The Art of Economics

Why is the subject of economics deemed difficult and relegated to the upper echelons of today’s education system? We did not used to be afraid of this subject.


In colonial times with only private systems of education which included home school, church, voluntary associations and philosophical societies, circulating libraries, apprenticeships and private study most of the young had a firm understanding of how the economics of their time worked by the age of 15 at which point they either were attending one of the few colleges available, or more likely apprenticed out or working in family businesses. Many of our founders were still teenagers or in their early 20’s when they signed the Declaration of Independence which would have profound impacts on their economic system.

Even going back just one generation most people had a basic understanding of our economic system upon leaving high school.
I attended an interesting talk yesterday at the NW Business Club by Dr. Hart Hodges from WWU Center for Economic & Business Research. He asked the group an interesting question: Why with all the technological advances we have made have we not been able to increase productivity?

The question made me think of a conversation I had recently with my daughter about the greatest lack she saw in their new hires at her company: The ability to think forward far enough to discern consequences.

This may be part of the answer to Dr. Hodges question. I am reading the book Economics in one Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. The conclusion of his first chapter is:

“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

One of the benefits of living in a developed country is that consequences are not as harsh as when you live in a developing country. Today, we rarely face the consequences of dying on a trek through the woods, or starving if we cannot be employed, or losing everything in a revolution. Anticipating consequences may be a lost art, but it is still a necessary art. Our young have the same ability to learn that they did in 1776. We just need to remember to teach them what they need to know.

This is the mission of SAVE: to bring back economic understanding so that each generation understands their relationship and connectivity to the economy; to purposefully discern and participate knowing their part of that vibrant economy. Join us in funding education for this forgotten but necessary art: The Art of Economics.

~ Lorraine Newman, SAVE Board Member

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