Recently rendered mentor-less during an ‘it’s not me, it’s you’ PD episode (making my Top 5 list of Best Professional Moments Ever), I have lately begun annoying the crap out of friends, family, and luckless baristas by moaning about the unbearableness of the assumptions and premises of economics (ceteris paribus, naturally), the ignominy of western capitalism and the awful logic of working through a business degree to cement your appeal as management material with a fancy piece of paper. They would point to their glazed-over eyes if they could, but they need their hands to cover their ears to block out the wailing: ‘what should I dooo?’
I swapped from a B Comms to a B Arts/B Business degree based on some career advice I will always acknowledge to be sound and logical, except that putting logic, economics and Bron in the same sentence is unfamiliar territory for me. And in the beginning I was able to think, ‘hey, this is ok’ and ‘hey, look at that, a credit’, before something started to feel a bit off: ‘wait, what? what did they just say about assuming people make rational economic decisions?’. Very hard to go back to the economics books after you begin to think this through and never mind that you hit Model Western Consumer Status in only five days before Christmas. All that cooking you did? All that wrapping and giving you did? You now know how to reduce it all to a mid-point formula, calculate consumer surplus amounts (or in my case deadweight loss) and you can draw the corresponding demand-supply graphs to go with it (yes, you’re right, it will only be that one credit). You are able to sit down with a pencil and paper and calculate rather accurately what price unmoved stock might be dropped to on Boxing Day, while at the same time have a good hard think about the opportunity cost to you of wasting time on such calculations or the enjoyment you’ll get from watching any cricket that is playing.
And right there is the moment when you say to Yourself, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ You stand up, your chair falls backward, you put your hands to your head and you let out a primal yell! You sweep the pencil and paper off the table and you resolve to –
Wait. Starting to sound like a New Year Resolution. And you see, it’s not. I don’t want this to be in danger of petering out in the February wastelands of lost inspiration – it needs to go the distance! This is a broader issue, an issue of personal direction: I might have worked out where I want to go in life. What I want to be if I grow up. (I could be here, people! What relief my family must feel! Yet I completely get the skeptical looks from resigned but supportive friends!) I’m going back to the original source of motivation for study.
Which, in case you missed it, has very little to do with economics.
Happy New Year!