“In Retirement”

People often ask me, “What have you done in the 30 years since you retired?” My answer is always the same. I tell them that I’m a nominally retired economist.

For the first two years I traveled around the Country in my Ford Aerostar van. I had reconfigured it so I could live in it or out of 5454351244_55150d2b32_oit. During the day the curtains came down so that I wouldn’t miss any of the beautiful scenery much of which was new to me. As an East Coast kid, I was used to seeing the sunrise and the horizon over water. But I had never seen it over land, the spectacular mountains, or the sunset over the ocean. What a majestic experience!

Whenever there was a craft show in the area I’d be there. I gave up on the economics of the health-care system (that’s another long story) and turned to the Economics of Fine Art and Fine Craft. I specialized in the study of the high-end craft market from an economist’s perspective. Among others, I attended the Baltimore American Craft Council Show, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, the Smithsonian Craft Show, the New York SOFA show and Wendy Rosen wholesale shows. There I met and became friends with a number of fine craftspersons from all over the country. I studied the market’s characteristics, met and worked with the artists, and lectured on issues that concerned them. They included: ‘Pricing your work’; ‘Choosing your marketing venue’; ‘Functional and aesthetically pleasing vs. solely ornamental’; and ‘Your markets and its submarkets’ .

After two years on the road, I decided it was time to settle down. Initially, I thought I would go back to Chapel Hill. That’s not the way things worked out. I spent part of the two years taking care of my mother. She spent the eleven months before she died at the end of November 1986 in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. (Another long story.) When I wasn’t on the road I lived in her apartment and experienced the hubbub the of the Village.

After her death I needed to get away. I’d been to St. Thomas in the USVI with my ex-wife, many years earlier. (Another long bernieonstjohnstory.) But I had never been to St. John. I decided that it would be the ideal place to go. Never did I know! So my son Paul and I took a trip down there.

St. John turned out to be quiet, peaceful, beautiful, warm, sunny, a tropical island with a saltwater pool they called the ocean. But mostly it was the people, the locals, the St. Johnians who I really liked. They were so friendly, so accepting, so welcoming.
On the boat back to St. Thomas to catch the flight up to the States, I turned to Paul. Before I could say a word he said, “Yes, I know Dad.” Six months later I moved to St. John and never expected to leave. For the 18 years I lived there, every time I took the ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay I felt like I was going home. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of my story.

Even as a teenager, when we moved from Queens in New York City to Wonderful Western North Carolina, I was fascinated by relatively isolated communities. I called them ‘island communities’. For me it opened up the question, How were they able to survive, often over generations, given the limited resources that were available and with little contact with the outside world? What was their way of life?  What could we learn from them?

Initially I decided to work on a project I called “The Living History of the Caribbean”.documenting the people, their culture and their crafts and products. During earlier times they made a number of important items locally. They included the boats, dwellings, stonewalls, fish pots, baskets and musical instruments. All were made from local materials using simple tools and their fine skills that they developed over generations.  My intention was to find the skillholders who were still around that knew how to produce them. I wanted them to produce the product so I could document and preserve the techniques of production; showcase the quality of their work; and show how their products contributed to the local economy. That way the process would be preserved for future generations. Once the skillholders were gone their process would be lost with them.

Mr. Herman Prince's, St. John Market Basket.
Mr. Herman Prince’s, St. John Market Basket.

As a starter, after I settled there and developed a friendship with Mr. Herman Prince, St John’s premier basketmaker-teacher, I decided to study St. John baskets.  He said that I couldn’t write about them until I learned how to make them. So taking his advice, I took his class. Not only did I learn how to make the baskets, I learned about the St. John history and culture that made them possible. It led to the article I published in The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, published by The Museum of American Folk Art entitled, “Basketmaking on the Island of St. John” (Summer, 1990, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 52-59) In it you can see a picture of Mr. Prince. You can also see an image of his fine handiwork in A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets by Nicholas R. Bell (p. 144). His basket is now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection.

