Yesterday (Thursday 4/19) was the final NYU Tax Policy Colloquium of the spring 2007 semester. We went out on a good note with a paper by Christina Fong of Carnegie-Mellon University, concerning reciprocity norms and the welfare system. (See the April 19 date here.)
I've had this experience several times before over the years - we invite someone not personally known to our group and who also does not start out knowing anything about our group (or mixed law school / public economics types generally), and it works out very positively for everyone, with more of a sense of moving forward than you can get with old friends. Christina is a serious and thoughtful economist with strong interests in behavioral economics, decision theory, reciprocity and other non-monetary goals, etc., much in the spirit of work in the tradition running from Herbert Simon to George Loewenstein (who is also at Carnegie Mellon).
This was the Colloquium's twelfth year, and the second full one since the tragic death of David Bradford. What's exciting for me is the feeling that we've built an ever-changing yet somehow stable community that is serious but open-minded and permeable, as well as strongly opposed to any rigidity or orthodoxy, even (or especially) those consonant with our own views. Many thanks to Rosanne Altshuler and Alan Auerbach for their efforts in co-teaching it with me this year. They were both delightful colleagues and made great contributions.
Every year is different, but I am confident that next year will be great as well. I hope shortly to have word on whom I will be doing it with.