Unemployment in Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

The above graph (h/t RCW and Early Warning) reminds us that the policy failures Stephen Grenville described in his piece earlier today are, above all, an enormous human tragedy.

But there's slightly Brechtian subtext to Stephen's analysis (Brecht: 'Would it not be easier...for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?') that I can't get behind. Stephen acknowledges that some of the solutions he offers to the economic policy malaise in Europe and the US suffer from a 'democratic deficit', but he passes over that concern rather lightly.

It's clearly not impossible to implement smart and responsible economic reforms in Western democracies. It has been done many times, despite the lobbyists and vested interests Stephen talks about in his post. Maybe what is lacking in the present circumstances is the type of political leadership that carries public opinion with it in order to get reforms implemented. And is it just possible that economists are doing too little to help the public understand the need for reform?