Wednesday, January 9, 2013

James Buchanan RIP [Updated]

To call him a giant of 20th century economics scholarship doesn't begin to do justice to his contributions.  The co-founder of Public Choice theory passes away at 93.

All discussions of both the politics and the economics of disputes over 'the fiscal cliff', Obamacare, the debt-ceiling, trillion dollar platinum coins and most everything else you can read about in business sections of newspapers should begin with The Calculus of Consent, but which unfortunately don't (probably because most journalists have never heard of it, or Buchanan).

Had there been more economists of his caliber, it would be a better world.

Update;  No mention today in Paul Krugman's blog of Buchanan's passing (though there are four posts on the platinum coin inanity).  Not too surprising in that Krugman once admitted he'd never read any of the Public Choice literature, nor did he ever care to.

Proposal for an epitaph; The economist Paul Krugman was afraid to read.

1 comment:

  1. And in the words of Sir Dennis H. Robertson:

    "There exists in every human breast an inevitable state of tension between the aggressive and acquisitive instincts and the instincts of benevolence and self-sacrifice. It is for the preacher, lay or clerical, to inculcate the ultimate duty of subordinating the former to the latter. It is the humbler, and often the invidious, role of the economist to help, so far as he can, in reducing the preacher’s task to manageable dimensions. It is his function to emit a warning bark if he sees courses of action being advocated or pursued which will increase unnecessarily the inevitable tension between self-interest and public duty; and to wag his tail in approval of courses of action which will tend to keep the tension low and tolerable."