Alcoholic breath and cabbages

One of Professor Hayek’s most renowned essays is titled “Why I Am Not a Conservative.” I am tempted to emulate Hayek here and entitle this postscript essay, “Why I Am Not an Economist.” To anyone who reads the methodological urgings contained in the essays of this volume, written over almost two decades, and who simultaneously looks at what passes for “economics” in the professional journals of 1980, there is only one evident conclusion. The author of the essays is almost the only one in step or else he writes under some delusion that he is something that he is not.

If not an economist, what am I? An outdated freak whose functional role in the general scheme of things has passed into history? Perhaps I should accept such an assessment, retire gracefully, and, with alcoholic breath, hoe my cabbages. Perhaps I could do so if the modern technicians had indeed produced “better” economic mousetraps. Instead of evidence of progress, however, I see a continuing erosion of the intellectual (and social) capital that was accumulated by “political economy” in its finest hours.