The mantra of 'play hard, play smart, have fun' is something the basketball teams I coached from elementary school to MS to CYO to HS to AAU. It is actually something I believe in for all our endeavors -- we must work hard, work smart, and derive great joy from what we are doing if we want to be truly successful at it --- whether that is research and writing, or teaching and advising. Lazy, dumb and miserable is no way to go through life.
Weather permitting I fly today to spend 2 weeks at The Free Market Institute at Texas Tech as the Ludwig von Mises Visiting Professor. After my fall visit I can honestly say I love it there and am genuinely amazed at the job that Ben Powell is doing and the almost unlimited possibilities. Ben, since I met him on a recruiting visit during his senior year of college, plays hard, plays smart, and has a ton of fun in the process.
Ben often jokes that he is probably the only student to be recruited to study economics because of his knowledge of the zone defense. It is true that on the day Ben visited we talked about coaching, but that was for three reasons. First, Ben's intellectual passions were clear and ones I clearly identified with --- Milton Friedman's Free to Choose and Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty. Second, Ben was (is) extremely personable and observant and he noticed the pictures of my different teams on my wall and asked me about coaching, and also I had to run in the afternoon to go coach, so he asked me about what I was doing with the kids, and then he explained to me his coaching experience. Third, later that night on campus in the old gym was DeMatha was playing against Paul VI each other and I wanted to know if he wanted to attend the game later that night. So my focus switched from how great an educational experience GMU was to hey do you want to go to the game and if you come here do you want to maybe coach with me.
Alas Ben never did coach with me, but we have talked about basketball -- we share a preference for the same style of play -- as we do in our economics and in our politics. Ben is more sophisticated than me when it comes to food, wine, and cigars, but I try to listen and learn. As an economist, he has become one of the most astute analysts I know and in many ways a brilliant expositor for economic science and the political economy of freedom. Just spend some time reading his Out of Poverty (Cambridge, 2014) and you will see what I mean. He is also a program builder of unique talents.
Anyway, Ben will keep me busy these next 2 weeks and I get to hang out with Ed and Adam (his partners at FMI, and also like Ben outstanding economic minds) and their graduate students, as well as meet visiting students from SMU and Baylor. But I am planning on trying to listen and learn as much as possible. I have a bunch of research questions for working I am currently doing which are weighing heavily on my mind as I try to think through 2 book projects in political economy, and I want to pose some questions to my hosts and simply learn how they might tackle them. These are questions concerning monetary policy, fiscal policy and the structure of governance more generally. It is March and I will be tempted to pontificate about the NCAA tournament, but I really want to make the most of my time there for these projects I am working on. So it is time to 'play hard, play smart, have fun' and I cannot think of a better place to do that than FMI at Texas Tech.
Looking forward to the opportunity Ben.