Sunday 19 November 2017

Austerity and virtue will not save us or economy

By worshipping at the altar of downbeat economists and academics we're making the same mistakes all over again, writes Brendan O'Connor

Last week, we mainly learnt that everything the Government keeps telling us about economics is wrong, that the world isn't fair, and that there's no one handing out sweets to the good boys. Perhaps most notably the New York Times, in an extensive article, pointed out that not only is Ireland not being rewarded for being good, in fact, we are being punished terribly, and ultimately our austerity and willingness to please has led to a sharper -- and what will be a much longer -- downturn than anywhere else.

The piece painted a devastating picture of Ireland, from depressed small business people to the "graffiti-covered concrete skeletons" that are the unfinished hulks of the now stalled Ballymun redevelopment, to "to let posters obscuring the hollowed shells of once-vibrant cafes and clothing shops".

You would like to take issue with the Times' grim picture of Ireland under austerity but, in fact, it is a fair enough picture of how the local economy and the streetscapes of that local economy are decaying, while we pump, in the Times' words, €30bn into "zombie banks like Anglo Irish, which was nationalised after lavishing loans on developers".

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