Teaching economics to the sixth grade

by on March 3, 2016 at 2:03 pm in Economics, Education | Permalink

America is doing much more of that now, it seems.  Here is one bit from how that is going:

In Ms. Higgins’ classroom, the lesson shifted to economic models. The city states of Babylon were once run as a command economy, where prices of goods and peoples’ incomes are decided by the government. The students concede that while the market economy has made them wealthier, trading for the good life is exhausting.

“To be honest I like the exercises that center on a command economy,” says 11-year-old Mairead Chase of city state Eshnunna. “I like authority. I like to have a goal,” she shrugs and smiles. “Sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do.”

That is by Nina Sovich in the WSJ.

1 David K March 3, 2016 at 2:06 pm

The nanny state isn’t as scary a concept when you have an actual nanny.

2 Anon March 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Depends on the nanny you have, I would think. If you have one of those smoking hot 25 yr old Swedish nannies, then yeah. A mean old Russian battle axe nanny on the other hand…

3 Dude March 3, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Different strokes for different folks.

4 dearieme March 3, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Wasn’t there a nanny in Moscow this week who lopped off the child’s head and carried it around, showing it to the public?

5 Thor March 3, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Yes, and what was her faith again? Lapsed Episcopalian? Theravada Buddhism?

6 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 11:06 pm

She was obviously schizophrenic. The could have worshiped the Easter Bunny and the outcome would have been the same.

7 Mark Thorson March 4, 2016 at 12:33 am

TV show for next season: Are You More Socialist Than A Sixth Grader?

8 anon March 4, 2016 at 7:24 am

How many who complained about the nanny state were actually closet authoritarians, bothered that the state was helping the wrong people?

http://www.vox.com/2016/3/1/11127424/trump-authoritarianism

9 stan March 3, 2016 at 2:19 pm

We don’t expect kids to act as adults. The biggest problem in America is the lack of adults in the population over 21.

10 BC March 3, 2016 at 6:35 pm

The biggest problem is that, when adults say they don’t mind when someone else tells them what to do, they often are unwilling to just let themselves be told what to do. Instead, they also want everyone else to be told what to do. Too many adults don’t recognize the distinction.

11 Dan in philly March 3, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Next lesson, a command economy when it isn’t run by nice teachers and other students who know after the excercise is over they’ll have to sit next to you during lunch and face your friends on the playground
Let’s have an excercise where kids from one school get to tell kids from another what to do and see how that works for them.

12 Thor March 3, 2016 at 3:59 pm

It’s called “recess”. I recommend they hold one monitor-less recess every week. Welcome to the world beyond the classroom.

13 Ricardo March 3, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Followed by a mandatory reading of “Lord of the Flies.”

14 Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta March 3, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Feudalism certainly has its attractions. Everybody has a well-defined place in society and jobs are secure. Disruption and destruction are kept to minimum no matter how creative or constructive they might be. I’m surprised that democracies don’t vote themselves into serfdom more often. I take that back. They do try. All the hesitation is just a matter of deciding who gets to play lord and who will be the serfs.

15 iluvtacos March 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

+ 1.

The very concept of social mobility can be stressful for some as tempts them with the possibility of rising and failing. Many would prefer to be locked in their place by outside forces so at least they know where they stand.

16 Paul March 3, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Hah! I saw that story too.

I like that it quotes (at the end) the student who would just rather be told what to do. That is a profound lesson in itself and would make for a great classroom discussion about human nature and why people have a psychological bias toward the nanny state which can be exploited by the political class.

17 cowboydroid March 3, 2016 at 11:33 pm

I’d argue that the bias is a function of the school environment, which is itself an authoritative structure in which students expect to be told what to do.

Hence why the state favors state control of education.

18 Roger Sweeny March 4, 2016 at 11:51 am

Most of them have probably been in daycare for a large portion of their lives. They are used to being directed.

Just how endogenous are preferences?

19 Vince March 4, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Very – at least in children. Children with regular routines, firm boundaries, and well understood expectations are happier. To goal is to allow them to attain an age where they can understand that all actions have consequences and that thinking though the possible consequences before taking action is often a useful survival skill. We’ve got the routine, but have given up on the boundaries and expectations.

In short – children need an authoritarian environment in order to survive long enough to make reasoned decisions. A preference for operating under an authoritarian regime simply means the adult is too frightened of making their own decision and having to own up to the responsibility. Much easier and less scary to put the blame elsewhere.

