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I consider Tullock argument to be an important and valuable one.

Think how even such a brilliant economic analyst as Frederic Bastiat, whose writings have influenced generations of people with logic, insight, and wit, has been looked down upon by the professional economists, for the most part. Schumpeter referred to him as a mere "journalist." What a terrible label, clearly, to have around one's neck!

And Henry Hazlitt, as Tullock emphasized, was never taken seriously by the economics profession. Yet, any one who has read his books and the thousands of articles over a life time of writing must be impressed by both his knowledge of economics and his creative and clear way of explaining economic ideas for the "common man."

For myself, I have never tired of regularly, over my academic career, teaching principles of economics. Why? Because it is the only course in which most of those students will ever be introduced to the "miracle of the market," the "invisible hand," to "what is seen, and what is not seen," to the common sense of the logic of human action and decision-making in the associative relationships of the market; to the nature of free market capitalism vs. socialism vs. the interventionist-welfare state.

You can leave in the minds of many of those students an understanding that, hopefully, will make them better and more informed citizens when they think about economic policy, even if they long forget many of the specific details they had to learn to pass the exams.

Mises and Machlup were certainly "serious" and "scholarly" economists. Yet, in the Vienna of their time, in the years between the two World Wars, they often wrote articles for the Viennese newspapers explaining the consequences and dangers of misguided economic policies, and the benefits of more free market alternatives.

And think of Milton Friedman. His Nobel Prize was won for his scholarly works. But where has been his greatest impact in society? His numerous articles (including many years of writing a "Newsweek" column after Hazlitt stepped down), and his "popular" books. These have left a deep (positive) mark on economic policy thinking in our time.

In my view, Dan Mitchell's daily blog missives on the economic absurdities of government policy are worth hundreds of articles in the AER. And Don Boudreaux's brilliant Bastiat-like almost daily "letters to the editor" on Cafe Hayek are more insightful than the contributions of several economic Nobel Laureates.

Not to speak of Walter Williams and the sharp pen of Thomas Sowell.

May a "thousand flowers bloom" of more such people -- and those who teach the next generations of students the principles and logic of market.

Richard Ebeling

Tullock is wrong and right here. In my opinion, it depends on the person's talents and abilities on what is the right course of action. For example, would the economics profession be better off had Tullock decided to become a journalist? Probably not.

Some people should write in academic journals and some should promote the subject to the mainstream and in elementary classes. The problem as I see it is that most economists spend their time trying to get into economic journals when they really have nothing worthwhile to contribute. They're not Friedmans, Hayeks, Tullocks, etc. They're at best second hand dealers in knowledge desperately pretending that they're not. 95% of economists should be teaching to masses rather than publishing articles which don't even interest those in their own profession.

On a side note, there is one problem with Tullock's train of thought here. Sure, comparing Hazlitt to some professor blows the professors away. But those usually aren't our choices in life. How many people can say, "Well my choice is between becoming James Buchanan or Henry Hazliit?"

The real question should be a more realistic one. What makes more impact? Becoming a journalist at my local newspaper or small noted blogger or becoming a professor at a no-name college spending one's time publishing academic articles about the economics of 15th century serfs and their production of wheat.

Thanks for this. I really like what you’ve posted here and wish you the best of luck with this blog!

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