Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yesterday Was Milton Friedman Day....

did you do anything in your class? At the very least did you see The Power of Choice, his biography which was broadcast on many (sadly, not all) PBS stations? It was a very interesting look into the life of one of the 20th century's most influential economists. I learned a couple of interesting things about him professionally, such as his involvement in getting rid of the draft; as well as personally, such as how he met his wife, Rose.

I was particularly struck by the number of people who mentioned how he spoke to other people. He tried not to talk down to anyone. A phrase used frequently was "He was a teacher." I think that struck me when I first was exposed to him, and I know it struck many of my students. That's one reason why I've recommended his Free to Choose videos in previous blogs. (See my December 4, 2006 entry, TV Worth Watching (Part II).

While watching last night, they used one of his quotes. Something to the effect that "Those who strive for equality before freedom, usually don't get either; and those who put freedom before equality eventually end up with both." This was an idea of his that appeared in many places. And you may not agree it with it. I know I question it. But, when I heard him repeat it last night, I thought it would make an excellent discussion starter for a class when discussing economic systems, economic institutions or the role of government in the economy.

This can be particularly effective if you also talk about those same economic concepts and the perceived policy trade-off of equity and efficiency. "Is it true that systems are made more equitable at the expense of efficiency? Or that they are made more efficient at the expense of equity?" The argument is that efficiency is driven by competition and competition is inherently inequitable.

What do you think? What did you do, if anything? Would you spend time discussion Dr. Friedman with your students? Your comments are welcome.

Posted by TSchilling at 8:49 AM Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On Economic Growth

An excellent way to see the link between improvements in per capita income and life expectancy over the past 30 years can be found at this web site. It looks like the home site might have some interesting possibilities, as well.

Thanks to Mark Perry at Carpe Diem and also to Greg Mankiw for the pointer.

Let me know what you think can be done with these tools.

Posted by TSchilling at 11:30 AM Comments (0)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Need Something to Do on January 29?

First my apologies for my long absence (if you've even noticed). I took my annual holiday vacation the last part of December (no blogging despite good intentions), and have been on the road a great deal in January (no blogging due to technological issues). I'll try to do better.

If you are looking for something unusual to do in your course on Monday of next week, consider joining Milton Friedman Day. It offers an opportunity for your students to see what kind of influence an economist can have. Dr. Freidman was, arguably, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. Many of his publications are becoming more available and are worth introducing to your students if for no other reason than his ability to excite students about economic topics, one way or the other.

Among other things, many PBS stations will be airing The Power of Choice, a new biography of Friedman on the 29th. You need to check your local stations to see when they are airing it, as it may run later in some markets.

Thanks to Arnold Kling at EconLog for the pointer. As always, your comments are welcome.

Posted by TSchilling at January 22, 2007 1:13 PM

Teachers may also be interested in the YouTube contest in honor of Milton Friedman "Challenge the Status Quo." For more info visit http://www.youtube.com/group/statusquo. They are even giving a $2500 teacher's choice award.

Posted by: Amanda Gibson at January 23, 2007 2:48 PM

Who'd Have Thought...

...an all Seventh Federal Reserve District Super Bowl.

This is actually good news if you are a "follower" of the Super Bowl stock market indicator, the fact that we have two original NFL teams (the Colts were moved to the American conference after the merger of the AFL and the NFL) suggests that the stock market will end this year higher. Evidently when an original NFL team wins the big game, the market ends the year higher more frequently than not. Believe it or not, the success rate on this is somewhere around 80%. I personally wouldn't make this a basis for investing, but it is interesting. (See October 17, 2006 post on Mathematics and High School Economics.)

Yes, working at the Fed does somewhat alter your views of borders.

Posted by TSchilling at 1:27 PM Comments (0)