These can be dispiriting times. A war is being fought, figuratively so far , on the streets and in the media about water. As always in war the first casualty is the truth. We have we are told a right to water. Water must be free. The state must have a monopoly on the provision of water. Indeed we should have a referendum to nail down the ownership of Irish Water constitutionally to avoid wicked capitalists one day being given the chance to exploit the workers and extort huge sums in return for a cup of water.
The return of so many economic nonsenses that we had hoped had been consigned to the dustbin of history with the fall of The Wall is frustrating. The persistence of lefty magical thinking and the invincible ignorance of many who refuse to learn the clear writ lessons of history may baffle. Yet there is cause for hope.
Kilkenomics came into being on foot of the implosion of our economy. It was a mad idea on the face of it. Economics seminars mixed in with comedy does not seem like a winner; yet it worked. It worked and works because the one of the responses to the crash was a desire to understand. The crowds of mostly young people who pay good money to fill the theatres and venues in Kilkenny are there because they want to understand the dismal science.
Most of those I spoke to were not in any way connected to economics or politics academically or professionally. They were curious and engaged citizens who wanted to understand how the machine works, how the sausage is made, and why sometimes the machine blows up.
The standard of the panels was very impressive as was the level of engagement of the listeners. Moreover bar the odd Keynesian or Neo Chartalist the tenor was very freedom friendly. Statist myths were being exploded all over the place with old fashioned empirical wit and wisdom.
Certainly for a proportion of the population the state will always be seen as the magical provider of all things good, but never enough. Sure we will have politicians who preach class hatred and envy and call it philosophy. But as long as we have enough folks willing interrogate, investigate and self educate then there is a chance, a good chance, that we will not end up as Venezuela by the Liffey. To those who bring us every year this weird hybrid festival we at the EBI say Kudos .