Economist George Treyz has taught at the bucolic Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts for 11 years. When bitter disputes split the department and brought a string of resignations and recriminations, Professor Treyz quietly made a name for himself by settng up a model of the Massachusetts economy which has become a major basis for state policymaking.
He believes that despite wide publicity about UMass having the nation's only radical Marxist economics department, "If you look at our curriculum, actually it is fairly standdard. "He feels his department has "made very strenuous efforts to keep a diversified faculty here."
He shows no great concern over the sharp attacks on the capitalist system coming from his colleagues here, pointing out that "The position of liberal democracy has always been precarious. One has to be always on guard to preserve the freedom that we have. . . If we take our freedom for granted, we might lose it."
Specifically answering radical economist Samuel Bowle's charge that the tremendous power of America's major corporations is a threat to democracy, Professor Treyz explains simply that "to the extent that capitalist enterprises provide other centers of power, that is just one more bulwark that prevents the kind of things happen when all power becomes concentrated in one place."
This orthodox economist, who is considered far right by his UMass colleagues, argues for realism. He says, for instance, that there always will be compromises because of the costs of enforcing such things as health, saftey, and environmental standards. But such trade-offs involving car air bags or nuclear power plants result from "the hard facts of life," not from "the form of ownership."
Professor Treyz believes balance is achieved by ensuring the free interchange of ideas.
"I hope that we have not come to the point where we are afraid of information ," he says, adding that a state university has an even greater obligation than the private institution to ensure that a wide variety of viewpoints are freely available to students.