Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Shoes - “Capital Gain”
I had plenty of majors in college, started out with engineering undecided as my dad had said: “The world will always need engineers and accountants.” The calculus was too tough so I switched to undecided then to business undecided, then to management. My brother said: “You’ll end up managing a Kmart in Mandan,” so I went with banking and finance, then because I was having trouble with Intermediate Accounting 302, I slid over to economics which meant no more accounting and more reading*. This was especially true with Economics 400: The History of Economic Thought, a class I rallied around. The professor was a youngish bearded man lecturing about heavily influential economists of the past and their theories: Smith, Veblen, Marx, Malthus, Keynes. The class-ending assignment was to meet with the professor in his office for thirty minutes, tell him which school of historical economic thought you’d like to write on, and he’d advise you on reading materials and give you guidance on how to start and outline your paper.
I said I’d like to write about Marxist economics. Oh yeah, he said, as his eyes lit up a little. Nobody else was writing on this. He listed countries that used Marxist economics: the Soviet Union, Cuba, China ... then mentioned that the prior night he had had some Chinese beer and asked what us kids drank these days. I said I was a Schmidt man and then couldn’t resist taking a shot at the frat boys and their Corona** and limes. He dismissed Corona as a poorer man’s Miller High Life. We spent the last half of our session talking beer, then as time was wrapping up he gave me a reading list and an idea of how to to tackle my paper.
I spent hours at the library with Marx, Engels, and Lenin interpretations and dissertations, along with other assorted light reading. Then I sat at a table and typed and typed and typed. I wove all that Marxist economics stuff together and also managed to rip Soviet-leaning authors of one book for never mentioning the USSR’s 1939 invasion of Finland. I hesitate to dig around and find this paper now, it is best romanticized and left in the past. Then again I should pull it out for the parts where I quoted Bruce Springsteen, U2, and Megadeth. I figured I would either get a C+ for the effort or an A for the audacity, I got an A. Hooray.
*And now I earn a living from my day job of running my own bookkeeping business of twenty years.
**One of my roommates that senior year was a bartender at Whitey’s in East Grand Forks. He told the tale of how some afternoon regulars starting ordering bottles of Grain Belt Premium with a slice of lime in them to mock the frat dorks. They referred to it as a “Green Preem.”