November 1, 2011 12:06PM

My Favorite Bill Niskanen Moment

Bill Niskanen did most of his thinking and analysis on paper, in his many books and articles. He didn’t seek out television appearances, though he certainly made a few during his years with Cato. But one television appearance stands out in my mind, when he debated Rep. Richard Gephardt on PBS’s NewsHour about Gephardt’s bill that would have required economic retaliation against countries that have huge trade surpluses with the United States. Alas, I can’t find the exact date for this pre‐​Internet appearance — possibly 1988, when Gephardt ran for president and made protectionism a big part of his campaign — and I have only a clip of one of Bill’s answers. But it confirms the “Blunt Libertarian Economist” headline that the New York Times used on its obituary: