Afterword: A Memoir Continued From Canada to Israel Some Reflections on Political Matters Back To My Two Worlds A Final Word Notes References

Ricardo It's An Ill Wind

A Final Word

And now, as Ricardo might like me to put it (as in his own last letter to Malthus) "I have done" – at least for the moment. Circumstances have set me down in Arad, a pleasant town in the Judean Desert dramatically situated one kilometer above the Dead Sea facing the Mountains of Moab, with a dry climate famed for its relief of breathing problems.  It is a cosmopolitan town with perhaps a predominance of ex-Soviet residents, and a strong Bedouin presence. We have a surprisingly good town library for so small a community and other excellent cultural facilities though largely for Russian speakers. The celebrated author Amos Oz makes his home here. The only cloud on the horizon is a project to open a phosphate mine in the vicinity notwithstanding the obvious danger to health and, consequently, to the reputation of the city that are entailed. I am not reassured by pictures in the company’s advertisements of desert flowers blooming to represent the pristine state of the environment after the workings of the mine will have ended.

Although I live an isolated life there are compensations. I have for companionship my personal library and the ever-fresh literature I have enjoyed for over half-a-century. The Department of Economics at Ben-Gurion University still makes me welcome allowing me library, computing, and office privileges. I have been honoured this year by the award of the second Thomas Guggenheim Prize for lifetime achievement in the History of Economic Thought. It is encouraging to see Arab and Jewish students studying freely together on campus, a fulfillment on a small scale of the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence which I cited earlier.

Twice a week I enjoy the company of a good friend at a local coffee house; together we have attained the advanced age of 147 yet still find much to laugh about, though only by shutting out what should not be shut out. Sadly, nearly all my teachers and several members of my own cohort have now passed away, including my most severe academic critics who provided so much stimulus over the years – Pierangelo Garegnani and Mark Blaug. My Engels I dedicated to the memory of my friend the economist-magician Larry Moss. On the other hand, I am still in touch with a few friends and students from the old days. (Indeed, a student dating back to 1966, and still only three years younger than myself, resurfaced recently to my great delight.) My children and grand-children are in good health; and my wife and companion of 52 years’ standing still puts up with me. So all in all, there is much to be thankful for.

 I close the file by noting that I have fully recovered from an exploded appendix that ought to have carried me off. I explained to my surprised surgeon that while by no means discounting his skill, I attributed the happy outcome partly to my long-term project of confuting the calculations made by my erstwhile employer’s actuaries and accountants back in 1996. My project takes on new meaning when I consider that I have never been successful as a long-term forecaster. Perhaps then I shall be wrong once again and the forces hostile to liberal democracy in Israel will be halted in time.