James Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences 1986, passed away today after a short illness. He was 93 years of age. He spent much of his career building Virginia Political Economy into a leading scientific program that challenged the very foundations of both Keynesian macroeconomics and Samuelson- Arrow-Debreu microeconomics. At the same time, he pioneered a re-awakening of the Scottish Enlightenment, focused on the ethic of classical liberalism, relentlessly grounded on the fulcrum of the contractarian principle.
Since I am currently writing a biography of James Buchanan under contract with Palgrave, I shall not dwell at this time on his immense contribution to the well-being of individuals across the globe. Rather, I simply note that he was personally responsible for facilitating my migration from England to Virginia, from an intellectual environment fundamentally unsuited, to a Commonwealth and to a community of scholars uniquely-suited, to my intellectual soul. For this, my personal debt to him is beyond measure.
For those who share in the intellectual delight of Virginia Political Economy – and I know that you span the globe – I say to all of you that Jim Buchanan is the father of us all.
Si monumentum requiris, circumspice
If you seek his monument, look around.
(Epitaph to Sir Christopher Wren in St. Paul’s Cathedral, which he designed)
R.I.P James M. Buchanan
and, as he always liked to say in closing his correspondence, Onward and Upward.