Rather than being rewarded for its actions, though, Ireland is being penalized. Its downturn has certainly been sharper than if the government had spent more to keep people working. Lacking stimulus money, the Irish economy shrank 7.1 percent last year and remains in recession.Oh yeah? How did the NYT's reporters "certainly" figure that out? I suppose they empirically and conclusively confirmed their theory by a process of comparative statics where they observed a control-Irish economy that enjoyed the recommended dose of fiscal stimulus economically outperforming the real-life, austerity-ridden Irish economy.
Wait, no they didn't, because that's impossible. There aren't two Irish economies to experiment on and empirically observe differing results. There is one Irish economy, and no alternative strategy or policy can be observed in isolation from any of the other market forces and government policies already in operation in the Irish economy.
As almost always, Mises said it best:
With regard to historical experience, however, we find ourselves in an entirely different situation. Here we lack the possibility not only of performing a controlled experiment in order to observe the individual determinants of a change, but also of discovering numerical constants. We can observe and experience historical change only as the result of the combined action of a countless number of individual causes that we are unable to distinguish according to their magnitudes. We never find fixed relationships that are open to numerical calculation. The long cherished assumption that a proportional relationship, which could be expressed in an equation, exists between prices and the quantity of money has proved fallacious; and as a result the doctrine that knowledge of human action can be formulated in quantitative terms has lost its only support.NYT political hacks, keep trying.