Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Posner and the Supreme Court

About 15 years ago, I was speaking with a mid-level minion of the American Bar Association. I had suspicions that he was somewhat left-of-centre in his views, but I asked anyway about what he thought Richard Posner's chances were of being appointed to the Supreme Court. His response was in line with what I expected (and I'm paraphasing from memory here):

Do you know anything about that guy? He's so right-wing, you wouldn't believe it! He even wants to sell babies!
That statement about the paper Posner wrote with Elizabeth Landes back in 1978 characterizes much of the opposition to Posner (I guess that means I will be excluded, too). Since then, Posner has gone on to write many other things that have ruffled people's feathers. But here, from a Washington Post Review of Posner's Book, Public Intellectuals, is a clear statement of the types of things that will be used against him, should his name come up for consideration:

"Economics," Posner has written, "wields the baton of my multidisciplinary orchestra." Looking at the world through a strictly economic lens, he writes with a refreshing, parsimonious intensity. He also, occasionally, produces outrageous conclusions, such as his contention in a 1999 article in the literary journal Raritan that the rule of law is an accidental and readily dispensable element of our legal ideology, and his argument in favor of buying and selling babies on the free market in lieu of government-regulated adoption. Add his advocacy of legal marijuana and LSD, and it is clear that Posner -- despite his obvious brilliance -- will never sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amazing how so many people have such knee-jerk reactions rather than examine the arguments he makes. It's a loss for everyone.

Let's hope the Nobel Prize committee has more sense.

UPDATE: Here is Posner's very uncharitable review of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, link courtesy of Newmark's Door. It is worth reading if (a) you are interested in very different review of Gladwell's book, or (b) you are interested in some of Posner's more scathing writing.
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