Fintan O’Toole: It is politically easier to keep spending on bad policies than to shift to good ones

Political parties must be honest about what it takes to get real fiscal prudence

Most people would be much better off being treated in local primary-care centres rather than going to A&E departments. Photograph: Alan Betson

Most people would be much better off being treated in local primary-care centres rather than going to A&E departments. Photograph: Alan Betson

Hovering over the election, there is a great but largely unspoken dilemma. It affects almost everything any government can hope to do, but it is not one the big political parties want to confront.

It is this: in order to be able to spend public money prudently in the long term, the State has to spend a lot more money in the short term. Bluntly, the government has to continue to fund bad policies even while it engineers a shift to better ones.

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