Joel B. Dirlam 1915-2005
For six decades, Joel Dirlam brightened the academic world, standing out among the bland, cautious tribe of professional economists. He always looked something like both John Maynard Keynes and Abraham Lincoln in a tweed jacket, but much livelier. He radiated warmth, good cheer, and an independent brilliance of mind.
He worked in a wide array of research topics and areas of the world, often taking strong positions and condemning the contemptible. But he was a gentle and lovable rogue, a delight to everyone with his candor and wit on any and all topics, economic and otherwise.
The bare details are the following: born 1915 in Mansfield, Ohio, died 2005 in Kingston, Rhode Island. A B.A. (1936) and Ph.D. (1947) at Yale University, with WWII service in Europe in between. Early faculty work at the University of Connecticut (1952, 1956-63), a year at Michigan State, and then 1964-81 in his beloved New England, at the University of Rhode Island.
He worked especially closely with Alfred Kahn (co-writing a 1954 book on "Fair Competition") and Walter Adams (several hard-hitting joint papers in the 1960s denouncing U.S. industrial concentration and sloth). He co-authored a major path-breaking 1958 study on "Pricing in Big Business."
In all this, he unflinchingly opposed monopoly abuses, but always with sophistication and meticulous research. In the industrial organization field, with its bad habits of strife and narrow mindedness, he was always fair...