Right-wing Harvard prof disses legendary economist for having been gay and childless — then apologizes!
Niall Ferguson (above), a Scottish-born right-wing history professor at Harvard University, touched off a firestorm of criticism the other day when he said John Maynard Keynes’ economic philosophy was flawed and he didn’t care about future generations because he was gay and didn’t have children. (See HERE).
Keynes, a Briton who died in 1946 at the age of 62, was perhaps the most influential economist of the 20th century. His theories on macroeconomics have greatly influenced many national governments.
During a recent question-and-answer session at a conference in California, I made comments about John Maynard Keynes that were as stupid as they were insensitive.
I had been asked to comment on Keynes’s famous observation “In the long run we are all dead.” The point I had made in my presentation was that in the long run our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are alive, and will have to deal with the consequences of our economic actions.
But I should not have suggested – in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation – that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried.
My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life. As those who know me and my work are well aware, I detest all prejudice, sexual or otherwise.
My colleagues, students, and friends – straight and gay – have every right to be disappointed in me, as I am in myself. To them, and to everyone who heard my remarks at the conference or has read them since, I deeply and unreservedly apologize.