Along the way, I put together a collection of 25 baskets. Included are some exceptionally fine baskets made by Mr. Prince, Capt. Victor Sewer and Ms. Louise Sewer. Their other baskets  are more elaborate than Mr. Prince’s St. John Market Basket in the Smithsonian collection. My hope is to create a video that documents the collection and honors the baskets and their basketmakers, all of whom have since died.

Bernie and his good friend, Mr. Guy H. Benjamin (Benji), who he met while living in the USVI.
Bernie and his good friend, Mr. Guy H. Benjamin (Benji), who he met while living in the USVI.

Working with the elders revealed that an independent, self-sufficient  free black community had existed on St. John’s East End from the late 1700s. That was 50 years before emancipation! It also led to my twenty-five year friendship with Guy H. Benjamin (Benji). He was acknowledged by all as St. John’s elder statesman. Benji and I spent many, many wonderful hours together until his death in at the age of 98 in 2012. We collaborated on a detailed study of the East End community from the 1790s to 1956. 

I promised not to tell you any long stories but I do have to tell you a short one. I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible. St. John was home. I never intended to leave there. In January 1999 I was in  the “bush” at Cinnamon Bay collecting hoop vine with my friend, Ralph Prince. Ralph has a sideline — basketmaking. For those of you who don’t know, “hoop” is what St. John baskets are made from. We were gathering it for his dad, Herman Prince.

I developed back pain and went to see my chiropractor, Dr. Alex Politis. He didn’t like what he was seeing and suggested that I go to the Clinic — the Myra Keating Smith Clinic. (Be careful Bernie, that’s another long story or two or more, in fact.) The short of it is that Dr. Barrett suspected I was having a heart attack but did not have the enzymes necessary to test for it. So she sent me off to the hospital on St. Thomas. (I had to get in an ambulance, an ambulance boat, then another ambulance before I could get there.) Their conclusion, at about one in the morning, was that I had a liver problem and they sent me home. After taking a taxi to Red Hook, I had to wait for the next ferry to Cruz Bay. It left at six in the morning. The next day I was diaphoretic, so drove myself to the clinic and was sent back to the hospital on St. Thomas. I went through the same routine all over again. This time they put me in intensive care.

I had had a heart attack. When I was released from the hospital, a friend accompanied me to the States. The long story short, at Duke University Hospital I had a CAB4X, a four vessel coronary bypass operation. After recovering I went back to St. John and split my time between there and Chapel Hill for a while. Although I never intended to leave St. John, I eventually decided to move back to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. The health-care was better there. That’s the short version.

Initially, I intended to continue working on the economics of high-end craft. However, based on my recent experience with the health-care system, I decided to resume my study of it. After returning to the States, I met Erin Coyle, an herbalist, massage therapist, wellness counselor and yoga teacher. Those are just some of her talents, as you will see. We found each other, developed a friendship and a fine working relationship.We decided to work together on a book entitled, “The Imperfect Health-Care Market: Making it work for you”, (remember imperfect markets is my specialty). Along the way we put together a website to let people know what we were doing. Check it out — www.imperfecthealthcaremarket.com.

We soon realized, however, that the health-care system was seriously broken. It was in the control of the stakeholders who had manipulated the legislative process to their benefit. Whatever we had to say would not be heard. So rather than waste our time, we went back to each of our true passion — Art. We have just published “The MiniBook: A Guide to Self Care, Volume I”. It is based on sayings that come from my experience and images to go along with them based on hers. It has been well received. There’s more to come. Volumes II-V are on their way!

Erin also convinced me that I should start “blogging”. My first response was “Blog? What’s a blog?” Obviously, I took to the idea and very much enjoy writing posts and getting feedback from my readers. (Thank you, very much.)

That’s how I spent my first 30 years in retirement. If you’re interested in seeing what I am doing now and planning for the next ?? years, check out my blog post entitled, “At 87”.

