Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two Blind Golfers

Happy Halloween!!  ~Note: This post has very little to do with Halloween.

Some people have known who they are since they were very little.  Some people are firefighters; some people are engineers; some people are dancers; some people are counselors for struggling teenagers.  Some people go to college knowing exactly what field they will study.  I am not some people.

I tossed around the idea of being a movie director.  I wanted to create the kind of movies that families could all enjoy together (I feel like this kind of good movie is rare today).  I even took introductory film classes as a freshman, but after I got home from my two-year mission in Serbia, film directing just did not feel right.

I had spent two years studying ancient scripture and loving it.  Then it was not much of a surprise, maybe, when I turned to Ancient Near Eastern Studies as a major.  I started to learn Hebrew.  I still have a strong desire to learn more about the ancient Near East (and the ancient Far East), but I soon had to come to terms with the fact that there is not much money in studying hobbies.  In order to support the kind of family I want some day, I needed something else.

The CIA and NSA will pay top dollar for Arabic speakers, but that too was short lived.

Luckily, I had a friend suggest that I take a look at economics.  This friend knows a lot more about me than I knew about economics, that is for sure.  I took Econ 110 and soon discovered that I am, in fact, an economist (at least in embryo form).  Whenever I am faced with a problem, I always think, "Which of my choices will maximize my payoff?"  Further, I see every situation in life as a maximization problem that needs to be solved.  If only I knew about Lagrangians when I was younger, I may have spent less time deciding what to order in the fast-food line.

This matter was confirmed to me recently when I came home from class one day with an economics joke to tell to my wife.  The joke is about two blind golfers (perhaps you've heard it).  Three people react differently to the discomfort of having to play golf behind two men who are slow because they are blind.  The economist quickly realizes that everyone would be better off if the blind men were to golf at night.

When I told the joke to my wife, she did not react as I would have expected.  Instead of laughing because the joke was funny, she simply looked at me, smiled, and said, "Oh, hon.  You are an economist."

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