Recent Reading E8

Jesse Burkhead, Public School Finance: Economics and Politics (Syracuse, 1964). As part of an ongoing investigation of the claims in Nancy MacLean’s “Democracy in Chains,” I was led to the three editions of James M. Buchanan’s textbooks “The Public Finances.” Buchanan’s citations are sparse, but in the second edition (I think), he refers readers to Burkhead for a longer discussion of the economics of schooling. Interestingly, Burkhead mentions the closure of the schools in Prince Edward County, VA in the first few pages but says nothing else. It’s a summary of others’ work that will be useful for the history of economic thought students interested in how we think about the economics of schooling.

Philip D. Bradley, ed. The Public Stake in Union Power (Virginia, 1959). This is another book I picked up via interlibrary loan for my investigations of MacLean’s claims about Virginia Political Economy. The editor, a Harvard Ph.D. living in DC, was engaged by UVA’s Graduate School of Business to teach a course on labor relations. To make it work, he arranged for weekly guest lectures from eminent and on-their-way-to-becoming eminent economists like Frank Knight, FA Hayek, H. Gregg Lewis, G. Warren Nutter, Gary Becker, and Gottfried Haberler among others. The Econ department helped, but the course was clearly the GSB’s baby! It’s a very useful read for the context of economic and social thinking at the end of the 1950s—far from being some sort of reaction to the forces of progress, these economists’ criticisms of labor monopolization—and that’s what labor unions do—show how restrictions on the labor market actually hurt…laborers.

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