Apple’s Irish Planning Nightmare Shows The Dire Costs Of Bureaucracy


A nice little horror story from Ireland showing us all what the immense costs of bureaucratic wibbling are. The net effect of which is that, sure, in theory having people considering decisions can be a good idea. But the losses from how it is actually done are such that we’d almost certainly be better off by simply slaughtering everyone who has ever attended a committee meeting. That might be considered a little de trop perhaps, possibly a little bloodthirsty even, but fair and proportionate in the circumstances I think.

The story itself is really very simple:

Apple is scrapping plans for an €850m (£743m) data centre in Ireland after three years of planning approval delays, the company has said.

Note that in this little part of the economy 3 years is actually a generation. No, really, it’s an entire generation of the machines that live inside those sorts of centres. We’ve an entire generation of economic growth stopped here.

Apple announced plans in February 2015 to build the facility in the rural western town of Athenry to take advantage of green energy sources nearby, but a series of planning appeals, chiefly from two individuals, delayed its approval.

Two people eh? Looks like Eire has imported more of the American culture than just the company Apple itself then.

Three years ago, Apple announced that it would invest $2 billion into building a pair of new, green data centers in Ireland and Denmark.

The first phase of the Danish center announced at the same time, incidentally, is nearly completed and Apple is now working on a second center in the country.

The Irish one is cancelled because of the planning process. The Danish one is just about to come online. Hmm.

About which we can say two things. The first is that all of this planning, all this bureaucracy, it has a real cost. No, it isn’t true that things are just delayed a bit – not that that would be a reasonable excuse anyway. For economic growth now is income, consumption, that people can enjoy now. That the growth will still arrive in 2 years time doesn’t stop the fact that we’ve all missed enjoying two years of it.

That we had lots of growth in 1965 didn’t aid those in 1565 much either, did it?

Over and above that thing about delay is of course this story, that delay can and will mean some of the growth not arriving at all. Not one of these good things.

Our second thing being that joy that the other place is Denmark. You know, one of the most equal places on the planet, oft cited as one of the happiest and all that. In fact, the sort of place that near all the leftists of the Northern Hemisphere say is how we ought to be, one of those Nordic social democracies. And how do they do that? By loading everything up with bureaucracy? By strict planning controls which take years to navigate?

No, in fact, they don’t. Actually, the run matters entirely the other way around. They run a more free market, more capitalist even, and definitely less bureaucratic culture than we have. True, they then slice vast bits off the top to pay for their social welfare policies. But note how they do start, more free market than us.

And that is an interesting finding, isn’t it? That road to nirvana, to the outcome we’re supposed to want of an encompassing and caring social democracy, is through more redistribution, more economic freedom and less government. It’s just odd that our own home grown lefties never want to do the latter two, despite that being what makes the first work or even be possible.

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