Some people say to me, “You call this ‘retirement’?” And I say, “Yes, it certainly is.” Do you know why? Because my definition of retirement is doing what I want to, when I want to do it. Retirement has given me the opportunity to take care of myself and it keeps me involved and engaged. I particularly enjoy working with the younger generations, sharing experiences, learning from them and using my training and experience to help them understand and cope with the world, their world. What could be better than that?


My Career Path

boyscoutsMy dad had an eighth grade education. He took over his dad’s business, New York Drop Cloth Manufacturing Co., which made drop cloths from cotton cloth, twill and drill. He turned it into Diamond Brand Canvas Products Co., a manufacturer of tarpaulins, tents and camping equipment. It was a small company, but any related equipment with the Boy Scout label on it in the 1930s and ’40s, was made by my dad’s firm. He had no understanding or appreciation of academics and expected me, his eldest son, to work in the business — and ultimately to take it over.

From the time I was 13, whenever I wasn’t in school, I worked in the business and enjoyed it very much. Obviously, dad’s expectation did not to come to pass. By the time I was 17, I had worked myself up in the business. I started by sweeping floors, then became a shipping clerk, worked on the cutting table, made the patterns, and used the grommet machine. I had gone through the various other stages of production and office management.

I came up with an idea that would simplify the flow of materials. It was a relatively small change that could be easily reversed if it didn’t work. I presented the idea to my dad. He said, “No!” No explanation came along with it. I mentioned it to an acquaintance of his who had come to visit; He suggested that I ask again, so I did. My father said, “No. Only 60% of the decisions I make are right. If I don’t make them all, I don’t know that 60% will be right.” Even at 17 I knew that I could not work for, or under, my father. There was no chance that I could make a creative contribution. After high school, instead of working in the business full-time, I went on to college.

I came to UNC–Chapel Hill directly from Fieldston. At the beginning of my senior year my dad asked me to leave school and come to work for him. I said no. I was unsure as to what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” Initially, I thought chemistry would be my calling or perhaps genetics. Those turned out to be wrong as well. After I graduated in 1949 with a BS in Commerce and the equivalent of a joint major in Economics, I was looking to get a corporate job in purchasing. Another expectation went down the tubes. But that’s a longer story that I won’t regale you with.

What I did do was to go on to Vanderbilt University (Vandy) to work under Prof. George W. Stocking. He had recently completed the third of a trilogy with Prof. Myron Watkins of NYU. The title of the book was “Monopoly and Free Enterprise”. It was an area that had interested me since high school. I went to Vandy with the expectation of getting a Masters and then going to work at the Federal Trade Commission.

After my first year they asked me to stay on for my doctorate. They gave me the position as Dr. Stocking’s research assistant. How could I refuse? I found my calling in economics, specializing in the Economics of Industrial Organization, the study of markets — how do they work, how well do they work, and how can they be made to work better. After my second year, the department changed the requirements for getting the degree. They made them retroactive. (That’s another long story). Over the previous summer I had worked at the FTC on Prof. Stocking’s research on basing point pricing. I called my friends there and asked if a position might be available. They said yes. So I left and took a job as a Business Economist at the FTC in 1952. That was just where I wanted to be. I spent two years there. I loved what I was doing. I was working on merger cases under the newly enacted Sect. 7 of the Clayton Act. Not only did I like what I was doing, my supervisors and colleagues, and both of the economists and the attorneys, liked what I did as well.

A problem developed. The Korean War ended. Prior to it, at any job in the Federal Government, you were either a permanent employee or a temporary employee. I came in under a new classification, “Temporary Indefinite”. How’s that for a title! Although I was in a permanent position and they liked what I was doing, when the government downsized I was fired and replaced by a “permanent employee”. The one who replaced me had worked in the Office of Price Stabilization (OPS) and had no knowledge of or experience with merger cases. Since I expected to be drafted (another long story) I decided to go back to Vandy and complete my degree. Prof. Stocking welcomed me back. By the way, I turned out to be 4F — medically unqualified for military service.

