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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Economics 101

I should have taken the course in University, Economics 101. I was so nervous that I did not belong in university that I believed the word around campus that Economics 101 was really hard and one should avoid it if he could. I regret I took that bad advice and didn't rise to the challenge. Today I find myself quite interested in economics and how it affects our lives.

By my fourth year, I thought nothing of spending a year trying to master the dense thought of the German philosophers, Kant and Hegel, economics would have been easy by comparison. I guess I had grown in confidence in four years.

Well the great teacher of economics and the writer of the text book on the subject has just died at age 94, Dr. Paul Samuelson. The textbook which was entitled "Economics" we always refered to it as "Samuelson." Little did I know that the author really was more important and famous than the subject.

Great teachers, great academics, who are also lovely human beings who make a profound contribution to a subject important to our lives are rare. I only ever had one, Dr. James Luther Adams, with his vast understand of the world of ideasexplained in long and generous discussions. Paul Samuelson was such a teacher who has shaped the study of economics around the world and left behind a legion of former students and colleagues, some of whom also have won the Nobel Prize in economics as he did. Then there are the hundred of thousands of student who's first and maybe only effort to learn something about economics was taking Economics 101, in some great or small university or college, and using the text "Samuelson". The man and subject were in deed synonymous.

I read a couple of tributes to Samuelson that I thought were well done. They are worth reading not so much to learn anything about economics but to get to appreciate what the life of a great academic can be and certainly was in this instance. I recommend them. The first is long and full of interesting details.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/business/economy/14samuelson.html?_r=1&em

(If you have to register to read it, it is a pain in the behind but I still think it is worth it.)

The second memorial piece is by Paul Krugman a former student and colleague of Dr. Samuelson. He is a prominent public economist who often writes critical articles about the current government's economic approach to the problems.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/paul-samuelson-rip/

I hope we have all had at least one truly great teacher in our lives whose encounter with us continues to contribute to our lives.

9 Comments:

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Anvilcloud said...

For probably much the same reason, I avoided that course too.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger KGMom said...

Isn't it interesting how we cancel ourselves out, distrusting our own intelligence.
I must confess economics never tempted me.
But I had a similar experience in grad school when I thought my background paltry compared to my classmates. Yet I signed up to tackle the philosopher Boethius and later learned my classmates were in awe of my knowledge and interest.

 
At 9:30 PM, Blogger John and Carol said...

I did take Economics 101 at the University of Colorado eons ago and it has shaped my thinking ever since. Sorry you did enroll.

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Navigator said...

I took Economics 101 and used Samuleson's textbook. I would have taken Economics 201 because I found the "dismal science" (as it has been labelled) interesting, but I only achieved a passing grade in 101, and it pulled my average down. I also took the subject because my University's most distinguished graduate was an economist, John Kenneth Galbraith. Samuleson's book was excellent and I don't know why I did not achieve a better grade in the subject.

 
At 12:08 AM, Blogger PipeTobacco said...

Sir:

I have been participating in a writing group as of late. One of the fellows in the group started me on a meme in which I need to tag additional prospective writers. I am tagging you and you may learn more about it here:

http://frumpyprofessor.blogspot.com/2009/12/blog-post_16.html

Obviously, it would be fun to have you participate, but I understand if you choose not to do so.

PipeTobacco
http://frumpyprofessor.blogspot.com

 
At 4:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger possum said...

Well, well... Here I stand in the same line as the rest of the folks who chose not to take Economics because... LOL! It really did not interest me at all back then. I probably would have flunked it - in my family a C was as good as flunking for me, but a reason for celebration for my brother! Go figure.
I am sure it was not taught by any one so Famous!

 
At 9:12 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I can honestly say I never had a teacher that was worth their salt.... I learned very little at school and left not being able to read or write very well at all... I left school early to work as money was needed in the home, my dad had died when I was 11... by 13 I was working the local markets for the odd pound and the fruit and veg I could carry home.
I did however meet someone who's words and deeds changed my way of life and helped me to seek a better life... He was a probation officer assigned to me when I went astray. This man saw good in me when most folk... including myself could not. Change took many years... but this mans words and deeds stayed with me... if ever a man was good at his job and went that extry yard it was him... Many years later I was driving through a nearby village and saw him walking a dog... I stopped and told him how he had helped me when I needed it most.... he was pleased I could tell, and so was I that I did at least get the chance to say thank you.

I have not visited in a while Philip, but you know the reason why... I'm still not to good, in fact it's just turned 2 in the morning and I'm awake and suffering the effects of an erratic heart beat... but at least it as given me the chance to play a bit of 'blog catch up' ha!... all the best to you my friend
Tom

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Ginnie said...

I have always been intimidated by even the word "economics". The whole idea of "to make money you have to spend money" goes againt the grain of my frugal New England upbringing.

 

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