Equality In Kilkenny


ECONOMIC EQUALITY: A MEANINGLESS BUZZWORD OR ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS? is the title of one of our fun events and the first that really piqued my interested.

  • The notional kicking off point was the success of Mon. Picketty’s book and that this demonstrated a new and deep concern for equality . The discussion was more than lively with the excellent Vikas Nath insisting that Quality not equality was the important thing and the huge numbers of people pulled out of poverty in the last 30 years was the big story no any supposed growth in inequality. Ably supported my the marvellous Chicago school Deirdre McCloskey and our own Cormac Lucey the wondrous power of the market was vigorously proclaimed.
  • One of the speakers more concerned with equality was much enamoured of the idea of a public bank and giving everybody 12.000 dollars a year , all of which would return to the exchequer in taxation having passing through the hands of seven people. It may have been a rather strong lemonade I had with some young tory types earlier on in day but it all sounded rather magical to me.
  • Two quibbles I have with an otherwise fun do were the fact that no one considered the possibility that it is precisely the well intentioned interventions of the state that make and more importantly keep people poor. The other is that none of the economists adverted to the fact that there might be an ethical or moral problem with the state expropraiting the property of the one or ten per cent in order to pursue its social aggenda.


After some light socialising, all in the name of the cause, off I heigh to the late night session on the subject of sex drugs and rock and roll. The meat of the night was spent dealing with the efficacy of drug prohibition and its consequences. Tacked on as an after though really was the legality or otherwise of prostitution.

What really hit home was the total agreement across the board. All the economists to person held that not only was prohibition failing to achieve what it intended to but that the unintended consequences were catastrophically bad.  The point that was constantly returned to was that those issues that stir up so much anti drug hard line rhetoric, are in fact the result of criminalisation not drug use.

Especially strong on this were the always good value Constantin Gurdiev and the wonderfully subversive Peter Antonioni. They hammered home the message all (virtually) the hard empirical evidence pointed out the failings of prohibition, and there is a mass of work done on the subject going back decades. Which lead your correspondent to a rather depressing thought. There is zero chance of our policy makers paying a blind bit of notice to anything this panel might say or worse that the empirical evidence might demonstrate. Perhaps that is a question that needs more airing. Why are politicians so much more ready to be driven by what sounds good, rather than what actually works ?






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