I left this comment on Dan O’Brien’s ‘Exasperation in OECD at snail’s pace of reform’, in today’s Irish Times, in which the author comments on the Irish State’s failure to introduce changes to its job creation schemes.
One good way of boosting employment would be to stop cuts to public spending. Apparently it’s big in Japan. Another way would be to increase social protection rates.
Did the ‘exasperation’ of OECD boffins, as discerned by Dan O’Brien, extend to addressing such matters?
Well, sort of. It said that ‘Higher aggregate demand and job creation are essential’ for bringing down unemployment.
However, its proposed ‘rebalancing of the economy’ and ‘strategic agenda to reinvigorate growth’ amounted to a continuation of current austerity policies, with a call for more cuts to public spending, and more ‘structural reforms’ to welfare provision.
On unemployment, it said that there needed to be a ‘careful and granular’ review of ‘interactions between taxes and benefits’ to ‘make work pay more vis-à-vis benefit receipt’.
Now, there are two ways you can make work pay more vis-à-vis benefit receipt.
You can make work pay more, or you can make benefit receipt pay less. The OECD doesn’t explicitly state which option it prefers. However, given that one of the intended effects of cuts to public expenditure is to drive wages down across the economy, I think we can hazard a guess.
Anyway, the point here is that the OECD’s recommendations are bog standard neo-liberal dogma, with a patina of humanising concern normally absent from the more hard-nosed Troika approach.
It makes its proposals about reform to public institutions and job creation schemes safe in the knowledge that the overall reshaping of European society –the liquidation of labour rights and the shrivelling of the welfare state- is continuing according to plan, regardless of the consequences for democracy.
And the Irish Times cites them as yet another cadre of knowledgeable experts who have lots of righteous things to say about what needs to be done in Ireland in terms of reform. Can anyone figure out why?