Michael Taft: Here is an antidote to recent attempts to airbrush out of the economic debate anyone who doesn’t follow the line. An Irish Times editorial stated, ‘There is near-universal agreement among this State’s independent economists that there is no option but to remain on the path of fiscal correction set out by the Government last December.’ Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan stated that: ‘ . . we don’t have the flexibility to do a spending stimulus now. There’s no one who is even arguing for it.’
Never mind that a number of economists argued differently (and in the Irish Times) in the TASC open letter, something Sinéad Pentony reminded the leader writers.
There’s Paul Krugman writing (again, in the Irish Times) about ‘austerians’: ‘Anyone who doubts the suffering caused by slashing spending in a weak economy should look at the catastrophic effects of austerity programmes in Greece and Ireland.’
Of course, Professor Krugman can be dismissed on the grounds that he ‘doesn’t understand’ Irish exceptionalism. But the leader of the second largest union in ICTU, Jimmy Kelly of UNITE, wrote at length recently in the Sunday Tribune, arguing for an investment-led strategy to replace the failed fiscal policies pursued by the Government: ‘This is not a traditional stimulus programme, whereby the government temporarily boosts demand until such time as the private sector gets back on its feet. It is an investment-led programme constituting a major drive to modernise our economic base and boost productivity. It will increase job numbers and profitability throughout the private and public sectors.’
Yes, there is a debate going on – even if some don’t want to admit it and are doing everything possible to shield it from the public.