I’m giving the Institute of Economic Affairs‘ 2019 Hayek Memorial Lecture on December 3 in London.  The title: “Poverty: Who’s To Blame?”  And unlike in the U.S., lectures in the U.K. have abstracts!  Here’s mine:


Who, if anyone, is morally to blame for the continued existence of severe poverty? I argue that governments in both poor and rich countries bear primary responsibility. Governments in poor countries are blameworthy for stifling development with socialist and populist economic policies. Governments in rich countries are blameworthy for severely restricting immigration, which prevents citizens of poor countries from immigrating to escape their governments’ bad economic policies. Especially in rich countries, however, the severely poor frequently bear secondary moral blame for poverty due to their own irresponsible behavior, most notably idleness, impulsive sex, and substance abuse. The popular view that we should morally blame ordinary people in poor countries for their countries bad policies, but shouldn’t blame ordinary people for their own bad behavior, is doubly wrong: Individuals can and should choose to behave responsibly, but have near-zero influence over government policy.

Related: My old post “I’m Too Busy Fighting Tyranny to Feed My Family.”