Dismal Science_Hardly_WSJ_6-04-2003

Dismal Science_Hardly_WSJ_6-04-2003 - The Dismal Science?...

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1 The Dismal Science? Hardly! By ROBERT D. MCTEER, JR. Weeks ago, I had lunch with the smartest woman in the world: Marilyn vos Savant, the "Ask Marilyn" columnist in Parade magazine. According to the folks at the Guinness Book, Marilyn has the world's highest recorded I.Q. She is interested in economic education, of all things, and we met at a board meeting of the National Council on Economic Education. I told her I think economics is a good major for smart students, but if they are really, really smart, I'd rather they become doctors so they could do somebody some good. She said, "Yes, but doctors help people one at a time, while an Alan Greenspan can help millions of people at a time." She has a point. Mr. Greenspan is an excellent example of someone making a big difference by applying good economics. My take on training in economics is that it becomes increasingly valuable as you move up the career ladder. I can't think of a better major for corporate CEOs, congressmen or American presidents. You've learned a systematic, disciplined way of thinking that will serve you well. By contrast, the economically challenged must be perplexed about how it is that economies work better the fewer people they have in charge. Who does the planning? Who makes decisions? Who decides what to produce? For my money, Adam Smith's invisible hand is the most important thing you've learned by studying economics. You understand how we can each work for our own self-interest and still produce a desirable social outcome. You know how uncoordinated activity gets coordinated by the market to enhance the
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Dismal Science_Hardly_WSJ_6-04-2003 - The Dismal Science?...

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