(Today was the last day of classes here. The final slide for my macro course was an abridged version of this Brecht poem, which captures the discomfort any reasonable person ought to feel when they first study economics. The students could relate.)
Years Ago When I
Years ago when I was studying the ways of the Chicago Wheat Exchange
I suddenly grasped how they managed the whole world’s wheat there
And yet I did not grasp it either and lowered the book
I knew at once: you’ve run
Into bad trouble.
There was no feeling of enmity in me and it was not the injustice
Frightened me, only the thought that
Their way of going about it won’t do
Filled me completely.
These people, I saw, lived by the harm
Which they did, not by the good.
This was a situation, I saw, that could only be maintained
By crime because too bad for most people.
In this way every
Achievement of reason, invention or discovery
Must lead only to still greater wretchedness.
Such and suchlike I thought at the moment
Far from anger or lamenting, as I lowered the book
With its description of the Chicago wheat market and exchange.
Much trouble and tribulation