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July 16, 2009



Report suggests cutting - entirely - the next round of research at third level, ca. 300 million (p.67-68, Volume 2. Say "bye,bye" to the smart economy!

James Conran

I'm surprised Michael to see you - usually a supporter of open debate -endorsing Jack O'Connor's ad hominem attack on the ESRI as an "instrument" and "intellectual mouth piece" of "the establishment". Criticising the ESRI's record, analysis and prescriptions is fine but I think an attack on its integrity is unnecessary. It's also unlikely to win the left any arguments or end its marginalisation in the current crisis.

If the term "establishment" has any meaning then the ESRI is surely part of it - it is a quasi-official body. But then to hear Jack O'Connor you would think SIPTU had spent the past 12 years fighting the government in the streets, rather than being in "partnership" with them. (David Begg is, naturally, a member of the ESRI's governing council).

And it's not like SIPTU "fores[aw] the collapse of the credit led property boom", did it?

Michael Taft

James, apologies for the delay in getting back on this. As always, you hit several nails - and, of course, I wouldn't go in for attacking the player. However, there is more than a bit of frustration with the ESRI in particular. Of course, the ESRI is made up of a number of differing voices but it is incumbent upon them to canvas analysis regarding all aspects of the debate. This they haven't done. They (or should I properly say, many of their researchers) have presented policy prescriptions without empirical foundation (e.g. real devaluation). They have neglected to analyse alternative courses to the current economic crisis (e.g. investment stimulus, etc.). I don't expect the individuals to agree with such alternative options - but they have the tools to, at least, present the data. Then we can all have a good debate over the interpretation. That they haven't presented all the data means that the debate is rather one-sided. I think that's what may have added to Jack's frustration (and mine). Still, if Jack's comments provoke some questions regarding the nature of the debate - and the ESRI's contribution to it - maybe it might have some benefit. But don't worry - I do try to play the ball and from now on I will content myself to tackle very, very, Vinnie Jones-style hard (but so as not to give away any frees).

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