Kilkenomics: A festival of economics, comedy, and toys!

Yesterday I woke up in a hotel room in Kilkenny and thought perhaps it had all been a dream. By the way, this is a thought that keeps occurring more and more the longer I'm in this business. But then, thanks to photographic evidence, I realised it wasn't a dream, and I had in fact sat on a panel at the Kilkenomics Festival with 4 incredibly accomplished economists (one of whom was fisting a wolf puppet through most of the show), a journalist, and a stand-up comedian. If James Watson's advice is to "Avoid boring people," I was certainly in very good company.   

The topic was the Economics of Sin, and I was their industry ambassador of sorts. Also on the panel were David O'Doherty (my cohort in not understanding academic jargon), Constantin Gurdgiev (Trinity College lecturer and "that bloke off the telly"), Sinead Ryan (finance journalist for the Herald and Indo), Peter Antonioni (Author of Economics for Dummies and Game of Thrones addict), Megan Greene (Chief Economist at Maverick Intelligence and Fellow at the Atlantic Council), and Deidre McCloskey (Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois, Trans rights advocate, and notorious wolf fister).

(Her wolf was definitely stuffed)

We discussed sex toys, decriminalising sex work, and weighed the pros and cons of legalising all the drugs. While our political views would be vastly different, we did manage to agree that sex workers deserve the same protections and labour rights as everyone else, and that charging people financially for misuse of drugs would be more effective than criminalising ALL people who do drugs. 

It was a wonderful discussion in a beautiful theatre at one of the best festivals I think I've ever been to in Ireland. Kilkenomics does such a fantastic job of bringing a hugely academic subject, yet one that ultimate affects us all, to the public domain in a really accessible, affordable way. The economists explain their opinions, while the comedians break them down and translate them for the rest of us. Kilkenomics founder David McWilliams wrote this brilliant post on his blog where he quotes one of the reviews of the festival. 

"It feels like Democracy."

I couldn't have put it better myself.