Bourgeois Virtues and the Free Market with Professor Deirdre McCloskey

March 18, 2019

Deirdre McCloskey is a world renowned Chicago School economist, historian, rhetorician, who describes herself as a "Christian Libertarian". She joins us to talk about her concept of Bourgeois Virtues and why their adoption and practice have led to the advancement that the human species has created in the last 300 years.

Even if you’re not interested in economics, know that economists are interested in you, and in particular they are interested in using the force of government to nudge, encourage or outright change your behavior. 

Professor McCloskey taught Economics, History, English and Communication at The University of Illinois at Chicago from 2000-2015. She is the author of 17 books and over 400 scholarly articles. 

http://www.deirdremccloskey.com

She explains how Bourgeois Virtues differ from the Virtues of the Aristocracy and Peasantry of old and how that they allow individuals to peacefully cooperate and compete in a free market economy, which in the end enriches us all. 

We discus her trilogy of Books based on the concept of Bourgeois Virtues, the central problem of economics, as well as the Two Secret Sins of Economics which affects everyone.

Bourgeois Virtues by Deidre McCloskey

We cover a lot in this episode including the philosophical, religious and psychological aspects of economics , how advertising and sales are a natural part of human nature, and how even birds use persuasion to find a mate.  

She describes what we are seeing today as a form of "Slow Socialism" which uses taxation and regulations to redistribute income. We also discuss how the rhetoric is being ramped up through proposals, like the Green New Deal, to create "Fast Socialism" which has had disastrous outcomes in the past.

Her explanation of the  Secret Sins of Economics is extremely enlightening and explains a lot of the reason why personal freedoms have eroded in the last 100 years. Most mainstream economists, especially those who see themselves as social engineers, commit these "sins" without even realizing it. The consequences of these "sins" create the excuses and the explanations for why politicians and bureaucrats should interfere into the voluntary transactions of individuals.

She explains how there really isn’t a public or private sphere, there are only voluntary or involuntary transactions. Professor McCloskey also warns us about the dangers of Envy and that it is truly insatiable. Instead of envying others we should seek to trade our gifts with others in voluntary transactions, which creates a benefit for all.

Professor McCloskey is extremely optimistic about the future of humanity because of the unprecedented spread and acceptance of Bourgeois Virtues across the world, which at their core are about voluntary transactions, persuasion and the belief that everyone is created equal.

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Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the conversation. 

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