John Attarian, RIP


I just learned that John Attarian, an economist, writer, and Reason contributor who did not hesitate to tell the unvarnished truth to allies as well as opponents, died on December 31. Attarian, whose interests included taxes, education, and entitlement programs, was known for plainspoken articles that punctured economic fallacies and revealed public policy flimflammery. A good example is his 1996 Reason article about Social Security reform, even more timely now than it was then. "Given Social Security's importance in our national life and in the retirement calculations of millions, and the pain that its bankruptcy would inflict, the temptation to escape into utopian quackery is enormous," he wrote. "For the sake of all concerned, it must be resisted, lest we embrace some clever but unsound scheme promising Americans their fantasy: a painless ending in which no hard choices are made, no one gives up anything, and everybody is happy."