Laffer (born August 1940) grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in a society family. His father was CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Clevite, and his mother a Republican political advocate. Goodbye, Columbus refers in its title to the capital city of Ohio, a state which in the 1940s and 1950s still represented something like the perfection of the American Dream (pp. 3-4):

A common, and accurate, comment from this region in that era was that the better part of the world’s manufacturing occurred in a several-hundred-mile-long arc centered at Cleveland. The centrality of Cleveland owed to Rockefeller’s decision to locate there (p. 20):

The northern strip of Ohio including Cleveland was in its early American years a claim of Connecticut’s. It was that state’s “Western Reserve.” Connecticut’s top university, Yale, remained the chief college destination for northeastern Ohio’s elite into the twentieth century. Laffer went to Yale (class of 1963), as had his father. In 1962, Laffer was present for President John F. Kennedy’s commencement address, a speech which outlined a monetary-fiscal policy mix similar to that of the supply-side economics which Laffer would forward throughout his career (pp. 17):