So how does an economist react to economic turmoil at home? Well, partly I think I have a role to play to both educate people about economics and promote good economically sound policy. But on a personal level, it is hard to sit and watch the economy crash so severely and not be affected by it in a very human way, rather than in an academically disinterested way. I cringe sometimes when I hear myself say what a great teaching moment this is. Though this is true to an economic professor, it sounds a bit callous to the many families that are already starting to feel the pinch.
This economic crisis has already shown itself to be devastating (especially in Oregon) and as an academic economist I feel particularly impotent. On the radio this week I was asked to give the listeners some good news and the best I could do is "this shall pass...eventually." So perhaps just as a way to make myself feel better I have volunteered as a driver at the Oregon Food Bank. In the past I have been content to give charitably and have made excuses about my volunteerism being devoted to my children's school and activities. But I don't feel I can be as self-interested anymore when the economy is collapsing - it is time to refocus. Since I feel that there is nothing that diminishes us as a society more than having hunger in our midst I have decided that if I can be some small part of the solution, I must act.
I hope you will too in whatever way you see fit. This crisis is going to affect us all and it is going to be long and deep. I hope this will be a moment when we all give a little bit more. That's all I am trying to do.