We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, February 22. 2017
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But these students do get clear presentations about market economies in many social sciences and humanities courses that are taught by teachers who have less than an introductory level of economics themselves. What many of them do have is a naïve view that markets are based on exploitation and injustices that can be corrected by government.
it is naive for an economics professor to ignore the fact that some markets are based on exploitation and injustices that should be corrected by government. only the truly insane will deny this.
The wrong way to teach intro Econ
An introductory course should certainly teach about the basic market model, including how much is not seen by the consumer in the production of even a simple product (Friedman's pencil), how specialization can lead to greater productive capability (Adam Smith's pin factory), how competition leads to innovation, and how the pricing signal throughout the chain of supply generally results in more products at lower prices.
Once this basic model is covered, then students should also be taught where the basic model fails, such as how labor is "sticky" and doesn't always flow to the most efficient place and time. (This stickiness explains why regions, such as the American Mid-West, has had trouble adapting to the changing economic conditions.) Macroeconomics should also be touched upon, and cover topics such as procyclical and countercyclical policy, cartels, trade, and so on.
None of this requires much in the way of maths.
Typically they teach theory. Economics is not like math, that is in economics 1+1 could equal 2 or 3 or anything and no one really knows from one day to the next what that will be. And typically the theory is taught by professors who learned the theory from other professors and never themselves made or sold anything and never ran a business or made a payroll. Economics is in the end a theory or opinion formed by collecting data, numbers and statistics and leaving aside those that don't fit your criteria/bias and forming a conclusion based on what you always believed before you started collecting data, numbers and statistics to prove yourself right.
I agree that it's a wonderful example of how the "Invisible Hand" works.
PS: Written by Leonard Read in 1958.
I think a good introduction to economics wouldn't include math at all, it would introduce the idea that economics isn't just about money and wages and production of goods. Man is an economic animal, everything you do is an attempt to maximize your happiness. Time is the only true non-renewable resource we all possess and we all spend it at the exact same ineluctable rate of one second per second. You have to make trade-offs in how you're going to spend your time, you can't do everything and you can't do two things at once.
Eat that second piece of cheesecake or forgo an extra half-hour at the gym? Take your wife out for a nice romantic dinner or save the money for fixing the raggedy old steps on the back porch? Spend some time watching Sponge Bob with the grandkids or setting out the strawberry plants? We all make a thousand choices every day without much thinking about the fact that we're making economic choices regarding supply and demand, cost and benefits, the marginal utility of time and happiness.
If you look, you will find that almost all exploitation and injustices in the market are facilitated by government actions.
Many advocates of interventionism are bewildered when one tells them that in recommending interventionism they themselves are fostering anti-democratic and dictatorial tendencies and the establishment of totalitarian socialism. They protest that they are sincere believers and opposed to tyranny and socialism. What they aim at is only the improvement of the conditions of the poor. They say that they are driven by considerations of social justice, and favour a fairer distribution of income precisely because they are intent upon preserving capitalism and its political corollary or superstructure, viz., democratic government.
What these people fail to realize is that the various measures they suggest are not capable of bringing about the beneficial results aimed at. On the contrary they produce a state of affairs which from the point of view of their advocates is worse than the previous state which they were designed to alter. If the government, faced with this failure of its first intervention, is not prepared to undo its interference with the market and to return to a free economy, it must add to its first measure more and more regulations and restrictions. Proceeding step by step on this way it finally reaches a point in which all economic freedom of individuals has disappeared. Then socialism of the German pattern, the Zwangswirtschaft of the Nazis, emerges.
von Mises, Ludwig (1947). Planned Chaos
I refrain from commenting here because it's your website, and your opinion is to be respected, even when I vehemently disagree on issues, like bouncing balls off walls to get stronger.
May I just speak as a retired high school Econ teacher?
For 95% of the population, the high school course is it for Economics education.
There are state standards, economic literacy standards, local policies, and texts that are not necessarily suitable for all abilities. The vast majority of high school students, especially from lower income homes, have not been introduced to the everyday rudiments of personal financial literacy. In a half-year course, in the senior year, I had to teach a great deal of material, to meet the various standards, and provide a minimal foundation of economic literacy in the hope of keeping them out of bankruptcy. The vast sums borrowed to finance non-marketable degrees and dorm room pizza parties is stark evidence that not many Econ teachers feel this is an important point. And yes, folks, in my spare moments, I emphasized the importance of the marketplace, including Leonard Reed's, "I, pencil", Bastiat's "What is not Seen", and more!
I read, with amusement, the comments of all you experts on what should be taught, how it should be taught, and to whom, etc., kind of like the fundamental question, eh?
May I ask; when were you last in the classroom teaching Econ?
