Economics Week 27 Profit in the Free Market

Prompt: “How can profit arise in a free market economy if every factor of production is paid what it is worth to customers?”

Trial and error is the most natural way prices and eventual profit arise in the free market. Someone starting a small business will usually have a few years in the beginning where they spend more than they make, or if they’re lucky they may break even. This is healthy for the business, in a lot of ways its the way business’s mature. In these years the business owner learns what form of production works best for them, how to maintain and run the business most efficiently, and what the majority of customers are looking for in their business.

Mises wrote on the topic, “The consumers by their buying and abstention from buying elect the entrepreneurs in a daily repeated plebiscite as it were.” The consumers vote with their dollar, and their vote helps the business owner understand what works best within their business. On a grander scale it helps the economy sift through all the business’s until only the best are left open.

Entrepreneurs hoping to establish a business will have to endure some form of trial and error, Mises sums the process up nicely by saying, “They earn profit not because they are clever in performing their tasks, but because they are more clever or less clumsy than other people are. They are not infallible and often blunder. But they are less liable to error and blunder than other people.” Those who learn from their errors and adjust their business to better them have the best chance at earning profit.

Economics Week 26 Division of Labor

Prompt: Give an example of the division of labor required to create another simple household tool besides a pencil.

The division of labor is a immense web of unrelated laborers unknowingly working towards the same goal. Lets use the example of a sketchbook. First there’s the paper. The timber needs to be gathered by lumberjacks, then it needs to be transported by truck drivers, and finally taken to the sawmill and cut thin by mill workers. Now this may just seem like three professionals working together, but when you take into account the axes the lumberjacks use, the truck driven, the saw used at the mill; each of these have individual chains of labor connected to them. So far a few pieces of paper are all that have been finished.

Next is the metal spiral to hold the paper together. Lets say the raw metal was mined in Asia by a group of miners. Next it was transported by ship, a crew of sailors navigating it to its destination. Once it arrives its unloaded by laborers onto trucks driven by truckers. They use their trucks, and gasoline to travel cross country and bring the raw metal to a modern blacksmith organization, where it is melted down and shaped into a spiral. From there the paper and metal need to make their way together, once again many different truckers unknowingly work together to transport them to the final location where finally factory workers stick them together. Out of this process a basic sketchbook is created.

Whats so amazing about this process is none of the different parties involved know each other, they are all simply individuals working to feed themselves and their family. The miner in Asia has no knowledge of the lumberjacks on the other side of the globe. The truckers don’t personally know the blacksmiths, and the managers of the truckers have no connection to the sailors who transported the raw metal. Yet they all work together, simultaneously working towards the same goal. Out of this system every man made item we use on a daily basis is able to be created.

Economics Week 25 Broken Window Fallacy Taxes

Prompt: Give an example of the broken window fallacy as applied to a government intervention that was not discussed by Hazlitt.

The broken window fallacy describes that which is seen vs that which is unseen. Its been argued that a broken window makes the economy more money, since the owner of the window has to pay others to fix it. The window fixers make money, that is whats seen. What is unseen is where the window owners money would have gone if he didn’t have to spend it on the window.

A government example of this is taxes. Citizens are taxed, and lets say the government uses these taxes to repave a street. The repaved street is the thing seen, the unseen is where that tax money would have gone if the people had been allowed to keep it. It can be argued repaving the street made the economy money, since the government had to pay others to fix it. The ones paving the street made money, that’s what is seen. But the unseen, where the money would have went, can never be known.

Economics Week 24 Minimum Wage

Prompt: “Why wouldn’t someone voluntarily offer you a job at twice today’s minimum wage?”

It all depends on the aspiring employees experience and ability. Someone who has been in the industry for a time, knows the ins and outs, has had practice producing, and is capable and reliable has a much better chance at being offered a salary above the minimum wage. Typically minimum wages are for newer employees, employees just starting out who haven’t completely proved themselves to their employer. Once they have proved themselves to be efficient employees they have a chance at getting a raise.

Starting a new employee out with something above the minimum is a risk, the business has no proof that they’ll be a good fit. But if its a specialist, or someone who has proven themselves as a reliable hard worker may have a chance at getting higher pay. The business may actually seek out someone who’s done well in their field and offer them a higher salary before another business scoops them up. Its all just a matter of experience, reputation, and efficiency. The starting salary often reflects an individuals time and effort previously invested into their line of work.

Economics Week 23 Broken Window Fallacy

Prompt: “Explain the broken window fallacy.”

