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Friday, August 20, 2010

Favorite Blog of the Week

My favorite blog of the week was the post of the TED talk at Biz of Life's site by Matt Ridley. This talk covered a lot of material I go over each semester with my Econ 101 students. They, along with most Americans, have never given any thought to how wealthy they are or how the U.S. became so wealthy over such a short period of time. Most have never heard of David Ricardo and the theory of comparative advantage. Most have never thought about the benefits of exchange.

David Ricardo is interesting in that he argued against his own self interests (very rare in economics). He argued against the Corn Laws which in turn held up the value of land and thereby protected wealthy landowners--of which he was one. Considered by many to be the greatest economic theorist of all time, he actually had no formal training in economics. The story is that he was at a seaside resort, was bored, and happened to pick up a copy of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. The joke among students ever since has been that Ricardo began reading economics because he was bored and ended up boring generations of economic students with his theories!

The TED talk covers the benefits of the exchange of ideas, but there is also a downside. Simply mentioning the possibility of a "double dip" can morph into a serious concern and has the potential of self-realization as the idea spreads, and it scares people.


  1. Robert, thanks for the mention, and as always thanks for broadening my education in economics.

  2. I think we illustrate the theme of the TED talk:)

  3. It's indeed incredible just how far we've come. The hunter/gatherer societies live closer to the land than we do, and enjoy relatively more leisure time, but I would never want to go back to those days. Technological progress and everything that in entails is not alien to the human experience, it IS the human experience. It's what we uniquely do, as a species.

  4. I'm like your Econ students and have never heard of David Ricardo and the theory of comparative advantage. I have also never taken economics either. However, this is compelling to think of how fast we built wealth compared to our global brethren. Thanks for the enlightenment, and I will certainly have to check out more on the Biz of Life site.

  5. Shawn: You stunned me! After reading your blog I refuse to believe you never took economics. You might be the next David Ricardo - a natural.
    Kevin: I sort of look at building a blog like "hunting and gathering". Am I right?