What economists would you expect somebody with a general university education to have heard of? My list is quite short:
- Adam Smith
- Karl Marx
- John Maynard Keynes
I expect these authors to function mostly as symbols in the popular consciousness. I might expect Americans above a certain age to have heard of John Kenneth Galbraith and Milton Friedman. Would they have heard of Paul Samuelson? He did have a column in Newsweek for a while. I first became aware of the existence of Joan Robinson by seeing a reference to her as the "British Galbraith". From what I've read, Nicholas Kaldor also had a certain public presence in Britain for a certain generation.
Given the highly technical nature of academic economists these days, it is hard for economists to invite the public into their discussions. I guess a theme of this blog is that most academic economists are not to be trusted. Others, such as Steve Keen, Fred Lee, and Bill Mitchell say fairly much the same. But I am not opposed to thinking of economics as a technical subject. I do not think I have resolved a tension here in my own mind.