How to Get Free Education in Economics
Mr. ToughMoneyLove is not going to talk about free credit scores, free credit card balance transfers, or free credit anything. (“Free credit” is an oxymoron anyway.) Instead, I am going to talk about some free education in economics.
Know What You Don’t Know
(1) How little our political leaders know about economics;
(2) How little we ourselves know about economics; and
(3) How our collective ignorance of basic economic principles impairs our ability to understand what the politicians are trying to do to us in their attempts to legislate and regulate out of the mess we are in.
Most of us have been told at one time or another that wisdom includes knowing what you don’t know. If we are wise enough to acknowledge our collective ignorance of economics, we should also be wise enough to get educated before we choose a candidate based on his or her stated economic policies and promises.
It is not our fault that we don’t have a firm foundation in economics. High schools don’t usually offer it. Colleges don’t require it. We are left to our own random wanderings through life to pick up tidbits here and there. That won’t cut it anymore. The issues are too important.
Therefore, Mr. ToughMoneyLove encourages everyone to get educated. To help, I have found a couple of easy ways for anyone to learn the basics of real world economics at their own pace, at no cost to you except your time. The teachers are not personal finance bloggers but professional economists who are willing to share their knowledge and insights at no charge.
Learn from Federal Reserve Economists
One of the blogs I read and sites I link to from Tough Money Love is the macroblog published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. This blog is authored by economists who work for the Federal Reserve. They publish twice a week.
What I like most about this resource is that it explains the economic science and data behind the news we read. More important, the explanations are generally understandable to those of us who are not trained economists. The discussion of the current “rescue” and “bailout” issues is very enlightening. If you were to read each of the posts from August and September 2008, you would have a better understanding of our current problems than 99% of your fellow citizens, including those who make a living spending our tax dollars.
Another important feature of macroblog is that the authors can be quite honest and direct about their views. Because they work for the Fed, they have intimate knowledge of government fiscal and monetary policies. Also because they work for the Fed, neither the President nor Congress can fire them. Freedom of economic speech is refreshing.
You can subscribe to the macroblog by RSS feed or email.
Learn from a College Professor
Recently I reviewed an audio CD series on the Principles of Economics, taught by Peter Navarro, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and occasional CNBC contributor. I have since discovered that Prof. Navarro has his own website that includes free access to his multi-part Power of Economics lecture series. There are actually two courses: microeconomics and macroeconomics. To take these courses, you have to download some rather large PowerPoint files. The files contain multimedia (audio and video) lectures. Although they are intended to supplement a textbook, you can learn plenty just by watching the PowerPoint presentations while listening to Prof. Navarro’s lecture.
I recommend that you start with the Power of Macroeconomics series because it has the most relevance to what is happening around us (and to us) right now. There are eleven lectures in this series. Each lecture is incorporated into two files that you will have to download. After you copy the files to your own computer, you can watch and listen at your own pace.
Give these resources a try. I think they might help you be a better voter in the upcoming election. I know they have helped me.