I got my degree. My thesis “The Merger Component in the Growth of a Firm: A case study of General Electric” was later published by the NYU Press. I went on to teach at Northwestern University and Michigan State University. Then I joined the Center for Naval Analysis — Navy’s equivalent of the RAND Corporation. From there I went on to Temple UniversityBy then I had worked my way up the ranks to full Professor. The Department put me up to become Chair on a 17-2 vote. The Dean turned me down after he had previously asked me to take on that position. The reason — I wanted to represent the Department to the Dean and not the Dean to the Department. From there I went on to George Washington University Medical Center, as an economist, and then to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s Graduate Economics Program in Northern Virginia as Acting and then Associate Director until I retired in 1985. After settling on St. John in the USVI, I taught for a while at the University of the Virgin Islands.

As an aside, some years after I left the FTC I got a job offer for the position I had aspired to — Head of the Division of Economic Reports. By the way, it was a permanent position! The climate at the Commission had changed and rather than investigating economic activities of various industries in order to determine their economic impact, the higher ups decided that the role of the Division was to support the legal activities of the Commission. They had a separate Division of Economic Evidence tasked with that responsibility. I did not think it was the appropriate role for the one I was asked to head up. So I turned the job down.

My Career path was not a smooth one. I thought of myself as a researcher and never really about becoming a teacher. As it turned out I loved teaching and passing what I learned on to my students. My interaction with them also added to my understanding of my profession.

But by paying attention to what was really right for me and by learning what each step had to offer, I have been able to find out what I enjoy doing. Using the skills I have developed, I have been able to help others see things in a different way, and help them solve some problems they face. In addition, I am able to pass on what I learned by following my own path ,to younger generations, struggling to find their own way. I love doing what I do and hopefully it also makes a contribution. What could be better than that?

You Should Have Been an Architect

After reading my blog post about Fieldston, my friend Don wrote, “You should have thought about architecture — you have a keen eye for design, which is a good start, but also a keen mind for function — as in the design of the porches facing south.” That opens up a backstory, or to use the term my friend, Grace Camblos, facilitator of writing workshops taught me — it’s a prompt.

As a teenager I studied, and was enamored with, the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Moreover, I was a Bauhaus kid — Form follows Function. Even at that age I was always designing buildings, laying out floor plans and seeing how to correct the problems in the buildings I was working in and the projects I was involved with. I have always been interested in helping determine ways of utilizing the resources that the environment makes available while still maintaining its potential to do that and in preserving its natural beauty. See my blog post on the cabin I lived in when I was fourteen.

Orthographic of stairs
Orthographic of stairs

In shop, I took up woodturning under Mr. Kent and made a Lazy Susan. I kept it for years, but it never met my standards. Mr. Houghton, who was the head of the shop, taught mechanical drawing. One day he was attempting to explain to one of my classmates what the orthographic of a model he was holding would look like. I’m almost willing to bet my bottom dollar that you don’t know what an orthographic is. Imagine the two-dimensional images of a three-dimensional object — front view, top view and side view — on an 11” x 16” sheet of paper. That is an orthographic. I grabbed a pencil and a sheet of paper and sketched out what the model would look like, including the dotted lines for the edges that were not directly visible. “That’s what it would look like” Mr. Houghton said to the student. He asked me if I would like to take mechanical drawing. “Sure” was my reply.

Now let me introduce you to another concept. Again I’m almost certain you are unaware of it. It is called the “error of enclosure”. You start the mechanical drawing at one corner — for each of the three images — work yourself along the first, second, third and fourth side and if all goes well you are back to the spot where you first started. The distance between where you started and where you actually ended up is called the error of enclosure. For me it was always too large. Although I could easily see what the image should look like, it never came out the way it should. So I gave up on mechanical drawing. I learned later in life than my fine coordination skills are poor.

