Exporting and Importing at the University

T. Norman Van Cott is a professor of economics at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

I’ve been an economics professor at public universities for going on 40 years, the last 30 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. In the parlance of economics, this means I’ve been a long-time “exporter” of economics knowledge. Those paying my salary –students, parents, and taxpayers — have been “importers.” Students and parents import voluntarily. Taxpayers less than voluntarily.

Considerable effort goes into these exports. Noble and self-sacrificing on my part? Hardly. Rather, economics exports are a means to an end for me, a self-serving end no less. To wit, my exports enable me to buy — that is, import — things produced by others. An amazing array of things. Things ranging from life-sustaining necessities to frivolous amenities (including leisure activities). Far more of these things, in fact, than I ever could ever obtain were I producing them myself. The bottom line is that I export in order to import.