I start every semester of Economics with the statement that the students have been totally shafted by not being taught the most basic theory in their twelve years of education; every choice has a consequence. That’s why the subject has been given the name “the dismal science”. People don’t like the idea that they control their own destiny a lot more than they are told, or that they are responsible for their own actions. However the idea of choice is rarely what’s discussed when Economics takes the stage. Occupy, the Great Recession, income inequality; all of it becomes politicized to the point that we forget that people make choices and choices have consequences.
As I near the end of my first semester teaching economics, what Jeff writes rings true. If my students walk away from my class understanding that their decisions have consequences, I’ll feel okay. If they understand how the decisions made by politicians have larger consequences, I’ll have succeeded.