I'll wait. ( Private / Prep school doesn't count)
I thought so. I realize you want the best, but I used to teach that the best is the worst enemy of the good. You try your best, prioritize as best you can and pick your battles.
And yes, I do have a Masters in Economics, plus post-grad work in the discipline, thank you very much.
Oh, as a parting thought. my experience says that 50-65% of seniors are not proficient in fractions, decimals, equations in one variable, and are incapable of changing a fraction to a decimal or vice-versa. I know, I had to re-teach these things before I could impart other things, (compound interest, amortization, money creation, etc.)
Sorry for the rant, but it ain't what you think it is out there.
Back in the 1970's all social sciences used their introductory courses to teach the vocabulary of the discipline, that one would need for subsequent courses. I don't know if that is still true, but I suspect it is, talking to my sons. One learned a definition for "culture," or "value," or "community." I have no idea whether that is the best way to go about things or not. It is a distinctly different goal to attempt to teach the basic historical theories for those who will never take another course in the discipline. Both together are usually attempted - but that isn't always as easy as it sounds. My recollection is that introductory course did both badly, rather than either well.
I don't know which would be better.
I will say that PJ O'Rourke's Eat The Rich would be an excellent text.
Pro tip: When you are writing to people
1) some of whom make their living in mental health services.
2) others of which have studied economics or political systems, or 3) are otherwise more widely read, formally or informally educated,
it might be wise not to call people who disagree with your simplistic formulations "truly insane." Most of what you write here is not untrue, but less than half-true.
Very reasonably written, and I thank you.
I'm pretty sure I've defended/prosecuted more RICO and securities fraud, unfair competition, unfair business practices and ordinary, run of the mill garden variety fraud than you have.
so tell me that a free market/unregulated securities exchange is a good idea and yes, I'll note for the record that you are insane.
or, maybe, tell me with a straight face that there are no such things as racketeer influenced or controlled businesses, and I'll say, you're insane.
I don't want to go historical on you but you do know that this government protected the slave trade and allowed slave expansion? can you see even a dim connection between "slave trade" and "economics"? just try.
correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that anyone engaging in any of those activities is doing basic free market capitalism. buy low, sell high, what could go wrong?
I love capitalism, its put me solidly among the gentry, but like the Orange Catholic Bible says, the root of evil is a disordered love of money and the nature of man being what it is .... . An Econ 101 class that doesn't acknowledge this and the consequent need for some government regulation and occasional correction (where correction = Civil War) is dangerously naive; denying this is insane.
I disagree. I don't have to invoke the nazis to explain market unfairness. mostly its simple greed. from the butcher with his thumb on the scale, all the way to ENRON. it seems like a lot of this is caused by regulatory failures.
but taking your position, that interventionism is wrong, tell me what parts of the Securities and Exchange Act are bad in theory and practice.
"May I ask; when were you last in the classroom teaching Econ?"
never. I had bills to pay. the value of my time in my profession was far in excess of whatever a skool district would pay. is the value of time an economic concept? I think so.
anyway, when you were drawing curves on your ZY axes and finding that price pointy thing where they intersect, did it occur to you to mention that maybe the cost of production includes things that the Invisible Hand's Blind Eye would rather stay invisible? would the Miracle of the Faber be so miraculous if you knew that the trees were felled by child laborers or the graphite mining company was owned by a narcotics cartel?
"...And few students gain that understanding from the highly technical presentation they get from many introductory courses. But these students do get clear presentations about market economies in many social sciences and humanities courses..."
Most of you seem to be looking at this as some sort of problem to be fixed and if those involved knew about they would agree.
My contention is always that this is a feature and not a bug...Enemy Action if you will.
They are getting presentation they are meant to get...the one they are suppose to understand clearly.
Free Markets vrs a Command Economy
It is to laugh. It is not as though people in government, any branch, are models of rectitude.
Vic Morrow's tommy gun: so tell me that a free market/unregulated securities exchange is a good idea and yes, I'll note for the record that you are insane.
No. They could be uniformed or misguided or overly stubborn in their views. Or you could be wrong in whole or in part. Disagreement, even with something you think as obviously true, doesn't imply insanity.
Yes, you did say "some" markets, which I missed. I answered as if you had made a more general statement. I withdraw my criticism.
are you telling me that an unregulated securities market is a good idea? are you insane?
Vic Morrow's tommy gun: are you telling me that an unregulated securities market is a good idea?
No. We're saying that believing in an unregulated securities market doesn't indicate insanity except in, perhaps, the loosest connotation of the term.
English is truly not your native language. And you are truly insane.
you're correct...but the envious victicrats prefer to blame others rather than better themselves (and government facilitates that as well)