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With the 2022 budget just days away, it is an opportune time to reflect on the interaction of politics and economics. In his book Is Reality Optional? And Other Essays, the American economist Thomas Sowell wrote: “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

Leo Varadkar, the tanaiste and Fine Gael leader, rushes around promising a significant welfare package, increases to the fuel allowance, rises in capital and current spending, pay hikes and a tax package in the budget. Meanwhile Paschal Donohoe, the finance minister, and Michael McGrath, the public expenditure minister, chase after him trying to put some