The opposite-of-indubitable Tom Friedman has been raving about Ireland lately. How rich it is, and now how its labor system should be admired for its brutality.
If he was right, I’d perhaps be willing to assume that the unprotected workers in the “anglo-saxon” labor system are better off; but he’s dead wrong.
Point One: Ireland is not an exemplar of the “Anglo Saxon model.” For evidence, take a look at this recent paper [PDF] by Lane Kenworthy, which argues convincingly that Ireland doesn’t fit well into either the Anglo-Saxon ‘liberal market economy’ or Rhenish ‘coordinated model economy’ models. Point Two: Ireland is an especially poor fit with the Anglo-Saxon model in the area of labour market policy, a fact which rather undercuts the argument Friedman is trying to make.
… Finally, there’s a very strong argument to be made that it is exactly the non-Anglo-Saxon features of the Irish economy — and in particular the systematized concertation [PDF] between trade unions, management, government and other social actors — that was at the heart of Ireland’s economic success in the 1990’s. This system, unbeloved of free market economists, set the broad parameters for wage and income tax policy, and provided Ireland with the necessary stability for economic growth.