Robert Lekachman (May 12, 1920 – January 14, 1989) was an economist known for his extensive advocacy of state intervention, and for a debating style characterized by slow, sing-song speech and circumlocution.
He received both his A.B. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.. He wrote and lectured extensively, and held the rank of distinguished professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, where he was on the faculty beginning in 1973, and at the university's Graduate Center. Earlier, Dr. Lekachman taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, L.I., and headed its Department of Economics from 1965 to 1968. Before that he was on the faculty of Barnard College, Columbia College and the Columbia School of Business. Joseph S. Murphy, Chancellor of City University, said that Dr. Lekachman's legacy of intellectually rigorous analysis of the economy and the effects of government policy on the poor and working class should strongly influence the way scholars study economics in the future. Fowler, Glenn (January 16, 1989). "Robert Lekachman Is Dead at 68; Teacher and Writer of Economics". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2008.</ref>
Throughout his career Dr. Lekachman espoused a philosophy that sought to promote social justice simultaneously with economic growth. He advocated compassion on the part of government toward the underprivileged. His last published work, which appeared last week in The Nation magazine, was a cautionary article of advice to President-elect George Bush. He brought a liberal, left-wing, Marxist point of view to economics, but he was in no sense an ideologue, said Harold M. Proshansky, president of City University's Graduate Center. He never argued in generalities, and his openness and objectivity captivated even those who disagreed with his basic positions. Lekachman was also noted for an interpretation of Keynes's General Theory that made central its rejection of Say's Law (in favor of Walras' law). Lekachman identified as a socialist.
Dr. Lekachman was in demand as a public speaker, appearing frequently on television and radio programs dealing with public affairs, where his engaging manner and quick wit enlivened what has been called the dismal science of economics. Fowler, Glenn (January 16, 1989). "Robert Lekachman Is Dead at 68; Teacher and Writer of Economics". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2008.</ref>
Dr. Leonard Lief, president of Lehman College, noted that Dr. Lekachman identified strongly with New York City and particularly with the Bronx, where he taught. Because of his illness, which was in remission until several months ago, Dr. Lekachman had taken a leave of absence for the fall semester but had recently asked to be scheduled for classes, his health permitting, in the spring semester. Fowler, Glenn (January 16, 1989). "Robert Lekachman Is Dead at 68; Teacher and Writer of Economics". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2008.</ref>
Dr. Lekachman's last two books, both critical of President Reagan and written in a pungent and polemical style, were Visions and Nightmares: America After Reagan, published by Macmillan in 1987, and Greed Is Not Enough (Pantheon, 1982), a critique of Reaganomics. Perhaps his most widely read books are A History of Economic Ideas (1959) and The Age of Keynes (1966), which were translated into several languages and used extensively as texts. He also wrote for such professional journals as The Annals of the Academy of Political Science, The Political Science Quarterly and The American Economic Review. He was a frequent contributor to and book reviewer for The New York Times, The Washington Post and other periodicals. Dr. Lekachman received numerous awards during his teaching career. In 1986, Change magazine selected him as one of 50 faculty members in the United States who have made major contributions to undergraduate education. He was cited for his willingness to take on freshmen, no matter how dismally prepared, and to challenge them with difficult texts and concepts, often succeeding in lifting these students to higher achievement than they had ever evinced.Fowler, Glenn (January 16, 1989). "Robert Lekachman Is Dead at 68; Teacher and Writer of Economics". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2008.</ref>
In addition to economics, Dr. Lekachman taught sociology and accounting. Dr. Leckachman, who was a New York native, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Columbia College and also received his doctoral degree from Columbia University. In World War II he served in the Army in the Pacific theater.
He died at his Manhattan home of liver cancer, survived by his wife Eva, who donated his papers in 1995.
- National Policy for Economic Welfare at Home and Abroad. 1955. Doubleday.
- A History of Economic Ideas. 1959. Harper.
- The varieties of economics. 1962. Cleveland: World Pub Co.
- Keynes and the classics. 1964. Heath.
- Keynes's General Theory: Reports of Three Decades. 1964. St. Martin's Press.
- The Age of Keynes. 1966. New York: Vintage Books.
- National income and the public welfare. 1972. New York: Random House. ISBN 039431087X
- Public service employment: jobs for all. 1972.
- Inflation: the permanent problem of boom and bust. 1973. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0394489683
- Economists at Bay : why the experts will never solve your problems. 1977. McGraw-Hill.
- The great Tax debate.
- Capitalism for Beginners. 1981. Pantheon
- Greed Is Not Enough: Reaganomics. 1982. Pantheon.
- Visions and Nightmares : America after Reagan. 1987. Macmillan.
- Fowler, Glenn (January 16, 1989). "Robert Lekachman Is Dead at 68; Teacher and Writer of Economics". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
- Video on YouTube