Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan
Chapter 20: A View from the Midway
* Walter Y. Oi 1. DRIFTING People with foresight plan their careers at an early age. At UCLA, I decided to enroll in economic statistics taught by Armen Alchian because I enjoyed my first course in the business school. I did not learn about the measurement of the national product or the cost of living. I was led instead through the intricacies of the problem of the lady tasting tea.1 I chose to major in business statistics and economics because I could not do the lab work in the physical sciences. I took a variety of courses. Joseph McKenna, a young buck from Harvard, came to Los Angeles and taught a summer session course in which the text was a monograph on the dynamics of automobile demand.2 The econometric model was way above our heads. I resolved to save the text, hoping that I might learn enough later to understand the model. But like so many resolutions, I failed to keep it and lost the book. A production function applicable to education, transportation, and retail trade differs from that for the goods-producing firms in at least one important respect, namely the consumer/customer supplies an essential input. My education at UCLA was uneven, but I cannot tell you how much was due to the uneven quality of the instruction and how much to the attentiveness of the student. What does one do with a baccalaureate in business statistics? One professor suggested that I might do well in quality control. The Department was...
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