Well, I have been out of touch for over a month. The first part of that was due to basketball. But I have since returned to economics work with writing and lecturing.
Last week I made my annual trip to lecture at the Foundation for Economic Education in the Advanced Seminar in Austrian Economics. I first made a trip to FEE in 1980 and I returned to FEE often since then as a student and then as a faculty. There is something very special about the place. For many years the "specialness" of FEE was in reality little more than a memory of student days and the excitement of wrestling with the ideas of economic freedom for the first time. But Richard and Anna Ebeling have done an amazing job at FEE. Students from around the world migrate to FEE and have a wonderful educational experience. Richard is an amazing intellect --- deep historical knowledge, great passion for the truth, and a commitment to Austrian economics and liberalism that is awe inspiring. Anna is an amazing hostess and a feisty intellect in her own right. She matches Richard's commitment to the ideas of political and economic liberty. It is always fantastic to be in their company and they have created an educational reality at FEE that for the current generation of students far surpasses the experience I had in 1980. I just am amazed with the work they have done, and continue to do, at FEE.
At FEE, I was able to connect again with several close friends within the Austrian economics community: Bill Butos, Bruce Caldwell, Steve Horwitz, Sanford Ikeda, Peter Lewin and Lawrence White. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to see Mario Rizzo. But I was fortunate to see lecture, and talk to, Professor Israel Kirzner, who in my opinion is the greatest of all the Austrian economist since 1950. Kirzner's talks were fantastic and they took off from the recent NYT article on heterodox and orthodox economics and he explained in wonderful detail why orthodox neoclassical economics could not serve as the foundation for an intellectual case for the market economy.
The students at FEE were intellectually curious, the lectures by the faculty were first rate, and the conversation among the faculty was stimulating. I had the great opportunity to talk with Peter Lewin about many topics, including not only economics and management theory but religion, and also tennis and rugby, over breakfast and dinner. On Friday night after the program had officially ended, FEE hosted a wonderful talk by Amity Shlaes on her new book, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. I had met Amity before, but never really had the opportunity to talk with her at any length. But over dinner and at her talk she proved to be extremely intelligent and engaging. I hope her important book gets an extremely wide reading by both intellectuals and the general public.
I drove to FEE so I could visit family in NJ after the seminar. Unfortunately, I ran into a lot of traffic both on the way up and coming back home due to accidents, road construction and sheer volume. Thankfully, I had my I-Pod and I was able to listen to many of Russ Roberts podcasts. When I tired of learning, I would switch to music. One of the things I love about I-Pods is that I can create "collected works" collections of artists. I like to listen to artists from their first to their latest albums so I can see the continuity and discontinuity in their work. This drives Rosemary (my wife) nuts --- she and my kids also don't really like my taste in music. On this occasion, I listened to Bob Dylan --- who I believe has written the most important "protest songs" of the 1960s and 1970s. His song about Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter from 1975 still raises great emotions in me as it did when I was a teenager growing up less than a few miles from Rahway State Prison. Economics, Dylan, and cannot forget NY/NJ pizza --- pretty good times.
I am looking forward to making the trip again to FEE and encourage all students of Austrian economics and classical liberal political economy to do the same.