Monday, April 24, 2006

Economists as Public Intellectuals

Peter Boettke:
"As Milton Friedman once told my colleague Walter Williams --- if you cannot explain economics to the general public in 700 words or less perhaps you don't really know economics. Friedman is perhaps the most effective spokesman for economics as a public intellectual we had in the 20th century and perhaps is rivaled only by Frederic Bastiat in the history of our discipline. When Milton Friedman says something we all better listen, and in this case his challenge to economists to learn to write clearly, simply, and efficiently is certainly one we should take on in vocation of being economists as public intellectuals."
This seems to me to make sense, assuming of course, that economists generally want non-economists to be informed about economic activity as well as about public policy tradeoffs. Is it fair to suggest that since so few economists seem to make an effort to engage the general public, it is probably the case that economists generally want merely to talk with one another?

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