[OPE-L:5186] Death of Martin Bronfenbrenner

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 06:39:56 -0700 (PDT)

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I've just learned of the death on Monday (June 2) of Martin Bronfenbrenner, at
the age of 82. He was an orthodox economist, interested in topics of income
distribution and the history of economic thought.

I will always remember him as the person whose "solution" to the
"transformation problem" turned out to be an exact replica of Marx's own
procedure! So much for Marx's internal inconsistency! His procedure so
obviously makes sense that even his opponents, if they're not very, very
careful, come up with the same result!

Paul Samuelson tells us of Bronfenbrenner's "solution" on p. 428, note 38, of
his June 1971 JEL article. Samuelson then of course sets down the orthodox
line -- Bronfenbrenner's solution must be rejected. If it isn't, then Marx is
not internally inconsistent, and those radical economists that have just
sprung up might just turn to his value theory instead of to the
Walras-Bortkiewicz "tools" of general equilibrium pricing. The National
Science Foundation is, after all, paying Samuelson to nip this in the bud, and
it deserves its money's worth (consumer sovereignty). This is not the time
for Bronfenbrenner to be mucking things up.

As we know, Samuelson's strategy worked. Nonetheless, at a decisive time,
Martin Bronfenbrenner showed that the emperor has no clothes, and I will
remember him warmly for his contribution.

Andrew Kliman