One of the biggest benefits I got from spending a full year in the army -if not the biggest- is the fact one of my fellow soldiers was an assistant in economics in a university near Cairo. He was charged with office work, being of higher education and being able to deal with modern technology; computer and so on and we could spend long hours together between his shifts, along with other friends. They used to say that the clinic made a secret pact with the "computer staff" of the unit, referring in a jest to the way we always stuck together.
Before meeting him, I thought I knew all it was there to know about economics for an ordinary doctor like me. Just few shallow facts and bits of speculations to judge the policies of our government. (anyway, it doesn't need so much academic knowledge to see how corrupt our system is and how fucked up we are!)
Yet, I never underestimated economy as a science. even before I meet my economist friend, I had right intuition enough to say "It is economy that moves and steers economies ship and not the reverse. If you want the answers for the enigmas of politics, you better ask an economist." but still, economics was somehow, too dry for my taste. It wasn't exactly what I could spend my spare time reading. After all, how could anyone spend hours trying to decipher the complicated trade-off between economic efficiency and equality or between inflation and unemployment rather than sailing the oceans of imagination to reach the magical land of Westros with George R R Martin as a guide.
Now, honestly, having spent a year discussing various economic questions, analyzing the way our world is working these days of unpredictable future and repeated recessions and recoveries, my mind started sensing the magical appeal of economics; this powerful knowledge that makes you an insider, the secret code with which our governments deal mostly in favor of citizens across the world and mostly against us here in the Middle East.
My friend pointed out a draw back in the way I read. My overwhelming love for literature was stealing me from reading direct up-to-the-point books. I much preferred to learn the lesson indirectly from fiction rather than seek some answers directly in text books.
Now, this mistake is being corrected. I won't stop reading fiction until I am dead! But I am now reading books like, Krugman's: The return of depression economics and fat books like Mankiw's: Principles of economics and damn, it's so fun to learn from those books!
Anyway, that's it... the biggest thing I learned in this forsaken army year.
- The magic of economics