It’s with immense sadness that I report that William Niskanen passed away this afternoon. Bill was a longtime chairman of the Cato Institute and a fervent freedom fighter. He was a very impressive man, and not only because of his imposing stature. He was also a man of great integrity — he even lost his job at Ford because of his refusal to endorse trade barriers on foreign cars — and very few economists can claim to be as respected around the world as he was.
Many of us who have worked with him know that Bill would never hesitate to tell you when he thought you had made a mistake or when he thought that your position was wrong. However, Bill was also someone who would go out of his way to encourage you or tell you when he liked your work. I still remember the day when he called me up at AEI, where I worked at the time, just to tell me that he enjoyed something I wrote on homeland-security spending. Another time, after reading one of my posts at the Corner, he called me up to offer to serve as a character witness in my naturalization process. I guess he knew that I would need all the help I could get on that front.
We will miss him.