Day 1 of Economics 1

I find the first day of the school year to be exciting, especially when a lot of first-year students are in my classes as is the case with Economics 1, the introductory economics course I teach at Stanford and the course which this blog is named after. Many Day 1 questions are interesting and revealing of the times: Q: “Is this course Keynesian or Austrian?” A: “Adam Smithian.”

On Day 1, of course, we focus on the central idea that economics is about choices people make when faced with scarcity and the interaction between people when they make these choices. Accordingly, we modify slightly the Stanford motto, “The Winds of Freedom Blow” (Die Luft der Freiheit Weht) to get the Economics 1 motto: “The Winds of Economic Freedom Blow.  Examples of opporunity costs this year were hi-tech leaders Mark Zukerberg, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, who considered the opportunity cost of college, dropped out, and did pretty well—or Eric Schmidt, John Chambers, and Art Levinson (Google, Cisco, Genentech) who also considered opportunity cost of college, stayed in, and also did pretty well.

This year we are trying out a new Economics 1 lecture hall, CEMEX Auditorium in Zambrano Hall, named after the Mexican-based global cement company and its CEO Lorenzo Zambrano, who also didn’t drop out of college and then did well enough to donate the money for the lecture hall.

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