An Economist’s Son

by on May 14, 2007 at 7:05 am in Education | Permalink

My 8-year old was in trouble, a not uncommon occurrence in our household.  In addition to punishment I required that he make restitution.  "You owe me $15," I said sternly. 
"Ok," he replied, "Do you take checks?"

Regretfully, I had to laugh.

1 John Goes May 14, 2007 at 7:58 am

Make sure you check his ID, there’s a lot of check fraud these days.

2 Julio May 14, 2007 at 8:11 am

Bernard, unbunch your panties and get over it.

3 jp May 14, 2007 at 9:10 am

Just curious — your 8-yr.-old son has a checking account and knows how to use it?

4 Steven Schreiber May 14, 2007 at 9:28 am


My parents did much the same with me and the major return on that parenting scheme was to make me more aware that things have costs, even if I’m not the owner of the object in question. I’d contrast this with another sibling who wasn’t brought up with a “break it and buy it” punishment who routinely abuses other people’s things and is, in general, a little rent-seeker.

5 Chicagoan May 14, 2007 at 10:15 am

Take it easy Bernie! It’s a joke about a dad and his son…Steven S. sums it up nicely for you.

6 Chris May 14, 2007 at 11:42 am

I intend on teaching my kids the value of money by holding plenty of auctions. Let’s say they find a rock in the park and they both claim they “saw it first” and it belongs to them. I auction off the rock, and the winner of the auction has to give the other child the proceeds of the sale.

It lets them think about how much they value things in dollar terms and it distributes goods to the child who wants it most.

It also works for chores. If a new chore comes up, auction the salary of the chore to the kids. Lowest bidder wins.

7 Nathan May 14, 2007 at 12:59 pm

My daughters LOVE to cut pictures out of magazines. Two problems arise, however. 1) In order to cut pictures out of one side, you must destroy the pictures on the other. 2) I said daughterS, as in two. I impose a simple rule: no one can cut any pictures out of a magaizine until they agree on the arraingment–peacably. I remember a particularly prized picture two years ago. They both really, really wanted that picture. They fussed and argued for, I believe, two days. In the end, the picture went for the rights to the rest of the magazine. What amazed me was the tremendous excitement that both had when the deal was done. They came running & bouncing to announce the deal.

You might be misreading the situation. If the parents have the ability to buy extra minutes of childcare at an inflated price, why is this bad? Before, they were violating a contract–and their moral sense was not happy.

If I were to observe callous behavior arising from the market I have created, I can make adjustments. It IS good to be king, after all.

8 Dan May 14, 2007 at 2:43 pm

I have no problem with parents buying extra minutes of child care, but they were not trying to offer that option, they were trying to stop parents from being late. They just underestimated the importance of the “moral sense” as you put it.

Put another way, if Alex’s son has the ability to buy extra joyous trouble-making for an inflated price, why is that bad?

9 Timothy May 14, 2007 at 8:14 pm

I spent a lot of time explaining interest payments on a $43 savings account to my son. He was comfortable understanding how the bank gets money to loan people, and those people pay interest too, and that’s how he gets paid, and the bank keeps a little bit.

A few weeks later he heard me was grumbling about taxes and he, a nine year old, said “Dad, so taxes are the opposite of interest?”

10 Nathan Zook May 15, 2007 at 3:20 pm

LP: Actually, I’ve found that another duty regularly pops up (not in the picture-cutting context)–contract enforcement. Hmm… maybe I ought to figure out some way to impose a loser pays regime…

Dan: Michael answers for me.

Allison: no, it just means that your parents did not have the same opportunities to inculcate you to their world view.

11 BabyGirl September 27, 2010 at 6:19 am

OK this is interesting.I find that very funny.I mean telling your child very seriously that he ows you money and his reply if you take headbands

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