Blows Happen To People, Not Just Political Movement

A blog about business and economics.
March 23 2012 8:51 AM

Blows Happen To People, Not Just Political Movement

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny (2nd R) visits the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 19, 2012 in New York City.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

I was reading some righteous indignation from Dave Roberts yesterday who was making the point that the media tends to portray defeats of climate-related legislation as a blow "to environmentalists" rather than a blow to, say, villagers in flood-prone lowlands or drought-stricken Texas farmers. Once you start paying attention, you see this kind of thing in coverage of all sorts of issues.

The Irish economy, for example, is now shrinking:

Ireland ended last year in recession, according to figures released on Thursday, dealing a blow to the policy of economic austerity being forced on struggling eurozone countries by the European commission and the IMF.

But of course "the policy of economic austerity" is not a living breathing human being with feelings and interests and values. And the specific human beings who pushed austerity policies on Europe—central bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet and his successor, their colleagues on the ECB board, Angela Merkel and her coalition partners, etc.—have not been dealt personal blows here either. They're all fine. The blow has been dealt to unemployed Irish people who are hoping to get jobs soon. The blow has been dealt to Irish small business operators who have a decent underlying product and were hoping to expand production when customers would have a bit more cash in their pockets. The blow is dealt to Irish kids who are going to school with parental joblessness and economic distress hanging over their heads. Most likely "the policy of economic austerity" will keep on trucking, but lots of human beings' lives will be disturbed.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


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