I arrived in the US on this day, August 15th, back in 1982 at JFK in New York, NY around 5 PM Eastern (Aug 16th, 5:30 AM IST.) Though it’s been many years, I still recall exactly how I felt. It was the best day of my life that far.
I had no idea of what lay ahead.
I came to the US to get a PhD in computer science at Rutgers. At that time I had not known that I was at heart an economist. In any event, I worked for Hewlett Packard for some years in the Silicon Valley, and then went back to school. Now, after 20 years of studying economics, just this past month I concluded that I finally understood the subject.
The journey so far has been wonderful because of all the stuff that I learned. My major goal in life is understanding how the world works. I am not really interested in doing anything. Most of all, I don’t want to interfere.
First do no harm. Then try to do good.
Too may people do stuff, and interfere without understanding. Do-gooders often end up making a mess. Too many people are like the monkey, trying to save a fish from drowning by putting it up on a tree.
I learned the meaning of science, engineering, technology at the beginning and later built upon that my understanding of economics. My journey within economics started with Micromotives and Macrobehavior (W.W.Norton 1978) by the brilliant Thomas Schelling. I had stumbled upon the book at the Sunnyvale Public library in 1993. It was sitting on a sorting cart and I picked it up on my way to the checkout. Life is unpredictable and takes strange turns. That book revealed to me that I was an economist because from it I learned that economics is the study of human behavior.
Economics is not a science like physics
My formal study of economics began with neoclassical economics. It’s good stuff. Clearly an adequate introduction to the study of economics but to really know the subject, you have to go beyond all the mathiness (to use a word that Paul Romer favors) and understand that economics is close to logic and pretty far away from a science.
I moved on, beyond the maximization, the perfect competition and equilibrium analysis of the neoclassical school. Via James Buchanan and public choice theory, I arrived at the works of Friedrich August von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises — the Austrians. I went in reverse chronological order in a sense. I read Hayek before I read Mises. Mises’s Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (1949, 1963, 1966, 1996) sits at the top of the pyramid of everything that I know about economics.
The Road Ahead
Now that I have accomplished that bit, what’s next? I don’t know for sure since life’s a random draw. But I am sure that it will be very exciting. This year I will certainly get these things done:
- A book on economics as I understand it. This has been about 10 years in the making. As I mentioned before, I have finally understood the topic. So it’s time to write it. Title: Confessions of an Economic Fundamentalist
- The Ultimate American Road Trip. I have done many road trips but never all the way from coast to coast. This year, come hell or high water, I will get an across the country, from coast to shining coast, road trip done. The route will be a combination of “The Lower 48 States Major Landmarks” and “The Lower 48 States Popular Cities” Here they are:
I expect that planning will take a few months and the trip to take around 100 days to complete. Currently I intend to get on the road by 1st April 2017. I will start from home here in San Jose, CA, and head east along the southern route. By mid-May, I would have reached the eastern extreme (Maine), and head back along the northern route, to be home again by mid-July.
I will pack an SUV with some camping gear. Which leads to the sub-goal of buying an SUV. I will have space for a couple of fellow travelers. Along with the planning of the road trip, I will report on the progress of this venture as and when it happens.
I am going traveling in a few days. I depart SJC on 26th Aug for Boston. After the weekend in Boston, I get to NY City for a day. Then to New Jersey. I spend the Labor day weekend in Chicago (Sept 3-5th). And then back to San Jose.