Populist Politics in a Generalist System
In stark contrast to New Zealand’s market–conforming policies, Ireland pursued a tax policy of narrow bases and targeted incentives aimed at stimulating specific economic activities. Although successful in fueling economic growth, these policies contributed directly to the country’s economic meltdown at the end of the 2000s. This chapter links the policies adopted in Ireland to the country's generalist administrative system. The persistence of generalist, competition–based recruitment to the civil service effectively blocked the rise of economists within the Irish state. The marginal role of economic experts in Ireland’s finance bureaucracy not only meant that efficiency–oriented ideas about taxation lacked carriers but also that administrators lacked the analytical skills to resist the increasingly reckless tax policies pursued by politicians.
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