Changing The Script


itToday’s Irish Times


Les we forget.

The media have not been shy about announcing their role in convincing the public that austerity is good for them.

At the outset of the crisis, in November 2008, an editorial the Irish Times, called for a campaign to ‘educate’ the population about the need for austerity and ‘civic discipline’.

The problem was that Irish people did ‘not appreciate the possible extent of the economic downturn’ because only 10% of them thought the budget should be tougher while two-thirds thought it should be less tough, according to a national poll.

The editors thus concluded that ‘the Government will have a major job to do in educating public opinion about unpalatable economic realities and the need for civic discipline’.

The media have helped the government extensively in that task. One reason that explains why only about 12% of articles oppose austerity is that a large majority of writers come from elite institutions that favour austerity.

Excluding regular journalists, 29% of the authors of opinion articles in the press on austerity are mainstream economists, 28% are working in the financial or corporate sector, and 20% are political officials in the three main political parties, which have all supported austerity.

The media’s favourable view of fiscal consolidation can be assessed through the following sample of article titles published since 2008: ‘Commitment and Stamina are Required for Fiscal Consolidation’ (Irish Times), ‘New Budget will Prove Tough but Necessary’ (Sunday Independent), ‘Austerity Vital to Maintain our Economic Sovereignty’ (Irish Times), ‘We Need to Stop Living in Denial and Cut Costs Even Further’ (Sunday Independent), ‘We Must Suffer the Pain Now—Or Else we will Blight Future Generations’ (Sunday Independent), ‘Bill is Tough but Necessary’ (Irish Times), ‘Tough Budget Would Restore Confidence’ (Irish Times), ‘Supplementary Budget can Begin Urgent Task of Restoring Depleted Tax Revenues’ (Irish Times), ‘Budget May Cut Wages and Raise Taxes to Restore Competitiveness’ (Irish Times), ‘[Austerity] Budget Will Restore Confidence and Hasten Economic Recovery’ (Irish Times) and ‘Tough Budget Needed to Stave Off Grimmer Future’ (Irish Times).

Dr Julien Mercille

Relentless Cheeleaders For Austerity (Julien Mercille, Social Europe)

Previously: Relentless Cheerleaders for Austerity


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24 thoughts on “Changing The Script

  1. Milo

    I’m bemused by the use of the word Austerity by those against it yet we never talk about cheerleaders for the opposite view argue for profligacy or be called profligacy junkies.
    The reality is that people like Julian were arguing for the state to continue with Bertienomics as if it never the imaginary boom never happened and spend money our society never earned.
    The evidence is austerity aka spending within our means has created the highest growth economy in Europe instead of the economic basket case that is Greece.
    The idea that most of our media would not support national seppuku to satisfy the demands of the economically illiterate is not surprising then….

    1. Freia

      It is deeply disingenuous, not to mention laughably myopic, to suggest that there are but two choices in all of this.

  2. Bobby

    To be honest, this just reads like the type of biased article that he’s objecting to. The difference being that he’s against austerity.

  3. Dubloony

    So spending more that we had was a good thing then?

    We were asked to put in proper accounting procedures (counting money in, money out).
    Nothing more than Germany already has. Property & water charges are standard in other functioning European countries.

    I’m all for being responsible but the issue I have is who bore the brunt of the cuts. Have a huge problem with cuts to kids with disabilities for example.
    RTE Investigations Unit have eared their licence fee this year by producing the TD pay & Expenses database for this government.
    Am surprised there has’t been much more attention paid to it.

    And any SF bullsh**ter who says they only take the average industrial wage can go kiss my flabby butt.

    1. JimmytheHead

      We???? Lets get one thing straight here, the banking crisis was due to private companies investing public money knowing ahead of time that it would collapse and that they would reap the rewards when the big fat austerity cheques started rolling in. It was never up for a public vote and none of this information didnt come out until AFTER the proverbial sh*t hit the fan.

      And yes, SF do take an industrial wage, unlike every other party. How you think you can use that as a weapon against Anti-Austerity supporters is not only foolish, its just plain malicious. How obvious do the lies have to get for you?

        1. scottser

          so a td takes home a salary and this is an argument you’re using to justify austerity for the population while bondholders and reckless investors get their @rses covered from our taxes? a bit of a leap, no?

          1. Dubloony

            My point is that responsible budgets are necessary.
            But this government cut those who could least afford it but could have cut their own salaries & expenses first.
            226 TDs and senators have cost 100 million since 2011.

            So austerity for everyone else, except politicians. All of them, including those who are shouting the loudest.

        2. JimmytheHead

          I have looked it up already, something I tend to do before voting – like many others should. Shame you dont research the parties you claim to support… But again to reiterate, this has nothing to do with the above article.

      1. Domestos

        “the banking crisis was due to private companies investing public money knowing ahead of time that it would collapse and that they would reap the rewards when the big fat austerity cheques started rolling in.” What are you talking about? Am I missing a joke here?

          1. Domestos

            Is that all you’ve got? Private losses were socialised, but public money wasn’t invested by the banks. By the time the Irish Masters of the Universe and the apparatchiks copped what was going on there was only time left to transfer assets. Look up soft-landing, and ‘follow the money’. By definition you can’t have an austerity cheque. An austerity cheque!?! You don’t know what you’re talking about. Your spouting garbage based on a biased view from 2011-2014, and evidently ignoring anything that happened before 2008-2010. Derp says it all.

      2. C Sharp

        Jimmy, what’s an austerity cheque?

        I don’t think the argument being made here is pro-austerity, or anti- the anti austerity movement.
        It’s that it was one economics for us, quite another for the political classes.
        SF is included because they do in fact take their money from the public purse just like the others, so cost the state just as much.

        That is not a defense of austerity measures, it is the opposite, as it points out the hypocrisy and injustice of the way austerity has been imposed.

        Knee-jerk, Half baked, misinformed rants empower austerity cheerleaders as much as a dozen pro-austerity editorials ever did.

        1. JimmytheHead

          It was neither knee jerk, half baked or misinformed mr sharp, merely responding to a message. Saying ‘cheque’ when referring to the funds our banking and financial sector received was a turn of phrase – something people who write use to save time – but I’ll try to dumb down my posts from now on so its less confusing for you and the other “left wingers”. The SF remark was a cheap, opportunistic stab at one single party for getting paid to do their job, which they do well. Why not drag up some of the expenses of other parties since we’re (apparently) being diplomatic here?

  4. Hicksonian

    We’re back on message in the paper of record for Round 1 of the Democratic Dissent Show:

    -Signs of leeway from Europe on debt ahead of Greek election
    -Eurogroup chief says room to manoeuvre if new government honours its agreements
    -Samaras warning about Syriza win”

    Helpful front page headers to throttle the Krugman outta ya. Pass the basket around again for the
    kneeling bits and don’t be giving out when the scabs start bleeding.

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