Let me say that, at the time, the first step on the road to becoming an architect, was as an architect’s apprentice. In that role you were responsible for creating the plans and images of the structures. It was done by using mechanical drawing. Computer assisted graphics did not exist. Need I say more?

Photo © Timothy Hursley. Paolo Soleri
Photo © Timothy Hursley. Paolo Soleri

Later in life I worked with the well-known bellmaker/architect, Paolo Soleri. I traveled with him from his home in Phoenix to Arcosanti, the village he designed, constructed and ran. Both the ideas and the implementation are important. However, they don’t have to come from just one person. It is important to be open to and listen to those of others. I learned from Solari by counterexample that regardless of how creative and imaginative you are, it is very important to incorporate the ideas and suggestions of those who are working along with you. All the answers do not come from the person at the top, even if he/she is in control. You can look up to him/her but they are not God. You are all part of a team.

I also considered set design as a career. After checking around I found there were two schools — Yale and Carnegie Tech. However, at the time, the employment opportunities were very limited. They were either on Broadway or summer theater. There was no TV. I first saw TV on a cathode ray tube at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. However, it did not begin to flourish until the 1950s after World War II. Here again my lack of mechanical aptitude and skills came into play. I did not think I was good enough to make it under those conditions. So I gave up on that as well.

I have always been fascinated by architecture and by structure, function and design. And by the relationship of structures to the land around them, to their environment. In spite of that, I decided not to become an architect. Who knows what would have happened if I had grown up knowing a fine, supportive architect who had taken me under their wing or if we had computer graphics at the time.

So, Don, that is why I didn’t become an architect.

I have been able to use those interests and skills in the field that I have chosen — economics. I also added the fascination and understanding of process — the steps necessary to get things done — that I learned working in manufacturing as a teenager. And then there is my love of the arts; architecture being only one of them. In college, my art history professor, Dr. Clemens Sommer, taught that “Art is a product of the culture”. Since economics is an essential component of the culture,  I have been able to incorporate all of those concepts, interests and skills into my work in economics. See Behind Each Work of Art to learn more about how I have done this.

Behind Each Work of Art

Statue of David, by Leonardo da Vinci

There is more Behind Each Work of Art then the artist’s imagination, creativity and skill – much more. Frequently when you look at a beautiful work of art you have no idea of how it was made or what it took to make it. The process is lost. That is especially true when it was made in the distant past and when it has attributes that make it special. That is even truer — if that is a word — of the economic conditions and the culture that made its creation possible. When the work of art is massive and, as in some cases, when it took many years or even generations to create, there is always the open question about the conditions that made its creation possible. Importantly, when it took many, many workers to create it, they had to be supported and provided for during the entire time. How the societies were able to accomplish that, and how the works of art have survived the ravages of aging, wars and hostilities, as well as the process of production — how they were created and what made their creation possible — is lost to history as well.

Some of the renowned works of art that have survived are the Pyramids in Egypt, the Mayan pyramids and temples, the Taj Mahal and Hagia Sophia, the Turkish Cathedral in Istanbul. They are still around to be seen, experienced and admired. In part because they were made of materials, like stone and metals, that survive the ravages of time and the elements. Art works made of other materials, like wood, sod, leather, cloth or ice, are not so lucky.
Baskets are a classic example. Almost every society has them in one form or another. They were made from local materials.
Mr. Herman Prince's, St. John Market Basket.
Mr. Herman Prince’s, St. John Market Basket.

As with every other art form and craft, some reach of the level of fine art. Some of the contemporary American ones that have reached that level are in the Smithsonian Collection. They can be seen in A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets by Nicholas R. Bell (Renwick Gallery of the American Art Museum distributed by the University of North Carolina Press). Unlike the buildings, monuments, and artifacts that have survived, all we know about the baskets of yesteryear is the impression that they left in pottery shards — the remnants of the pots they were used to make. We don’t know what the baskets were made of or how they were made. The same is true for all the other works of art that degraded naturally or were lost through the ages. My art history professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Clemens Sommer, based the course on the concept that “art is a product of the culture”. It is interesting to reflect on the double meaning of the word “product” in that context.

