Our current presidential campaign will only intensify over the next six months. Speech after speech, newspaper articles, and radio and television news and commercials will be coming at us every day from many angles and interests. With the Democrats and the Republicans trying to put the best faces on their candidates, it will be difficult for us to understand what is being said and how best to react.
One thing we might concentrate on is America’s place in the world and, specifically for the readers of this newspaper, how the campaign rhetoric might impact Ireland.
While all of us should have a strong sense of loyalty and devotion to our country, we must be careful in acknowledging that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. The difference between our population of 330 million and the world population of 7.4 billion people is overwhelming.
We have all heard the expression “It’s the economy, stupid” as political advice given to campaigns. Candidates will be urged to claim that they will obtain new jobs, and prevent the loss of jobs and revenue to other countries.
Two things we can be sure of: There will be no jobs if the business world does not create them; and it is the healthy, growing, profitable companies that will provide them. In their quests for profitability and growth, the leaders of these companies would be making a serious mistake by ignoring the 7.1 billion people who do not live in the United States.
A company selling computers, cell phones, automobile tires, television sets, and life-saving drugs would be guilty of gross malfeasance if it did not look for foreign markets for its products. Awareness and study of the world’s labor rates, tax levels, transportation costs, and employee availability are all requirements for senior corporate executives of today to ensure the survival of their companies.
Despite that, some politicians are criticizing foreign investment, mostly because they consider it tax evasion. Profits made in foreign countries are taxed in that country. The United States only taxes profits made in foreign countries when the funds are returned to the American headquarters. Many American companies use these profits to expand their operations overseas.
And that is where Ireland comes in.
This small country offers a natural, English-speaking, low-cost location for Boston and American companies to expand their businesses worldwide. After a rough period in 2007-2012, Ireland is back, offering IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for attracting inward investment. IDA says “positive leadership and policies” make it an easy decision to locate there. Ask Massachusetts companies like EMC and Boston Scientific why they chose Ireland.
And other companies agree. In 2014 (the latest year reported), United States businesses invested $58 billion in Ireland. US investment in Ireland has totaled $115.9 billion since 2008, more than Brazil, China, Russia, and India combined. Something must be working well.
Ireland’s strength is its educated work force and a government that is understanding and cooperative. Being an English-speaking nation doesn’t hurt and Ireland’s tax advantages are helpful. IDA Ireland role in attracting inward investment is superbly organized and one of the best in the world at what it does.
Despite what some say, the United States is enjoying a period of solid economic growth. Unemployment is way down, automobile sales are at record levels, interest levels are low, new home sales are growing, more and more people are receiving health care, and the stock market, in which some 50 percent of Americans participate, has grown substantially in the past seven years.
Our American system is working better than ever except politically and in parts of the media. Let’s thank God for our good fortune and pray that the new leadership will makes things even better and encourage foreign investment.