Monday, March 09, 2009

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers

Paul Samuelson seems to be aware of the possibility of hostile, sometimes politically-motivated, readings of works in economics:
"Piero's was a subtle mind, which had thought long and hard on these (mathematical) relationships. His pen writes as if a lawyer were at hand to ensure that no vulnerable sentence appears. I honour him for that, and with my own students felt obligated to point out the subtelty of the text..." -- Paul A. Samuelson (2000) "Sraffa's Hits and Misses", in Critical Essays on Piero Sraffa's Legacy in Economics (ed. by Heinz D. Kurz), Cambridge University Press
"For some reason that I have no understanding of, the virulence of the attack on Tarshis was of a higher order of magnitude than on my book, but there were plenty of attacks on my book, and there was a lot of work done by people. Also I wrote carefully and lawyer-like so that there were a lot of complaints that Samuelson was playing peek-a-boo with the Commies. The whole thing was a sad scene that did not reflect well on conservative business pressuring of colleges."-- Paul A. Samuelson (quoted in David Colander and Harry Landreth, "Political Influence on the Textbook Keynesian Revolution: God, Man, and Laurie Tarshis at Yale")

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