The broken window fallacy is a misconception that destruction stimulates the economy. If someone were to smash a shops window, the fallacy states that the repairs of the window ultimately do good for the economy. The shop keep has to pay a glass worker for a new window, and that improves the glass workers business.

The problem with the idea that this is economically stimulating is there’s always an unseen. The unseen purchases and investments the shop keeper would have spent the money on, if his window wasn’t broken. He had to spend it on repairs, and although this is good for the glass maker it isn’t good for the business’s that would have been paid had the window never been broken. It forces the shop keeper into spending his money in a way he wouldn’t have needed to otherwise, and thus not only does the shops owner lose money but so do the business’s he would have otherwise supported.

American History Week 36 The most important skill I developed in High School

Prompt: “The most important skill I developed in high school.”

The most important skill I’ve practiced in this curriculum is definitely writing. Writing has always been one of my favorite parts of school. It allows me to use my own words to describe what I’ve learned, and in this I find myself remembering what I’ve been taught far better than if I were given a test. I write in my day to day life, in my free time I usually use writing to practice character development and world building. But in this curriculum I’ve learned to write in a much more structured and organized way.

The regular writing that I do for this has really helped develop my ability, and I believe I’m a much better writer now than I was when I started this course. This will certainly come in handy in my life, as I plan to become a cartoonist. If I want to create my own cartoons the ability to write meaningfully, thoughtfully, and realistically will be a big part of developing my characters perspectives and motivations.

The free form structure of writing this curriculum has offered, under a prompt, has given me a chance to really work out my brain. I’ve learned how to address the prompt, state the facts, add in my own opinions, answer the prompts question, and wrap it all up with a proper conclusion. I’ve written more during my two years attending this curriculum than I did in the ten years I attended public school. That’s saying something.

I also find myself much less stressed writing than I did taking tests. I’m able to flush out the ideas and lessons myself, instead of choosing between someone else’s answers. Writing helps me digest what I’ve learned, and remember what I’ve learned. When I took tests I found myself memorizing everything I needed to know, barfing up all the information for the test, then immediately forgetting it all once the test was over. I can’t do that with writing. To write about a topic I need a very firm grasp of what I’m writing about, and that firm grasp of a lesson stays with me long after the essay is written.

My spelling and diction have also improved. The program I use to write doesn’t have an automatic spellcheck, so I find myself having to look up how to spell some of the larger words. This, though sometimes annoying, has lead to me learning how to spell many words that I previously didn’t know. It takes away the crutch that we often rely on, when the computer doesn’t correct my spelling for me I have to actually learn how to spell the words myself.

Its improved my patience. If I had a test that I wanted to get through quick I could guess on half the answers and be done. I can’t do that with writing. I have to not only know the answer, but take time to find the words to explain it. It’s like taking the time to catch a fish instead of buying one from a store. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes understanding. But in the end it’s much more satisfying.

American History Week 34 Wars on Terror

Prompt: “Was it worth $4 trillion lifetime expenses, 4,424 deaths, and 31,952 wounded to invade Afghanistan and Iraq?”

Both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq began after 9/11, using the tragedy as reasoning for the invasion. Osama bin Laden was linked to the attack in 2001, though the FBI had very little substantial proof of his involvement. In 2003 Saddam Hussein was also blamed for the attack, again with very little concrete evidence. Hussein was also speculated to have weapons of mass destruction, but a CIA analyst in 2016 disproved this theory.

So with shaky reasoning to begin with the longest modern war the US has been involved with began. The war on terror cost over $4 trillion dollars, cost the lives of thousands of Americans, left tens of thousands of Americans severely injured, and took the lives of over two hundred thousand innocent civilians. Even after Osama bin Laden had been reported dead US troops remained in Afghanistan. Michael Meacher wrote in a 2003 article of The Guardian that “the so-called “war on terrorism” is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives.” The massive supply of oil in the middle east would be an incentive for the US, an incentive to obtain greater control of the region.

The war on terror was said to be fighting for peace, but that wasn’t the result. Conflicts in the middle east continue to this day, and the refugee crisis that grew from the wars left many without homes. This leads of conflicts around the world, as refugees struggle to escape the destruction of their homeland and find safe refuge in other countries. War often creates more war, destruction breeds more destruction. That is the most visible result of these wars. I wonder what the middle east and the US’s relationship with it would be today if these wars never took place.

American History Week 33 News

Prompt: “The main news sources that I rely on and why.”

