Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt

This is Bastiat’s ‘The Seen and the Unseen’ for the 20th century. A few quotes:

As a consumer, he may advocate or acquiesce in subsidies; as a taxpayer he will resent paying them

This is so true! All the economic protests that happen build on this nature, except that we don’t even realize that we are paying for these, in some way or the other. Worse, we may think that a subsidy benefits us, but the math shows this to be a fleeting benefit

All the financial news that comes out these days makes me want to cry. How shortsighted are the people in government, and what have we done to deserve them …

… the best prices are not the highest prices, but the prices that encourage the largest volume of production and the largest volume of sales. The best wage rates for labor are not the highest wage rates, but the wage rates that permit full production, full employment and the largest sustained payrolls. The best profits, from the standpoint not only of industry but of labor are not the lowest profits, but the profits that encourage most people to become employers or to provide more employment than before. 

and

Economics … is a science of recognizing secondary consequences. It is also a science of seeing general consequences. It is the science of tracing the effects of some proposed or existing policy not only on some special interest in the short run, but on the general interest in the long run

Best read with Big Business

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Learning from mistakes

[Inspired by Dennett’s Intuition Pumps]

My current approach and where I’d like to be works 1:1 or in a small group, much more difficult to do in a lecture-style setting.

When I’m trying to teach a new concept – programming, algorithm, mathematics – I try to give students a bit of structure and context and get them to develop the solution. The amount of structure and context varies from student to student, and its not easy getting it right. Done well, students reach that aha! moment on their own. I’ve been doing this unconsciously for quite a while, but its probably time to do this with more structure (hah!).

One more aspect I would like to add is having students reflect on failed approaches. This may also require reducing the context and allowing them to try out a variety of approaches.  A lot of learning can happen in this analysis. The downside is that it needs time and it needs willingness to expend the effort.

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Big Business, Tyler Cowen

I’ll eventually organize my thoughts, but a few reactions:

  • This book should be dedicated to Steven Pinker. No matter what aspect of business one may pick up, here’s how to look at it in a positive light
  • The amount of data to back up the positivity is of course, amazing
  • I’m going to skip the ‘what-about-ism’s, but that is pretty much what was going through my head as I was reading this book

This book is necessary – (big) business has been vilified for too long, and the default is to assume that it is evil. This book pushes the pendulum towards the center and swings it all the way to the other end!

 

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