LearnLiberty, a project of the Institute for Humane Studies (a non-profit dedicated to “learning about the ideas of a free society” ) has generously invited the FTE to use their videos in lessons on economic reasoning. The provocatively titled “Why Is There Corn in Your Coke?” explains how the institutional “rules of the game” can affect even such mundane choices as whether soft drinks are sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, and sets the stage for understanding the power of special interest groups in our current national debates over gun control and immigration policy.
Immigration reform is front and center in the news and emotions are high. It’s ‘hot.” It’s also the first in our new series of Hot Topics in partnership with Gooru Learning.
Check out our new Hot Topic blended learning format. FTE – Gooru Hot Topics provide students the background instruction, reading, and viewing that allow you to run engaging simulations, discussions, and group projects using economic reasoning in the clasroom.
“The rooftop of a suburban high school is not a location that companies usually consider prime advertising real estate. But in Humble Independent School District, it may be. The district’s high school lies directly in a flight path for Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.”
As federal, state and local tax revenues have fallen, school systems face tighter budgets. Reluctant to approach voters in rough economic times, some school systems have opened the schoolhouse doors to advertisers as a new source of revenue and alternative to cutting program. But not everyone’s happy.
Would you rather live in world A where you earn $100,000 while everyone else earns $85,000 or world B where you earn $110,000 while everyone else earns $200,000? Economist Robert Frank found that a majority of Americans would rather live in world A. What does that mean? The debate over income inequality has found its way out of the economics classroom and into the mainstream media. FTE’s new HOT TOPIC uses data and the tools of economic reasoning to evaluate opinions and policy.
Natalie Portman believes that the solution to world poverty is just a $25 mouse-click away. But not everyone thinks it’s quite that simple.
Start the new semeter with a hot topic lesson that uses the economic way of thinking to identify the costs and benefits of making a one-click microloan.
It’s getting expensive to get comfortable! T-shirts and jeans, the basic building blocks of the teenage wardrobe, are made of cotton, and cotton has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately because the price is rising. At $1.51/lb. on November 10th, it surpassed the previous record of $1.15/lb, set in May, 1995. In real terms, this is the highest-priced cotton crop in fifteen years! Our newest Hot Topic looks at the reasons for our current cotton woes.
There are only two things you can do with money – spend it or save it. Or in other words you can spend it now, or spend it later! Recessions and recoveries are driven by household and business spending, or lack thereof. So what influences the willingness of consumers and businesses to spend? The Federal Reserve reported recently that things are looking up for businesses as company cash reserves reached $1.84 trillion during the first quarter this year – $384 billion more than last year. That’s great news for the 9.6% of the American labor force that is unemployed! Or is it?
Calling for consideration of a sugar tax, President Obama told Men’s Health magazine in July, 2009, that “There’s no doubt our kids drink way too much soda.” He may not have doubts, but others don’t share his certainty. In response to the President and to proposals for soda taxes, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent erupted like a shaken bottle of his own product. Calling the proposals “outrageous,” he fumed, “. . . I’ve never seen it work where a government tells people what to eat and what to drink. . . .
Remember the shortage of the swine flu vaccine in fall, 2009 and the priority allocation categories set up by the federal government? Could there be a better real-world example of how scarcity is a central reality of our lives? The media brought us daily coverage of the near-hysterical search for the swine flu vaccine with its massive lines and long wait times. Admittedly, people had reason to be worried; the Center for Disease Control (CDC) tracking estimates the U.S. death toll from the H1N1 virus from April, 2009 through mid-January, 2010 at 11,690. (The average annual flu death rate for the U.S. is 36,000.) Fortunately, although the CDC cautioned us to expect additional waves of contagion after the holidays, only a few states continued to report serious outbreaks in the first months of 2010.
For people in the developed world, piracy is entertainment – riveting historical novels, Jack Sparrow movies, Halloween costumes, and adventure rides – and the only downside is trying to stop that irritating Disney tune playing over and over again in your head.
In Portland, Oregon, clinic workers were mobbed by 1200 people wanting H1N1 vaccinations. In Olympia, Washington, a hospice was robbed of the vaccine intended for health care workers visiting the terminally ill. . . . If you’ve listened to the news lately, you can’t be blamed for wondering whether it’s more dangerous to contract the H1N1 flu or to try to get vaccinated for it. But, while you’re wondering if flu shot riots are going to become a regular winter occurrence, economists are rolling their eyes in that irritating “know it all” manner, because to them the vaccine chaos is just another manifestation of a classic economic problem: scarcity and allocation.
We don’t usually think of conducting experiments in social science. What would the mad social scientist do – imprison two groups of people in plastic bubble-biomes and use one as the control group while administering different economic or social policies to the other? Not likely! But, every once in awhile, social science ‘experiments’ happen on their own, and when we are alert enough to recognize them, we can learn a great deal.
For the past two centuries, the percentage of the world’s population living in poverty has been falling even as the world population grew. The World Bank defines absolute poverty as living on the equivalent of less than $1.25 a day, and for the past two decades, not only the percentage, but the actual number of poor in the world has fallen. There are actually fewer poor people in the world today than there were 20 years ago. The decline in poverty around the world is the result of unprecedented economic growth. But, the current economic crisis reminds us that just as economic growth helps raise standards of living of the poor, a world-wide recession in which rates of growth fall, sends many back into poverty.
American consumers and business are embarking on an era of thrift as the recession deepens, saving more money as they cut spending on purchases as varied as sweaters, new homes and office towers. … The personal saving rate in the last three months of 2008 rose to its highest level in 6 years.
The financial turmoil we are currently experiencing is not the result of any single action, law or individual. It is the culmination of regulatory and market forces that have been building for over three decades. This brief article is designed to give the reader a quick overview of some of the major themes that have contributed to our present financial difficulties.
Scarcity is the basic economic problem – limited resources and unlimited wants and needs. Evidence of scarcity can be seen everywhere and the 2009 Presidential Inauguration is no exception. With only days remaining until the swearing in of Barack Obama, people are scrambling to get their hands on one of only 250,000 tickets available to what may prove to be the most popular presidential inauguration of our time.
On July 15, 2008, the dollar was at its lowest level against the Euro ($1.6038 per Euro) since the Euro’s inception in 1999. By September 11, 2008, the dollar had rallied to a one-year high of $1.3882/€. Now, amid fears of a looming recession, possible inflation, and the credit crisis, many people are left wondering what’s in store for the dollar.
Road Trip! The perfect graduation celebration, right? Wrong! Have you seen the price of gas lately? In dollar terms, the cost of filling a gas tank is at an historical high, and prices are rising daily. Definitely not good for summer travel plans. So, who’s the villain in this sinister plot to make summer vacations more expensive?
On April 14th 2008, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline reached a new all-time, [...]