Why Everyone Should Know Some Economics
During my philosophic/economic journey in and through freedom, I’ve had friends and family express to me when I try explaining the fundamental importance of economics in society, that economics rubs them the wrong way because of its seemingly dry and inhumane nature.
I couldn't disagree more with them though.
“Economics deals with society's fundamental problems; it concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is the main and proper study of every citizen.” -Robert p. Murphy
Praxiology as constructed by Ludwig Von Mises, one of the worlds greatest economists of all time, is the a priori idea that man operates on an axiom of rational self-interest towards a desired goal (whether conscious or unconscious). This is the foundation on which all economics knowledge must be understood if it is ever to be of any use to us.
Sadly though, the study of economics has been largely bastardized by dry lifeless equations attempting to predict and describe or manufacture the ebb and flow of an economy; so it can be understood why my friends and family would shy away from the school of thought altogether. A thinking and feeling individual can be easily forgiven for losing or entirely lacking interest in this field of study as it predominantly exists today.
I would briefly like to make a case though, for the compassionate individual to at least acquire a rudimentary knowledge of economics as taught by the Austrian School.
People are nothing if not living doing creatures. Economics is simply an outside look into how real people actually spend their time. Yes, it can be broken down into numbers and charts, but it’s important to remember that those numbers and charts are real people, they, the figures laid out, tell an actual story that otherwise might be overlooked.
People are oftentimes quite different from the basic caricatures applied to them by strangers, benevolent or otherwise. A look at any given areas economic activity will usually tell you more about the individuals living there far more than their gender or ethnicity.
Money is a tool. Rather than bartering with goods and services which can be cumbersome, inconvenient, and/or perishable, people over the ages have adopted the use of money as a medium of exchange. This makes it easier to get what you want even when whatever it is you produce is of no value to the person you’re trading with. Knowing this, money need not be seen as a dry object of greed, rather a tool for individuals to mould their situation into something they perceive as desirable. Whether or not you agree with how someone spends their money is another matter, but knowing what money fundamentally is, is crucial to understanding how people value things and experiences in their life.
Perhaps most importantly, an economy affects the life of every person you know in a profound way. An economy is an environment in which all of society provides for themselves and those in their care. The health and freedom of an economy determine what decisions will or even can be made by individuals existing within. If an economy is healthy, individuals will find more freedom both temporally and monetarily to take risks, whether for pleasure or increased capital gain. This means more art, more innovation, more leisure, more freedom and inevitably more charity.
If you search the pages of history you’ll find that the industrial revolution, as brutish as it seems by today’s standards, was one of the largest jumps in the social and physical lives of the average man in all history. This being a direct result of greater economic freedom for everyone.
For these reasons I believe that economics is one of the most important fields of study for the thinking-feeling individual today; as both a hedge against the atrocities of imperialism and socialism and a beacon of hope for the honest and decent.