American Econmic History Assignment


Free or Equal Questions

While watching Free or Equal, complete the following statements for questions 1-9. Use the precise language from the video. Question 10 asks you to analyze a proposal and provide your unique perspective.   You do not need to use the same format as shown below (with boxes). Use a format which works best for you.

  1. Professor Milton Friedman’s research led him to believe in the power of __________ and ______________.

Answer #1       free markets

Answer #2       economic freedom

  1. If the government gives everybody the same freedom to work . . . some will do better than others. The result will be ________________, but not _______________.

Answer #1.     Equality of opportunity

Answer #2.     The equality of outcome

  1. The free market enables people to go into any industry they want; to trade with whomever they want; to buy in the cheapest market around the world; to sell in the dearest market around the world. But most important of all, if they fail, ______________. If they succeed, _______________.

Answer #1.       They bear the cost

Answer #2.       They get the benefits

  1. In the example of the lead pencil, what conclusion did Professor Friedman reach in the context of “invisible hands?”

Conclusion     completion to foster harmony and peace among the peoples of the world

  1. Economists call the constant renewal of the economy _______________. If we want to increase our wealth and opportunities, we have to stop doing old things in __________ and start doing innovative things in ___________. In other words, we have to be __________.

Answer #1       creative destruction

Answer #2.     Old ways

Answer #3.     Better ways

Answer #4.     creative

  1. An example of “creative destruction” was used in the video. What technology was created? What was destroyed? Why was this new technology so important?

Created            cell phones

Destroyed      land lines

Why important.     Gave individuals power and reduced poverty

  1. The idea that the economic race should be so arranged that everybody ends at the finish line at the same time rather than everyone starts at the beginning line at the same time. This concept raises a very serious problem for freedom. It is clearly in conflict with it, since it requires that the freedom of some be ________ in order to provide the _________________________.

Answer #1.     restricted

Answer #2      greater benefits to others

  1. In the last 100 years with relatively free markets, we have created ____________ than in the __________ years before.

Answer #1.     More wealth

Answer #2.       100,000

  1. As Milton Friedman said, “The society that puts equality before freedom will _________________________. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a __________________________________.”

Answer #1.     End up with neither

Answer #2.      Great measure of both

  1. Professor Friedman compares the concept of “equality of opportunity” to a race where everyone begins at the starting line at the same time. In contrast, “equality of outcome” guarantees that everyone finishes at the same time. Today, “equality of outcome” is referred to as “fair shares for all.” If we applied the “fair shares for all” concept in this class, all students would receive an average grade of “C.” This would be accomplished by taking points away from students earning A’s and B’s to give to students earning D’s and E’s. Distributing points equally would result in “fair grades for all.”  Would you approve of this method in calculating your final grade? Why or why not?    How would this differ from “fair shares for all” economically? For example, what’s the difference between a successful student being required to give up some of his/her hard-earned grade and a successful person being expected to give more of his/her hard-earned income? If you support “redistribution of income and wealth,” shouldn’t you also be willing to redistribute academic grades? After all, many of your fellow students may not have had the advantages in education and upbringing that you’ve had.  Address the above questions in your own words, in a minimum of 3 paragraphs.

One thing I have learned from my own education and that of my children is that equality of education does not work and never will. I grew up in a time where we competed constantly throughout elementary school. Spelling bees, math flash cards, creative writing, everything we did was a competition in the classroom. As a result I tried to be the winner. Sometimes I succeeded in winning and sometimes I failed. But it taught me to come prepared every day. This helped me to succeed in Jr high and High school also. Some students never even tried. Personally I don’t understand that but it happens all the time. There are just some people in the world who for whatever reasons just don’t want to try. And in my time they could fail if that was their choice. Some people failed even when they tried their best. I don’t know personally if they later succeeded at some kind of work but I tend to think they would because they kept trying.

Conversely, my children went to elementary school in a time when they wanted everyone to succeed. My children had a great time in elementary. If you tried you were a success. There was no competition in the classroom only individual successes. My children did alright but not great. They had no incentive to be the best only to try. When they got to Jr. High and then High school they were in the middle of most of their classes. When I pushed them to do better they out did most everyone in the class but it was hard to push when they had learned that mediocre was ok. And all of my children went out into the real world not understanding that they would have to compete for jobs. They all went to college later, mid twenties, after learning that they needed a better education to truly succeed in the marketplace.

So to answer the question here. No I would not want everyone to get an equal grade in the class. Competition brings everyone’s grade up. I believe the majority of students in this class will get a B or higher. So a C for everyone would not be what we could have achieved on our own. And if I worked harder than someone else I achieved more therefore my reward is greater.

“Fair shares for all” is a really bad idea. We are living it right now with Obama care. Before it we had insurance that was perfect for our family. Now we are being forced to choose another health plan and we have essentially been forced to spend more than we can afford because everyone can receive health care. The government is giving out subsidies that we aren’t eligible for. The insurance companies have raised their rates so they can get more of the government money but as a consequence we can’t afford the rates because we can’t get the government help. We are in that lovely middle ground where we also can’t afford the premiums. “Fair shares for all” might seem fair but it isn’t. The only fair thing is a free market. Free from government interference and freedom to fail. We are all being forced to have high levels of health care but we have to give up other commodities that we thought were more important for us in order to get the forced insurance. And I know we are not alone in this. We have friends and relatives who have the same problem. Even some who can get the subsidy still can’t afford the premiums. I don’t blame the insurance companies. Who wouldn’t want free money. But for the citizens of this country who are hard working and still can’t get insurance anymore this “fair shares for all” is not a good plan.

Reflective Writing

Compose 2-3 paragraphs explaining how completing this assignment helped you achieve at least two (2) of the SLCC Learning Outcomes:

Learning Outcome #1 (Paragraph #1)

As a 56 year old taking this course I don’t feel like the learning outcomes required for gen ed classes really work for me. I have been doing all of them for well over 40 years. But I have other learning outcomes that I feel these classes have given me. I have been pushed to accept different points of view. I have realized that I live in a global marketplace and therefore I need to learn more about my world. This class has made me more civically engaged in a world economy. I appreciate the lessons of our past and realize that we have a lot still to achieve if we as a people in America want to remain at the top.

Learning Outcome #2 (Paragraph #2)

I really love classes who use discussion among students as part of the curriculum. It gives me a chance to hear other opinions and carry on civil, professional discourse. I am very opinionated and feel like my way is the best way. Hearing others disagree with me in a civil way gives me the opportunity to learn to be more tactful in disagreeing. This in turn will help me work better with others even though I don’t plan on entering the workforce ever again.


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