Since November 2016 several Duke University colleagues have come into my office, closed the door, and said, “Okay. You were right. Are you happy now?”
Two golden summers at the American Institute for Economic Research gently reshaped my philosophical outlook and personal life forever—much for the better. My 1981 and 1982 summer fellowships helped instill a deep appreciation for the intensely personal nature of economic markets, and they steered me toward a long and happy marriage.
Economics is lovely because it unlocks the great mysteries of the material world: why we thrive, why we experience progress, how we can build prosperity and peace, the path toward making the best out of our limited time in this world, and leave something better for the next generation. Knowing and contemplating these things is indeed a source of immense joy.
The kids are being forced into institutions that have proven themselves unable to protect students against violence, and also face no real accountability when they fail to do so. Force is the watchword even without the direct threat of violence from guns and bombs. Why does nearly everyone think this is normal? Because compulsory schooling laws have been part of the living reality of every single living American.
Nationalism emerged in the 19th century as an alternative to economic liberalism of the classical variety. Liberalism was embodied in the works of Adam Smith, J.B. Say, Thomas Jefferson, and A.RJ. Turgot. Smith summed up the creed: “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.” In other words, there is no conflict of interests between the individual and the community, the community and the nation, and the nation and the rest of the world. That core ideal was on the ascendancy throughout the development from the end of the 18th century for another fifty years following.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, has died at the age of 91. He is a remarkable example of how enterprise and visionary entrepreneurship can have such a profound effect on the world. Even now, walking into an IKEA store for the first time is a riveting experience. It invites you to reassess your life priorities, how you live, how you spend your money, what you seek to do in life. It certainly did that to me, and I’ve never let go of what I learned. In some way, as I think about it, Mr. Kamprad, though I never met him, has been my teacher for a large swath of my adult life. Millions of others can say the same.
In keeping with Harwood’s practice of teaching the new generation of students to conduct high-quality applied economic research, AIER is setting a national example in establishing collaborative partnerships between universities and practitioners.
AIER continues to pursue the educational ideas of our founder, Col. E.C. Harwood, who believed that educating the educators advances the institute’s mission.
At a recent annual conference of the Council for Economic Education, a lesson on unemployment was presented by Vicki L. Fuhrhop, a teacher at Collinsville High School in Collinsville, Ill, who is an alumna from the 2016 Chicago class. She joins the roster of teachers who implemented lesson ideas from our workshops in their classrooms.
A report about the lesson conducted at The Career Academy, in Lincoln, Neb., by Ms. Nicole Barrett, a participant in Teach-the-Teachers Initiative 2017 in Omaha. This lesson was observed by James L. Olsen, AIER voting member.