I don’t care…

 …who writes a nation’s laws if I can write its economics textbooks.

Paul A. Samuelson, the first American Nobel laureate in economics and the foremost academic economist of the 20th century, died Sunday at his home in Belmont, Mass. He was 94. His death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which Samuelson helped build into one of the world’s great centres of graduate education in economics. In receiving the Nobel Prize in 1970, Samuelson was credited with transforming his discipline from one that ruminates about economic issues to one that solves problems, answering questions about cause and effect with mathematical rigour and clarity.

Samuelson wrote one of the most widely used college textbooks in the history of American education. The book, Economics, first published in 1948, was the nation’s best-selling textbook for nearly 30 years. Translated into 20 languages, it was selling 50,000 copies a year a half century after it first appeared. “I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks,” Samuelson said. His textbook taught college students how to think about economics. His technical work — especially his discipline-shattering Ph.D. thesis, immodestly titled The Foundations of Economic Analysis — taught professional economists how to ply their trade. Between the two books, Samuelson redefined modern economics.

Source: New York Times, posted Dec. 15, 2009