It is important to recognize that behind every work of art there is a process.  Along with it is the creator’s skill that is required to bring it to fruition. Often it is a skill that only they possessed and held as a closely guarded secret. It died with them. Moreover, the technology and the economic conditions have to be just right, to provide the components necessary to make it all happen.

Patrons, such as Isabella D'este of Mantua supported the work of Leonardo DaVinci.
Patrons, such as Isabella D’este of Mantua
supported the work of Leonardo DaVinci.

It is also necessary to support the creator and the others involved in the creative process. During the time it takes to create the work of art, the artist and everyone else involved in the process must be able to take care of themselves. Either they are able to provide the goods and services involved themselves or someone else must provide them. It could be a spouse, partner, a friend. a patron or the result of a grant. The bottom line is that without those goods and services and that support the piece would not, could not exist. Furthermore, the culture has an important role. In addition to providing the technological and economic conditions that made it possible, it gave rise to the idea — the concept — and it acknowledged the importance of the work of art once it was completed.

The acceptance and approval of the work of art is manifest when someone purchases it. Both the buyer and the artist are made better off. Its new owner was willing to give up the purchase price and whatever else they could have bought with it. The artist leaves with the funds that hopefully allows him/her to achieve their objective, with the realization that someone liked the work enough to pay the asking price. Perhaps it will encourage them to create additional pieces. In addition to the artist’s time, energy, resources, and funds (TERF), other materials, tools, and equipment are used to create the work of art– to bring the idea into its physical form, someone else’s TERF had to be used to make and provide them. They are integral to the piece. It could not exist without them.
As important as the artist’s contribution is, the role and value of the goods and services provided by others cannot, and should not, be neglected. Typically, those who provided them, expect to be reimbursed for their contribution. They are part of a bigger picture. When viewing any work of art, whether it was created in the distant past or more recently, it is important to understand the work from the perspective of this broader context. The preconditions that led to it must be present. Important as it is to acknowledge and honor the work itself and its creator, it is equally important to understand the economic, technological, and cultural conditions that made the work of art possible. Behind each work of art is a great woman: The Earth Mother.

The Fieldston Years

EthicalCultureLet me tell you about the advantages of a good high school education and the importance of one’s experiences during those formative years. I was a 1930’s kid. I entered The Ethical Culture Fieldston School in September 1941 as a Third Former, a high school freshman. Fieldston is an educational arm of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. It is the granddaddy of the humanistic movement. It was founded by Felix Adler in the 1880s.

Three months later, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we were into World War II. The war ended in August four years later, shortly after our Class of ’45 graduated. Of the seventy-six students in the class, fifty were girls. Many, if not most, had been together since kindergarten, either at Downtown Ethical or at Fieldston Lower and Middle School. I was the only Queens kid.

My previous school experience was in traditional Queens public schools — PS 48, 23, 21 and 20. In fact, I was accepted by Fieldston directly from 8A. Consequently, I never finished the eighth grade and never graduated from elementary school.

We lived in Flushing, a mile away from the end of the No. 7 IRT subway. It took you to Times Square. From there you picked up the Broadway Subway and traveled to the end of the line at 242nd Street and hiked up the hill to Fieldson. To avoid the long, daily two-way commute during the week I boarded with three local families over the next four years. Being away from home during the week helped me learn how to take care of myself. Continue reading “The Fieldston Years”

At 87

I can no longer say I’m 86 going on 87; I’m 87. It’s been a good year — 2014. My birth year and the calendar year almost match since I was born on January 7th.

I’m feeling fine, although I must admit to tiring more easily, and that I can’t walk as fast, or as far as I used to in my younger years. Both my cardiologist, and my internist said they don’t want to see me for another year. I’m going to try to hold them to that.

