Slí Eile: Today, Progressive Economy is two years old. 872 posts later this blog site is learning to walk and talk economics in the market place of ideas. Are you a regular user of this site? What do you think of it? Do you think that it has played a useful role in informing public debate?
Progressive Economy (PE) was set up an alternative forum for debate about ‘progressive economics’. In one way it competes with Irish Economy (IE); in another it complements it. Many people follow Irish Economy and it is cited frequently in blogosphere, the media and elsewhere. While academic economists post for Irish Economy, its readership and commentariat is far and wide and contains not a few critics of the ‘existing order of things’. The focus of IE tends to be a lot on banking and fiscal debt.
Progressive Economy is not defined by what it is not. It seeks to create a different space where the focus of topics and some of the underlying values and assumptions of those post to this site are different. The use of the term ‘progressive’ does not necessarily imply that the views of the mainstream of applied political economy are always regressive. But, sometimes they are because they start from false assumptions, unsubstantiated assertions and a questionable set of values (like we are not short of compassion but cash as if money was a value in itself apart from human labour and society). Many contributors to PE have identified and analysed various data sources that escape mainstream media debates and commentary. One of the services that PE can offer is a commentary on trends, distributions and comparisons in regard to employment, spending, taxation, income, wealth, debt etc Many who continue to post to this Site provide a useful sounding board and criticism of views. This is a vital part of democratic and civil debate to clarify ideas, test assumptions and suggest that there is more than one of conceptualising a problem and certainly more than one way of finding solutions.
So, what conclusions can be drawn from the last two years and what pointers for the next two years? I suggest that:
- The contribution base needs to be expanded while retaining the focus on economics
- More guest posts, ‘head-to-head’ discussions and cross-posting with other sites should be considered.
- Issues around job-creation and industry/services development need greater attention.
At the launch of PE on 23rd February 2009, former Director of TASC Paula Clancy wrote:
Economics has been described as the 'dismal science'. Economists are often stereotyped as conservative, wallowing in bad news, unfeeling and sometimes allied to powerful financial, economic circles and interests…..TASC believes that it is time to reclaim 'economics' by rediscovering the political, social and cultural in 'economics'. We assert that economics is not, and cannot be, neutral. ….A new Political Economy must address the fundamental choices, values and alternative possible ways forward that the traditional practice of 'economics' shies away from. For this reason, TASC has created progressive-economy@tasc to provide a public forum for economic debate.