Monday, May 5, 2014

Gary Becker Dies at 83

The University of Chicago economist Gary Becker, who was awarded a Nobel Prize, died on May 3 after a long illness, according to a statement yesterday on the website of the University of Chicago.

Becker was a leading proponent of Chicago school of economics and failed to understand many Austrians school insights. Overall, from a libertarian perspective, his views were a mixed bag. For example, he took the very non-libertarian position that guns should be taxed heavily. He also wrote in favor of an antitrust ruling against Microsoft. Though he did display fairy strong leanings toward liberty in broad terms.

In his final column at BusinessWeek, in July 2004, he wrote:
Along with many others of my generation, I was a socialist when I started my university studies. But my first few economics courses taught me the power of competition, markets, and incentives, and I quickly became a classical liberal. That means someone who believes in the power of individual responsibility, a market economy, and a crucial but limited role of government.

In an interview with WSJ in 2010, he said:
When I think of my children and grandchildren, yes, they’ll have to fight. Liberty can’t be had on the cheap. But it’s not a hopeless fight. It’s not a hopeless fight by any means. I remain basically an optimist.
In other words, while he talked a big picture libertarian perspective, on specific issues he was often nothing more than a technical adviser for government interventions.

In his book, Economics of Discrimination ,  Becker provided some valuable analysis on discrimination. He asserted that to better understand any form of discrimination, one needs to quantify what people are willing to pay to avoid one another’s company. He concluded that the perpetrator of discrimination is harmed as well as the victim.

“Every time I discriminate — if I decline to hire a black and instead hire a white, when they’re equally productive, but the black is cheaper — I’m losing,” he said in a 1993 interview with Modern Maturity magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Becker was more important to the liberty movement than rothbard.there,i said it!many will agree with me.yet you need to belittle the man and throw a few punches on some bs pretext,because he said something in context of policy.mises worked for the ministry of finance too,you know