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Presented at Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA.


Economics is, in the first place, a science of human behavior and motivation. Tom Rose summarizes it this way: Man seeks to improve his sense of well being. In doing so, he tries to maximize his benefits and/or minimize his costs. His ability to assign value and to rank his priorities allows him to work toward his goals by rationally calculating the pluses and minuses of his actions. Rational choice, however, requires some degree of predictability in the outcomes. Those who learn that fortune is fickle -- that life is absurd -- are apt to trust more in lady luck than their own prudence: hence gambling. And here is the rub: man is not perfectly rational and the world as we experience it is not only stingy but deceptive. Economics, the science of scarcity and choice, is itself of limited application. A purely economic analysis of society is too narrow. Besides scarcity, we must contend with malice, envy, the uncertainties of life, and the general orneriness of human nature, as well.