Archive for February 7th, 2009

The Consumption Function

We can revert to growth more quickly if we stick together – The Irish Times – Sat, Feb 07, 2009

I believe that we are citizens first and consumers next. And for many people like yourselves, yes, there is a crisis of consumer confidence; yes, there is a real worry about where this is all going to end; yes, how prolonged and acute will this recession be.

The ‘citizens first consumers next bit’ has been sticking in my mind all day. I have heard Cowen come out with this before: it seems to be his big idea. But if a Taoiseach thought that people were consumers first and citizens next you’d have to worry. That said consumers next after citizens in the list of nouns that apply to us is worrying too. To be a consumer, you need money. But most of us only get money in exchange for work. So most people’s status as a worker precedes their status as a consumer. But for a Taoiseach to say in front of an audience of captains of industry that he believes we are citizens first and workers next and consumers after that might have watered down the rapturous applause a bit.

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February 2009