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The departure of our greatest living economist/economic expert/economic correspondent on television news… February 9, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Okay, so Fine Gael were pushed to the precipice, Enda Kenny (who I saw walking by very recently just before all this broke and I must admit struck me as a man carrying the weight of the troubles of the world, or the peculiar math of the Fine Gael front bench. And to paraphrase the old Frank Cluskey gag – which option would be the tougher one?) a millimeter or two ahead of the rest of the pack. One look down though and I suspect they realised that if he went chances are they’d all be following close behind, because while the public may (and God knows I’ve never heard a telephone poll with 16,000 responses in ten minutes paraded as the truth dragged down from the mountain like it was on Joe Duffy and later Pat Kenny on Frontline – like, Pat, y’think that’s rigorous enough?) be ululating today and tomorrow over the departure of our greatest living economist/economic expert/economic correspondent on television news one is probably correct to assume that adding to the sense of panic that briefly engendered may not be the wisest course of action for our supposedly most sober and polite of political parties. And maybe, at root, they recognised one salient fact. It wasn’t just Kenny, or indeed Bruton, but them all who were given the lash.

So, Kenny lives to fight another day. And perhaps despite the current gloom some of that weight has been lifted from his shoulders. Particularly if the Lee love-in with the public turns sour. Now it may be pure coincidence, but the letters page of the IT was filled with rather more critical contributions. Which makes it strangely entertaining reading the articles on George Lee in the same edition of the paper and seeing how they pick gingerly between the various facts of the matter.

And let me also say that in the past twenty four hours having spoken to various people and pols from FF, FG, Labour and points of the political compass beyond those the amount of sympathy for “our greatest living…” is minimal to none.

And, there’s little doubt that the facts are problematic and will, perhaps grow increasingly so for the reputation of “our greatest living etc…” Let’s recount those facts.

Firstly Lee was a wet weekend in the job. Secondly that he had unreasonable expectations. Thirdly that yes, he had an excellent vote share, but that, given the constituency he ran in that was close to a no-brainer – and sure, he got more than the combined votes of the other candidates, but… so what? Is Dublin South somehow the lynchpin of our democracy, the votes there in some way energised to a greater extent than any other? Fourth that his economic expertise has been wildly overhyped.

But of course they can’t quite come out and say any of that because to do so would kill the story dead – man finds he doesn’t like politics and in no-lose situation returns to old employer – and remove a handy stick with which to chastise Fine Gael in the first instance and Irish political life in the second. In these depoliticised and populist times that would never do.

Still, credit where credit is due, the Irish Times editorial actually isn’t too much of an ‘on the one hand, on the other’ balancing act. Indeed Lee reading that today might well have cause to wonder at the wisdom of his actions… he is indeed described as ‘a major political acquisition’...but… ‘Mr Lee had unreasonable expectations’…’Mr Lee was naive if he believed that he could be offered the portfolio of Richard Bruton’ [and one suspects that RB has a symbolic cachet around the IT – wbs]…’The resignation of Mr Lee, a political prima donna’…’Mr Lee can be comforted in the knowledge that he made a financially risk-free decision’…’He can hardly write independently about economic matters for a while’... indeed, is this last the Irish Times calling for a period of exile? “But, Charlie Bird is returning from Washington and the time may be opportune for Mr Lee to serve abroad”.

There are balancing issues, most importantly one of which Fintan O’Toole amongst others picked up. For many many people Lee’s perfectly honed reputation as an honest and impartial purveyor of the economic truth above and beyond the shabby deceits of politics (all politics let’s be clear, both left and right) gave him a profile out of all proportion probably to any one else that they would know and hear of, or more particularly, see. His Cassandra like pronouncements were taken as the final word on the matter. And in this televisual age, for many they were.

That, in a sense, is Lee’s trump card. But how effective it is remains to be seen.

And that effectivity is in many ways impacted by the, at times, quite extraordinary nature of Lee as a personality. Even Elaine Byrne in the Irish Times in a broadly sympathetic piece which tries to stitch together a fairly unconvincing narrative about ‘conservative political way of doing things’ (can she offer us examples of rags to riches rises in other polities? Perhaps but she doesn’t bother to) notes that:

The failure of Kenny and his advisers to adequately accommodate Lee’s sense of self-importance will no doubt saturate newspaper pages obsessed with personality politics in the coming days.

A ‘sense of self-importance’. Consider that. What came over to me on Frontline last night loud and strong was a sense that he believed that this was his opportunity to shine and that in two or three years that would be gone as the situation stabilised. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Except one has the feeling that in his head that particular configuration was reversed. Such a self-belief borders on the risible.

And worse, and this I’d be cautious about presenting, but it seems to me that it does have some utility, a sense of entitlement that is really very very middle class indeed. It wasn’t that he would be a shrinking violet, or hide beneath a facade of modesty. No indeed. He knew that he was the man, again as expressed on Frontline, who was absolutely vital to correcting the course of the ship of state (to which Ivan Yeats made a delayed, but still perfectly cogent, point that that being the case why not join Fianna Fáil?). There was nothing more to it. Fine Gael, already with a significant economic heavyweight in situ (one who had actually served in Cabinet as Minister of Enterprise and Employment) had to stand back and accept this.

This near messianic belief – as Brian Lenihan almost put it (and let’s be clear, it’s a grim day in Irish politics when Lenihan and Yeats are both right – but as we shall see it gets grimmer), is so odd in and of itself to those of us who have toiled with policy programmes and party platforms as to be near incomprehensible. And it truly is a naive view of politics that believes this is something that is amenable to rapid change. This is a society, economy and polity we are talking about. The equivalent of a supertanker, taking kilometers to stop, let alone change direction. And that’s assuming that there were any particularly striking alternatives to be posited by Lee.

Because truth is, whether as some mutterings I hear suggest that Bruton may have been the real problem, Lee was remarkably economic in actually presenting any of these much vaunted ideas. Or as Michael Taft points out, either FG had adopted his original ones, or the government had implemented them.

So we must take his word for it that he was the right man in the right place with the right ideas shoddily wronged by a party that just didn’t ‘get’ him… and that he was the man, just because… Now, I don’t often have a kind word for FG as an entity, albeit I have considerable respect for some within it, but in this instance more sinned against than sinning seems the most reasonable analysis (and let me add that Leo Varadkar was the only one to notice that Lee’s staff will now be… er… unemployed).

And a further irony is that Lee, for all the protestations of thwarted excellence, and cries of outrage from his fans, reminds one not so much of a white hot technocrat as a much more traditional stereotype from our political heritage. From that cue the outrage of the polite and the indifferent and the apolitical and the populist. Always seeking non-revolutionary revolutions, shortcuts and rapid solutions. And if nine months was too long for him, well, it’s too long for them, for those who genuinely thought ‘he was going to change our country’ as one constituent put it.

