There’s a lot I could say. I think this post is so delayed because whenever I think about writing I wonder where in the world I’ll start. I guess the logical place to start is where I am right now. And I’m actually in the lovely town of Auburn Alabama, enjoying the Austrian Economics Research Conference at the Mises Institute. Yes, I know you’re jealous. It is amazing. Seriously. I think we sometimes get really distracted by our circumstances in life. We get caught up in where we’re at and forget where we want to be. Sometimes we need to be grounded and reminded, “ah, yes, this is what I love and this is my passion in life.” Because, honestly, how many people are true to their passion? Sadly, not many. It is far to easy to live forever trying to get along, doing all the little mundane things, and never considering how that might fit into our dreams. So I don’t think it is unusual to need this “regrounding” in a world which is about fitting in and achieving mere mediocrity. Getting back to AERC, it is reminding me of what I am passionate about, and although I haven’t the slightest idea how or when I’ll end up realizing my dreams, this is what I love and I can’t forget it. There’s just nothing like the intellectual stimulation of the Mises Institute. And the best part of AERC is that it is all about the work that needs to be done yet. It is like, “oh, here is the complete and exhaustive exposition of the Austrian School of Economics.” Far from it, nearly every lecturer says at some point, “and there is much more research to be done on this subject.” Which inspires me because that means this is an alive thing. We’re not talking about a static body of knowledge. This is an area that is constantly expanding in knowledge, interpretation, and application. So as a young student, this inspires me to consider what advancements will be made in my own lifetime, and hopefully I will make my own contributions someday.
I ended up coming to AERC 2013 on my own for the first time. Which meant getting a bus to O’Hare, flying to Atlanta, and then getting a shuttle to Auburn. It was a really long ordeal since my plane was delayed by about 3 hours. I distinctly remember the first time I ever flew on my own. It was actually a year ago, for ASC 2012. I was terrified. For weeks ahead I imagined every single thing that could possibly go wrong, and of course each potential problem seemed like such a catastrophe. It was incredibly nerve-wracking, to say the least. By the time I arrived home safely I decided it was actually almost enjoyable, although it took me some time to recover from the terror I had inflicted on myself, haha. But this year was completely different. My initial reaction to the thought of doing the entire trip solo was, “wow, this is going to be such a fun experience!” I even resisted printing out maps of the airports and plotting my way ahead of time. I made sure I had the necessary info with me (boarding pass, shuttle reservations, etc…) but refused to worry about anything until I actually crossed that bridge. And instead of panicking when I was told my flight was delayed, I was just like, “oh, ok, let me call the shuttle company and move my reservation.” And I got to walk around O’Hare about 5 times in my extra time, haha. It was actually fantastic. I used to hate changes, being incredibly OCD or paranoid or whatever, and on Tuesday I changed my hotel arrangements, and then my flight was delayed, so two major changes in my plans, and yet oddly enough, I wasn’t bothered by any of it. The entire trip is just a grand adventure, no matter what happens. So definitely a good experience. And I get to do it all again on Sunday!
On a more serious note, I think the most thought-provoking theme I’ve encountered at AERC so far is the question of, “why did the Industrial Revolution happen when it did?” After realizing how civilization didn’t really progress all that much for thousands of years, and then suddenly in the past 200 years there’s been a dramatic transformation of culture, one has to ask, “why?” We understand the technological advances that became the Industrial Revolution, but the deeper question is, “why did those things happen at that time?” Or more precisely, “why didn’t the Industrial Revolution happen sooner? Why did it take thousands of years of little progress, relatively speaking, to get to that point?” Several speakers at AERC have offered their thoughts on this, and it has made me extremely interested in the subject. I don’t think it is an issue of pure historical speculation, I think this is relevant to modern times. How so? Well, if we understand what caused the Industrial Revolution, we would also discover how that progress could be reversed, and knowing this would allow us to hopefully prevent such a tragedy. We should all be interested in ensuring that society doesn’t regress but continue improving.
I will probably be blogging about this again in the future, among other subjects that I’ve thought about since being here, so you’ll hear about it again, I’m sure.
The other thing about AERC is being able to talk to like-minded people. Nothing compares to being surrounded by people who are discussing monetary theory, the business cycle, ethics, philosophy, and pretty much everything else. It is a place to talk to people who are interested in intellectual pursuits, and although everyone comes from diverse backgrounds and have their own unique interests, we are able to share our enjoyment of these subjects. We don’t agree on everything, but we all are here because we like learning and discussing new ideas. To me, that is what really matters.
Well, that’s about it all for now. I may get time for another post this weekend, but if not, I doubt I’ll get a chance to write for the next couple weeks. I have a feeling life will be really crazy once I get home. But I’ll be back…eventually : )