A Look at Mario Rizzo’s Storied Tenure

For over 40 years, Dr. Mario Rizzo has been a member of IHS events in one capacity or another. Dr. Rizzo was first introduced to IHS in 1974 at the South Royalton Conference, where he would later meet Dr. Ludwig Lachmann, a leading figure at the time within the school of Austrian economics. Dr. Rizzo kindled his interest in Austrian economics while attending the event, a common theme among many of the participants, including Karen Vaughn and David Henderson. The event served as a meeting ground for many scholars who strove to revive Austrian economics at a time when it seemed to be in fatal decline.

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Dr. Mario Rizzo

It’s the idea that when you meet other people who share your interests, somehow that inspires you to continue in a way that if you’re working alone, you can easily say, “Well, enough of this is, this is not getting me anywhere, and I’m going to go on to do other things.” So in that sense, there is that constant aspect of IHS in the inspiration to continue and the cross-fertilization with other people.

– Dr. Mario Rizzo

With the connections Dr. Rizzo made at the South Royalton Conference, he was able to collaborate with Karen Vaughn in founding The Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, an organization dedicated “to support the development of an approach to economics that draws upon the insights of Austrian writers such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, and F. A. Hayek, among others.”

In addition to meeting Ludwig Lachmann, Dr. Rizzo would reconnect with Gerald O’Driscoll at the South Royalton Conference, as well as two other major conferences that signified a rebirth in Austrian economics. The second conference was held in Hartford, Connecticut in 1975, and the third at Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom in 1976 and would serve to further hone Rizzo’s passion for the subject.

Both scholars were originally introduced to each other while undergraduates at Fordham, where they co-wrote a paper on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT). The subsequent IHS seminars would prove to be formative experiences as they sought to reestablish the Austrian economics research agenda, culminating in their co-authored book Austrian Economics Re-Examined: The Economics of Time and Ignorance (Blackwell Publishers, 1985). This classic work serves as a restatement of the core principles applied to modern Austrian economics.

After he organized the 1978 Austrian Economics Seminar at NYU, which was co-sponsored by IHS and NYU’s Center for Applied Economics, Dr. Rizzo became inspired to start a weekly colloquium at NYU’s Economics Department and a summer seminar course at the NYU School of Law, inspiring students further in their pursuit of the good society by teaching the foundations of classical liberalism.

Other things built upon the structure that IHS enabled me to create.

– Dr. Mario Rizzo

Recently, Dr. Rizzo and Dr. Glen Whitman, Professor of Economics at California State University, Northridge, published Escaping Paternalism: Rationality, Behavioral Economics, and Public Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2019), which won the Thomas Szasz Prize for outstanding contributions to the cause of civil liberties. In it, they discuss the applied and theoretical shortfalls of mainstream behavioral economics, and why individual problem-solving is an often-understated recourse to policy intervention.

After over four decades with IHS, Dr. Rizzo continues to spread the ideas he’s taken away from each event by sharing them with future generations of students, many of whom have gone on to lead successful academic and professional careers.

The Institute for Humane Studies is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021. For more spotlights on scholars, video interviews, photo galleries, and in-depth conversations on classical liberal ideas, visit TheIHS.org/60

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