Over the last few years you could barely get from your front door to the local bookies without bumping into some reference to the knowledge economy, it was on the tip of the tongue of every government spokesperson and half the political class - at least those members that were awake. The knowledge economy was the oft-declared destination that was to be reached by means of our extensive up-skilling and personal mental re-tooling.
Yet in the last couple of weeks it is hard to avoid noticing it's replacement with a new phrase, the 'smart economy'. So sudden is the dropping of the idea of the knowledge economy that I'm genuinely concerned that someone in the government might have broken the 'knowledge economy' by accident, and its replacement with the smart economy is simply designed to avoid the awkward questions that are bound to crop up such as to who was last seen carrying the knowledge economy and if they were impaired at the time in some way by drink or carrying the addresses of too many prospective task force members.
Did former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in fact crack the knowledge economy while descending his stairs in Drumcondra and did he simply fail to mention it when leaving it in the care of the new Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Then one lovely crisp winter morning as Brian was exercising his vocal chords did he hit a note that resonated with the knowledge economy and the crack widened to shatter the entire edifice? Does anyone remember when they last saw or heard of the knowledge economy? Did Martin Cullen bring it to China with him and was it replaced there with a cheap knock off?
Perhaps this was because knowledge required bukkes and they cost money and in this straitened times we can't afford them But what do they mean by a 'smart economy' is it a cheeky economy that gives you back lip,or talks out of turn?
And who in the wider world is likely to give much credence to any further ideas we have when we were so quick to pick up, run with and then drop the knowledge economy for no good reason. Cowen's speech to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce was peppered with the phrase, but does he actually mean by it? Is it smart to spend when you have it and then to cut back drastically when you don't without bothering to saving for a rainy day in between? Is it smart to judge your construction industry purely by how many houses they build and not where they are built? Or is it that smart in this instance is just short for smartarse?