Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Government and Economics - Writing Assignment (optional)

Government and Economics Students:

Yesterday, I described to you the "minimum" requirements for membership in the Government and Economics course:  reading the assigned chapters and understanding the reading, or alerting Bob or me well in advance of class when you don't understand portions of the reading so we can help you.  I also told you that we will help eager students do more than the minimum.

Expressing our views in writing is a great way to increase our understanding of a topic.  Doing so forces us to organize our thoughts, consider alternative opinions and contradicting facts, and focus on the most important factors affecting a given topic.

Students eager to do more than the minimum and practice expressing themselves can pick one of the following topics and write a paragraph, a few paragraphs, or a short essay, answering the question or describing the topic:

1.  During yesterday's class session Bob briefly referred to the "Naked Economics" comparison between the subjects of Economics and and the "closed system" of Physics.

What does the author say about the accuracy of long term economic forecasts?  How does he say the accuracy of these forecasts compare to other long term forecasts.

2.  Bob also introduced the term "extrapolation."  For some reason, I thought of this quote when considering this term and its application to our discussion yesterday:

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' says the White Queen to Alice." 
 Lewis Carroll (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass)

Explain the meaning of extrapolation and its application to economic decisions (and/or forecasts).  If you like, you can consider the quote above during your analysis.

3.  We discussed various examples of price discrimination (airlines, grocery stores).  Can you describe another application of this practice from a different industry?  Or can you describe how you can imagine it being used in a business, whether or not it is actually used currently?

4.  Discuss the ongoing tension between John Locke's (and our country's) belief in the concept of majority rule and the opposing belief that a society is better off obeying the decisions of a small group of wise people.

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