It’s not what he did really, so much as what he is meant to symbolise, for the truth is that in the nine months he was there he did very little indeed. And while that may in part be the fault of Enda Kenny and Fine Gael, there’s little doubt that he must take a major share of the blame as one of but 166 individuals in this state with the most privileged of platforms.

For a similar view on this with the finest possible title… and this isn’t bad either… particularly on the dynamic which led to FG misunderstanding who and what Lee represented.

Comments»

1. dublindilettante - February 9, 2010

Excellent analysis. I myself think that the entire George Lee phenomenon is overwhelmingly apolitical. There’s more of the wronged woman than the martyred saviour about the public perception of him. I don’t think the people who voted for him did so to endorse his policies (I’m not aware that he actually articulated any), rather they were moved by a vague perception that he was agin’ what was going on with the banks and somehow on their side. Thus, if he feels he’s been shafted it must have been the fault of those dastardly politicians.

But beyond that, the whole baffles me. It’s not like the guy is charismatic or anything, in fact he’s a rather laughable figure, like a cross between a less intelligent Michael D. and Captain Mainwaring. No-one who saw his bumbling début on Vinny B could have expected him to pull up any trees politically.

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2010

Couldn’t agree more. It is apolitical. And God, that VB debút… Dismal. But… the middle classes love(d) him. And in their lights that’s all that matters.

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2. Ian - February 9, 2010

I think the fallout is interesting because of what is being omitted. What was the real reason George left? As with most things in politics, there must have been some personality clash and nobody seems to be talking about it because those involved don’t want to look bad.

George was really naive to think you will be helped to the top in politics. You gotta work hard, often on your own, to get there.

The worst thing about all this is frequently seeing Olivia Mitchell on TV. For the love of God…..

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WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2010

The cover of the Irish Times website today after the parliamentary party meeting seemed like a calculated two fingers at Lee, what with Mitchell gazing upwards with a beatific smile.

That’s a good point. I heard a rumour, who can say how true, that some of those who had ‘assisted’ him in to the party had been hoping that he might provide a pole of opposition, but… that… he went off on a solo mission to exit it at the end. I was also speaking to someone who might know such matters – and not of the left either – that the body language in the chamber both during before and after the Budget with and from Bruton was just abysmal.

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3. Conor McCabe - February 9, 2010

In one way George Lee’s antics are the logical expression of the market fetish. George got into politics to ‘save’ the economy, to make our market economy ‘better’, but when faced with the more mundane task of making the lives of his constituents better – as their representative in the national parliament – he went “fuck this” and left. The abstract market is real, while the very real social relations which lie at the heart of our market economy, and the problems and difficulties which arise out of those social relations, are not.

Lee thought he could change something which does not exist by ignoring the existence of something that does. Like bomb 20 in Dark Star, faced with such a logical impossibility, he blew himself up. He moved upon the face of the darkness. And saw that he was alone.

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4. WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2010

That’s a great way of putting it. I’ve got to admit, I usually have some sympathy for people, left/right whatever, who hit trouble, but here… None. Zilch. Nada.

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Conor McCabe - February 9, 2010

I mean, have the people of South Dublin completely avoided the cutbacks in services, the job losses, the hyper-mortgages, the negative equity and threat of repossessions? I remember hearing once that Robespierre loved the Human Race with a passion, it was just people he had no time for.

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5. Garibaldy - February 9, 2010

Conor,

I can’t believe that you would insult Max by comparing him to George Lee.

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Conor McCabe - February 9, 2010

🙂

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6. CL - February 10, 2010

It seems almost like a low-level GUBU situation, with an F added on for farcical.
When that cutest of cute hoors, Willie O’Dea, compared George to a bidet, -kinda classy to have one around but wtf do you do with it.-and then wiped the floor with him after the budget, well George didn’t look at all like an economics messiah,..or a politician.
A lot looked different 9 mths ago. The gov. looked real shaky, and Lee surely envisaged himself as finance minister, and he’ll probably never forgive the Greens for failing to cooperate with his career plans.
Michael Taft is right about Lee’s economics. Clearly his departure had nothing to do with differences in economic philosophy. Lee is as much part of the conventional, conservative, orthodox consensus as R. Bruton, and Lenihan. But Bruton is not a poseur, and appears to have some integrity.
Someone needs to check if there’s something in the water at Montrose, first Bird, and now Lee, all puffed-up and nowhere to go.

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7. John Green - February 10, 2010

What Conor said. Economists, like philosophers, are forever confusing their abstractions with reality. Hazard of the job, I imagine.

I frequently bump into Enda Kenny on Fenian Street and he unfailingly looks me in the eye, but always with a look of fear, as though he half-expects to be thumped.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 10, 2010

Weren’t you ever tempted to give him a slap, go on admit it 🙂

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8. John Green - February 10, 2010

Every single time. He must get that a lot.

I just tell myself that the devil has sent him to tempt me.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 10, 2010

LOL 🙂

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9. Dr. X - February 10, 2010

Enda came to my great-aunt’s funeral, so he’s got my vote. 😉

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10. sonofstan - February 10, 2010

Conor,

I can’t believe that you would insult Max by comparing him to George Lee.

And I can’t believe he would likewise insult Robespierre…..

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11. Cormac - February 10, 2010

“He knew that he was the man, again as expressed on Frontline, who was absolutely vital to correcting the course of the ship of state”

Dude, this is classic begrudgery, and basically dishonest. Don’t we all think we’d do a better job than Fianna Fail if it was up to us to run the country? If we don’t then why are we even on here?

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LeftAtTheCross - February 10, 2010

“Don’t we all think we’d do a better job than Fianna Fail if it was up to us to run the country?”

Judging by one of the discussions around christmas time I think it’s fair to say that there are plenty of opinions here on how the education sector could be improved but perhaps not a huge amount of coherent thought at this stage on other areas.

See https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/if-you-were-the-minister/

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Cormac - February 10, 2010

Sure, we don’t necessarily agree with each other, but individually we all feel we have something of value to contribute. Don’t we? So why is GL being criticised for feeling the same way?

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2010

Cormac, while I agree with you that we all think we have something to offer I don’t think it’s dishonest or begrudging to critique someone who has said for the last three days that they’re essentially the vital person for the job when this wasn’t a single person job.

In his position I wouldn’t be so filled with certainty, and I’d be mighty suspicious of anyone who was.

And the reason for that is that it’s not as if FG didn’t already have inhouse experience when he agreed to run for them. Bruton arguably has greater experience on matters economic. A political party, even a centre right one like FG is fairly collegiate. Not absolutely, but there’s groups within it on various issues.

