David Bensusan-Butt

David Bensusan-Butt

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David Miles Bensusan-Butt (24 July 1914, Colchester
Colchester
Colchester is an historic town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in Essex, England.At the time of the census in 2001, it had a population of 104,390. However, the population is rapidly increasing, and has been named as one of Britain's fastest growing towns. As the...

—25 March 1994, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

) was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 who spent much of his career in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. Known as David, he published his work as D. M. Bensusan-Butt.

Background and education


A nephew of the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Impressionist painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro was a French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas . His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as he was the only artist to exhibit in both forms...

, and the son of Dr Ruth Bensusan-Butt (1877–1957), the first woman doctor to work in Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

, Bensusan-Butt was educated at Gresham's School
Gresham's School
Gresham’s School is an independent coeducational boarding school in Holt in North Norfolk, England, a member of the HMC.The school was founded in 1555 by Sir John Gresham as a free grammar school for forty boys, following King Henry VIII's dissolution of the Augustinian priory at Beeston Regis...

, Holt
Holt, Norfolk
Holt is a market town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. The town is north of the city of Norwich, west of Cromer and east of King's Lynn. The town is on the route of the A148 King's Lynn to Cromer road. The nearest railway station is in the town of Sheringham where access to the...

, and King's College, Cambridge
King's College, Cambridge
King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is "The King's College of our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge", but it is usually referred to simply as "King's" within the University....

, where he was a student of John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

 and indexed Keynes's magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

, the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Bensusan-Butt acted as an assistant to Keynes, for searching literature and writing references, making him Keynes's best-informed student on progress with the project, so that one historian of economics has described him as 'the favoured man'.

Career


After a short period working for The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

, Bensusan-Butt joined the civil service
British Civil Service
Her Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as the Home Civil Service, is the permanent bureaucracy of Crown employees that supports Her Majesty's Government - the government of the United Kingdom, composed of a Cabinet of ministers chosen by the prime minister, as well as the devolved...

 in 1938. Early in the Second World War he became private secretary to Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell
Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell
Frederick Alexander Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell FRS PC CH was an English physicist who was an influential scientific adviser to the British government, particularly Winston Churchill...

, then worked for Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

. While he was First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill created a Statistical Section in the Admiralty which was joined by Bensusan-Butt, Roy Harrod
Roy Harrod
Sir Henry Roy Forbes Harrod was an English economist. He is best known for his biography of John Maynard Keynes and the development of the Harrod–Domar model, which he and Evsey Domar developed independently...

, Bryan Hopkin
Bryan Hopkin
Sir William Aylsham Bryan Hopkin was a Welsh economist. He was chief economic adviser to the Treasury during the tenure of Denis Healey as Chancellor of the Exchequer....

, Douglas MacDougall and Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson
Thomas Blanchard Wilson Jr. was an American record producer best known for his work in the 1960s with Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel and The Velvet Underground.-Starting out:...

.

At Lindemann's instigation Butt was responsible for the analysis of the RAF's bombing campaign
Butt Report
The Butt Report was a report prepared during World War II which revealed the widespread failure of bombers to deliver their payloads to the correct target....

 that showed to Churchill the poor results that were actually being achieved.

Bensusan-Butt later joined the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, serving on the minelayer HMS Cyclone.

Following the war, Butt moved to the Economic Section of the Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office
The Cabinet Office is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for supporting the Prime Minister and Cabinet of the United Kingdom....

 and later the Treasury
Treasury
A treasury is either*A government department related to finance and taxation.*A place where currency or precious items is/are kept....

. In 1949-1950 he was seconded to the Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n Prime Minister's Department, and he spent two periods of one year at Nuffield College, Oxford
Nuffield College, Oxford
Nuffield College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is an all-graduate college and primarily a research establishment, specialising in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics and sociology. It is a research centre in the social sciences...

 as a research fellow, in 1953-1954 and 1958-1959.

In 1962, he became a Professorial Fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies
Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies
The Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies was founded in 1946 as an institute of advanced study at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.-History:...

 (RSPAS) of the Australian National University
Australian National University
The Australian National University is a teaching and research university located in the Australian capital, Canberra.As of 2009, the ANU employs 3,945 administrative staff who teach approximately 10,000 undergraduates, and 7,500 postgraduate students...

, remaining there for fifteen years. In 1975-1976 he was the most influential member of the Asprey Committee on tax reform, recommending a dramatic change from a complicated system of income taxes to a broad-based consumption tax
Consumption tax
A consumption tax is a tax on spending on goods and services. The tax base of such a tax is the money spent on consumption. Consumption taxes are usually indirect, such as a sales tax or a value added tax...

.

In 1976, he retired to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, settling in part of the 17th century house at Stamford Brook
Stamford Brook
Stamford Brook is a tributary of the River Thames which is the confluence of two smaller streams, arising in West London, flowing into Hammersmith Creek on the Tideway....

 of his uncle by marriage Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro was a French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas . His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as he was the only artist to exhibit in both forms...

.

Selected publications

  • On Economic Growth: an Essay in Pure Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960)
  • On Economic Man: an Essay on the Elements of Economic Theory (Canberra: Australian National University, 1978)
  • 'A Model of Trade and Accumulation' in American Economic Review
    American Economic Review
    The American Economic Review is a peer-reviewed academic journal of economics publishing seven issues annually by the American Economic Association. First published in 1911, it is considered one of the most prestigious journals in the field. The current editor-in-chief is Penny Goldberg . The...

    44 (1954), pp. 511–529
  • 'Keynes's General Theory, Then and Now', in On Economic Knowledge, a sceptical legacy ed. D. M. Bensusan Butt (Canberra: Australian National University, 1967)

Quotations

  • "The ultimate fruits of civilization are slow growths that need a stable environment."