… is from pages 59-60 of the 1982 Economics Nobel laureate George Stigler‘s November 1959 Quarterly Journal of Economics article, “The Politics of Political Economists,” as reprinted in Stigler’s 1965 collection, Essays in the History of Economics (original emphases); the second paragraph of this quotation was featured here as a Quotation of the Day more than eight years ago:
The conservatism of the economists cannot be explained by the vulgar argument of venality: that economists have sold their souls to the capitalists. The current rates of pay for good economists are much below what I would assume to be the going rate for a soul.
The main reason for the [political] conservatism [of economists on the economic front] surely lies in the effect of the scientific training the economist receives. He is drilled in the problems of all economic systems and in the methods by which the price system solves these problems. It becomes impossible for the trained economist to believe that a small group of selfish capitalists dictates the main outlines of the allocation of resources and the determination of outputs. It becomes impossible for him to believe that men of goodwill can by their individual actions stem inflation, or that it is possible to impose changes in any one market or industry without causing problems in other markets or industries. He cannot unblushingly repeat slogans such as “production for use rather than for profit.” He cannot believe that a change in the form of social organization will eliminate basic economic problems.