August 2008 Archives

Gordon Tullock is Retiring

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Via Yang He:

Dear Colleagues:

I understand that Gordon Tullock is retiring from his position at George Mason University and, very shortly, will be moving to Tucson, Arizona to join his sister and her family. So now is the time for all of us to pay our respects to Gordon and to thank him from the bottom of our hearts for all that he has done to create an international reputation in Public Choice for our beloved department.

Gordon first joined the Virginia academic system 50 years ago when he joined Jim Buchanan at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in the Grand Venture that would create Public Choice as a world-recognized independent research program in the social sciences. With the exception of a 12 year stint at the University of Arizona, Gordon has spent his illustrious career in Virginia,first at UVA, then at Virginia Tech and finally at George Mason University.

For more than 25 years, Gordon edited his journal, Public Choice, before eventually passing that responsibility on to Bob Tollison and myself in 1990. In 2007, we ourselves passed on that responsibility to the safe hands of our long-time friend and good colleague, Bill Shughart. Throughout his career, Gordon's office door has always been open to faculty and to graduate students alike, providing easy access to his encyclopedic knowledge and to his brilliant academic mind, his friendship and his open generosity. I have been truly privileged to work so closely with Gordon over a half lifetime of some 35 years, to have reaped the enormous intellectual benefits of close association with the only true genius that I have ever encountered.

For those of you who have yet to encounter Gordon's scholarship, I urge you to purchase and to read, cover to cover, the 10 volume Selected Works of Gordon Tullock, that I recently edited for Liberty Fund. There is no better education for a young economist aspiring to contribute in the tradition of Virginia Political Economy, no better introduction into the ways of truly creative Renaissance Scholarship.

Now, however, it is important for each of us to pay our personal respects to Gordon, to thank him personally for what he has done for us, and to wish him well on the next phase in the great journey of his life. Gordon cannot now come to main campus. For a few short days, however, he will continue to occupy his wonderful office on the fourth floor of the Law School. As always, he welcomes visits and discussions. I know that he would love to chat and to shake hands with all those many well-wishers and grateful fellow-scholars who care to make the short journey to Arlington before he journeys westwards to a well-earned retirement.

Gordon Tullock always refers to Duncan Black as the Founding Father of Public Choice, using the Chinese term: 'He is the father of all of us'. Now, since I occupy the Duncan Black Chair that Gordon generously funded at George Mason University, I can hardly deny the justice of Gordon's assertion! At the same time, I must counter-claim, at least with respect to my own long career in Public Choice, that Gordon Tullock, not Duncan Black, is my Father.

Charles K. Rowley
Duncan Black Professor of Economics
George Mason University

Funniest Sentence I Heard Yesterday

I presume you're a Marxist...
--Costco Warehouse, Arlington, VA

CSPI

I've finally learned how to translate Consumerist posts. Which Restaurants Are Making Your Kids Fat? should read You Are Making Your Kids Fat.

Yes, nutrition policy advocacy does address some very complicated issues. But how many times do we need to be told that empty carbs coated in trans-fats are at all healthy? I'm thinking ten, maybe twenty, tops.

So lets move on. As a public service, I should like to remind you:

CSPI is pursuing its own interest...

CSPI is pursuing its own interest...

CSPI is pursuing its own interest...

This repetition should be tautological, but needless it isn't.

For CSPI, our public health problems stem from public ignorance of what one should eat and indifference to what is in the standard American diet, combined with corporate shenanigans destroying the food chain. The poor health of the masses is the result of too little government power, control and funding. It's a tremendous government failure that can only be resolved by wise intervention.

Hence, CSPI advocates several policy changes: food control in schools, advertising restriction, mandatory nutrition labeling in eateries, and, of course, lots of money for health education and policy research.

That last one should generate a little skepticism about the objectivity of this organization, and the policies its members advocate.

But does it?

The Job for Anybody?

Hey! Isn't this what we're supposed to say about the service economy?

American youth see manufacturing as a one-way career track toward poor wages....

Keith McKee, the director of the Manufacturing Productivity Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology, offers another compelling reason: for a long time now, manufacturing has sold itself as the job for anybody, regardless of intelligence.

"This mystique has come about and it isn't a good thing," McKee says. "Manufacturers have done themselves a great disservice because for a long time, they kept saying they could hire almost anybody. Most of those people will never become skilled workers because they're dumb as rocks. If you take a rock and train it, it's still just a rock."

--"Old Myths, New Realities", Tooling & Production, August 2008, pp.56-60. [not yet online]

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