The Vox article on authoritarianism was interesting, but seriously flawed. I don’t find the test which consists of asking what a CHILD needs as a useful guide to determining how authoritarian an adult is. Unless they’re suggesting that children have somehow gained the ability to work though a cost benefit-analysis of action-consequence, in which case they’re still wrong. Despite the rampant infantilization of university campuses, behaving as if adults are simply large children is wrong. Great for the athoritarian state, not so good for the members of society.

20 Jan March 3, 2016 at 2:51 pm

I don’t see how this hurts Trump.

21 AlexR March 3, 2016 at 4:43 pm

The Eshnunnans built a wall, but couldn’t get the Akkadians to pay for it.

22 Thor March 3, 2016 at 5:02 pm

+1

23 Jan March 3, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Ha

24 Tom P March 3, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Choose one student and put him in charge of the command economy.

See how they like that.

25 Jan March 3, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Choose two parents and put them in charge of their child’s entire existence. See how the kid likes that.

26 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 3:13 pm

You’re absolutely stupefying.

27 Jan March 3, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Love ya, Art.

Trump 2016!

28 Ed March 3, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Where’s the list of your accomplishments again?

29 Jeff R. March 3, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Art’s right. Your comments are often needlessly petulant and juvenile. Case in point here, twice.

30 Jan March 3, 2016 at 8:45 pm

No, Art has literally never been right in his personal attacks, which comprise about half his comments. He’d prefer an authoritarian, pedophiliac Catholic church to run (and rub) the country, if that helps you understand.

31 Cliff March 3, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Not very much?

32 Justin Kelly March 3, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Sixth graders are about that age where the answer becomes “My parents are idiots, I hate them.”

33 Sam Haysom March 4, 2016 at 10:21 pm

I’ll admit Jan makes a good point. If my parents had been like Jan I would have really resented them. That’s to the extent that I wasn’t genetically predisposed to his brand of petulant smarminess.

I guess what I’m saying is thanks ladies for contributing to Jan’s involuntary celibacy.

34 Thor March 3, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Choose one student, preferably the child of the Principal, and put him or her in charge. Then let that child pick all of the hall monitors from his or her circle of friends. And give them detention power. And the power to redistribute chocolate bars from the have-children to the have-nots.

Jan might like it, but the rest of us would recognize Venezuela when we saw it.

35 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 5:06 pm

“but the rest of us would recognize Venezuela when we saw it.”
The Venezuelans didn’t until a few weeks ago. So yeah lots of people like it–they get more chocolate than they used to– until almost the bitter end (the chocolate would come in handy then, I guess).

36 cowboydroid March 3, 2016 at 11:35 pm

The Venezuelans have been protesting their government for years now.

37 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2016 at 12:02 am

Some of them have protested, but until recently the Chavistas had won the elections. Nothing like the current repressive regime could have been built while keeping a democratic façade if Chávez had not enjoyed enough popular support for over a decade. It may seem hard to remember now when the debacle is so obvious (specially when oil prices are so low), but it all seemed like a good idea for a large swath of the population.

38 prior_test1 March 4, 2016 at 10:20 am

‘The Venezuelans have been protesting their government for years now.’

Decades and decades, actually.

39 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Centuries even. Bolivar (Chávez’s supposed inspirator) was born there, overthrew the Spanish rule, faced harsh opposition, had to stepped down from the presidency of Gran Colombia (included Venezuela).

40 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Why not see if they can master history, geography, and algebra before you attempt to teach them economics? This is just a waste.

41 Jan March 3, 2016 at 3:59 pm

It is a dismal science indeed, but geography and history are not pre-requisites. They’re in fact often useless.

42 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm

[rolls eyes] History and geography are social research disciplines, as is economics. And, no, they’re not useless. They tend to be forgotten because the students just do not care at any point in their life. They are, however, building blocs for civic education, so properly a part of elementary curriculum (in truncated and simplified form) and of an academic secondary curriculum (in more elaborated form). Utile modes of teaching history and regional geography are not as stereotyped as is the case for economics. The only prerequisite is basic literacy. With regard to elementary economics, it’s commonly taught without calculus, but calculus is certainly beneficial. Even without it, the math background you need to understand what’s on the board is something almost never present in a classroom of 11 year old youths.

