Frederic S. Lee’s Contribution to Heterodox Economics

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Book Chapter

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We are still coming to grips with the reality that we won’t see Fred Lee, our advisor and mentor, at the next conference. It is hard to imagine that he has departed. Our e-mail boxes are emptier and our hearts are heavier. But we know that he will always be with us in the work of heterodox economists. After graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in 2007, we were always excited to meet and talk to Fred at various conferences, at least three times a year. He showed up wearing his checkered shirt, three or four pens of different colors in his chest pocket, holding a paper or two in his hands, either reading or commenting, and with a ton of energy to spread. He always came to the conference before the beginning of the first session and stayed until all the sessions ended. He certainly enjoyed talking to and debating with other heterodox economists-especially young ones. Whenever he found a young heterodox economist whom he had never met before, he approached her or him and asked: “Who are you? What are you working on? How did you know about heterodox economics? Are you subscribing to the Heterodox Economics Newsletter?” Besides, one night at every conference we had a big UMKC dinner organized by Fred Lee. Not only UMKC students and faculty but also any friends and heterodox economists were welcomed to the dinner. We always had interesting conversations with each other as if we were a big family. These episodes tell us only a partial view of Fred Lee. He was, above all, a heterodox economist who cared much about the future of heterodox economics and, therefore, who always tried tirelessly to organize heterodox economists, often at the expense of his time and energy for his own research. He, together with others around the world, worked hard to build heterodox economic theory, and, equally importantly, heterodox communities and networks. Because of his contributions, heterodox economists have a better chance of getting hired, getting published, and getting recognized (although his contribution is not always recognized; nor did he expect it to be recognized). This is the legacy that Fred Lee has left to all of us-his students, colleagues, and friends. It is never too many times to repeat: Fred Lee has been, is, and will be an inspiration!

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