In all honesty I don’t watch too much news (unless you count Pew News), but one thing I look for when I’m wanting world news is a lack of bias. I want to see the facts of what happened, not hear a bunch of opinions about what happened. Despite often being right leaning, I feel that OAN does a good job with this. The times I’ve watched this news channel they’ve reported the story and its details without adding too many personal opinions or leaving out any facts. So if I did want to get off the internet and watch cable for whatever reason I’d probably go to this news source.

American History Week 32 The Fall of the USSR

Prompt: “In January 1992, would you have predicted a smaller or larger Pentagon budget in 1993? Why?”

In 1980 the first Olympics to take place in Russia were held. Many westerners attended the games and socialized with Russians. This lead to Russians visiting their friends in America, and seeing first hand how wealthy the west really was. One story I heard about such an event actually made me tear up. It was about a Russian visiting an American and asking to see an American grocery store. The American took him to see the closest store, and the Russian was shocked. He said, “No, I don’t want to see the stores for the rich. Show me a commoners store.” The American replied, “Well, that’s what this is.” The Russian shook his head and demanded to see a store for commoners. So the American took him to a different shop. Again the Russian wasn’t satisfied. He again demanded to see a commoners store. So the American once again brought him to a different nearby shop. Upon entering the third shop and seeing the vibrant lights, colors, and plentiful food on every shelf tears began to fill the Russians eyes. He looked at his American friend and he said, “They lied! They lied, they lied, they lied!! You have wealth!”

That is an example of the immediate visible different between the American and Russian economy in the 1980’s. Russians who traveled to America and saw this difference returned to Russia and shared this news with their friends. This began the first seeds of doubt in the USSR to sprout in the minds of many Russians. Mikhail Gorbachev came onto the scene, and with his more liberal communist views began to open up the country in ways never before tried. Russia’s satellite states also began to push for freedom, a famous example being East Germany. President Reagan’s 1987 speech at the Berlin wall included the famous line “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Intense pressure began to build up on the USSR. It’s people were realizing how second class their economy was, military defeat left its defense weakened, and the anti communist movement was heating up to a boil in the west. The USSR eventually couldn’t handle all this pressure, and dissolved (In American time) December 25 1991. My professor said this was the best Christmas present he ever got.

With the fall of the USSR also came the fall of the Cold War, a war of mutually assured destruction that had kept both America and Russia in fear of each other for nearly 45 years. The worry of nuclear devastation was finally over, the curtains closed and the iron curtain fell. After such an affair I would imagine that the pentagon would lesson their military spending. The war was over, it was time to build up the economy. This is in fact what took place, until 2001. But that’s another story.

American History Week 29 If I visited the 1950’s

Prompt: “What would you miss the most if you had to go back to 1955, as in Back to the Future (1985)? What would you miss the least?” 

If I were to travel to the 1950’s I would miss the diversity of the modern world. I’m part of the LGBT community, so I would be very sad to see a world which doesn’t understand or accept gender identity, sexuality, or non traditional self expression. The hetero normative views and standards of the 1950’s would be hard to witness.

But I am a big animation nerd, and I would love to witness the making of the newly blossoming cartoons of the era such as Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Felix the Cat. My favorite era to travel to would be the 1920’s and 30’s, purely to witness the birth of animation as we know it. What I’d give to spend a day watching Max Fleischer draw toons hopping outta the inkwell. If I were to travel to the 1950’s I think I’d spend most of my time touring animation and film studios. Maybe I’d find Grim Natwick and see what he was up to, or perhaps I’d see if I could catch a peak at Mae Questel recording her lines for the Saturday morning show Winky Dink and You.

Another aspect of the 1950’s that interests me is the nature. The idea of a family camp out in the mostly unspoiled redwood forests of California sounds absolutely superb. Everyone piling into the oldsmobile, packing up a picnic basket and a few tents into the back, and trucking out into the wilderness singing songs all the way. There’s something so wholesome about the thought, a novelty in the lack of technology. Just family, a loyal dog, and a sprawling forest that seems to endlessly blanket the countryside in idyllic natural beauty. Yes that is the life.

In conclusion the 1950’s had many beautiful aspects, but it also had many not so great aspects. If the 1950’s embraced diversity and self expression it may have been a paradise. But a time which excludes and shames people for their sexuality, race, gender, or for exploring their identity is not a time I would ever want to live in. Visiting it would be another story. I would be absolutely thrilled to meet my animation heroes and see the beauty of the national parks.