Some Chattanoogans were in distinguished company on Monday with a visit to our city by Nobel Laureate Dr. Peter A. Diamond.
He visited the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and addressed our nation's current economic concerns -- and spelled out what he sees as possible ways forward.
Diamond was presented at the university as part of the Burkett Miller Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted by Dr. Jeff Clark, who holds the Scott L. Probasco Jr. Chair of Free Enterprise at UTC.
Previous speakers have ranged from economist Thomas Sowell to Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus.
Diamond addressed students, faculty and other listeners at UTC and a group of local civic leaders at the Mountain City Club on Monday.
He said this is no time to cut back on education, but it is time to deal with the problems in Social Security and our rising national debt.
Social Security has made important promises to the aging American people, and there is a need to assure its financial soundness for future generations.
Diamond, who won a Nobel Prize in economics in 2010, earned a Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is now a professor.
He is widely recognized for his analysis of Social Security policy, and during the 1980s and 1990s, he was an adviser to the Advisory Council on Social Security.
His research has focused on the ways that regulations and other economic policies affect wages and unemployment.
He said working toward a solution to our economic difficulties and encouraging growth will be a "long, slow and painful" process.
He also noted that we currently have an "unemployment crisis."
That fact is no doubt evident to the 9.1 percent of Americans who are officially listed by the federal government as unemployed -- and to the millions more who are not formally categorized as jobless because they have given up the search for a job. Millions of others are "underemployed," meaning they need full-time work but can get only part-time jobs.
There are no easy solutions to the current crisis.
But as Diamond demonstrated during his visit to Chattanooga and through decades of highly regarded research, there is no lack of bright minds that are vigorously seeking answers.