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HES2018 in Chicago is in the books, sign up for HES2019 in NYC

Summary:
The annual History of Economics Society meetings concluded this past Sunday (6/17/18) with a wide ranging talk by HES President Evelyn Forget (University of Manitoba).  Her talk was on the relationship between economists and the public, and in particular how economic ideas impact the beliefs and attitudes and everyday people. Her talk was entitled "Folk Wisdom in Economics." She is a health economists by training in addition to a historian of ideas, and she has carved out a niche on the topic of Basic Income -- and the history of previous experiences in Canada.  See a talk by her on Basic Income here.* I have published my reservations to Basic Income programs in a paper with Adam Martin, and I think the empirical evidence from programs in Alaska, and even in Saudi Arabia, and

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The annual History of Economics Society meetings concluded this past Sunday (6/17/18) with a wide ranging talk by HES President Evelyn Forget (University of Manitoba).  Her talk was on the relationship between economists and the public, and in particular how economic ideas impact the beliefs and attitudes and everyday people. Her talk was entitled "Folk Wisdom in Economics." She is a health economists by training in addition to a historian of ideas, and she has carved out a niche on the topic of Basic Income -- and the history of previous experiences in Canada.  See a talk by her on Basic Income here.*

I have published my reservations to Basic Income programs in a paper with Adam Martin, and I think the empirical evidence from programs in Alaska, and even in Saudi Arabia, and certainly the political economy issues Adam and I emphasize were involved in the policy circumstances that led to the situation in Finland.  But if you listen to Evelyn's talk she presents her position in a measured and scientific manner, and invites conversation rather than ideological side choosing. So it is progress in the public space.  

My view of what we economists should be doing in the public discourse is elevating it, not dragging our discipline down into the political mud.  I am for political economy, but not politicized economics.  So I think our best approach is to insist on three things: (1) common-sense logic, (2) evidence based, and (3) exhibit compassion for the least advantaged.  There is still a huge realm for disagreement, and in fact perhaps even vigorous disagreement no doubt, but elevating the conversation is a must.  Evelyn Forget is someone who elevates the conversation, and as such deserves our respect, admiration, and attention.  Let the conversation continue -- it is the only way we can get approximations to what Frank Knight described as "intelligence in democratic action."

Sunday night also celebrated the annual awards:


Distinguished Fellow of the History of Economics Society

Israel Kirzner, New York University

Craufurd Goodwin Best Article in the History of Economics Prize

Beatrice Cherrier, CNRS & THEMA, University of Cergy Pontoise

“Classifying Economics: A History of the JEL Codes” Journal of Economic Literature 55 (2), 2017

Joseph Dorfman Best Dissertation Prize

Adam Leeds, University of Pennsylvania
“Spectral Liberalism: on the Subjects of Political Economy in Moscow”

Joseph J. Spengler Best Book Prize

Roger E Backhouse, University of Birmingham Founder of Modern Economics: Paul A. Samuelson Oxford University Press, 2017

Ian Kumekawa, Harvard University
The First Serious Optimist: A. C. Pigou and the Birth of Welfare Economics Princeton University Press, 2017

 

Of course, the highlight for me was seeing Israel Kirzner being awarded this honor -- joining earlier recipients such as George Stigler, Lionel Robbins, G. L. S. Shackle, F. A. Hayek, Mark Blaug, and Warren Samuels among others.  But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Beatrice and Adam have both given presentations in our seminar at GMU, and I reviewed Kumekawa's book very favorably for Public Choice.

The meetings in general had a great program, full of interesting and challenging work, and the conversation inside sessions and in the hallways was stimulating.

Next year the meetings will be held in NYC at Columbia University, I recommend everyone who has an interest in the history of political economy to put this conference on their calendar.

 

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*Evelyn Forget speaks for the first 20 minutes, then followed by Toby Sanger -- who describes himself as an idealistic socialist, but a pragmatic economist.  His talk is also measured and very much worth listening to, but it is more "political" in nature than "scientific", but that is also more consistent with his experience as the Senior Economists at the Canadian Union for Public Employees.  Still this video would be great listening to for folks interested in tackling difficulties with structural inequalities in society.  Mike Munger is also an advocate of UBI, but he sees this as an alternative to the existing welfare system not in addition to it.

 

 

Peter Boettke
Peter Joseph Boettke (January 3, 1960) is an American economist of the Austrian School. He is currently a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University; the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, Vice President for Research, and Director of the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at GMU.

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