Experts Bad Cop Government Good Cop

'Lies in 3D!' 'More believable than the truth!'

‘Lies in 3D!’
‘More believable than the truth!’

I left this comment on an Irish Times analysis by Mary Minihan, titled ‘‘Prudence’ the buzzword of the new political season’.

If I was expecting the health service to give me a vital kidney operation, and Enda Kenny showed up personally at my house with some rusty saws and a hammer and started filling the bath full of ice cubes, it would certainly be a concern for me that the government’s approach to health policy entered into conflict with what medical experts have to say on the matter.

The author of this piece, however, thinks that the public ought to be concerned with the fact that the government is entering into conflict with what ‘a growing number of organisations with expertise’ are saying about the upcoming budget. But economic expertise and medicinal expertise are not the same thing. You can kill people with economic expertise and everyone forgets about it. In fact, you’ll probably get a succulent pension for your efforts, if you’re in the IMF.

The disasters of neoliberal austerity are well documented. The public ought to see the economic policy prescriptions of the European Commission, the IMF and the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council and so on as analogous to the medical prescriptions of Dr Nick Riviera. The trouble is that their track record of disaster and misery is effaced by the Irish Times, and each time they appear in the news, it is with a clean slate.

What *really* ought to concern the public is that the difference between the economic policy prescriptions of the ‘experts’ and the government is actually quite minor: there is no question of the government doing anything that might deviate from free market orthodoxy. I suppose it also ought to be concerned that Ireland’s media is reflexively presenting a sham fight between a right-wing political establishment and ‘the experts’ as some kind of democratic conflict

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