Ovid (publius_ovidius) wrote,

Robert Heilbroner is Dead

This probably won't mean much to most, but I was terribly saddened to learn that Robert Heilbroner has died. His book, The Worldly Philosophers, was originally written as his doctoral thesis and is what first got me interested in economics. It's required reading at some point in most economics college programs and even if you don't give a damn about economics (which I admit, most don't), it's still fascinating reading. It has sold over 4 million copies, a sales record that most authors only dream of.

An interesting quote from Heilbroner's obituary:

In his later years, Dr Heilbroner became a critic of the modern economics, cautioning that the focus on mathematics and esoteric models to the exclusion of any societal factors diverged from the great strides made by his Worldly Philosophers. This failure of vision, he warned, threatened to render the field irrelevant. In 1996's The Crisis of Vision in Modern Economic Thought, co-authored with Will Milberg, he noted that "the high theorising of the present period [in economics] attains a degree of unreality that can be matched only by medieval scholasticism".

Here's a layman's interpretation: the dollar isn't everything; people matter.

Somehow in this intricate financial web that we've weaved, we focus on ROI, GDP, 401K, IMF, WTO and other Very Important Things, but we keep forgetting the most important thing of all: that mother struggling to make ends meet and feed her children while businessmen in their yacht clubs sip cocktails and debate whether or not she should invest her social security in their stock market.

Do you ever wake up and wonder, "what the hell is going on with this world?"

Tags: economics
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