In a powerful speech, Easterly juxtaposed the contrary visions of economic development represented by the two laureates of the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974, Friedrich Hayek and Gunnar Myrdal.
As Easterly put it, Myrdal’s views on development won the day, and there never was any debate with Hayek’s perspective. Myrdal emphasized the need for economic “experts” in the developed world to work with governments in the Third World to effectively plan the economics of these nations. Hayek, by contrast, favored an approach which would provide liberties to billions of individual “problem solvers” to address the challenges confronting them in their own unique contexts.
Decades of Myrdal-inspired “development” have left the basic condition of much of the world unchanged. According to Myrdal, economic liberty was a luxury that might be possible and debated in the developed world, but that all such elite “experts” in the West held that no such freedoms could be granted to those in developing nations.
Liberty became a privilege denied to the poor.
Such a perspective amounts to a denial of the dignity of the human person, created in God’s image, and endowed by him “with certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The dominant paradigm of intervention, however well-meaning, has had real world, life and death consequences. In many cases it has amounted to the practical collusion with tyrannical regimes and despotism.