Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Envy Or Parsimony

What value to the citizens of Ireland, asks Enda Kenny. The entire cabinet takes to the skies, flying to every country with decent weather, and at taxpayer expense. Where's the return?

Mr. Kenny has questioned the benefit of the annual St. Patrick's Day migration. Last year, it cost more the 500,000 euro to send the ministers off on their various destinations. Mr. Kenny, being in opposition, was not invited to go along for the ride.

As usual, An Taoiseach will be in Washington D.C. on Saturday, to present the traditional Waterford crystal bowl of shamrock. Shamrock is nothing more than newly sprouted clover, but it's tradition and it has to be done.

There are trips planned to China, to Italy, to here and to there. What good does it do the Irish people?

It's exposure. On the news, on the radio, getting interviewed so the listening audience can be charmed by the brogue -- and won't you come visit us. Won't you come and invest in our country? Won't you come and build a factory or shuttle your profits through our low corporate tax rate nation?

Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day. There's millions of descendants of the Irish diaspora all over the globe, and they buy things and run companies and travel. Once a year, the ministers head out to remind folks that there's a quaint little island tucked up near England, and the tourists do indeed show up and spend their money on food and lodging and souvenirs.

The value in travel? It's a sales call, a face to face encounter with the people you're selling to, and the ministers are selling Ireland. And don't think that Enda Kenny wouldn't love to be the one handing over the bowl of shamrock and sitting down to dinner with the most powerful man on the planet.

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