• Cocktail and Dinner Party Economics
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  • Dinner Party Economics

Filling in the Gaps

Fighting devastating ignorance with fact-based worldviews everyone can understand. Gapminder Foundation was founded in Stockholm by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling on February 25, 2005.  Gapminder Facts can tell stories and this is a terrific example of that statement.  You could spend hours exploring the Gapminder site because it is rich in animated graphs and videos about issues related to the health and wealth of nations.  Moreover, you can go back at least one a year to find out how the world has changed.  I do this every winter when I teach introductory macroeconomics–I get the updated map of the world to show my class.  My basic message is this:  It is good to have a high level of income because it is so linked to living long and prosperous. The role of economic growth cannot be over estimated when we explore the idea of standard of living.  Moreover it is not a zero sum game.  The poorest of the poor can be made better off and we in the richest nations wouldn’t notice a drop in how we live. After all, every country started out in the poor and sick camp. Fortunately–for those of us who live in the developed world–we escaped much of our historical misery. I believe we should do everything we can to help prosperity go global.

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Just a Compassionate Minute

As on most days, I got my shoes shined four or five times.  Not that they needed it, but it gave me a few precious minutes with a child or an old man who needed a kind word and a few cents for their work.  My car likewise was washed numerous times each day with the filthy water that ran down the street gutters.  Each occasion gave me the excuse to joke with the child who graced me with his industriousness.  Taken from Just A Minute pg 207-208 by Wess Stafford President and CEO of Compassion International Book group is this Sunday night and I am ready.   Partly because there was a mess up with my car and I ended up sitting at the dealership for an extra hour and a half which enabled me to finish the book and not feel like I was taking valuable time away from marking final exams.  This book is inspirational in a Chicken Soup kind of way except all of the royalties go towards Compassion International’s work with poor children.  I happen to sponsor a child through them but I just send money.  I don’t write letters.  This book made me feel like I should write to my child and make it more personal. That the input of encouragement from a complete stranger is as helpful as a monthly cheque.  I will have to think about this some more. To the quote from the book at the beginning of this blog…I completely agree that the marketplace is a place to help people and seemingly frivolous purchases can do great good.  Thus I get a manicure weekly from a place where the language of choice is Vietnamese.  The world is a better place for them and for me.  I call this a gain from trade.    

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The Economist for Everyman

A recent editor, Rupert Pennant-Rea, once described The Economist as “a Friday viewspaper, where the readers, with higher than average incomes, better than average minds but with less than average time, can test their opinions against ours. We try to tell the world about the world, to persuade the expert and reach the amateur, with an injection of opinion and argument.”  Taken fom The Economist In my introductory microeconomics class, I require  students to write a book review in the style of  The Economist. The Economist book reviews are so good that in many ways, once you have read the review you really don’t need to read the book–unless for pleasure of course!   These reviews provide an excellent basis on which to decide if a particular book is worth your time.  With respect to my class,  I am very  interested in reading the assignment because the book reviewed is Cocktail Party Economics.  (Both The Economist and Cocktail Party Economics are published by Pearson.) Here is my promise to the class–I won’t read the names of the authors so my students can truly write in the spirit of The Economist (authors are anonymous).  Opine away!    

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