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Calling Mark Perry…

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Thank you for accurately defending the academic integrity of George Mason University’s Department of Economics, and of GMU’s Mercatus Center (“The Trashing of George Mason University,” May 12). Those who attack us misunderstand many of the critical facts surrounding the funds that we’ve raised. Worse, they insult us by assuming – without evidence – that our scholarly opinions are for sale.

This insult is highly ironic coming, as it does, from people on the political left. We economists who defend competitive, private-property markets are routinely accused by those on the left of naively believing that ‘money is all that matters,’ and of being insufficiently aware of humans’ rich, varied, and multidimensional motivations, many of which have nothing to do with material gains or losses.

That this accusation against us is inaccurate is here irrelevant. What is relevant is this fact: GMU Econ’s accusers – both by assuming that my and my colleagues’ scholarship is for sale, and by refusing to believe that the Kochs’ giving is motivated by a sincere desire to improve, not Koch Industries’ bottom line but, instead, society – reveal themselves to be the great champions of homo economicus. Those whose view of humanity is so squinty that men and women are seen as cartoonish, venal creatures motivated exclusively by money are not us market-oriented economists; rather, it is those on the left who falsely accuse us of being academic mercenaries.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030