Gary Becker, a leading proponent of free markets and limited government, passed away over the weekend. He was 83.
Prof. Becker was one of the main figures in the Chicago School of Economics, a group of scholars based mainly at the University of Chicago who helped economics avoid a take-over and take-down by the left that would have been similar to what occurred to nearly every other academic discipline.
Beginning in the 1960s, he vigorously defended economics and its tools, in particular methodological individualism, from those who misrepresented it. He demonstrated how economics explains social phenomena seemingly far removed from marketplaces.
He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1992 and another rather less prestigious prize, the Heartland Liberty Prize, in 2002. He graciously accepted our modest award and delighted the audience of our anniversary benefit dinner that year with a long and thoughtful acceptance speech. He was a long-time policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, participated in the peer review of our publications, and frequently spoke at our events.
A great teacher as well as thinker, he leaves behind thousands of former students who understand how to think like economists, a skill that immunizes those who have it against all manner of wrong thinking on public policy.
He will be missed.