‘Free market is key to enriching the poor’

Deirdre McCloskey has been a lot of things in her life — a Marxist, an anarchist, a contemporary of Milton Friedman and a man called Donald.

Ms McCloskey is a distinguished professor of economics in University of Illinois who transitioned from male to female in 1995, at the age of 53. However, she prefers not to be defined by her sex.

Due to her varied background, she likes to take a long view on the world economy. She believes more economic historians are needed so that we can get a clear view on the benefits that the free market has brought to the world.

She says that Ireland is still a very rich country that has been dragged into the first world in the last 30 years, and says we need to take the long view.

“You have to look back considerably. You don’t have to look back to the Vikings, but you have to go back considerably before you can see the picture. The truth. The truth is that Ireland is a successful capitalist country with a large safety net and large government expenditure.

“It is a perfectly normal country and it is going to go on being a prosperous normal county getting a little bit better off.

“It can’t get better off at the rates that the Chinese are, because it is so much further ahead,” she said.

Ms McCloskey believes that looking back at the crash is taking too narrow a focus.

She believes that the media have focused too narrowly on the fall out of the boom, as opposed to looking at the progress the country has made.

“It’s still a rich country and highly educated, it’s easy to do business here, people keep their appointments, you can’t get robbed by the local legal system and, of course, you have very low corporate taxes and so American companies have come here and that is going to go on.

“You are an easy street, dears. Stop complaining about it. I’m not making light of the shattered expectations. You buy a house for 700,000 and you sell it four years later for 150,000, that’s quite a hit,” she said.

In broader terms, Ms McCloskey advocates the complete decriminal- isation of drugs and the withdrawal of the power to prescribe from doctors.

She believes that there are few problems that the free market can’t fix.

“I’m in favour of the complete decriminal- isation of every sort of drug. In fact, I would take away the prescription power from doctors, I don’t think they should have that. You see, I am a radical free market on some things but I call it motherly libertarianism.”

Ms McCloskey explains that she believes that the free market can lift poor people out of poverty and bring about change for the good.

“People grossly misunderstand [the free market] — the best and largest way to achieve enrichment for poor people is the free market. The charity, I admire it, I’m a christian anglican. [But] charity and worrying about inequality is not what makes the poor better off,” she said.

On her way to Kilkenomics in Kilkenny, she saw a mural in honour of the 1913 lockout which attributed the rise in prosperity in Ireland to trade unions, which she says is rubbish.

“There’s a big mural in Dublin talking about trade unions and how wonderful they are. It’s an amazing thing. It says 100 years of good jobs and prosperity, implying that it was trade unions caused that. It’s not. I’m not against trade unions, but more trade unions won’t make poor people better off.

“The way to make them better off is to make the pie bigger,” she said.


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