43 Jan March 3, 2016 at 8:42 pm

[Extends middle finger] No, they are mostly useless.objective fact. Sorry if that’s not obvious to you.

44 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 11:27 pm

And how does it go over when a serious person stands up and says something like “I can see Russia from my backyard” (geography) or doesn’t know that Auschwitz was a death camp?

They become a laughing stock, because people think (know) that stuff is important.

Imagine showing up to close a business deal, but then didn’t know the name of the capital city of the country your business peers were from, or were unaware of the main 2-3 sides in their most important recent civil conflict?

The deal would be over unless you lined yourself up to get milked completely.

Knowledge of history also allows us to avoid mistakes of the past.

I think the issue is that the study of history sometimes amounts to memorizing names, dates, and sizes of armies, without getting into social and political contexts. Geography similarly goes well beyond the memorizing of names of cities and countries. The teaching could be better, but those factoids end up coming in handy when trying to piece together their relevance.

45 Jay March 4, 2016 at 12:51 pm

…you do know she never said the Russia backyard thing right, it was Tina on SNL.

46 Sam Haysom March 4, 2016 at 10:23 pm

And look how foolish he looks for not knowing that.

47 Nathan W March 4, 2016 at 10:36 pm

Whatever, the point is not about the Russia quote (but it’s sooooo east to believe), it’s about her general ignorance.

I heard a 20 minute interview of her by a Montreal journalist in 2008, and she stunned me with her ignorance of the world with her nearly every statement. To be fair, the interviewer was luring her in to say things that she was unlikely to know about, but she confidently blathered on, completely ignorant as to the fact that she was being led around by her nose in demonstration of her broader ignorance.

She not only gives herself a bad name for such ignorance, but America in general for the popularity of a politician who so clearly has so little knowledge of the broader world, but yet got so high in office.

48 The Other Jim March 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

>And how does it go over when a serious person stands up and says something like “I can see Russia from my backyard”

Let the record show that Nathan W can not distinguish between reality and a Saturday Night Live skit.

But please — continue to educate us about what a “serious person” should be able to say.

49 Nathan W March 6, 2016 at 5:33 am

The record is that there are millions of misquotes out there, and I immediately acknowledged it when someone pointed out this was among them.

50 Cliff March 3, 2016 at 4:22 pm

How do you “master” history?

51 iluvtacos March 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm

By getting into the position where you choose/supply the textbooks.

52 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 5:05 pm

You don’t. My usage was lazy. The thing is, elementary education (and sometimes secondary education) is damaged by misplaced efforts, and an aspect of that is going broad when you should go deep. Time spent doing X is time not spent doing Y. I mentioned history and geography because they’re components of social education, a half-assed version of which is being attempted in a quarter-assed attempt to teach economics. History in particular is foundational in the modern liberal arts in a way no other social research discipline is. A youth of 13 or 14 who’s observed performance is about the median should understand elementary algebra, be able to write grammatical English, and have had the fundamentals of American history, geography, and civics stuffed in one ear (even if it leaks out the other ear most of the time). If you’re attempting to teach economics or botany or delving into literature for any purpose other than mastering language, your eye is not on the prize.

53 BC March 3, 2016 at 9:18 pm

“Time spent doing X is time not spent doing Y.”

That’s economics.

54 prior_test1 March 4, 2016 at 10:24 am

Or an utterly banal observation, along the lines of ‘two objects cannot physically exist in the exact same space simultaneously.’

55 TMC March 4, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Or you can’t spend the same dollar twice, but it’ll get you by the CBO.

56 Urso March 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Somebody around here likes to talk about high-trust vs low-trust societies; I certainly think it’s a good thing that this eleven year old trusts adults and believes they have her best interests in mind. Many eleven year olds have had different experiences, unfortunately.

57 Scott H. March 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Give her 2 years, go tell her to clean her room, and see what you get.

58 LNM March 3, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Exactly. The only thing this proves is that the kid hasn’t been given many chores. You like being told what to do if you’re mostly told to have fun.

59 Rich Berger March 3, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Maybe they should teach redistribution. Designate someone as being in the “top 1%” in the classroom and take his stuff. For the greater good, of course.

I found this to be puzzling, however: “To be honest I like the exercises that center on a command economy,” says 11-year-old Mairead Chase of city state Eshnunna. “I like authority. I like to have a goal,” she shrugs and smiles. “Sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do.” Does she want to be told what to do, or does she like leading the sheep?

