The Titanic Syndrome.

Watching “Freefall”, the documentary about the banking crisis and its effect on Ireland, it’s easy to find Bertie Ahern’s “None of dem smart fellas said nuttin” act wearing a bit thin. We paid him €400k a year plus a very tasty pension, and so he should have been asking. Having said that, there’s a nuggest of truth to his point that no one would have thanked him for cooling down the economy, and indeed, there would have been massive popular opposition. It’s easy to forget that the big issue at the time was not getting prices down or reducing demand, but how to increase supply.

If Captain Smith of the Titanic had turned his ship directly into the iceberg, and rammed it, he would almost certainly have saved it and all aboard. Yet he would have gone down in history as a nut who wrecked his own ship.

It is easy to pontificate now about why we let the banks lend so much money. But a government that had restricted access to ordinary aspiring homeowners, or attempted to reduce the massive job-creating and tax-generating engine that was the construction industry, would have gotten pretty short shrift from the Irish people.

As a people, we don’t do foresight. We do historical fingerpointing.   

3 thoughts on “The Titanic Syndrome.

  1. The problem with that comparison is that you’re thinking that Smith was at the helm when the Iceberg came into view. He wasn’t. He wasn’t even on deck. He had left the wheelhouse to his lower rank officers who had to weigh the odds of loosing their livelihood and the livelihood of their family versus not damaging the ship all together. Smith had received warnings all throughout the day that there was ice in the area the ship was heading but his superior, who was aboard the ship with him at the time continued to ignore such warnings. His superior even made it a point to send out a memo after the incident befalling the Olympic near the Isle of Wright, that all ship officers would lose their positions and careers if any damage befell any White Star Ship while under their direct command. Knowing all this the officers had to weigh the options of doing the right thing for everyone aboard at the cost of their career, income and family well being, vs the gamble of just letting things ride out on their own and hope that the guidance of their superiors outweighed everything their gut was telling them.

    Troy Veenstra
    Titanic: Echo of the Dying Confession

  2. That sounds very different if you replace “winning seats” with “gaining the consent of the Irish people.” The voters can’t expect politicians to do what they won’t vote for themselves.

  3. Yes they would have been unpopular, but they would have done the right thing. Politics shouldn’t be just about winning seats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *