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Gordon Tullock is Retiring


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

Free Krugman

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For those of you who have been going through withdrawls the last couple of years( or however long TimeSelect has existed), NYT is making TimeSelect free to those with .edu addresses. Interestingly, I found this via Donald Luskin who I think has a secret man-crush on Krugman

James Burke--The Unknown Economisst

Lately I’ve rediscovered the television show Connections with James Burke. If you’ve added an Austrian cream to your economic Joe, you should appreciate the subtle thread of Hayek that’s run through each episode, as told from a history of science perspective (it’s basically the History Channel on acid).

The first episode of Connections1 focuses on the risks and interconnectedness involved with high levels of specialization,
... Any one of a million things could fail and cause our complex civilization to collapse for an hour, for a day, or however long. That's when you find out the extent to which you are reliant on technology and don't even know it. That's when you see that it's so interdependent, that if you take one thing away, the whole thing falls down and leaves you with nothing. (Connections 1-1 Trigger Effect)”
…all of which leads to a potential nuclear meltdown of our society by the last episode.

Connections 2 is a bit more chopped up and hap-hazard as they attempt to elucidate more multi-century connections in half the time; though the graphics are beefed up a bit and they seem to get a good rhythm by the 3rd disc.

... That's all it takes to get you back to the late 18th century. Three grandfather's lifetimes. That's how close we are to it. And, yet, that world has disappeared so totally, it's like fairyland. Thatched cottages, meadows, happy peasants. A golden age. Garbage, all that. Nasty, brutish, and short - that's what life was all about. And dirty. And boring. And it had been like that for thousands of years! And then, suddenly, the whole complex polluted overpopulated phrenetic nonstop stressful high tech rat race that is the modern world... Life was suddenly no longer as simple as it had been. And the extraordinary thing is, none of that was planned.” (Connections 2-1 Revolutions)

Despite the focus on the history of science, Burke touches on economic / political economy issues that are often glossed over by traditional historians. For those of you who would rather watch their history as opposed to reading it, this is a must see.



The term altruism was coined by the 19th century sociologist Auguste Comte and is derived from the Latin “alteri” or "the others”. It describes an unselfish attention to the needs of others. Comte declared that man had a moral duty to “serve humanity, whose we are entirely.” The idea of altruism is central to the main religions: Jesus declared “you shall love your neighbour as yourself” and Mohammed said “none of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself”. Buddhism too advocates “seeking for others the happiness one desires for oneself.”…
If both mankind and the natural world are selfishly seeking to promote their own survival and advancement, how can we explain being kind to others, sometimes at our own expense? How have philosophical ideas about altruism responded to evolutionary theory? And paradoxically, is it possible that altruism can, in fact, be selfish? Contributors include Miranda Fricker, Senior Lecturer in the School of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and John Dupré, Professor of Philosophy of Science at Exeter University and director of Egenis, the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (from BBC’s In Our Time).

Niall Ferguson: The War of the World
The 20th century was a period of unprecedented economic growth and scientific discovery, but equally a century of unparalleled bloodshed and warfare - estimates suggest that 1 in every 22 deaths in the 20th century were the result of violence. Niall Ferguson argues that the intensity of the 'hundred years war' can be explained by the factors of ethnic disintegration, economic volatility, and empires in decline - forces which are to be found behind sites of contemporary conflict, notably the Middle East.

Can chocolate cure hypochondria?
Associate Professor in Latin Humanism Yasmin Haskell from the University of Western Australia talks about the history of hypochondria and benefits of chocolate.


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