Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Price of Civilization?

Many years ago, Columbia economist Jeff Sachs did me a personal favor. We had both just graduated from Harvard, and I was moving from a dorm room in one of the residential houses down by the Charles River to a very sparse apartment in Somerville. The floors in the apartment were covered by some form of linoleum and badly in need of a rug. Another friend offered to give me a rug if I would take it out of his apartment. It was about 8 feet by 10 feet long, and one person alone couldn’t handle the job. The catch was, I had to get it that night.

I couldn’t find anyone to help me, and as I wandered through Harvard Yard that evening, I bumped into Jeff, who even at that young age had quite a reputation as an economics genius. I knew Jeff, but not well, and after chatting a moment, he told me I looked like I was in a hurry. I explained the situation, and he offered to help. I was quite surprised by his generous offer.

So we headed up to one apartment, picked up the rug, and the two of us walked about a mile with it, carrying it over our shoulders as if we were a couple of stevedores–which we obviously weren’t–to my new apartment.

You can read the rest of the post on Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.