60 msgkings March 3, 2016 at 5:39 pm

In your redistribution lesson that 1%er you designate would have to have a lot more stuff than everyone else to redistribute. I’m not sure the kids would see the problem with that (sharing with the class). The crux of that debate is always about how much does the 1%er owe back to the society that they are a part of.

61 Rich Berger March 3, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Teacher: Johnny, you have more money than the other children do. Why don’t you share with them?
Johnny: I prefer not to share.
Teacher: Class, let’s help Johnny find his wallet.

Apologies to Rodney Dangerfield.

62 msgkings March 3, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Cute, and I get it. But again the redistribution argument remains: Johnny taxpayer is part of a society. If he has a lot more than others in the society, he needs to step up and be a steward to that society. The debate is how much. It’s not all of it, and it’s not zero (I’m sure you may think otherwise on that). This is how grownups think about running a country, and not a seasteading ‘island’.

63 Alain March 3, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Oh wait. The rich are the stewards? Well then I guess they get to determine how the money is spent, right? I bet you the rich wouldn’t mind that deal. But somehow I don’t think that is what you have in mind.

64 msgkings March 3, 2016 at 9:04 pm

The rich control the process so yeah they do get a lot of say. They just don’t get to say ‘zero’. And those that want to are childish sociopathic a-holes.

65 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 11:49 pm

With power comes responsibility. Money is power.

66 TMC March 4, 2016 at 1:05 pm

“he needs to step up and be a steward to that society.” Another Trump voter.

67 BC March 3, 2016 at 9:26 pm

The way to teach redistribution is to periodically redistribute toothpick ships but not cardboard houses, which would act as a control. Then, the students can observe what happens to the number of toothpick ships produced relative to cardboard houses. That would teach them both economics and the scientific method.

68 Hazel Meade March 4, 2016 at 10:44 am

Like.

69 Hazel Meade March 4, 2016 at 10:44 am

In order to do it properly you would have to have the 1% kid “earn” the stuff he has in some way.
Like if you awarded prizes to kids who got their homework done the fastest, and one kid was always first. Then at the end of the year, you have a debate about just how many of the prizes he owes to the rest of the class, and seize 70% of them ot redistribute them to the other kids.

70 TMC March 4, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Bingo! Average out grades and see how many kids shoot for an A.

71 Nathan W March 4, 2016 at 10:44 pm

I had once considered averaging out marks across student pairs. After the first term, to pair the top student with bottom student, second top with second bottom, through to the middle. The idea was to take all the top students and get them to help the worse students. The top and bottom student would then BOTH receive the average mark of the two.

I’m supremely interested to try it and see how much it will bring up the bottom students. Since the top students easily master the material and there’s nowhere higher to go, and the grades do not enter into any long term record, it could be benign with respect to their progress in the current year.

But, I fear that too many of the top students would hate me for it, seeing their previous efforts of earning the punishment of having to help the bottom students, and just stop participating and trying. I tend to believe that tutoring material contributes to better mastery of the material, and suspect a possible net benefit even for top students, if it weren’t for the fact that many would perceive it as unfair and stop trying.

72 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 11:48 pm

I remember having several teachers who, if they caught a student eating candy in class, would either confiscate it or, if there was enough, insist that they share it with everyone. It’s hard to learn when the only thing on your mind is getting that next fizz pop into your mouth.

73 TMC March 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm

And they lesson learned was not to bring candy. Is that the lesson you want to teach society’s producers?

74 Nathan W March 4, 2016 at 10:47 pm

If you’ve ever spent time in a classroom with children, you would understand that children who are pre-occupied with candy do not learn well. However, interesting point – perhaps we would like them to continue to bring candy later in life as well 🙂 If only children could eat candy and learn at the same time – it appears not.

75 Chip March 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Ask the class which kids have a paper route. Then tell them to give some of their money to classmates who don’t.

Announce that kids won’t be graded individually. Their scores will be averaged and the class will get the same grade. Monitor effects on performance.

This year all school sports teams and drama parts will be chosen by lottery. Monitor effects on performance.

Free markets already exist in school and kids innately understand their value. They just don’t see these things defined as such, or extrapolated to the outside world.

