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Summary and Critique of Radical Actions at the Economists Convention in New Orleans
by Bob Cherry
At the American Economics Association (AEA) Convention in New Orleans the Union for Radical Political Economy (URPE) found many economists receptive to progressive ideas. On Monday we put out a leaflet challenging Paul Samuelson’s economics [see insert] and distributed it at a luncheon which was honoring him for winning the Nobel prize in economics. At the business meeting Tuesday a resolution of the Women’s Caucus, which was started by women in URPE, was passed. This resolution proposed positive steps towards ending sexist practices in the economics profession (discrimination in pay, hiring, acceptance to graduate school, and fringe benefits, as health insurance and maternity leave). It called for the initiation of a special commission which, among other things, would safeguard against sexist practices by publicly listing those schools which were found guilty of sexist practices. The resolution also called for the formation of a committee which would recommend reforms of the job placement procedures, including open listing of all jobs available. Previously, many of us in URPE felt that the overwhelming number of economists were reactionaries. We, therefore, concentrated more on providing professional information to the movement. However, the wide appeal our actions had has convinced many that we were mistaken in our approach to other economists.
EXCERPTS FROM TAKE HOME EXAMINATION ON SAMUELSON’S ECONOMICS
If URPE begins to fight within the AEA we will have to curtail some of our independent activities at the convention. This year we ran a full program. Not only did it limit our ability to leaflet for the business meeting and give out the Samuelson leaflet to many more attendees, but we were not able to confront some of the more reactionary AEA sessions. Another weakness of the convention was that we had limited political discussion of what we wanted to accomplish there. We had to rely more on spontaneous discussions and this also limited our effectiveness.
All in all, though, we think URPE’s actions were very positive. We reached many economists with our ideas and saw that they were very receptive. Also, an important resolution was passed and we successfully confronted an important bourgeois economist.