St. Olaf College | News

Well-known economist to lecture on ‘How We Got So Rich’

McCloskeyDeirdre450x300Deirdre McCloskey, a well-known economist, historian, and rhetorician, will deliver a lecture at St. Olaf College October 29 titled The One True and Verified Theory of How We Got So Rich: Liberty and Dignity.

The lecture, which will be streamed and archived online, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Tomson Hall 280. It is free and open to the public.

McCloskey’s talk will be based on her forthcoming book, Bourgeois Equality. The book, which will be available in April 2016, is the concluding volume of her trilogy “celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie.”

In it she shows that the poorest of humanity will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana. Why? Most economists — from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty — say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey fiercely disagrees.

“Our riches,” she argues, “were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea.”

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Kleber-Gery Lecture Fund and St. Olaf’s Institute for Freedom and Community, which aims to foster intellectual inquiry and meaningful discussion of important political and social issues.

McCloskey is this year’s Kleber-Gery Speaker. A St. Olaf alumnus started the Kleber-Gery Speaker Series in order to sponsor a yearly lecture on topics important to the departments of Economics and Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science.

The Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, McCloskey has written 17 books and around 400 scholarly pieces on topics ranging from technical economics and statistics to transgender advocacy and the ethics of the bourgeois virtues.