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« Against the Washington Consensus? | Main | Organizations and Markets »


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Here's a question: who is the free market Galbraith? What I mean by that is who is a well-known among the public free market economist who has also made very few contributions to the discipline? I have an answer: Walter Williams. It's also interesting to think about whether Tom Sowell fits that description as well - he might be more analogous to JKG come to think of it.

"Instead the world is full of charming, brilliant, and good hearted individuals who just happen to hold opinions opposite of the ones I do."

I'm not sure it's differing opinions. I think it's more differing preferences for realizing truth.

I wouldn't place Sowell as analogous to Galbraith. Sowell has made many important contributions: His work on the impact of culture in explaining disparate group performances, his work on intelligence and race, and, especially, his work on affirmative action programs around the world--all are well-researched and often overlooked in public discourse. Williams' strength, too, lies in his studies on race and economics.

But it is an interesting question. I could name several essentially worthless free market economists if it weren't for the "well-known among the public" qualifier.

I am with Swimmy on this, of course it depends what you mean by contributing but by any standard short of the very great innovators Sowell has made a huge contribution to the elimination of error and the clarification of issues. This is a review of his book on the impact of affirmative action around the world.

Also agree. In addition to the work cited above, didn’t Sowell also do a study in support of Fogel’s “Time on the Cross” theme? Also, Williams did a nice study of labor unions in South Africa. The best review of Galbraith’s (non) contribution to mainstream economics is still Scott Gordon’s 1968 AER article, “The close of the Galbraithian system,” which says, “His books will be of scholarly interest to the library moles of the future who will use them in their attempts to understand the complex intellectual agitation of a society that is powerful beyond measure and yet is cataleptic with doubt and fear.”

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