by Jerry O’Driscoll
I am writing to wish very best birthday greetings to Mario Rizzo, who will be 70 on July 6th. It is a landmark I reached last October.
Mario is my most longstanding friend. Our friendship goes back to undergraduate days at Fordham University. We met in intermediate macroeconomics. We resisted the textbook Keynesian message. Our instructor was patient, and even allowed us once to address the class in a debate format. We generally upheld a classical economic position.
We also started a campus conservative club with the help of ISI. We stood foursquare for classical liberal principles. We were the first campus group to oppose the Vietnam War. We embarrassed the Marxist-controlled SDS chapter to join us in that opposition.
Mario and I parted ways when we went to graduate school. He went to Chicago and I went to UCLA. He had the tougher road, as he got a full dose of Chicago’s variant of Neoclassical Economics.
UCLA was where Chicago and Vienna met. Hayek was on reading lists. My Hayekian bent was encouraged, not discouraged. Axel Leijonhufvud was Chairman of my Ph.d. Committee. The other members were Sam Peltzman and Thomas Sowell. Both Chicago products, they harkened back to the older, more diverse Chicago School.
We met back at NYU, where we were colleagues for four years. We co-authored a paper, “What is Austrian Economics?” I presented it an ASSA session of the same name. That led to a book contract, which became The Economics of Time and Ignorance.
Only in writing the book did we answer the question of our original paper. Early on, we decided to explore and incorporate all subjectivist schools. We knew the road we were taking, but not the ultimate destination. We found that only in finishing the book.
In my characterization, the book is more Hayek than Mises; more Lachmann than Kirzner. Buchanan was also an important influence on me. Mario brought in other philosophic and sociological schools. The book’s dedication to Lachmann reflects our assessment then of the most important influence on the book.
Mario and I again went separate ways in 1982. Over the years we stayed in touch. ThinkMarkets was one way in which we did that, for which I am grateful. I am a better scholar for my long association with Mario.
Happy Birthday, Mario!