Educating pupils was always dear to Heertje’s heart. At the start of this century he opposed major reforms in secondary school economics education, a position in which he would later be proved right. He felt that fads and day-to-day issues had displaced macroeconomics, only to be replaced by market forces and their microeconomic incentives. The financial crisis of 2008 revealed the importance of Keynesian policy and the role of government, and the Covid-19 crisis continues to demonstrate the importance of government in public services and health care.
Heertje obtained his doctorate with a thesis on price theory, which his textbook reflects. He gained academic fame through his work on economic history, including the work and letters of Jean-Baptiste Say who was known for Say’s law: ‘supply creates its own demand’. As a child of Jewish descent, Arnold Heertje was deeply marked by the war and, in his own way, he stood up for academic values. In a later phase, he received a lot of attention because of his intransigence when it came to awarding a student a passing grade. On formal grounds, the student was proven right by the examination committee, but Heertje felt that the student had not met the substantive conditions. This led to a lawsuit and eventually ‘a 6 from the judge’, but not from Heertje. With Arnold Heertje’s passing, the Netherlands has lost a prominent and unconventional economist.