A Final Note

If you have finished the other chapters in this book, then you probably have done some hard thinking. I hope that all along you were questioning my reasoning and composing responses and exceptions to my arguments. I hope that I have stimulated you to study economics further, not simply accept my ideas as the final truth. I would rather that you disagree intelligently than follow blindly.

Economics is both philosophical and computational. This book is heavy on the philosophy and light on the math. Should you wish to pursue your studies further, then I recommend learning the mathematical concepts of economics. College textbooks are one avenue for acquiring those concepts. Another source would be the study guides for high school AP economics.

I would warn you that standard textbooks and this book offer different perspectives. The textbook approach to economics studies the market as an allocation mechanism. The idea is to show how a given amount of resources can be used efficiently.

What I have come to appreciate even more is that the market is a learning mechanism. It encourages experimentation, keeps what works, and discards the rest. Conveying that concept of economics was my main purpose in writing this book.

For most of human history, market learning proceeded so slowly as to be scarcely noticeable. Today, the process is almost incomprehensibly fast. Children used to have to acquire knowledge from their elders. Now, it is often the parents and the grandparents who must ask for help with using the Internet or taking advantage of the features on a cell phone.

For centuries, family memories consisted of oral history. In the past few hundred years, people could write down their stories. Since the late 1800's, we have had photo albums. In the middle of the twentieth century, we took home movies. In the 1980's, we put family memories onto videocassette tapes. Already, those have to be discarded in favor of DVD's. And it is reasonable to wonder if those will not be superceded within a decade.

Because the pace of change is accelerating, I believe it is important to have the perspective of the market as a learning mechanism. In the 21st century, the processes by which we continue to accumulate and apply knowledge will play a major role in shaping our lives.