Perhaps it is fitting, at least to me, that George Mason University Economics Professor Richard Wagner has written a useful overview and remembrance of Cato’s William Niskanen for the journal Public Choice. Fitting in that I was first exposed to Niskanen’s work, long before I came to Cato, in Wagner’s graduate public choice class. Niskanen’s classic book Bureaucracy and Representative Government is, as Wagner notes, “a major contribution in the earliest days of public choice.” It was certainly one of the bigger influences on my own economic thinking.
The survey (free and on-line) begins with Niskanen’s time at Chicago before moving to a discussion of the connection and significance of Liberty and economic science. As someone who partly came to libertarianism via the study of economics, I found this section relevant to my own experiences, as I am sure many other economists will also be able to relate to.
Wagner’s essay also helps remind us that Bill was not just a great champion of Liberty, which he was, but also a significant contributor to the development of public choice economics.