Don Boudreaux reminds us of the greatness of Gordon Tullock. I tell my students of the Pantheon of the Econ-Gods. At the summit of Olympus, hurling thunderbolts at all those who displease Him, sits Gordon Tullock. The Elder Gods then include Becker, Friedman, Buchanan, Coase, Alchian, Demsetz, Hayek. But Tullock stands above all. Indeed, Tullock is the middle name of the little fella accompanying me in the picture above right.
Sometimes, students would deny that they drive more recklessly when wearing a seatbelt. Tullock liked to illustrate the idea of offsetting behaviour for them by asking what they'd do if a large spike extended from the steering wheel and pointed directly at their heart. Wearing a seatbelt is a mild form of that effect, but in reverse. Tullock's students came to call the thing the "Tullock Spike". And so we have my masthead picture.
Paul notes that Tullock once threatened to have me killed. This is true. In the spirit of sharing Tullock Tales (and see also here), here's mine.
Gordon Tullock and I share a birthday. While we were walking together over to Buchanan House for a seminar, I noted that we have something in common. Tullock replied, "Well, I guess we'll have to do something about that then, won't we." (the italics are for added ominous intonation).
I later ran into him at Carow Hall and asked him what he planned on doing about our having a shared birthday. He told me that he'd arranged for some boys from upstate to have me shot.
Towards the end of his 80th birthday party (a very nicely-catered event), I thanked him for throwing me such a great birthday party. He laughed and replied that he'd be sending me the bill for it.
In his class in public choice, he asked us to identify the best form of government. I of course replied "Eric dictator." He laughed again and said that was strictly dominated by one other form of government: Tullock dictator.
Do read the Cafe Hayek piece on some of Tullock's more important contributions. He's a living god. If Stockholm doesn't award him the Nobel before t=T, the committee ought to be rounded up and shot. Or at least have spikes attached to their steering wheels.