I recently asked for a economics curriculum and stackers delivered. I've started with a recommendation by @undisciplined: A Lesson in Economics by Henry Hazlitt.
The Text
The book has three parts and this post focuses on the first, a very brief chapter making a very clear declaration.
Hazlitt starts with a lesson, or more to the point a definition of economics, which not enough economists adhere to: The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.
This lesson starts with a position against two great sins in the field: short-sightedness and special interest.
He highlights what seems to be a tug of war between long-run thinking and short-run thinking, the former being the classical or Orthodox view of economics and the latter being "new" economics. Unburdened by long chains of reasoning and justification, new economics tends to be sexier and has the upper hand on audiences--especially with immediacy as it's main tenet.
I expect the rest of the book will be a presentation of a series of situations that show the folly of short sightedness.
The Application
Recently I was tasked with trying to convince a colleague in a academic department to advertise and use the services of a third party online tutoring vendor. The man, who I had never met before, was very principled and was already on the hunt for a separate, more meaningful solution to demands for student support. He wanted in-house tutors who could offer their peers mentorship and insight into their specific program. A 3rd party platform would hardly accomplish that.
My main position was that the third party platform had already been purchased. He referred to it as a "sunk cost." I could hardly disagree that that was the college's motivation in recruiting departments into using it. It has never been on the position that the service actually works. Not enough people use it for us to know if it works.
Without it, the only university-provided support are the usual office hours that instructors can provide.
I see here two, albeit tacit, policies that I have been mandated to hold:
  • We have it, so we might as well use it.
  • Something is better than nothing.
I have to respect my colleagues stubbornness. The short-term consequence of using the third party system is giving students a sense of relief. The long-term consequence might be that we forgo investigating a more robust and integrated form of support while also adding a potentially recurring budget toward outside vendors.
Still, even while recognizing this, I am unsure how to reconcile letting pre-purchased support go unused while also watching students flunk at high rate out of a course that historically flunks it's students at high rates.
I imagine that the answer to joining my colleague's position while addressing this dissonance between unproven supply and ongoing demand is get creative. Although we're not close friends yet, I imagine that's what Henry would advise.
Other crappy policies that might be used to address a situation like this need dishonorable mention here:
  • If the class is too difficult, make it easier. (How easily that leads to diminished outcomes)
  • incentivize teachers to improve pass rates. (How easily that moves to grade inflation)
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I always assumed economics was the study of decision-making where--pardon my fiat!--dollar values could be assigned.
I would differentiate finance as the application of that study at a more local level, and accounting as a similar optimization of that application in the face of regulatory restrictions.
Small businesses have all sorts of policies and protocols built on assumptions of what would be profitable, in line with their values, and according to their strategic plans. So if we are saying economics must deal with policies to be economics (which I am not ready to concede to), it seems economics does apply to small markets/businesses.
I always assumed economics was the study of decision-making where--pardon my fiat!--dollar values could be assigned.
That's a subset of economics called "catallactics". Economics is not about money, per se. Economics is the study of human action under conditions of scarcity.
Economics is the study of human action under conditions of scarcity. It is every bit as much about entrepreneurship as about government policy.
I've been in your exact situation many times. Good luck