To all faithful patrons of Cafe Hayek:
Each year at this time and in this way I ask you to consider including GMU Economics in your end-of-year giving plans. A financial contribution to GMU Econ (through the Mercatus Center at GMU) helps not only to maintain, but to strengthen, the great bastion of sound economic thinking, teaching, and scholarship that is uniquely GMU-Econ in partnership with the Mercatus Center.
GMU Econ is decidedly outside of the mainstream of modern economics (despite the fact that two of our faculty members won the Nobel Prize over the past 28 years – the late Jim Buchanan in 1986 and Vernon Smith, now at Chapman University, in 2002). The reason we are outside of the mainstream is that we refuse to treat economics as a branch of applied mathematics or to assume that the only economic knowledge, or even the best economic knowledge, that is available is that which is gotten through empirical studies. While our students are trained in appropriate mathematical and econometric methods, we at GMU Econ understand that economics is more – much more – than those techniques.
The typical GMU economist – Arnold Kling calls us “Masonomists” – is a student of society. He or she knows not only cutting-edge economic research, but also the full tradition of economics dating back to the works of Adam Smith. (We even have an entire field of specialization in the economics of Adam Smith, in which students and faculty members study carefully a large swathe of Adam Smith’s writings.) The GMU economist – compared to the typical modern economist – is much more thoroughly steeped in history, jurisprudence, political science, and philosophy. This broader understanding of society promotes skepticism of the social-engineering schemes that are forever pouring out of capital cities and ivory towers. Simultaneously, it promotes also a great appreciation of – indeed, a sense of wonder at – the marvelous coordinating and creative powers of free markets and free people.
Economics at George Mason University is intellectually alive and exciting. The world’s finest students who want to study economics in the rich tradition that is still honored at GMU Econ apply every year to our program; they apply either for entry into our PhD program or our Masters program. We accommodate many of them, but (resources being scarce!) we can’t accommodate all.
A contribution by you will increase our capacity to teach and mentor more students. It will also help us to better serve the cause of sound economic education in other ways, such as by enabling us to extend summer funding to more undergrad students who wish to work with our faculty between academic years, and by enabling us to more fruitfully experiment with alternative media as we search for ways to communicate both with other scholars and with the general public about economics.
This last point is especially important. No other economics program is as active in the public discussion and debate as is GMU Econ; certainly no other program is as staunch a champion of free and depoliticized markets as is GMU Econ. Our faculty includes some of the world’s top economics bloggers, such as Peter Boettke, Bryan Caplan, Tyler Cowen, Robin Hanson, and Alex Tabarrok. These and other Masonomists – including, of course, the great Walter Williams – also frequently write in the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other popular outlets. And we are also often interviewed on radio and television. It’s our passion not only to better understand the logic and the workings of the economy, but to explain to non-economists the countless unseen or underappreciated ways that free markets coordinate human activities peacefully and productively.
If you like what you read here at Cafe Hayek, please consider helping the larger effort of which this blog is a part – that larger effort is better economic education. You can do so by making a tax-deductible contribution to GMU Econ through the Mercatus Center. (Those of you who contribute by mailing in a check might mention Cafe Hayek in a cover note.)
Russ and I thank you all for honoring us by reading our blog. And we wish you the happiest of holidays and a 2015 that is filled with peace, prosperity, and an invigorated invisible hand.