Archive for January 25th, 2011

Dr. Alison Snow Jones, who blogged under the pseudonym Maxine Udall, has suddenly passed away. Many of you will be familiar with her excellent, essay-length blog posts, which drew beautifully on her life experience and her professional knowledge. She also had an impressive career:

Dr. Jones received her Ph.D. in Health Economics from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public  Health (now Bloomberg School of Public Health). She served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins and later Wake Forest School of Medicine. Her last position was at Drexel University where she headed a joint program between the Schools of Business and Public Health.

Dr. Jones had a clear penchant for heterodox economics. Here’s an excerpt of one of my favorite posts of hers:

I was drawn to economics because of my family’s business background. Thinking like an economist came naturally to me. When my brethren were talking about “rational self-interest,” I knew they meant the kind of rational self-interest all the business men and women in my family employed: self-interest that included the welfare of their community and their customers; self-interest that included their reputation and their long-term status in the community; self-interest that traded off short-term gains in profits against long-term losses of return business and social standing. No one (at least no one in my immediate family…there was great uncle Oscar, whose entrepreneurial acumen led him to function more like a con man than a business man (think Harold Hill here)) would have wanted to sell a customer something they could not afford to pay for. Our job, the reason we earned a profit, was to match customer preferences and means with our products in ways that made every party to the deal better off…

My fear has always been that we would lose capitalism, the commercial enterprise and society that I learned about from my father, grandfather and grandmother, uncles, great uncles, and the occasional aunt. That what now passes for capitalism and commercial society would eventually lead to public misunderstanding about the social benefits of markets that are competitive, that do function properly in terms of both efficiency and equity. And that the misunderstanding would lead to excessive regulation. I did not anticipate that I would come to advocate much of the regulation that would be proposed to counter the market failures and misallocations that have occurred.

Dr. Jones, and especially her work as Maxine Udall, will be dearly missed in this space. Rest in peace, Maxine.


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