The EBI, as an educational charity, sees outreach and education, to politicians, journalists, and talented young leaders, as central to our mission.
Education and Outreach
Behind every project we undertake, piece of research we create, and cause we advocate for is the desire to disseminate more widely throughout Irish life our confidence in market-based solutions to economic and social problems. All the time rooting this confidence in the market in a Burkean world view.
This world view means that we view markets as a great force for human prosperity and the common good. But it also means we aim to educate the public about what markets are and what they are not. What markets can do and what markets cannot.
The market is a dynamic discovery process. It is Oscar Wilde’s perfect cynic; it knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In vast and complex systems where millions of goods and services are traded in an instant only the market is capable of giving the accurate price signals which are vital to organisation of a society and the efficient distribution of scarce resources. It cannot tell how you ought to use this information.
Markets on their own are great tools, but it is only when combined with particular cultural, sociological, religious, and moral sentiments that they work most effectively to promote the common good, human flourishing and a healthy civilisation.
Second level Students
For the last year we have been talking to teachers about creating a module suitable for leaving cert age students in Economics and Politics. It would be suitable for a double class period or a half day and would deal in the basic laws of economics and specific social problems and the different approaches governments have taken to manage those problems.
It is vital from our perspective that we try to communicate to young people the ethical nature of our project. The perception that the market means winner takes all and devil take the hindmost is repulsive to their moral sensibilities. The case for the market cannot be simply one of efficiency but must be primarily one of morality.
At this stage we are looking at September 2021 before we will have an opportunity to roll out this initiative though we will attempt some forms of trial runs earlier, possibly online.
If you are a student/group of students and are interested in one of the third level seminars please get in touch. Similarly if you are a teacher at second level and interested in your class taking our module please send us a mail.
The student seminars and modules are also an opportunity to support the work of the EBI. All of this naturally takes money, which we do not get nor would not take from the state. If you would like to sponsor a seminar or indeed get your own group together and sponsor them, we would be delighted to hear from you. The students of today are going to be the influencers and opinion makers of tomorrow and so we must try to make sure as many of them as possible have a solid grounding in economics and political theory.
The causal observer of Irish political life would have seen a country where after WWII parliament was dominated by the centre right for fifty years with only a very marginal left presence. Throughout the 1980s Fianna Fail and Fine Gael together would garner up to ninety per cent of the vote. The truth was however outside of the left there was precious little real ideological content or philosophical commitment in the two large parties.
Mostly there was a mix of Catholic social action, manifesting itself in a social democratic impulse, and the indigenous tory instinct of the middling size farmer and the small businessman. Now the former has all but disappeared and the latter continues mostly in rural and independent TD.
The burgeoning left and far left in the Dail are more than well served by lavishly funded think tanks and NGOS who will supply them with paper after paper to advance the cause.
The EBI would be a resource to those parliamentarians seeking an alternative, market-based, approach to legislation. We can be a clearing house for the research being done across the globe and in time and with the necessary resources we want to be authors of our own research responding to the specific needs of our country.
We have already made high quality submissions to the Dail which have been distributed to Oirechteas members and as we do more and more of this work we want to become recognised as a place TDs can go for a market perspective, for innovative solutions and honest analysis.
In a world where traditional print and broadcast journalism is under ever more pressure fewer journalists are being asked to do more work than ever before. The vast majority of the NGOs, think tanks and academics in Ireland are singing from the same hymn sheet, so it is hardly surprising that there is a univocal quality to Irish news reporting. The EBI has been working to increase its media presence and to position itself as the “go to” organisation for free-market , “right-of-centre” material.
The diminishing diversity of the University across the developed world has been well documented. A fairly liberal student body is taught by a very liberal professorial. However, we know that there are conservatives going to college. A good third of students will still self identify as centre/centre right. But they are not being supported. The lament is not that students think conservative ideas are bad but they don’t know that there are conservative ideas.
For the last two years the EBI has been working on a series of interactive seminar style classes lasting variously a half day, a day, and a weekend for university students.
We have crafted modules to introduce young people to novelists, poets, philosophers, and social scientists with a right of centre world view. Also we work on the practical skills of persuasion, debate, organisation and marketing.
We are working with our young friends in third level institutions across the island and are will not be restricting this work to Dublin or to the traditional 5 universities.
In addition to our own efforts we have brought to Ireland for the first time one of the United States most prestigious leadership programmes which we did in Dublin with a large number of students. Hopefully by next year it will be possible to repeat this exercise.
The traffic has gone the other direction too as we have brought Irish students from a variety of political perspectives to the YAF conference in Washington DC. The mission was a great success and we plan to continue this project into the future.
In light of the pandemic we are looking at creating online opportunities to work on the literature of conservative thinkers and artists, economists from the market tradition, seminars on the culture today and practical work on communications skills.