Bringing Econ 101 to life


Local News

October 2, 2019 - 10:49 AM

Mike Marsh

Funny thing about economists.

“They’re really bad at forecasting the future,” says Dr. Michael Marsh, economics instructor at Allen Community College.

When Marsh sees economists on TV predicting the next recession is just around the corner, he’s highly skeptical. And switches the channel.

Marsh, in his first year at Allen, said an economist’s true talents lie not in predictions, but with reactions.

The best economists, he explained, are most skilled at explaining the past — real-time historians, if you will.

“You might think ‘well it’s a little too late,’ but there’s plenty of value in it,” he continued.

The best economists can detail why one business endures, and even thrives, while a similar one down the block closes its doors after six months.

After all, economics boils down to the study of how societies use scarce resources to produce valuable commodities and distribute them among the population.

“Why did X happen?” he asked rhetorically. “What caused that business to close? Why did the price of bacon go up?”

It’s those answers that can help shape decisions, not only for those immersed in business, but for the general public as well. 


MARSH’S journey to the classroom took a bit longer than most.

He grew up wanting to fly, and even though his eyesight was too poor for him to ever become a pilot, he spent 21 years in the Air Force.

Marsh worked as a crew member aboard the AC 130 gunships and then the Boeing RC 135.

His duties — described as “electronic warfare” — were more tailored for self defense.

The AC-130, he explained, protected aircraft against anti-aircraft artillery, missiles or other weaponry.

The RC 135, meanwhile, is  a reconnaissance aircraft — geared for surveillance and intelligence gathering — rather than bombing or attacking.

Marsh served on missions in Bosnia and Somali in the early 1990s, then over Iraq’s no-fly zone in the late 1990s, then again over Iraq regularly once the U.S.-led forces invaded the country in 2003.

“There’s a lot of stuff I can’t talk about” because of security, he said, “and there’s a lot I don’t like to talk about.”

Suffice it to say, “I saw some action,” he said simply.

One moment stands above the others.

It took about a year after Operation Iraqi Freedom began that the new Iraqi government was ready for its first-ever free elections.

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