Do I Deserve What I Have? Part I

Russ Roberts
7 min readDec 4, 2018


Photo by Lukas from Pexels

How am I lucky to have the career I have and the economic security I have? Let me list the ways.

I was born of two parents who loved me but who did not spoil me and who gave me an above average set of inherited skills. They created a love of reading in me as well as some measure of kindness and honesty. I did not choose my parents. I am so lucky.

My wife has been a constant source of support and inspiration to me, the reader over my shoulder. A number of times we have made leaps together where she supported the choices I made in my career. It could easily have been otherwise. We easily could not have met or she could have been hostile to the choices that allowed me to flourish. I am not sure where I would be today without her. I am so lucky.

I was born in the United States at a time when antisemitism was minimal — there were no restrictions on my ability to go to college or graduate school based on my religion. Over my lifetime, the opportunity to use my skills in creative ways has increased dramatically. For all my complaints about restrictions on capitalism here in the United States, there is still an immense amount of opportunity. But in my case, much of that is timing. Had I been born two decades earlier, I would not have been able to have a podcast or create the Keynes-Hayek rap videos or It’s a Wonderful Loaf. I might be a professor somewhere with a decent but unspectacular resume, the fate I could easily have had if things had turned out differently or the timing had been different. I am so lucky.

During my first few years of college, I studied very little. I spent most of my spare time reading novels. I unexpectedly ended up writing three novels that try to teach the reader economics. Having read so many novels when I was younger helped me write my novels and that was crazy lucky. Similarly, I read a lot of poetry and wrote a lot of bad songs. That helped me write It’s a Wonderful Loaf and the Keynes-Hayek rap videos with John Papola. Crazy lucky, once again.

In seventh grade, I was cast as Pyramus/Bottom in our class production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In eighth grade I played Henry Higgins in our class production of My Fair Lady. I loved being on stage. That helped me become a decent public…

Russ Roberts

I host the weekly podcast, EconTalk and I'm the co-creator of the Keynes-Hayek rap videos. My latest book is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life.