Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Countering left-wing ideology

Slí Eile: It may have come to the attention of readers of this blog-site that contributors are ideologically of the left espousing solutions and advancing analysis which are not typical of the mainstream of economic and political analysis. In the interests of balance it is proposed to gather up some assertions, platitudes, assumptions and banalities in this particular contribution. Here goes:
‘We are where we are’
‘the worst is nearly over’
‘we can bounce back especially when we have been bounced into it’
‘we are all in this together’
‘we all were responsible – over-spending, two cars, credit cards, mortgages. We should all be ashamed of ourselves’
‘folks on the dole need an incentive to go out to work’
‘we would not start from here but we will not undo it either’
‘sure we would have done it ourselves if given the opportunity. Don’t be hard on anyone who got it wrong’
‘We are not Greece’
‘We are not Portugal’
‘We’ll get through this’
‘don’t mention emigration’
‘there will be pain for everyone’
‘Love the bondholders and turn the other cheek. They will love us for 6% per annum’
‘all our elderly uncles and creditors abroad said that we are good and responsible children in reducing the Irish economy to its knees. Salvation is only through austerity and all economic history proves this. Let the history of the pre-celtic 1980’s and the post Tiger 2008- be written this way’
‘never mind Krugman, Stiglitz, Blanchflower, the FT, WSJ, Guardian, der Spiegel – they don’t understand Ireland’
‘deflate and trust in expansionary fiscal contraction. Its all about trust’
‘the evidence fits the theory and theory is ideology-free’
‘its awful but we have no choice’
‘beggars cannot chose or negotiate’
‘a plan is a set of targets, soundbites and aspirations’
‘a strategy is based on tough choices’
‘ the tougher the decision, the greater the pain the more impact on market sentiment’
‘the pain should be shared equally so that someone on the bread line experiences the same quantum of pain as someone on an income of €200,000’
‘if corporate tax rates are increased foreign direct investment will flee. Loads of anecdotes and threats by various people confirm this’
‘growth will be 3% per annum because exports will grow by 5% because wages and other costs are cut and because the world will grow because….’
‘there is no relationship between GDP growth and domestic fiscal policy and if there is it doesn’t matter anyway’
‘if growth drops cut spending more and keep cutting spending until growth stops dropping’ (get it!).
‘all economists believe that austerity is the only way to recovery. Anyone who says otherwise is not patriotic and is not a qualified economist – they couldn’t be …’
‘compassion, fairness and equality are fine sentiments. Economics is a hard science and life is tough and in a small open economy you don’t have many choices. We can do all the moral and touchy-feely stuff after we get the country back to working order again = 3% deficit and debt/GDP = 60%’
‘leave moralising to feminists, liberation theologians and lefties – economics is for rational solutions trusting in markets and governments who know who to impress markets’
‘public expenditure was out of control’
‘for every 5 Euro spent we are collecting 3 Euro. So cut back from 5 to 3 Euro. Its as simple as book keeping’
‘an economy is just like a household – a cut in spending equals a saving of the same magnitude’
‘social welfare and public sector pay are the highest in the world (well almost)’
‘there are thousands of public service workers falling over each other’
‘public service pensions should be aligned with private sector pensions after the share market collapse. Likewise, public sector workers should be levelled down to the private sector level and all workers should be competing with workers in the Bric countries’
‘we were losing competitiveness largely because of high pay’
‘going forward we can restore order – repeat order – to the public finances repeat by cutting spending’
‘every empirical study demonstrates that cutting expenditure is more effective than raising taxes’
‘last time (1980s) we raised taxes too much. This time we’ll do it right according to a ratio of 2:1 cuts/tax hikes’
‘changing or reforming the tax code is terribly complex. Take your time. Set up commissions and taskforces. Delay, delay. Don’t do anything radical – especially in regard to capital taxes or corporate taxes – it might frighten the horses.’
‘the multiplier is terribly low in Ireland due to high import propensity. Fiscal stimulus would not work, has not worked and will not work (except to recapitalise zombie banks’)
‘if you let a bank – even just one bank – fail you will lose all credibility’
‘the way to restore market confidence is through penitential exercises – flog harder and impress – flog harder still and impress and shock even more’
For a truly effective shock treatment on the market lasting more than one weekend wipe out all welfare.
Trust in the experts – they know about banking and complicated terms like derivatives, spreads, debt swaps etc.
‘lets all get together and form a national government and put the people and the country first’
‘form an advisory council with all the top brains in the country’ They will come up with the right answer – there being only one right answer.
No matter how hard it gets – the ‘insiders’ will always walk away and stand to lose much less than those on the outside. Problem is that the insiders have the power and they get to write the history when future generations read it.


Anonymous said...

Was in the Dail this evening listening to Cowen......"Deposits in banks are where they are"......this terminology is like a virus!

Christine said...

Brilliant post. It's worrying how many of these phrases have been adopted as orthodoxy instead of being challenged for the right-wing guff that they really are.

captainprayer said...

excellent post. we are not all where we are, some are where they want to be and are putting others where they think they should be.

The worst perpetrator is we all overspent. How more people are not furious at being tarred with this accusatory slogan is beyond me.

Freedom is slavery indeed.

Anonymous said...


If I might add...
...We're a small opem economy so a stimulus can't work here because the money would just flow out of the country. Except for the retail car industry where stimulus has worked, the money has flown out of the country and this is a good thing because at least we all get new cars.

paul sweeney said...

Very witty but kind of sad too. The late Paul Tansey, sorely missed today, jokingly said to me once that every article by an economic commentator should have a declaration of their net wealth at the end of their article. Similarly with these boyos.

Anonymous said...

First there was the "soft landing" and the flightpath to achieve it.

Then the "fundamentals were sound".

Then the "Irish banks were well-managed and well-capitalised".

Then we had the "stress tests".

Then the banks were "systemic".

Then it was "the cheapest bank guarantee in the world".

Then NAMA will be "profitable".

Then no "haircut"
could be applied to any bond-holder.

Then "the worst was over".

Then it was "manageable"........

Then somehow it wasn't. And then we didn't call in the IMF but then somehow we did.

Slí Eile said...

And then it was said on week:
'we are fully funded till mid 2011 - all this talk of bail-out is fanciful and fictional
and the following week it was said:
'without this 'agreement' we would have to cut pay and social welfare by 38%'

such precision in quantifying the counter-factual.