt is unsustainable. Along the way I use some nice analogies and good phrases if I say so myself.

My chapter can really be broken into two halves, because even if we ended the recession, that would only bring us back to 2006 without addressing the underlying faults of the system. Now I could give 100 areas where reform is needed, but I decided to focus on some of my more novel and interesting proposals. I did this for two reasons, firstly because I wanted to get new ideas across to people and secondly, people haven’t built up as strong ideological defences against new ideas and are less likely to dismiss them out of hand.

So I begin by making an argument for democratically run companies. After all, everyone supports democracy and agrees it is the best way to run a country so why not bring it to the workplace? In this way I take a radical idea and explain it in a simple and intuitive way that makes it attractive for people who might not have otherwise agreed. Also by calling them co-operatives, they sound less radical and more appealing. I also argue against inequality and unemployment and even throw in some questioning of mainstream economics and the laws of supply and demand. The second key point of the second half of the chapter is the argument for a three day working week. This is another new idea that may not of occurred to people but gives them something to think about. Again I choose it as it is non-ideological and can appeal to all sections of society.

So that’s a rough snapshot of my chapter and my attempt to get people to think about economics in new ways. I am tremendously excited about the book and highly recommend everyone to buy it, not just for me, but for all the other contributors who talk in imaginative ways about the future of Ireland. The book is called “New Thinking, New Ireland”, is available on Amazon and will be in shops on the 20th of September.

Update: An extract from my chapter has been published here


Filed under Books, Economics

22 responses to “I’m In A Book!

  1. It is refreshing to realize that the cream does still rise to the top!

    BTW The idea of the short working week has been around quite some time with “technology” being the primary “invisible” benefactor. But, this never proves out, primarily because of greed (a short working week would be sharing profits with workers). The overtime laws in the U.S., for example, were crafted as a “share the work” effort because businesses would rather pay overtime to current employees than take on new ones, leaving many out of work. It has been predicted several times over than the U.S. would have a four day work week by now but individual Americans are actually working more than ever (the ones with jobs anyway).

    Keep up the good work, young man, many of us are rooting for you (especially because our generation has mucked up the economy so badly that yours will have to “save” us).

    • Ha thanks, I’ll try and live up to expectations!

      It always seems to be predicted that “in the future” we will work less and have technology do the work for us. Unfortunately, the future never seems to arrive and instead we are pushed harder and harder.

  2. Kudos, to you, sir.
    Other stuff aside. ;)…this is an excellent achievement. I’ll bet your face is sore from grinning, right? Lol..’course it is!
    Maybe this will spur you on to write a book of your own?

  3. The shorter working week is not a new idea, for some years this has been in many peoples minds, it is obvious to some the increasing idea of production is folly, the constant tampering with the environment of doing something? reminds one of keep going in busyness, or business, Bertrand Russell, wrote “In Praise of Idleness” published 1932, outlines a argument against work ethics, including the quote of the Victorians, idle hands make for evil, their are many different interpretations of this saying, having been put forth, it remains the same idea.
    This idea fitted in to British mechanization, being the prevailing use and means in part for conquest and spoils
    The unfortunate decline of the philosophy of work for the sake of work, is, the difficulty that now prevails, for those who have lived long enough, to see, a marked depletion of resources.
    I suggest the main problem with economics today, is the psychological obsession of requiring more money, that would be akin to taking and having the proviso of a legally endorsed drug, and the symptoms are similar, in as much that how ever much one gets, it never seems to be enough to satisfy.

  4. Naturally, my warmest congratulations!
    You’re right to place emphasis on presenting your ideas in a way that allows them to be endorsed from different parts of the political spectrum, as Keynesian economics once was (rather unfortunate that that didn’t remain the case for very long).

    Also, I like the collaborative concept of the book- though I’m sure that there’s a lot you wanted to say for one chapter!

    • Yeah it was difficult to compress all my ideas into one chapter and I had to leave a lot out. Overall, I’m pleased with the end result and it should hopefully introduce the ideas to a new range of people.

  5. Congratulations – you deserve it, you have a great future ahead of you🙂

  6. This is awesome Robert. I am so proud of you.

  7. Pingback: He’s in a Book | Mix&MatchMeme

  8. Congratulations on being asked to write a piece in this book – very exciting!
    My father was from Dublin, so this girl is very intrigued!🙂 But I do have one burning question though, when you say ‘we need to boost demand to end the recession’ who is we? Who is the one responsible for boosting that demand? I’m a little puzzled!

    • Well anyone. Either consumers, businesses or the government must spend money to boost the economy. It doesn’t matter who so long as someone does it. As it is unlikely that consumers or businesses will spend, it is up to the government.

  9. Blue Aurora

    Although this is belated…congratulations, Robert. You deserve it.

  10. Congratulations! This is awesome news😀 I shall put it on my list of books to read. Well done!

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