Or let’s put it another way. If I join a company with my various expertises, however good an interview I do, however well thought I am when I arrive, however much the company wants me, I don’t expect to be running the company within a couple of years. And even if I thought I was vital to an enterprise I’d like to think I’d have the basic cop on to keep my mouth shut so the chances of me getting somewhere might exist.

As for ‘running the country’… again I refer you back to Yeat’s point, that he wasn’t joining the government but the main opposition party. But his thoughts, as expressed both on Liveline and to a lesser degree on Vincent Brown were that he was the one to do the job.

That’s just disproportionate expectations. And I think it’s fair to point that out.

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12. sonofstan - February 10, 2010

The difference being that we might feel we have something of value to contribute, whereas George seems to feel that his contribution was definitively valuable because it was his contribution.

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Paddy Matthews - February 10, 2010

To be fair, I don’t think the Blueshirts head-hunted any of us for the by-election, so George might well have felt himself entitled to believe that it was his particular contribution that was valuable.

……

At this stage it’s turned into bag of popcorn and feet up in front of the TV stuff – Brian Hayes implying that George was simply in it for the money and George popping up within half an hour to say that the comment says more about Brian than about him. It’s only a matter of time before Max Clifford gets involved and we have the full-colour spread in OK! magazine 🙂

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WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2010

It has that feel to it, and no mistake.

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Conor McCabe - February 10, 2010

“I don’t think the Blueshirts head-hunted any of us for the by-election, so George might well have felt himself entitled to believe that it was his particular contribution that was valuable.”

That’s absolutely true. Thing is, Fine Gael head-hunted George Lee not for his economic insight (if any), but for his celebrity. They wanted a media monkey boy, and they treated him as such. It seems the only people who didn’t realise that was the game were George Lee and the 28,000 (very) odd people who voted for him as a kind of EuroSpar Obama. I agree with Paddy. The whole thing is fucking hilarious, as is the way the media is trying to spin this as his walking is some kind of commentary on the body politic, when in fact his hiring already served that function.

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Conor McCabe - February 10, 2010

“I don’t think the Blueshirts head-hunted any of us for the by-election, so George might well have felt himself entitled to believe that it was his particular contribution that was valuable.”

That’s absolutely true. Thing is, Fine Gael head-hunted George Lee not for his economic insight (if any), but for his celebrity. They wanted a media monkey boy, and they treated him as such. It seems the only people who didn’t realise that was the game were George Lee and the 28,000 (very) odd people who voted for him as a kind of EuroSpar Obama. I agree with Paddy. The whole thing is fucking hilarious, as is the way the media is trying to spin this as his walking is some kind of commentary on the body politic, when in fact his hiring already served that function.

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13. WorldbyStorm - February 10, 2010

“EuroSpar Obama” – Brilliant…

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14. CL - February 11, 2010

On the other hand…
-George Lee has revealed that he was completely opposed to his party’s economic policy because it was designed to “crucify the economy…
Where I differ from Fine Gael’s core policy on the economy is that I believe it was far too mainstream — it was right down the line in terms of what right-wing economic commentators would suggest — crucify the economy — that will make everything better. I don’t believe that’s going to work,” he said.
http://www.independent.ie/national-news/i-was-against-party-policy-as-it-would-crucify-the-economy-2055680.html

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15. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

George Lee’s assertion that he was opposed to Fine Gael’s economic policies because they were too right-wing is bollicks on his part. And Lee DID publish an economic policy, his ten-point plan, which was straight out of the “cut taxes to stimulate the economy” school, as well as that old right-wing mantra, “expose public service to more competition”.

http://www.herald.ie/national-news/george-lee-how-i-would-fix-the-economy-1732996.html

As Donagh of Irish Left Review said, “[Lee] is right-wing. The government is right-wing and Fine Gael are right-wing. He had nothing to say that was any different to what is being implemented at the moment. He knows it and that is why he left. He was surplus to needs. No doubt he will return to journalism where he will, once again, simply make stuff up.”

http://dublinopinion.com/2010/02/09/george-lee-they-did-not-respect-my-authoritah/#comment-72140

Michael Taft has a good post on this as well:

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2010/02/08/left-recession-diaries-february-8th/

While there’s my own more flippant take on Lee’s economic plan here, from last year:

http://dublinopinion.com/2009/05/08/george-lee-the-fucking-brains-of-the-operation/

Lee’s already out to rewrite his own history. What a fucking prat.

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16. CL - February 11, 2010

Last July George gave his views at the MacGill summer school. Its published strangely enough on the Fine Gael website.
“The fact that the Government feels it has no choice but to cut public spending so drastically and raises taxes so spectacularly at this, the worst possible moment, is evidence of its massive failure. Fiscal retrenchment on the scale being considered will make matters far worse not better at this point in time…..
Rather than being in a position to introduce a fiscal package to shore up domestic demand in the face of the financial crisis, it had been boxed into a situation where it must do the opposite. This is the disastrous result of fiscal irresponsibility for which we must all now pay.
It is a mistake, however, to proceed to correct the sudden and catastrophic imbalances that have opened up in our public finances at the pace that is now being planned….
the cure as proposed by conventional economics runs a very significant risk of making our problems substantially worse…
There is no sane reason why Irish taxpayers should continue protecting investors who bought bonds issued by Irish banks.”
http://www.finegael.org/news/a/772/article/
Although its difficult to imagine Richard Bruton uttering that last sentence about not protecting bond holders, Lee doesn’t offer any real alternative to ‘the cure as proposed by conventional economics’. But then the left has failed in this regard also.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 11, 2010

“doesn’t offer any real alternative to ‘the cure as proposed by conventional economics’. But then the left has failed in this regard also.”

I’m pretty sure Michale Taft would dispute that (http://notesonthefront.typepad.com/) to some degree, but it’s probably fair comment all the same, and even Taft has commented that more could and should be done (http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/12/11/budget-response-left-10-december-2009/)

So, the reformist left haven’t been sufficiently loud with clear alternatives and the far left aren’t interested in a “cure”.

Still, it doesn’t take away from the point that the centrist political establishment is floundering on the economic front. It’s their game, their rules, their dilema.

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

“But then the left has failed in this regard also.”

Not true at all.

The wider point, of course, is that it’s hardly the case that the European right has embraced Ireland’s brand of cut and tickle. What Ireland calls “conventional economics” is not exactly what the Germans and French have dished for themselves as “conventional economics”. In fact, there is noting “conventional” about Ireland’s approach at all, despite the reassurances of The Irish Times, Irish Independent and RTE.

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/11/05/rest-world-step-ireland/

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LeftAtTheCross - February 11, 2010

Conor, out of interest are you familiar with arguments being pushed by the Left in Germany/France/Italy/Spain etc which might be relevant in terms of recalibrating the Left/Right debate here in Ireland? Obviously they won’t have arguments that apply to the Irish banking situation and our burst property bubble, I don’t mean that, I’m more thinking of the bigger picture of the global recession and how the broad Left across the EU is fighting it’s corner?

