I do not consider myself an inordinately smart person. I do, however, pride myself on being a top-o’-the-line “noticer.” “Noticing” is primarily what I’ve got going for me. I cannot originate – e.g., new thoughts or innovations. I can rarely, bordering on “never” if it’s technology – adequately explain the new thoughts and innovations of others. I have tried, and people inevitably walk away. Maybe not literally, but I can see in their eyes that, while “listening to me”, their minds have quietly proceeded to other matters.
What I can do – he bragged, in his view, justifiably – is notice things. And then I think about them. And then – this case being a quintessential example – I write about them. Because they are interesting. To me. And being a person, and you being an agglomeration of persons, imaginably, interesting also to you. No guarantees about that; I’m just hoping.
On a recent “Thursday Walk” I passed a man who, for reasons I am unable to pinpointingly articulate, conveyed the ineffable impression of being a woman. Even though he was sporting a goatee. I am not excessively judgmental. A man can look like a woman. A woman, if she decides she wants to, can sport a goatee. My passing glance may be extended a second but that’s it. I go “Hm” and move on. (Hoping to, some day, not even go “Hm.”)
Minutes later, in a supermarket, I catch sight of a woman who, to me at least, projected the bearing and characteristics of a man.
What the heck, I wondered, was going on?
Then I remembered, earlier in the walk, for reasons I no longer remember, the word “transgender” passing fleetingly through my mind. That triggering precursor must have activated my sensors. Or so I surmised, as I have no conscious recollection of experiencing “bang-bang” gender curiosity about passing strangers before.
Demonstrating I am hardly a “single-issue noticer”, shortly thereafter, I noticed a clerk addressing a customer in an insultingly loud voice after the customer had been unable to hear her on an earlier occasion. The clerk’s behavior seemed rudely unnecessary to me.
If she had spoken louder the first time, I would most certainly have heard her.
As you see, my “noticing” emanates in multiple directions.
Which brings me finally to economics. (The “Oh no!” of the above-written title. Sorry. I delayed it as long as I could.)
I have, at best, a rudimentary understanding of economics. I took one class in what is justifiably nicknamed “The Dismal Science” at UCLA Extension, and as my brain throbbed with talk of “Inflation”, “Interest Rates”, “The Dow”, the “GDP”, “The International Trade Imbalance”, “Unemployment Statistics” and the “Deficit”, among other “meaningful indicators”, I departed that experience with one dominating certainty:
I would never take an economics class again!
Still, you notice things – because you’re you and they’re there – what you notice generating – I think but you can individually decide – the very simplest of questions. Leading you to wonder, “If I, who was spun propulsively out of that classroom like a sock in the dryer with the door open – assuming a dryer will continue working with the door open which it probably won’t – if I, a proverbial ignoramus, see these very simplest of questions staring me troublingly in the face… I mean, is it possible – it isn’t, is it? – that I see these questions but the economists – evidenced by their never talking about them – don’t?
I am having lunch with my Financial Adviser, who is discoursing about “retarded growth” due to “falling productivity”, to which I reflexively remark,
Our encounter leads me to ponder our vaunted capitalist system. (Which I wholeheartedly support. You need a Financial Adviser, you give the “System” that engendered that miraculous happenstance an appreciative “Thank you.”)
Having a legitimate – at least comparatively – economics maven sitting across the table from me, I take the fortuitous opportunity to inquire:
“If, in the ‘Capitalist Model’, competition is the prevailing mechanism for driving down prices, why in the arenas of health care, pharmaceuticals and the insurance industry, have prices continued to scarily go up?”
My Financial Adviser replies to that question, but you will have to consult his blog for the answer. (Spoiler Alert: He does not have one.) I exclude his response here for space purposes, and also because I was unable to understand it. Although I got that, even as an avowed believer that “the government can’t do everything”, the man acknowledged that what I had mentioned was a legitimate problem, whose ultimate solution may possibly require “outside” – Read: governmental – intervention. (Economics experts among you are encouraged to “Weigh in.”)
So there was that.
The following morning – my activated sensors on the rampage again – I notice an “op-ed” article in the paper written by an expert on political economist Karl Marx, who, the expert reveals, was a powerful advocate for “Free Trade” – because the policy was so destructive to the “working proletariat” it would facilitate the coming revolution. I had not – among trillions of other things – been aware of that factoid – “The First Commie”, championing “Free Trade.”
This tidbit of information leads me to wonder, “If this information was historically known and generally accepted, why, before they subscribed to those international ‘Free Trade’ agreements did the Government of all the People not anticipate these destructive consequences on the “working proletariat” and make preemptive accommodations for a caring and workable transition?”
You see how I question both sides?
“He was a fair man. He didn’t know anything, but he was fair.”
Thank you. Okay, so it’s not the loftiest contributions. But that’s what I do.
Just thinking about it.
And just writing it down.