Why Learn Economics?

I often quote other Web sites and reference the full posting, but I’ve never extracted the entire contents of a Web page. Until now. This explanation is so great that I’m quoting it in it’s entireity. The folks at the Mises Institute promote the spread of good thinking, so I’m sure they won’t mind.

John Maynard Keynes once wrote that “the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

Economic theory does indeed have quite a large impact on our lives that is far greater than most any of us are willing to admit or understand. Policymakers and politicians guide fiscal policy, set monetary policy, and collaborate on financial regulations that impact almost every transaction in the market place. These theorists and philosophers all begin with a set of ideological constraints that frame their world view. Will you sit back and allow them to create the rules of the game?

As Ludwig von Mises stated in one of the concluding chapters of Human Action on The Place of Economics in Learning:

“Economics must not be relegated to classrooms and statistical offices and must not be left to esoteric circles. It is the philosophy of human life and action and concerns everybody and everything. It is the pith of civilization and of man’s human existence…

There is no means by which anyone can evade his personal responsibility. Whoever neglects to examine to the best of his abilities all the problems involved voluntarily surrenders his birthright to a self-appointed elite of supermen. In such vital matters blind reliance upon “experts” and uncritical acceptance of popular catchwords and prejudices is tantamount to the abandonment of self-determination and to yielding to other people’s domination. As conditions are today, nothing can be more important to every intelligent man than economics. His own fate and that of his progeny is at stake…

Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that economics cannot remain an esoteric branch of knowledge accessible only to small groups of scholars and specialists. Economics deals with society’s fundamental problems; it concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is the main and proper study of every citizen.”


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