William Baumol (1922-2017)

“A distressing phenomenon is occurring throughout the industrialized world.  Many community services have been deteriorating – fewer postal deliveries, larger classes in public schools, less reliable garbage pickups – even though the public is paying more for them.”

–Baumol and Blinder, Macroeconomics: Principles and Policy, 5th Ed., 1991

I so hated economics in college that I failed the only course I took.  About 25 years later, I bought a used, paperback version of Baumol and Blinder’s Macroeconomics for 99 cents at the MSU bookstore.  At that time I was working for Chelsea Hospital and reading about “Baumol’s cost disease” convinced me forever of the relevance and importance of economics.  Baumol – like many of his postwar colleagues – remained a working economist into his 90’s, so he not only provided guidance in how to think but an inspirational lesson in how to live.  I never met him, but as I write this his textbook, an old friend, sits open on my desk.

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