How can you not be romantic about economics?

Today’s insight comes from the 6th edition of Greg Mankiw’s textbook, “Principles of Economics,” page 49:

Consider your typical day. You wake up in the morning and pour yourself juice from oranges grown in Florida and coffee from beans grown in Brazil. Over breakfast, you watch a news program broadcast from New York on your television made in China. You get dressed in clothes made of cotton grown in Georgia and sewn in factories in Thailand. You drive to class in a car made of parts manufactured in more than a dozen countries around the world. Then you open up your economics textbook written by an author living in Massachusetts, published by a company located in Ohio, and printed on paper made from trees grown in Oregon.

In one of my favorite movies–Moneyball–Brad Pitt wonders how anybody can’t be romantic about baseball. I share that sentiment.

And I also wonder how people can’t be romantic about economics. Mankiw’s observation shows that, even in the confines of our own homes, each day is a trip around the world. I’m provided with all of the necessary goods by people who I have never even met, and by people who may even hate me if they knew me. How and why does this happen? That’s what the study of economics is all about.

And if you (or someone you know) still isn’t taken with pure wonder from the insights to be gained by studying economics, show them this video of Milton Friedmanand you can rest assured that if they aren’t immediately swept off their feet then they are probably a zombie!



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