I’m not sure what to title this. “Why I’m not an economist… Why economists are hypocrites…” but I decided to go with something positive.
So I graduated about a year and a half ago with an Economics degree from George Mason University. I enjoyed the way my degree taught me to think and analyze things. I agree with the tenets of Mason’s econ program (free markert libertarianism). But I didn’t want to be an economist.
I realized that if I became an economist, I would sit in a room and write papers, do studies, and pontificate about things that I had no hope of ever changing. That sounded like a career of frustration. I also knew that my career would be dependent on intra office politics and more schooling compared to actual accomplishment and ability.
So I decided to become a programmer. I have used and programmed computers for years and started off college as a CS major (thats another story). I built a we app in my spare time ( http://formula1db.com ) a couple of weeks after I finished classes and was quickly hired. I chose to be a programmer for many reasons
1. I build things. I like building things and having a tangible result. I take pride in this and I get to do this with my career.
2. This is not a risk averse field. Yes I could hose a database or a server, but a properly architected system will have a backup plan. This allows potential employers and me to be much more daring. I was able to be hired with comparatively little experience because if I screwed up they would only be out my wage (I couldn’t nock down a building, kill a patient, or cause millions in financial damage by a mistake).
3. This is a field with low barriers to entry. This was important for me for my initial job but is also important for a couple of other reasons. I can cheaply start my own company, I only have to feed myself for a couple months. I can also practice at home on my own equipment to become better with my trade. Imagine a pediatrician asking to take a baby home for a night or two to practice appendectomys. Because there is a low barrier to entry this career also doesn’t suffer from ivory towers, any nobody can come up with a good idea, I like this because it keeps me on my feet.
Now I have tried to be positive, here is some friendly jabbing at economists, specifically free market classicals.
For a group which decries unions, government regulation, and barriers to entry aren’t they all hypocrits for chosing a profession which has all of those characteristics. (I will write the first comment on this article picking my arguments apart).
My degree advisor, Bryan Caplan has written many papers about why higher education is inneficient and should be disincentivized. This was a running joke around the department because he of course also argued that economists are important and should be incetivized, I think we all recognized the humor.