Chapter 2: My Life Philosophy
* Bela Balassa My life philosophy can be described at three levels. At one level it means that I try to make the best of any situation, whatever the circumstances. This goes from writing my first paper on economics in English while I was deported from Hungary between 1951 and 1953 to rebuilding my professional life after a serious cancer operation in August 1987. At another level, my life philosophy refers to the importance I attach to personal freedoms, including the freedom of economic opportunity. In fact, I was exhilarated to find on arriving in the United States in April 1957 that as a foreigner I had no handicap in competing at the university and later for jobs. Finally, my attachment to economic freedoms has led me to espouse a liberal economic philosophy, in the European sense. This philosophy has influenced my views on economic policies in developed, socialist and developing countries alike. But more about this later. A BRIEF LIFE HISTORY I was born on 6 April, 1928 in Budapest. My father was an officer in the Hungarian army, which meant high social standing on a very small income. Nonetheless, I was sent to the best schools and the education I received at the Cistercian Gymnasium remained a major asset throughout my professional life. Having finished high school in 1946, I simultaneously enrolled at the Law and Political Science Faculty of the University of Budapest and at the Foreign Trade Academy, completing both with honors. At the University, my interest...
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