Bryan Caplan  

Robert Tollison, 1942-2016: We're All Part of the Equilibrium

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Robert_D._Tollison.jpgMy former colleague Robert Tollison has passed away.  I still remember the tour of Carow Hall he gave me when I was interviewing in 1997.  Though we only overlapped at GMU for one year, he was an unforgettable personality.  My strongest memory: At a Liberty Fund in Bozeman, Montana in the summer of 1997, someone expressed despair at economists' inability to improve the world.  Tollison responded with this aphorism, which I've repeated ever since:
"We're all part of the equilibrium."
His point: It's a huge world, so no individual can reasonably expect to make a visible difference.  But each of us pushes the world just a smidge in his desired direction - and our small efforts add up.  In the end, Tollison inspired my paper on how economists can (and do) change the world.

Farewell, Bob.  I'll miss you.


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ShaneL writes:

"It's a huge world, so no individual can reasonably expect to make a visible difference. But each of us pushes the world just a smidge in his desired direction - and our small efforts add up."

Absolutely! This is why I vote and encourage others to participate in the political system too.

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