For 80 years economics was the one subject that I
had the least interest in. Life long
anti-materialism involved a calculated disinterest
in matters of money.
My economic ideal was a man named Bernard de
Marigny, of ancient New Orleans. Starting out as
the richest man in America he managed to go
through every cent before he died. He never
asked any clerk the price of anything.
Of course my own impecunious circumstances made such a habit impossible, but I aspired to it. During the depression we learned to make do with what we had, and after these years I still live by that principle to a large degree.
In 1973 I moved to the D.C. area. A number of my
new friends were economists. I understood that
being an economist was very big in government
employment; that's about all I understood about the matter.
In the waning months of 2006 a change occured. I
read Barnett, then I read Tosh. Two fascinating
Barnett was saying that we need to promote
globalization everywhere. This would obviate the
need for war, and everyone would become
prosperous. If only..... It had to be too good to
I started thinking about geo-economics. I knew that in 1947 our country made up 6% of the population and commanded over 90% of the world's wealth this may be a mere approximation). In Calcutta I had vividly experienced the tremendous gap between the handful of wealthy people and the great mass of people on the edge of starvation.
Then came Tosh. He half convinced me that India
would soon be right up there with the good ole
U.S.A. in terms of economic, and even military
power, alongside China of course.
I found this gratifying (which may likely antagonize a high proportion of 'good Americans'). But keenly aware of the horrible suffering of old India and of the equally poignant fact that we could certainly not expect to control all the world's wealth indefinitely, I saw this as a creative change. I think everyone is fully aware that our affluence is
a sometime thing, perhaps too extreme to long endure-- also built on borrowing rather than producing, everyone, that is, except the most jingoistic types.
So I have embarked on a new enterprise, going to
school, you might say, studying economics,
especially geo-economics. Where will all this
lead us, the world, I mean. Will it develop in
the shape of Barnett's rosy prediction, and
Tosh's? Or are there imponderables not yet
examined. More to come-- hopefully!