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

I’m afraid I’m not. I know that Donagh of Irish Left Review, though, is building up contacts, which hopefully will lead to something towards the summer. There have been some posts on Irish Left Review regarding the situation in Greece and Germany.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 11, 2010

Conor, it will be interesting to see what comes out of that. Not using internationalism as a get out clause here of anything but sometimes it seems like we focus too much on the specifics of our local issues without taking into account the bigger picture at play at a global level. Greece could be a very interesting catalyst for sure, depending on how they and the EU as a collective deal with their local economic problems. I wonder if Papandreou is getting any lessons from Lenihan on how to keep his population onside and off the streets…

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

Well one thing the protesters have already made clear is that “Greece is not Ireland” – i.e they are not going to take this lying down.

I suppose in comment-size terms the Irish government’s economic plan so far has been to bail out the middlemen. Both producers and consumers continue to suffer, while the middlemen get the billions in taxpayers money. It’s an insane plan, and is why I was trying to highlight that even in right-wing circles Ireland is on a bit of a solo run. The idea that middlemen are the essential key to economic production is one being made day in, day out, by, well, the middlemen, the service providers, who then have a baboon’s arse of a cheek to say that There Is No Alternative. Not only does the Left have an alternative, the bloody RIGHT has an alternative.

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17. dublindilettante - February 11, 2010

It’s deeply frustrating, not to say infuriating. I’m not sure, outside of maybe Lenihan, it’s the act of ideological extremists. FF are doing what FF do – looking after number one. We know why they kowtow to the bankers and developers; simply because, for self-preservatory reasons, they have no choice. Not only are they dependent financially on them, but the middlemen know where the bodies are buried (mass graves, by this stage.)

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

Well the question immediately arises: why are the middlemen so powerful in Ireland? Why are property speculators the kingpins? For me, this has to do with the development of capitalism in Ireland, and the economic and social class relations which arose out of that dynamic. It’s not the work of ideological extremists, that’s true. It is related the the type of class relations on the island – economic and social, which are not the same, but do have a strong cross-over.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 11, 2010

Conor, you wrote a piece on that subject somewhere if I recall correctly. Can you provide a link to it, I wouldn’t mind having another read of your analysis. Thanks.

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

I think the post might be this one, leftatthecross.

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/11/30/lights-city/

One point I don’t mention in that post, though, has to do with the need for greenfield sites in the 1960s and 1970s, and here’s where we see a chink in cattle exporter power, to the benefit of land speculators and builders who make billions from providing said greenfield sites for the foreign companies brought in by government / IDA. You can see the importance of greenfield site development to government policy in the fact that foreign investment isn’t focused on developing Irish raw materials/ secondary industries, but rather the resultant boom in construction. It’s one of the main points of the TELESIS report from the 1980s.

http://dublinopinion.com/2008/07/24/1970s-throwback/

http://dublinopinion.com/2009/05/16/nesc-a-review-of-industrial-policy-summary-of-a-report-prepared-by-the-telesis-consultancy-group-dublin-1982/

Michael Taft references TELESIS in his economic plan:

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/03/18/recession-diaries-revising-economic-narrative/

Land ownership is not unique to Ireland – rather the kind of societal relationships which developed out of the economic activities which dominated the Irish economy until the 1950s – in simple comment-size terms, cattle export on the hoof to England – and after the 1950s, the provision of greenfield sites for foreign companies, office space, and the construction of dormer estates for workers – are where the focus should be. We’ve just got to follow the money, something the British left and their Marxist theorists never seemed to really do when it came to Ireland. And a good lot of the theories and templates which float around the Irish left come from the British left, unfortunately.

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LeftAtTheCross - February 11, 2010

Conor, that was the one, thanks for that, and the others links also…

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John Green - February 11, 2010

Super stuff, Conor. Thanks. It’s obviously also worth examining, as a corollary, how this history has affected the development of labour as an oppositional class. Contrasting Ireland with Greece, I don’t know that Greece is any more heavily industrialized than Ireland, but there’s obviously a militancy there that’s lacking here. Whether that’s to do with military dictatorship, Greece’s geographical location, or other historical factors that differentiate Greece from Ireland I’m not knowledgeable enough to say.

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

It’s a good point, John. At this moment I tend to see the weakness of a left-right in Southern Irish politics as influenced in no small part by the divisions within the labour movement between Fianna Fail and Labour. There was a 36-yr civil war in the Irish labour movement, between 1923 and 1959, one which scuppered Labour’s chances in 1944 to emerge as the second largest party in the Free State. It’s never really talked about. what we tend to get is 1913, Jim Larkin, and James Connolly, and not much on William O’Brien and his pro-Fianna Fail policies.

One of the seemingly curious things about the Irish labour movement is that for decades Ireland had one of the highest trade union membership rates in Europe, and one of the weakest Labour parties. I think Labour’s own civil war helps us to explain that in some way, as well as of course the suffocating power of the Church in southern Irish politics and society, especially post-1927. If you ever get a chance to flick through LIBERTY, the newspaper of the ITGWU in the 1960s and 1970s, it’s disconcerting to see the amount of priests at trade union meetings, almost always on the committee.

Emmet O’Connor is working on a new edition of his book, A Labour History of Ireland. I’m looking forward to it and what light it can throw on the subject.

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John Green - February 11, 2010

Cheers, Conor. I’ll look forward to that book. I didn’t know any of that about the split in Irish trade unionism. Very interesting indeed.

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

Have a read of this, John. It’s about the National Labour Party, which was formed just as the Irish Labour Party was making real inroads into Fianna Fail support. An ITGWU-backed party, which saw the union – by far the largest in Ireland in terms of Irish members – disaffiliate from the Irish Labour party for 23 years, only re-affiliating in 1967.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Labour_Party_%28Ireland%29

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18. Niall - February 11, 2010

Conor, I’m no expert in this area, but I think part of the reason that property developers became so popular was because of our historical attachment to land and also because in Ireland, it was relatively easy for the person with the right connections to make safe gambles when it came to land and property purchases.

Having a friend or “friend” who knew about potential land re-zoning or planned new roads would have been very helpful, especially when such friends or “friends” had a capacity to tilt the odds in your favourite when properly motivated.

It’s very easy to become rich and influential in this country if you happen to know the right people, and if you’re willing to play ball. Most of the time, it doesn’t really require any “real” corruption, it’s just simply that we look after those we know.

Apologies for the over-use of quotation marks.

