Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 3 June 2021
Committee on Budgetary Oversight
Budget Priorities Exiting Covid-19 Pandemic: Discussion
Dr. Stephen Kinsella:
People are angry all the time. The Government does not necessarily need to respond linearly to the demands of people who are angry for some reason. There are a few ways of answering the question. I will start from a political-economic angle. If the issue is housing, or what we might call the spatial realm, and the median voter wants to be a homeowner and they cannot be a homeowner, then by definition, as politicians react to what the median voter wants, they will be encouraged or almost forced by the need to cater for the median voter to expand housing provision. That is one causal mechanism that could exist.
Another way of looking at it is through the concept of societal anger. Here, I will use the terminology that Mark Blyth and Eric Lonergan use in their work, Angrynomics. They distinguish between moral outrage and tribal energy. Tribal energy is simply the idea of saying, for example: "Those people are not like me. I do not want them. I like people like me." Somebody who is hungry for power can exploit that tribal energy. The moral outrage issue is simply one around fairness. For example, issue X is simply not fair. Where a sufficient percentage of the population believes that issue X is not fair or is not being fairly dealt with, that moral outrage, which is entirely justified, can be used via a popular uprising or activist movements to effect large-scale policy change. That is what I mean, in concrete terms, by the idea that anger is a policy variable. Just because some people are angry, it is not a particular reason to change policy. One can see particular-----