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March 23, 2009



Paul Krugman's book Peddling Prosperity talks about how as academic Economics became more academic and retreated to the Ivory Tower space was taken up those commentators with agendas who were not good enough to cut it out as real economists. Economic Witch doctoring was born (my words).
We have a fair few Economic witch doctors here peddling prosperity


Hi Michael,

here's a link to the SF proposals on tackling unemployment. Would love to see your analysis


That's not fair Jer. Lots of academic economists are prepared to shill for neoliberal agendas.


Excellent post. You should write a concise version as a letter to the Times and focus on the welfare payments data.


Excellent post (as ever), pertinent questions...


Hi Ciaran, I think its fairly fair because I am talking about Sarah Carey's prescriptions on our Economic future. I am most certainly not talking about this site but rather the phenomenon of journalistic economists. But you are right surely many supped at the Devil's table including academics


Hi Michael,
As a resident of a "failing" economy(France)it would be interesting to include what could be termed applied social welfare eg 1
accessible,affordable and professional childcare,our youngest goes to a parent-run crèche one day a week for 45 euros a month.
2 a child play/drop in centre with on-site childcare professionals(psychologist,nurse,childcare staff etc) at 2 euros a pop
3 A "ludothèque" where toys/games can be borrowed like in a library,membership is 9 euros a month.
Just a few examples of "applied" social welfare.Each one is funded by the state in various guises.None of the above would show up in a comparison based only on payments.


Sorry Jer - the 'that's unfair' comment was a misplaced attempt at wit! Something I ought never attempt...

You are of course correct - ill-informed knee-jerk commentary is the order of the day. But quite a few Irish economists have been pushing agendas rooted in poor just-so theorising (though there are some more nuanced voices out there). At least Sarah Carey doesn't claim any more authority than as a commentator.

Hugh Green

Just caught your Prime Time appearance, Mr Taft. Good job! (Though I suggest you've now used up RTE's sane economic commentary quota for the calendar year)


Hi Ciarán,

Dont let me catch you at that type of thing again!


Yea, well done Michael! Not used to getting such surprises while watching Prime Time. You got the last word in too. Miriam saying a number of times that we can't afford it and you saying that the money's there. I agree with Hugh, it can only go downhill from here.


Just watched Prime Time now - congratulations on a great "performance" Michael! I particularly liked your suggestion that MNCs are going to find it a bit odd when they set up here and are told to boil their drinking water...


Yes, well done Michael on your Prime Time appearance, I almost fell of the sofa when Miriam introduced you! And the boiling water point is particularly well made, given that areas where there are water problems (Galway in particular) are also places were the medical device sector is concentrated and where the jobs that are there will need to move up the value chain (to use a cliché) pretty soon. If public squalor continues there'll be no private affluence, something our numbskull commentariat seem determined to deny. Anyway, hopefully you'll be called on a bit to provide some much needed balance.

BTW, I see that Sarah has, perhaps wisely, ignored your correction but instead has lashed the Labour Party for its stance on fees and, from I can, not being a truly "left-wing" party.


I'm fairly sure it was also Sarah Carey that wrote an extraordinary piece about the ESB a few weeks ago which demonstrated only that she had no clue about the way the energy sector works - slamming the ESB for its prices with not a mention of the role of the regulator in setting those same prices!

But sure noone ever said you had to know what you're talking about to have a weekly newspaper column...

Michael Taft

First, thanks for the comments re: my Prime Time appearance. It was my first time doing such a gig. I felt like the constant critic from the sidelines suddenly being told I had to go on the pitch and actually kick the ball.

Fergal, that is a very interesting insight into one country's social welfare benefits. I suspect there are similar initiatives in other 'over-taxed, over-waged, over-regulated failed economies' (like Sweden, Denmark, etc.). I wish someone would fund a project to do a comprehensvie comparison of all such social protection measures in various countries. I'd say we wouldn't rate very high.

Tomaltach, CMK - I believe Sarah has been in contact with Irish Left Review regarding the letter and hopefully she'll respond. That way, the debate may get into the mainstream media.

James, you're right. It was Sarah revealing her comprehensive knowledge of price setting in the Irish electricity market. I was going to respond but if one were to do that to every misunderstanding of ESB prices, you'd have to start a dedicated blog: Electric Ignorance.

Michael Mc Loughlin

Tut tut, making arguments based on statistics and facts we can't have that ;-)

She was defendig junkets for cllrs recently

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