Donald J. Boudreaux

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Donald J. Boudreaux was Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia, a position he held since August 2001. He is also listed as a Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank. [1]

"Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education (1997-2001); Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Economics at Clemson University (1992-1997); and Assistant Professor of Economics at George Mason University (1985-1989). During the Spring 1996 semester he was an Olin Visiting Fellow in Law and Economics at the Cornell Law School," a biographical note states. [2]

For many years he was also a minor member of the Cash for Comment Economists Network which initially ran out of George Mason University under Robert Tollison (with the help of James Savarese, and they later shifted to the Independent Institute under William Shughart.

 

HOW THE NETWORK WORKED

The Cash-for-Comments Economists' Network was run by Savarese through a partnership with Professor Robert D Tollison who used the staff and facilities of the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University to prove cut-out and organisation services. They developed and maintained a network of Economics Professors with at least one on tap in virtually every US state. As one Professor transferred or dropped out (there was a regular turn-over) a new one would be recruited in that State. In all, about 130 university professors were involved in the period 1985-1995, and costs ran to $3 million/year at a time when professor's salaries were in the $30-40,000 pa range. An active network member at a State university could almost double his normal salary.

  The main focus of the group was to write commissioned op-ed articles on a subject determined by the Tobacco Institute. The draft article would then pass back through the network to TI staff, who were essentially public relations experts. Here they were 'improved' and refined; then sent to the Institute's outside lawyers for vetting. Modified articles then returned to the professor, who would then send them to a designated State newspaper as if they were his 'independent expert opinion'. The professors received a base amount for writing and bonuses for successfully planting the article on the newspaper. Some, but not all, received a small (eg.$1000) annual retainer.[3]]

  Published papers would also be copied by the professor and sent to his local Federal Representative and Senator (for a further bonus). Sometimes there were special commissions, but generally the work was writing op-eds and LTE's where they were paid just on results (varied from about $700 to $3000 over the years). Network members could also be called upon to provide witness services and promote the cigarette companies' political/economic line at local ordinance or State legislative hearings. An active professor of economics at a State University could almost double his salary with these activities and with some further appearances, for instance, speaking on the importance of cigarettes in economic terms at major economic conferences, etc.
      Cash for Comments Economists Network   &   Robert Tollison   &   James Savarese   &   Network Document Index

 

Documents & Timeline

1995 July: William F Shughart II (U of Mississippi is editing "Taxing Liberty and Other "Sins": Predatory Politics and Taxation" for the Tobacco Institute. It has chapters by:

  • Brenda Yelvington (Professor of Economics, Clemson University)
  • Adam C. Gifford (Professor of Economics, California State University, Northridge)
  • Randall G. Holcombe (Professor of Economics, Florida State University)
  • Dwight R. Lee (Professor of Economics, University of Georgia)
  • Thomas J. DiLorenzo (Professor of Economics, Loyola College in Maryland)
  • Gary M. Anderson (Professor of Economics, California State University, Northridge)
  • Mark Thornton (Professor of Economics, Auburn University)
  • Bruce L. Benson and David W. Rasmussen (Professors of Economics, Florida State U .)
  • Richard E . Wagner (Professor of Economics. George Mason University)
  • Robert B. Ekelund, Jr . and Paula A. Gant (Professors of Economics, Auburn University)
  • Richard K. Vedder (Professor of Economics, Ohio University)
  • Jonathan R Macey (Professor of Law, Cornell University)
  • Bruce Kobayashi (Professor of Law, George Mason University)
  • Donald J. Boudreaux and Adam C. Pritchard (Professors of Law, Clemson University)
  • Gordon Tullock (Professor of Economics and Political Science, Arizona State University)

(The hot-linked names are a roll call of the old Cash for Comments Economists Network)

William Shughart pretends that the book was initiated by the Independent Institute (rather than the tobacco industry):

Hence, when David Theroux of the Independent Institute contacted me to ask whether I might be interested in putting together a volume that would explore the purposes and effects of tax policy in regulating consumption choices, I eagerly accepted. Let me here acknowledge the Independent Institute's financial sponsorship and David Theroux's encouragement along the way.

This draft copy was in Philip Morris files, and it has additions and corrections in handwritten form. For instance "politically incorrect" has been inserted before"products" and "excise" inserted before taxes. "Sin" taxes have been quoted. New chapter titles have been added. [4] [5]

Trust Capitalism to Fix Climate Change

2006 August Boudreaux wrote an opinion column dismissing calls for government action on climate change. Referring to a recent New York Times report on increasing human longevity, Boudreaux attributes the change to the economic productivity of "capitalism." Turning to climate change, he argues that "it's a perfectly legitimate stance for truly reasonable people to conclude that the best policy regarding global warming is to neglect it -- and let capitalism continue to make us healthier and wealthier." [6]

Chicago Tribune, August 13, 2006

Contact Details

Telephone: (703) 993-1130
Facsimile: (703) 993-1133
Office: 339 Enterprise Hall
Mailing Address: Donald J. Boudreaux
Department of Economics
MSN 3G4
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
E-mail: dboudrea AT gmu.edu
Web: http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/boudreaux/

External links

Biographical notes

Articles by Boudreaux