Epstein Remembers Economist James M. Buchanan

James M. Buchanan 1919-2013: A Personal Appreciation

I learned this morning that James Buchanan had passed away in Blacksburg, Virginia at the age of 93. I have had the privilege of knowing him personally for over 30 years. Like many other people who have incorporated public choice into their own thinking, I count him as one of a handful of academics whose core insights have shaped the research of the next generation. 

Jim’s economics were, to some extent, a reflection of his own hardscrabble, no-nonsense background. Many academics have been born, as it were, with a silver spoon in their mouth. Jim was decidedly not one of them.  

Born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, he graduated from Middle Tennessee State Teachers College in 1940, after which he received his MA from the University of Tennessee. Jim was defiantly proud of his local origins, and, although he went on to receive his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago, he always viewed elite, Ivy League institutions with a certain degree of distrust, thinking that they deadened the will and softened the intellect.

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