Water Resources People and Issues
A: I wrote an article on this. It appeared in the Journal of Land and Public
Utility Economics along about, I think, 1936. I have subsequently said it was
probably the first and certainly the worst article that's ever been written on
the subject. It was a rudimentary kind of a searching for what's involved in
benefit-cost analysis, and how to deal with tangibles and intangibles, taking
flood control as an example. It is not an article that appears in the University
of Chicago collection. But it was illustrative of a concern that not only I but
many others had at that time. We now take for granted many of the concepts
that were then just beginning.
There was lively and incisive discussion of what constituted an effective
benefit-cost analysis. We spent a lot of time arguing about what constituted
a damage, what constituted a tangible benefit or an intangible benefit, how
one dealt with secondary benefits (as the term came to be used), how to avoid
double counting, and appropriate discount rates and time horizons. I was
somewhat amused by the fact that when Robert Dorfman put together a
symposium on benefit-cost analysis a good many years ago he didn't include
water resources analysis because he argued this didn't require the same kind
of sophisticated investigation that the other fields did. I think it still requires
much more careful investigation than given it so far.
Q: Well, okay, so you were working on your dissertation on weekends and
evenings and you submitted your dissertation to the University of Chicago in
A: No, I finished it in `42--with the help of the young woman who is now my
wife in order to get through with it. And I took it to the University of
Chicago. Barrows went over it with great care and revised it and I passed my
exam. Then I left for France.
Q: When did you marry the young woman then?
A: We agreed that we wouldn't get married until I came back, whenever that was
going to be. It was a very uncertain time.
Q: The dissertation was published by the University of Chicago. Wasn't it
published in '44, an early publication?