Arnold Kling writes:
In contrast, those of us who were educated at left-leaning institutions learn almost nothing about Buchanan. There, he is (was) that right-wing guy who was a big proponent of public choice theory. He is treated as a shallow thinker whose claim to fame is treating government officials as self-interested.
In fact, Buchanan is one of the few economists who I credit with thinking more deeply than I do. (Yes, this reveals a lot about my self-regard. My egotistical view of the world is that other economists forego philosophical rigor in exchange for mathematical precision.)
I certainly wouldn’t call the Boston University Economics Department a left-leaning institution, but I hadn’t even heard of Buchanan until after his death, which came after I’d received one and a half degrees in Economics from BU. And I also think it’s fair to say my education has come down more on the mathematical-precision side of the ledger than on the philosophical-rigor side.
I suppose I might be taught about Buchanan in my M.A. studies at some point, but he has not come up yet and it is very easy to walk away from BU with two degrees in Economics and an awesome proficiency in Stata, without ever having heard Buchanan’s name.
All that I know about him I know from the (mostly libertarian corners of the) blogosphere, but I have ordered The Calculus of Consent and The Limits of Liberty on Amazon.