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19. CL - February 11, 2010

“Conventional economics’- what the IMF imposes on countries experiencing fiscal difficulties. And what the Irish govt. is now implementing, with the almost unanimous support of Irish academic economists.
There was a time of course when ‘conventional economics’ meant the neo-classical synthesis, (what Joan Robinson called ‘bastard Keynesianism), and it held sway for about 25 yrs after WW11. Came Thatcher and Reagan and ‘conventional econ.’ became the crack-pot ideas of Milton Friedman. (One of its most prominent Irish supporters is David McWilliams)
With the financial collapse of 2008, Keynesianism,-the use of fiscal deficits to boost aggregate demand,-made a rapid comeback. But Ireland already had one of the highest deficits in the world, and those calling for a ‘Keynesian fiscal stimulus’ without understanding why the exisiting deficit was not compensating for the collapse of private demand were on very shaky ground theoretically and politically.
Keynes had contempt for the working class and identifying ‘Keynesianism’ as somehow progressive didn’t quite jibe when right of centre govts, to save capitalism from itself, implemented fiscal/stimulus deficits.
The left has failed to make an adequate response to capitalism’s greatest crisis in 70 years.
Look at the difficulties of Papandreau’s social democrats in Greece. Papandreau, like the Irish govt. is attempting to implement orthodox, neo-classical, IMF-style economics. That protesters there can carry banners which proclaim ‘We are not Ireland’ surely highlights the failure of the left in Ireland.
Whatever the reason for poor George’s extrusion from F.G., more personal than political, it seems, the fiasco does highlight the poverty of conventional economics, and the failure of its critics to develop an alternative.

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Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

“And what the Irish govt. is now implementing, with the almost unanimous support of Irish academic economists.”

Really?

http://www.progressive-economy.ie/

Dr. Donal Palcic (Dept. of Economics, UL)
Dr. Eoin Reeves (Dept. of Economics, UL)
Dr. Jim Stewart (School of Business, TCD)
# Dr. John Barry (School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, QUB)
# Dr. Michelle O’Sullivan (Jim Kemmy School, UL)
Dr. Stephen Kinsella (Dept. of Economics, UL)
Professor Terrence McDonough (Dept. of Economics, NUIG)
Tom O’Connor (lecturer in economics, Cork Institute of Technology)

As for academia in general:

http://irelandafternama.wordpress.com/

Dr. Delphine Ancien, NUIM

Brendan Bartley, NUIM

Prof. Mark Boyle, NUIM

Dr. Proinnsias Breathnach, NUIM

Paula Brudell, TCD

Prof. Stan Brunn, University of Kentucky and NUIM

Prof. Mary Corcoran, NUIM

Caroline Creamer, NUIM

Dr. Veronica Crossa, UCD

Dr. Declan Curran, NUIM

Prof. Anna Davies, TCD

Dr. Ronan Foley, NUIM

Dr. Alistair Fraser, NUIM

Dr. Mary Gilmartin, NUIM

Dr Jane Gray, NUIM

Justin Gleeson, NUIM

Dr. Jamie Goodwin-White, UCD

Dr. Declan Jordan, UCC

Dr. Sinéad Kelly, NUIM

Prof. Rob Kitchin, NUIM

Philip Lawton, UCD

Dr. Denis Linehan, UCC

Dr. Andrew Maclaran, TCD

Dr. Marie Mahon, NUIG

Dr. Des McCafferty, Mary Immaculate College, UL

Dr. Niamh Moore, UCD

Dr. Enda Murphy, UCD

Dr. Cian O’Callaghan, NUIM

Dr. Michael Punch, UCD

Dr. Declan Redmond, UCD

Dr. Chris Van Egeraat, NUIM

Then there’s THAT letter to the Irish Times:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0826/1224253267074.html

Prof Brian Lucey, School of Business, Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Karl Whelan, Department of Economics, University College Dublin.

Prof Bernadette Andreosso-O’Callaghan, Department of Economics, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Prof Colm Harmon, Department of Economics, UCD.

Prof Frank Barry, professor of international business, Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Gregory Connor, Department of Economics, NUI Maynooth.

Prof John Cotter, professor of finance, Smurfit School of Business, UCD.

Prof Kevin O’Rourke, Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Rodney Thom, Department of Economics, UCD.

Prof Rowena Pecchenino, head of department, Department of Economics, NUI Maynooth.

Dr Constantin Gurdgiev, lecturer in finance, School of Business, Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Alexander Sevic, lecturer in finance, School of Business, Trinity College Dublin.

Patrick McCabe, senior lecturer in accounting and finance, School of Business, Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Jenny Berrill, lecturer in finance, School of Business, Trinity College.

Dr Anthony Leddin, senior lecturer and head of department, Department of Economics, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Dr Helena Lenihan, senior lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Dr Mel Kilkenny, lecturer in finance and taxation, Department of Accounting and Finance, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Dr Sheila Killian, senior lecturer in accounting and finance, Department of Accounting and Finance, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Dr Stephen Kinsella, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Dr Donal Palcic, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Dr Eoin Reeves, senior lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick.

Eithne Murphy, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, NUI Galway.

Dr Terry McDonagh, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, NUI Galway.

Dr Ashley Piggins, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, NUI Galway.

Dr Cathal O’Donoghue, head of Rural Economy Research Centre Teagasc and Department of Economics, NUI Galway.

Dr Thomas Flavin, senior lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, NUI Maynooth.

Dr Tom O’Connor, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, NUI Maynooth.

Paul O’Sullivan, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, NUI Maynooth

Dr Fabrice Rousseau, senior lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, NUI Maynooth

Dr Cal Muckley, lecturer in finance, Smurfit School of Business, UCD

Dr Frank Walsh, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCD

Dr Kevin Denny, senior lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCD

Dr Moore McDowell, senior lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCD

Dr Sarah Parlane, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCD.

Dr Shane Whelan, senior lecturer in actuarial finance, School of Mathematics, UCD.

Dr Vincent Hogan, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCD.

Dr Ray Donnelly, senior lecturer in accounting and finance, Department of Accounting and Finance, UCC.

Dr John Masson, lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCC

Dr Declan Jordan, college lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCC

Eoin O’Leary, senior lecturer in economics, Department of Economics, UCC

Stephen O’Callaghan, lecturer in accounting and finance, Department of Accounting and Finance, UCC.

John Doran, lecturer in accounting and finance, Department of Accounting and Finance, UCC.

David Humphreys, lecturer in accounting and finance, Department of Accounting and Finance, UCC.

Tony Foley, senior lecturer in economics, DCU Business School.

Dr Valerio Poti, lecturer in finance, DCU Business School.

Claire Kearney, lecturer in finance, DCU Business School.

I don’t know. I mean, “almost unanimous” support?

