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.I have been seeing the same line of thinking from Karl Smith over at Modeled Behavior and I think it is overdue in the public discourse. Policies often hurt individual people, and not usually those who are making these decisions. I actually don't see this as a failure of government so much as social cohesion and the idea that we all benefit from a strong and well functioning economy.
Policy is interesting in the abstract, but it is worth remembering that bad policy has consequences for specific people in the real world.
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