I treat every day as a holiday. They have been fun and productive.

Bernie order a crepe from the crepe truck at Erin and Grace's wedding.
Bernie order a crepe from the crepe truck at Erin and Grace’s wedding.

The big news is that my coworker, colleague and buddy, Erin Coyle, and her partner, Grace, got married. First on October 4th in DC and then again, a week later on the 11th here in North Carolina. Both ceremonies were fantastic and it pleases me to have helped make them happen. As it turned out, the second one was not necessary. The law had changed. Can you imagine that? Two beautiful, fine young women getting legally married to one another. Moreover, the marriage was recognized by both the Federal and the State governments. That never would have or could have happened when I was younger. Some things have changed.

Not all changes have been for the better. When I was growing up and moved to North Carolina in the 1940’s, it was the most liberal of the Southern States. Frank Porter Graham was the President  of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill at the time. He later became our U.S. Senator and so did Sam Ervin. Last year, many who participated in our Moral Mondays were arrested in Raleigh, as the Federal and State governments have become more and more under the control of corporations and big money. The last time I checked, the Supreme Court said that corporations were “persons!” I thought “persons” had a heart. When I taught economics, the role of government was to rein in corporate excesses. That is my field. I promise, for now at least, I’ll get off my soapbox.

When I was growing up, the people who lived within the boundaries of any of the 48 — now 50 —States, were responsible for its governance and represented it at the federal level — not outsiders and outside money. Admittedly, governments as economic institutions have problems and imperfections. especially in periods of change. I can speak to that professionally. From a lay perspective, there are clearly political issues as well. Oh, I’m sorry. I promised I get off my soapbox. 87-year-olds forget!

In part, at least, those changes have caused me to shift my focus. I was focusing on a project called: The Imperfect Health-Care Market: Making it work for you. But healthcare is in the hands of the stakeholders, promoting their own self-interest, not those of the potential beneficiaries. What I have to say will not be heard by those who could improve the situation. 

Instead, along with Erin’s help, I am working on the economics of art and craft. Here’s some of the papers that are currently in the works:

    • An Economist’s Take on Pricing Art and Craft — A Pricing Manual

    • The Economics of Fine Art and Fine Craft

    • Behind Each Work of Art

The big news is that Erin and I have just published a book, called: The MiniBook: a Guide to Self Care. And this is only the first volume! It is a compilation of my sayings and the images Erin created to go along with them. For more about the book check out out our website. It has been well received. If you like what you see, we’d be glad to send you a copy of the book or prints of any of the images along with the sayings that turn you on.

And, of course, there’s always the blog. But you already know about it.

Welcome to the New Year — 2015

Peace and Love

Think Before You Say “Yes”

Last August I talked about the Cost of War and how taking it into consideration beforehand improves our understanding and choices. In this post I would like to show how those deliberations help in our day to day decisions as well.

When someone asks you to do something — anything — think before you say, “Yes”. As adults our primary responsibility is to take care of ourselves first. That involves providing the basic inputs required to survive. It also includes fulfilling any commitments and obligations that we have taken on including the tasks involved in every day living. Either we perform the required tasks ourselves, provide goods and services to others in exchange for the ones they provide us, or earn the income necessary to purchase them.

Regardless of how we get those goods and services, what we use up is our own time, energy, resources and funds. Let’s call it our TERF. Since there are only twenty four hours in a day, the amount of TERF each of us has available is limited. Survival requires that certain things be done first including making sure we have enough of the basic inputs — clean air, fresh water, food, rest, clothing and shelter. Providing for them is our primary priority. That always requires a certain amount of our TERF. Another priority is allocating the TERF required to fulfill any commitments and obligations we have taken on. They include those involving our spouses or partners, having and raising children, taking care of sick or aging parents, friends or animals, etc. Here again, each of them requires more of our limited TERF.

Continue reading “Think Before You Say “Yes””