Jude Wanniski was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on June 17, 1936, into a family of anthracite coal miners. He was exposed to differing political points of view at a young age, his paternal grandfather a communist, his father a devoutly conservative Catholic, and as such developed a keen interest in the political world. His desire to become a journalist surfaced early, while still a teenager. After a year's study of geology (on the questionable advice of a high school guidance counselor), Wanniski transferred to UCLA to follow that dream. There he received a BA in political science in 1958, and an MS in journalism the following year, thus combining his two most passionate interests.
Wanniski began his journalistic career at local newspapers in Culver City, California, and Anchorage, Alaska, where he honed his craft reporting on every beat imaginable. In 1962, he headed to sunnier climes, landing at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where he spent three years as a daily columnist, feature writer and reporter. Wanniski arrived in Washington in May of 1965 as a reporter, and then Chief Washington Columnist covering Congress and the White House for The National Observer.
It was in 1972 that Jude Wanniski was hired by Robert L. Bartley to be an associate editor at The Wall Street Journal, at the suggestion of George Will. In this capacity, Wanniski met economists Robert Mundell and Arthur Laffer. In spite of his lack of formal training in economics, Wanniski then became "the Thomas Paine of the Reagan Revolution," as Jack Kemp later put it. After coining the phrase "supply-side economics" in 1976 on the Journal editorial pages, Wanniski wrote his seminal book The Way The World Works. Named one of the 100 most influential books of the 20th century by the editors of the National Review, the book contains Wanniski's discovery of the cause of the Crash of 1929. His lucid reporting that the U.S. Senate's floor votes on the Smoot-Hawley tariff legislation coincided day-to-day with the October 1929 financial market collapse was the first persuasive explanation of that pivotal event, and began the rehabilitation of classical economics that Wanniski dubbed "supply-side" to distinguish from the "demand-side" Keynesian and monetarist theories. Jude Wanniski pioneered modern supply-side economic theory and developed its practical application as practiced today. He founded Polyconomics, Inc., in 1978 to advise corporate and financial strategists on the impact political and economic events would have on capital markets and on domestic and global economies. Mr. Wanniski's advisory was supplemented by 40 years of earned trust from hundreds of eminently informed individuals in industry and government throughout the world. Skeptical of the forecasting prowess of purely mathematical models, his theory questioned whether mechanical models' doors of perception could fully see what one enlightened human mind can see and interpret.
Jude Wanniski was also an adviser to President Ronald Reagan from 1978 to 1981, and designed the Reagan tax cuts that propelled the U.S. economy out of stagflation and led to the great stock market boom that followed. As an political advisor, he counseled Democrats as well as Republicans, pro bono, and developed pro-growth strategies for several governments. Always an optimist, he believed in the collective wisdom of the electorate. "The electorate, being wiser than any individual in the society, is society's most precious resource. It is the job to the politician to try to divine what is the electorate wants." Jude Wanniski appeared frequently in the broadcast and print media, and wrote two more books, the MediaGuide, a yearly review of the print media based on the Michelin Guide that was published from 1986 to 1992, and The Last Race of the 20th Century, an overview of the 1996 presidential contest. He testified before House and Senate committees on economic issues, such as monetary and fiscal policy, and lectured frequently around the world on similar topics. His daily commentary at Wanniski.com and analysis for Polyconomics clients can be found in its entirety on this website. He also presided over "Supply-Side University," which had at its zenith more than 3,000 registered students from around the world. The SSU library is also available here.
Jude Wanniski's clients spoke of him as "One of the great contrarians of his time," "uniquely provocative," "uncompromising," and consistently providing "independent and perceptive views of the monetary, fiscal, and geopolitical environment...having refined the necessary ingredients of classical and behavioral economics to reasonably predict outcomes." A colorful character, his love of opera and golf knew no bounds, and he often used classical music and golf as analogies to political thought. He was thrice-married, the father of three children, and had friendships with such widely divergent public figures as Jack Kemp, Evans and Novak, Bob Bartley, Sen. Robert Bennett, Gary Hart, Stephen Pelletiere, Rep. David Dreier, Rep. Charles Rangel, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Michael Milken, Wayne Angell, and any number of presidents and presidential candidates.
On Wanniski`s passing, his mentor, colleague and friend Robert A. Mundell, 1999 Nobel Laureate in economics, observed, "It is a great loss."
In his introduction to the fourth edition of Wanniski's seminal book, The Way The World Works, author and columnist Robert Novak states, "Nobody else, I believe has accomplished what Jude Wanniski has without institutional sponsorship, without formal political or financial power, and with merely will and brainpower...he has not only described but also changed the way the world works. If the doors of power are locked, his ideas have penetrated nevertheless." In that same 1998 edition, Wanniski wrote what might serve as an appropriate epitaph, "America stands alone at the top of the world's power pyramid. America has never been better poised than now to become a Good Shepherd. I have tried to use to the fullest the graces and gifts God has given me. I cannot squander those gifts, nor can I let them lie dormant. The Way The World Works was the consequence of my determination to use the gifts that I have received as a child of God living in America, on behalf of all my fellow men. I did not write this book twenty years ago with the expectation that twenty years hence the rich would be richer and the poor, poorer. And they are not. We are all the richer in the accumulation of wisdom that has been added to mankind's stock of knowledge, about how to create wealth and how to destroy it, how to create hope and opportunity and how to stamp it out." May we all use our gifts to the fullest, on behalf of our fellow man.
See also Wikipedia, Jude Wanniski, and Laffer Curve