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20. CL - February 11, 2010

To suggest that all the academics you mention are opposed to the IMF/style austerity being implemented is nonsense. IF you are suggesting that all the people you mention oppose the macro-economic policy of the F.F./Greens I think you are guilty of gross misrepresentation. Please quote and cite a statement where each person you mention criticized government macro-economic policy. To suggest that the accounting and economics professors you mention are radicals is laughable.
You are making a silly, unsupportable claim: that a large proportion of Irish academic economists are opposed to orthodox, conventional economics,-a dogma that is taught in every academic economics dept. in the world. WTF are you smoking?
Irish academics are to the left of the European socialist movement! Bullshit!
“Europe’s socialist leaders, meeting on Wednesday night, issued a statement in support of a plan that would combine “national fiscal discipline with a last-resort mechanism of financial support, coupling lending by private banks with a guarantee to be provided by eurozone members”.”..
Herman Van Rompuy, the EU’s permanent president, said that eurozone countries called on Greece to “implement in a rigorous and determined manner” its plan to eliminate its budget deficit by 2012 and “additional measures”. This would include cutting the deficit by 4 percentage points of gross domestic product in 2010.
(Does that 4% look familiar.
The ministers agreed not to ask the IMF to provide funds, but recognised that the IMF’s long experience of working with governments to improve control of the public finances was worth drawing on.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/226231f0-16fd-11df-afcf-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

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21. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

“To suggest that all the academics you mention are opposed to the IMF/style austerity being implemented is nonsense.”

There’s no need to make up what I said, CL, you can read it for yourself.

“IF you are suggesting that all the people you mention oppose the macro-economic policy of the F.F./Greens I think you are guilty of gross misrepresentation.”

Ditto.

“You are making a silly, unsupportable claim: that a large proportion of Irish academic economists are opposed to orthodox, conventional economics,-a dogma that is taught in every academic economics dept. in the world. WTF are you smoking?”

Ditto.

“Irish academics are to the left of the European socialist movement!”

Ditto.

Can you go back and read what I said? Or is that too much like research? I mean, you seem to be replying to SOMEBODY’S comments, but it sure as hell aint to mine.

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22. Amanda - February 11, 2010

Conor,

excuse my ignorance but what was the pivotal event in 1959 that your thinking of in … 36-yr civil war in the Irish labour movement, between 1923 and 1959?

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23. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

the re-unification of congress: the Irish Trade Union Congress and the Congress of Irish Unions, to form the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

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24. CL - February 11, 2010

My apologies comrade if I misinterpreted Your previous post. But I thought you were contradicting my statement especially when you headed your post with:

“And what the Irish govt. is now implementing, with the almost unanimous support of Irish academic economists.”

Really?
(Conor, reply to comment 19, above)
You then gave a long list of academics. I thought you were listing these academics as proof that my statement that the Irish govt’s austerity measures had the almost unanimous support of Irish academics was erroneous, that the people on the list were opposed to orthodox economics. Otherwise why bother give a list of those people? (Incidentally, if Ireland has that many academic economists we are in more trouble than I thought) So what argument does this listing support?
Certainly some of these people have opposed NAMA and favored temporary (pre-privatisation) nationalisation of the banks. But support or opposition to NAMA is not idicative of one’s left-wing or right-wing position. e’g. Willem Buiter, a thatcherite economist has supported letting banks fail, allowing the creative destruction of the market to hew out the dead wood of fictitious capital.
Neither does support or opposition to NAMA indicate whether one supports the orthodox economic position of IMF-type macro-economic austerity.
So in response to your skepticism of my assertion that Irish academic economists for the most part support the orthodox economics of auserity being implemented by the govt.,-I merely reassert my position.
The Greece situation has many similarities to the Irish one.( including now the 4% budget reduction)
But a social democratic govt. headed by a man named Papandreou is bowing to the dictates of international capital. The task for the Irish left is surely to ensure that Labour in govt. would not be in the same position. And for this to happen it is essential that orthodox, conventional economics be debunked.
In this context I’m not quite sure what a listing of academics proves,-except maybe that Ireland is still rearing ’em.

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Tim - February 11, 2010

“Neither does support or opposition to NAMA indicate whether one supports the orthodox economic position of IMF-type macro-economic austerity.”

Well said.

Find any economists who support NAMA?? or is it just politicians and developers that do?!

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dmfod - February 11, 2010

labour are not social democrats no more than tony blair is

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25. Tim - February 11, 2010

Couldn’t agree more, excellent analysis.
There was a bit too much of the sense of entitlement about the whole thing, and stomping off in a huff after nine short months because he wasn’t getting any attention negates most of the esteem I’d held Lee in.

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26. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

“I thought you were listing these academics as proof that my statement that the Irish govt’s austerity measures had the almost unanimous support of Irish academics was erroneous, that the people on the list were opposed to orthodox economics.”

Really?

“Certainly some of these people have opposed NAMA and favored temporary (pre-privatisation) nationalisation of the banks. But support or opposition to NAMA is not idicative of one’s left-wing or right-wing position”

Have I set up an either/or situation in my comments? This is your construction, not mine.

“Neither does support or opposition to NAMA indicate whether one supports the orthodox economic position of IMF-type macro-economic austerity”

Did I say that it did? Again, your construction, not mine.

“So in response to your skepticism of my assertion that Irish academic economists for the most part support the orthodox economics of auserity being implemented by the govt.,-I merely reassert my position.”

And my position for me it seems.

CL, you’re having an argument with yourself here. You’re making up points for me, then you’re telling me that the points you have made up for me are wrong.

“In this context I’m not quite sure what a listing of academics proves,-except maybe that Ireland is still rearing ‘em.”

Well you’re entitled to think that. At least you’re speaking for yourself.

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27. CL - February 11, 2010

Conor, in attempting to refute my statement that for the most part Irish academic economists supported the govt. IMF-style austerity measures, you invoked the names of 40 or 50 academics.
Why the listing of academic names? Are you saying that these people do not support the govt’s macro-economic policy? Tell us comrade why you listed these names. What argument of yours does this listing of academics support? Surely there must be a reason, otherwise…
I myself am a graduate (hons) of the Ballycregshane Hedge School so I’m not impressed with your meaningless listing of academic names.

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28. Captain Rock - February 11, 2010

What’s up your ass CL?

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29. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

“Why the listing of academic names? Are you saying that these people do not support the govt’s macro-economic policy? Tell us comrade why you listed these names. What argument of yours does this listing of academics support? Surely there must be a reason, otherwise…”

Well, as I keep on telling you, just make the effort and read what I wrote. If it’s over your head, well, I’m sorry, but I’ve no diagrams. I didn’t think the points I was making were exactly difficult in the first place, but there you go. you never can tell, can you?

