Historian Examines Judge Posner's Shifting Economic Views

Free-market economist changes tune
Steve Haycox
Anchorage Daily News
April 15, 2010

Judge Richard Posner is an extraordinary man with an intellect of a very high order: precise, systematic, sophisticated and penetrating. From his seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, he has taken significant legal positions on a number of important issues, including antitrust, privacy, abortion and torture. But it is his prolixity as an author that most captures wide attention. He has published nearly 40 books, on jurisprudence and legal philosophy, but also on plagiarism, suicide, literature and especially economics. A widely respected judge, he is the most-cited legal scholar ever.

Posner also teaches at the University of Chicago Law School. Chicago has long been identified as an intellectual engine of free-market economics. The Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, probably the most influential economist of the late 20th century, taught in the Chicago School of Economics, and shaped economics research and study across the nation. During the 1980s and 1990s, Posner was a darling of free-market economists and enthusiasts for his books and articles celebrating deregulation and risk, and trouncing government intervention intended to mitigate inequality. With Friedman, he was fond of saying that a society that placed equality ahead of freedom would end up with neither.

Richard A. Posner