If you think economits are all cut from the same drab cloth as Arthur Burns, give The Economics Rock & Roll band a listen. The world's only rock band whose members are economists releases its second album this week.
"All of us would rather be musicians," says Stephan Michelson, a research economist at the Urban Institute whose stage name is Delta X. His fellow band members include Ev Ehrlich (Beta Hat), an energy economist with the congressional budget office, and Dan Luria (Al Phabar), an economist with the United Auto Workers in Detroit. Alpha, Beta and Delta are common coefficients used by economists.
Luria and Ehrlich began writing guerrilla theater as graduate students in economics at the University of Michigan in 1971. A couple of years later they met Michelson, who owns a recording studio in Cambridge and distributes records under the Physical label. All three, in their late 20s or early 30s, consider themselves radical economists, and some of their songs reflect their opinion of establishment colleagues.
Their new album is titled "better Red" (the first was called "Red Shadow, Live at the Panacea Hilton") and features songs with titles such as "Labor Is Value," a '50s style song that harkens to the Marxist labor theory of value. "Grand Rapids" is a ballad spoof of Gerald Ford; "Mondo Condo" describes land speculators and crooked lawyers dealing in the Miami Beach condominium market, and "Bloodsucker" tells the tale of a worker who rises up to kill his boss. Says Luria: "Hey, we don't endorse it; we just understand it."
Providing background for the last album was an economics professor at MIT on sax, a drummer known simply as Reebee, who boasts a doctorate in education from Harvard, and The Economettes.
"We're certainly," says Michelson, "the most highly educated band in the world."