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30. CL - February 11, 2010

I fail to see how the listing of the names of 40 or 50 academics supports or refutes any argument. It seems more like a refuge of someone who having lost the argument is appealing to irrelevant, academic prestige.
Neither you nor anyone on your list has refuted my statement that by and large Irish academic economists are of the orthodox, neo-classical, variety and they support the right-wing, macro-economic policy of the govt.
It could be of course that you are uncomfortable with your ignorance of economics, are fearful of serious debate and drag in an irrelevant list of academic names to try and confuse the issue. Otherwise why the list?

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31. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

“Neither you nor anyone on your list has refuted my statement that by and large Irish academic economists are of the orthodox, neo-classical, variety and they support the right-wing, macro-economic policy of the govt.”

You’re arguing a fantasy of your own creation here, CL. you haven’t read anything I wrote above, have you?

“It could be of course that you are uncomfortable with your ignorance of economics, are fearful of serious debate and drag in an irrelevant list of academic names to try and confuse the issue.”

Yep. That’s me. You f**king nailed me there. well done CL.

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32. CL - February 11, 2010

You responded to my post (19, above) where I stated:
“Conventional economics’- what the IMF imposes on countries experiencing fiscal difficulties. And what the Irish govt. is now implementing, with the almost unanimous support of Irish academic economists.”
Your response was: Really?
and this was followed by a long list of academics. Presumably this was to refute the statement of mine that you were replying to. Any kind of list of course is not an argument. But presumably you were invoking the academics as you thought it was in some way refuting my statement. Or maybe you think academics are impressive? Otherwise, why the list?
I reiterate my basic point. That Irish leftists in responding to the crisis are severely handicapped by their lack of knowledge of economics, in particular their failure to understand the ideas of the anti-working class snob, Lord Keynes, and their relevance or irrelevance in the Irish debacle. Poor George is on record is on record as opposing ‘conventional’ economics. (and certainly there’s room for argument as to what ‘conventional economics’ is). But what is conventionally understood as orthodox, neo-classical economics is the ideological dogma which now forms the basis of Irish economic policy. Irish academic economists are trained in this doctrine, formulate and support the regressive policies based on it. Your response to this is to say:

Really, and then give a long listing of academics. A meaningless unserious response.
Irish leftists are clueless about economics. Your response to my post proves it.

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33. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

I like this:

“But what is conventionally understood as orthodox, neo-classical economics is the ideological dogma which now forms the basis of Irish economic policy. Irish academic economists are trained in this doctrine, formulate and support the regressive policies based on it. Your response to this is to say:

Really, and then give a long listing of academics. A meaningless unserious response.”

Yep. you still can’t be arsed reading what I wrote.

But this is my fav:

“Irish leftists are clueless about economics. Your response to my post proves it.”

🙂

Well, at least you think I’m a Lefty.

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34. CL - February 11, 2010

When Irish leftists prattle on about the necessity of a ‘stimulus’, and believe this is somehow progressive and even radical, they reveal their cluelessness about economics generally and Keynesian economics in particular. .
When a statement,-little more than a truism,-to the effect that regressive Irish economic policy is supported by most Irish economists is greeted with skepticism by a self-proclaimed ‘Lefty’, who then invokes a long list of academics as an argument, (a list of next weeks laundry would be just as relevant) its clear that leftist ‘argument’ in Ireland is heading towards a Bird and Lee-like state of absurdity.
Conor, check your water supply, it may have the same source as that of Montrose.

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35. Conor McCabe - February 11, 2010

“Conor, check your water supply, it may have the same source as that of Montrose.”

Well now you’re just being insulting. You don’t have the courtesy to read what I wrote; neither do you say anything about the long, long list of fallacious statements you attribute to me; and now you’re comparing me to RTE.

CL, has it really come to this? Comparisons to RTE?

I mean, I’m tempted to reiterate my points, even though they’re above us on this page, but, why bother? You’re obviously not interested in the points I made, and am making, about Irish economic discourse and government policy, so what could possibly change by my reiteration of said comments?

As for this:

“greeted with skepticism by a self-proclaimed ‘Lefty’ ”

I didn’t claim to be a lefy. You claimed I was a lefty!

Jesus wept! Now you’ve stopped even reading your own comments.

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36. Cl - February 11, 2010

Conor, why the list?

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Conor McCabe - February 12, 2010

If you can’t be arsed scrolling up and actually reading what I wrote, and, while you’re at it, what you wrote as well, I don’t see how me reposting my points is going to help you. You missed it first time around, and it wasn’t exactly rocket science.

I mean, I’m an idiot, right? This is your opinion of me, isn’t it?

“WTF are you smoking?”

“you are uncomfortable with your ignorance of economics, are fearful of serious debate and drag in an irrelevant list of academic names to try and confuse the issue.”

“Irish leftists are clueless about economics. Your response to my post proves it.”

“When a statement,-little more than a truism,-to the effect that regressive Irish economic policy is supported by most Irish economists is greeted with skepticism by a self-proclaimed ‘Lefty’, who then invokes a long list of academics as an argument, (a list of next weeks laundry would be just as relevant) its clear that leftist ‘argument’ in Ireland is heading towards a Bird and Lee-like state of absurdity.”

“Conor, check your water supply, it may have the same source as that of Montrose.”

Well, one thing’s for sure. Insults are your happy cave.

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37. CL - February 12, 2010

Back to basics.
I expressed the opinion that most Irish economists are of the orthodox, conventional variety and that they, most of them, support the backward regressive IMF-style economic policy of the Irish govt.
(Comment 19, above)
You expressed skepticism of this view. But you developed no counterargument to support your skepticism. Its reasonable to conclude because you have none.
Instead you invoked a long list of academics presumably because you thought an appeal to academic prestige would impress. It hasn’t. It merely displays your intellectual fatuity.
Your refusal to state any other reason convinces me that this is the case. Your inability and refusal to make a coherent argument as to why you are skeptical of the notion that most Irish academic economists are of the orthodox, neoclassical variety and support the right-wing policies of the govt. convinces me that you have none and that you are ignorant of the origins and nature of Irish political economy.
Your statement that you do not identify as a person of the left is greatly to be welcomed.

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38. Conor McCabe - February 12, 2010

“Back to basics.
I expressed the opinion that most Irish economists are of the orthodox, conventional variety and that they, most of them, support the backward regressive IMF-style economic policy of the Irish govt.
(Comment 19, above)
You expressed skepticism of this view. But you developed no counterargument to support your skepticism. Its reasonable to conclude because you have none.”

Are you sure this starts at comment 19? What about comment 16?

Also, with your back to basics. Your back to basics here isn’t entirely what you said in comment 19.

What you said was this:

““Conventional economics’- what the IMF imposes on countries experiencing fiscal difficulties. And what the Irish govt. is now implementing, with the almost unanimous support of Irish academic economists.”

