Teaching ….

… back in the Middle Kingdom since a week, enjoying teaching learning to “walk economics”. Special fun the workshops – teaching without income (no extra pay), and learning without points (a course, the students take without points etc.).

Sometimes it is really like looking into the eyes of small children who see something amazing for the first time in their life (like a “summer child”, seeing the first snow) – so much more satisfying than looking at the faces of “adult colleagues” who only see what they supposedly know, struggling with maintaining that knowledge, and the jobs in which it is founded. – It is so nice to be witness, and it is so nice to accept again being student, opening the eyes like a small child and exploring together what I seem to know and of which I detect so much that is new.

I would not say renaissance, and increasingly hesitate to celebrate The Renaissance. There is still at least the one fact that needs to be considered: much of what had been ‘detected’ and ‘invented’, was known a long time before and just forgotten. Look for the work of Archimedes – and all those things that had been forgotten. No, the world was not flat in the earlier years – only some people made human kind believe it is flat. And so we find them today again, suggesting in ‘A Brief History of the Twenty-Firts Century’ that ‘The World is Flat’. Namesakes by accident? The one Friedman believes everybody can access everything; the other Friedman emphasing already earlier the Power of the Market.

May be journalistic masterpieces, surely not more than Sunday’s prayers, eye washing, pleading now from all sides for a moral economy, instead of clearly analysing the economy and demanding rights.

My be  I can move the rights part on tomorrow when going to Juzizhou island for a meeting.

Economics and Responsibilities …

Teaching economics is of course a balance act – the need to make students familiar with what is available in the poison cabinet of mainstream economics, and at the same time avoiding even during the short available time that anybody gets tempted by the captivating simplicity of the technical formulas (or repelled by the seeming neutrality). – Yes, Milton Friedman had been right, quoting about myths:
Someone once wrote, and I’m not sure who it was, that a myth is like an air mattress. There’s nothing in it but it’s wonderfully comfortable and deflation causes an uncomfortable jolt.
But there is another responsibility when it comes to the small print (if we may say so).
Somewhere, two test questions caught my attention. the one concerns “normal goods”, i.e. goods of superior quality, to be distinguished from “inferior goods”.
The question read like this – and the options for the reply are interesting:

Which of the following are normal goods?

• Sliced, white bread

• Salt

• Strawberries

• Tesco value baked beans

• Caviar
Leaving the branding part aside, suggesting (implicitly) caviar as normal gives some answer to the question “who are the economists”? And if somebody remembers right now the lines about “preaching water, while drinking wine” from Heine’s Germay . A Winter’s Fairy Tale, it may not be by pure accident.
Another question, however, makes me thinking if this is justified. This one, see below (and again leaving the branding aside), reveals, that the understanding of good food did not necessarily arrive in those circles ….

Which of the following goods are substitutes for each other?

• Pizza and hamburgers

• Pie and chips

• Coke and Pepsi

• Salt and pepper

• Bacon and eggs
Well, nobody is perfect  and with such a small-print nobody and nothing will be …