History and economics go together at its core, as both are concerned with the study of how people in the present period make a living and survive. The field of economics is concerned with how people make choices about their own scarce resources, which they can acquire or withhold, and how those choices affect the future availability of those same resources. For example, when I decide to invest in a business I expect that it will make me more money in the long run than not doing so, but I also have a psychological investment in the company because I worked hard for it and I want to see it prosper. The decisions I make regarding my economics of history may be motivated by personal factors such as what my friends are doing, but they are also shaped by my long term goals for my career.
My understanding of economics has had particularly profound effects on my life. When I was a teenager, I loved to read about all the great wars and conflicts that happened around the world. Looking back on them now, I realize how important it was for me to learn how they were settled, how they were prosecuted, how they affected the population, and what lessons we could learn from them. I still read about and discuss these topics in the classroom and with other students today, and I continue to learn from them.
Of course, economics and history are not the only things that interest me. In college I was interested in international affairs, which of course had an effect on world events. But the two areas of interest that I've mentioned above are only a small part of what I teach at my school. When I start to get into the meat of the subject, it gets interesting; in fact, it gets intriguing. I love to demonstrate how decisions made today can have long-lasting effects on the world of the tomorrow.
Fortunately, economics and history make such a compelling case together. Students' understanding of world events grows as they gain insight into how the decisions being made today impact our future. They also learn how the decisions being made today can affect each other in the future and how those decisions will affect future decisions. This economic activity becomes real and becomes something that impacts them in the future.
Economics and history do not always agree on everything, but they usually agree on most things. For example, when I teach students about the decisions being made today in Washington D.C. regarding the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (PTAA), the issues that must be resolved are the political decision to ratify the pact, the negotiations that took place, the legislation that was passed, and finally the signing of the pact by the Obama administration and its negotiating partners. But historians know all about these things because they . . . . . . happened many times over the course of history. And even if economics does not predict what is going to happen in Washington D.C., it at least gives students a good foundation for thinking about what might happen.
I've talked many times about historical events and why I believe they are so important in understanding the economics of the day. I want to continue to share this knowledge with students because economic events have a direct effect on the future of the nation and the world. When I do this, I realize how important it is to learn as much as possible about these events so we can think through different scenarios as they arise. And hopefully, we can prevent future government problems that we are all so worried about now.