Monday, October 13, 2008

Guns or butter, maybe both?

As an adolescent at high school in Grafton, I studied economics for no more than a year. It turned out to be a disturbing but mind-opening educational experience in my existence. The context and facts are fuzzy. I remember writing an economics essay that I considered—with my usual egotism and pretentiousness—as brilliant. When the teacher, a certain Les O'Neill, didn't agree with my personal judgment, or didn't award me the credit I deserved (in my imagination), I behaved preposterously by complaining to the headmaster, John Orme, that my economics instructor was obviously incapable of recognizing my excellence. And the affair fizzled out when the teacher in question more or less admitted that he might not have understood correctly what I had tried to write, or accepted that it was non-plagiarized original thinking. I had won, in a way, but I was hardly inclined to think of myself as a winner, since I had appealed to non-scientific criteria. In fact, I had just offered myself the luxury of provoking an ideal lesson in the "science" of economics, whose principal actors are, not atoms and molecules, but human beings. I had become an economic entity.

Today, a 55-year-old guy named Paul Krugman from Princeton University has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

A specialist in trade theory, Professor Krugman has two extra qualities that demand my respect and endear me to him. First, he's a columnist for my favorite newspaper, the New York Times. Second, he seems to hate the guts of an intellectual moron named George W Bush.

"Bush has degraded our government and undermined the rule of law," wrote Krugman wrote in May 2007. "He has led us into strategic disaster and moral squalor."

Truly, my global faith in humanity is restored when I realize that Alfred Nobel, having made a fortune by inventing dynamite, went on to celebrate geniuses in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economics and even peace! Wow, what blind but awesome vision!

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