Now, I pointed out to you that it doesn’t have the “almost unanimous support of Irish academic economists”. I gave you evidence for that, which you have ignored. Not only that, you’ve done little more than insult me for pointing out your error, calling me a rake of names because I pointed out to you that your sweeping generalisation was wrong.

Now. I also said that there is disunity among the right-wing in Ireland over the government’s plan. This point, you have completely ignored as well, and have decided to treat my criticism of you as if I had said that those who oppose present government economic policy are, what´s the phrase you used?

“…to the left of the European socialist movement!”

I said nothing of the sort. Complete piffle. Again, my point alluded to the disuity among the Irish right-wing in relation to current government policy.

But, for you, nothing of what I have said, even when I gave a link to a highly-publicised letter signed by 46 academic economists which criticised current economic policy with relation to NAMA, as well as links to two well-known and highly-read Irish academic websites that are critical of current government policy, you STILL go on that I have provided you with no evidence that your sweeping statement that there is almost complete unanimity among Irish acedmic economists with relation to current government economic policy.

So. Now that that’s out of the way, you can now get back to the insults. Your happy cave again, CL.

Fire away.

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39. Cl - February 12, 2010

I have pointed out that support or opposition to Nama is no indication of whether or not one is left-wing. I also pointed out that being pro or anti Nama is not indicative of being pro or anti IMF-style austerity. I cited the thatcherite economist Willem Buiter as an example. You clearly do not know what is meant by ‘macro-economics’. You seem to think that an economist opposed to Nama is somehow also opposed to IMF-style austerity. Crap.
There is very little criticism coming from academic economists about the austerity policy of the govt. By and large most of them support it. The reason they do so is because of their academic training, they are indoctrinated into neo-classical economic doctrine. That you are unaware of this again shows your ignorance of economics.
You cited this long list of Irish economists and accountants as support for your skepticism of my claim that most academic economists support the govt. austerity measures measures. Presumably you listed these people because you are claiming that they do not support the austerity programme.
I cited the following statement. I never claimed you said it. I gave a link to an article in today’s F.T.
“Europe’s socialist leaders, meeting on Wednesday night, issued a statement in support of a plan that would combine “national fiscal discipline with a last-resort mechanism of financial support, coupling lending by private banks with a guarantee to be provided by eurozone members”.”.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/226231f0-16fd-11df-afcf-00144feab49a.html

.Your invoking of the academic list as critics of austerity surely would put them to the left of Europe’s socialist leaders who are accepting it. Preposterous.
You have given no evidence whatsoever that Irish economists for the most part do not support the austerity measures.
The Irish left and other commentators such as yourself are clueless about economics. Your resort to bluster and the invoking of irrelevant academic authority is further evidence of this.
The current capitalist crisis is also a crisis of its underlying, supportive ideology, -orthodox neoclassical economics. The poverty of orthodoxy has been exposed. But Papandreou of Greece and Europe’s socialist leaders are stuck too in this orthodoxy.
The task for leftists is surely to debunk this orthodoxy and expose as ignorant blusterers those who believe an academic anti-Nama letter is evidence of these academics anti-neoclassical credentials.

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40. Conor McCabe - February 12, 2010

“I have pointed out that support or opposition to Nama is no indication of whether or not one is left-wing.”

Jesus! Are you just thick? *slaps head*

“You seem to think that an economist opposed to Nama is somehow also opposed to IMF-style austerity.”

I made it very bloody clear that’s not what I think.

Oh fuckit. That’s it. I’ve given up. CL, you’re a moron. when a lump of shit does something stupid, its lump of shit friend turns to it and says “what’s up with you? Have you got CL for brains?”

“The task for leftists is surely to debunk this orthodoxy and expose as ignorant blusterers those who believe an academic anti-Nama letter is evidence of these academics anti-neoclassical credentials.”

The task for leftists… Give me a fucking break.

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41. CL - February 12, 2010

So why the citing of the Nama-letter signees if you were not trying to make a point? So why the list? What were you trying to prove with that long list of obscure academics? Why give the list if you were not trying to make a point with it? I’m not sure you really know what you think.
But I do know I’ve trespassed unduly on WBS’s hospitality so you can have the last word.
Attempting to ‘re-bunk’ economic orthodoxy is regressive politics. Which is likely to happen if the left does not understand economic orthodoxy and develop an alternative. (P.S.-its unlikely to come from academics, no matter how long the list)
‘He who’s convinced
against his will,
is of the same opinion still’- Joan Robinson.

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42. Conor McCabe - February 12, 2010

“So why the citing of the Nama-letter signees if you were not trying to make a point? So why the list? What were you trying to prove with that long list of obscure academics? Why give the list if you were not trying to make a point with it?

What, despite having explained it to you? I knew I would be wasting my time explaining my points given your comments, but explain them again I did, and yep, didn’t make a blind bit of difference.

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43. WorldbyStorm - February 12, 2010

As ever, let’s keep it cool everyone….

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44. Another nail in the coffin for the Glasaigh « Splintered Sunrise - February 13, 2010

[…] out on covering Gorgeous George Lee’s political suicide, fun as it was, because it had already been done so well elsewhere. But what do you know, here comes a resignation letter from Green Party […]

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45. Digest – Feb 14 2010 – The Story - February 15, 2010

[…] Cedar Lounge has the best piece on the George Lee thing. (The Tribune has a four page spread on it today, four pages! Plus other stories on Lee on the news […]

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46. conandrumm - February 15, 2010

Hmm. I think a point has been missed, or forgive me if I missed it in the commentary above.

Why did FG want George Lee? Who in FG wanted George Lee?

My belief, looking on as an outsider, is that there is a huge inertia problem in the leadership of FG. Kenny is leader, Bruton could be leader but doesn’t want it badly enough because, probably, he realises that he’s not what the party needs in a leader.

So we have a king (Kenny) and a king-maker (Bruton) in stasis at the head of FG. No-one else can join this duovirate because the false argument (Kenny vs Bruton) has been accepted as the only working proposition. In reality it should be Kenny+Bruton vs A. N. Other. I think Frank Flannery identified this impasse a longtime back and dreamed up George Lee as a deus-ex-machina to shake things up. But inertia is notoriously difficult to break free of.

Bye bye George, the ploy didn’t work, the status quo is preserved. And presumably Flannery’s influence in FG is now at an all-time low.

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47. the truth about fat burning foods - February 22, 2014

I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing
this blog. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well.
In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own blog now 😉

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48. millennium-cohort.com - July 29, 2014

I hardly drop responses, however i did some searching and wound up here
The departure of our greatest living economist/economic expert/economic correspondent on television news | The Cedar Lounge Revolution. And
I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not
mind. Could it be simply me or does it give the impression like some of
these responses look like coming from brain dead folks?
😛 And, if you are posting at other social sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post.
Could you make a list of every one of your communal sites
like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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