76 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm

“This year all school sports teams and drama parts will be chosen by lottery.”
So what? It is like telling me all Chinese mimes will be chosen by lottery. Who cares? Not me.
“Free markets already exist in school and kids innately understand their value.”
Really, do they can exchange touchdowns for grades? Grades for play roles? Why not? What about comparative advantage?
A school is a socialist microcosm as much as the Army and corporation are (free markets arise from the interaction of producers and free consummers–who consumes students’ works but captive parents?). By the way, it is not clear why a centralized economy would have workers chosen by lottery– the Soviet Union never did it–it was perceived competence, as the authorities saw it, for the job plus the political conveniences of the time plus personal favors).

77 Chip March 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Kids engage in competitive behavior in small free markets within the school and outside – ie, team tryouts, part time jobs. And they innately recognize the benefits of competition. If a girl says she likes a command economy, the obvious lesson is to apply it to these things and monitor how it fails to deliver desired results.

Yes, kids do exchange their grades for benefits: long term benefits like better universities and many smaller things like prestige, parental pride, satisfaction, honor roll etc.

Who consumes student work apart from parents? Universities and employers obviously. They’re studying in exchange for real benefits.

The lottery example illustrates to kids how a command economy removes individual choice from economic activity.

78 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm

No. If America went Socialist, such competitions would remain (politicians fighting for office– the Politburo guys faced harsh competition–, bureaucrats, cops, militarymen fighting for promotions, Confucian examinations, Japanese college graduates trying to get into the old, powerful MITI in the 1980s are as much “free market” as those school competitions. In fact, if America’s economy were centralized, and people could walk only on pre-approved paths, competing under very restrictive rules, she would resemble a school even more (didn’t Mises link the hostility of intellectuals towards the free market to the fact it doesn’t reward their skills the way schools do?). No Google-founding, go use your knowledge to climb the already existing hierarchy.
“Who consumes student work apart from parents? Universities and employers obviously. They’re studying in exchange for real benefits.”
So this is why there are school plays and school games! I always wondered if my doctor had been a good Rapunzel back at 3th grade. I was a great soldier # 6 back at 5th grade. Come on, universities can’t be the consumers, they are not paying for it. If anything, American taxpayers would be the consumers, they foot the bill (it is funny how you want to use the most socialist part of American life to make a point about… free markets).
“The lottery example illustrates to kids how a command economy removes individual choice from economic activity.”
In fact, a command economy removes individual choice because there is little consumer choice. If you are dealing with monopolies, it doesn’t matter much if they are ruled by lottery (public service is not ruled by lottery by the way, neither was Soviet Union’s economy).
“Yes, kids do exchange their grades for benefits: long term benefits like better universities and many smaller things like prestige, parental pride, satisfaction, honor roll etc.”
You can trade your hard word for the respect of the people, maybe even a photo with Stalin and a Hero of Socialist Work title, Comrade Stakhanovist! Seriously, getting into a good university was a great star in the Soviet Union, people had to compete for those spots. In fact, the Soviet Union excelled at creating “honor rolls”, distributing medals, titles and other prizes (Work Heros, Lenin Prizes, Stalin Prizes, etc.).

79 kevin March 4, 2016 at 9:45 am

You seem to be confusing socialism with a planned/centralized economy. They are not the same thing

80 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Fair enough. Was the Soviet Union Socialist or just centralized? By the way, what is the difference between honor rolls and, say, the Stalin Prize (or between the GOSPLAN and the school board)?

81 Rich Berger March 3, 2016 at 6:04 pm

I think you hit a nerve and triggered the babble reflex.

82 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 6:09 pm

It is a shame it was a self-inflicted blow.

83 Rich Berger March 3, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Chip – Are you an acupuncturist? You certainly know all the pressure points.

84 Chip March 3, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Shorter version:

We’re slaves. Go Trump.

Keep bringing the crazy, my friend.

85 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 11:57 pm

Kids with paper routes are probably disinclined to give their money away, whereas kids who get free money from their parents may be more inclined to use their resources to buy social status, for example flash birthday parties, taking friends to movies or theme parks, or buying the best presents at holiday time. Not sure of the broad applicability to later life though.

86 TMC March 4, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Later in life the kids with the paper routes vote Republican.

87 Joan March 3, 2016 at 4:40 pm

They are treaching the wrong stuff. They should be teaching facts about the U.S. Econmomy and leave theory until high shcool when cthe students are capable of abstract thought

88 Todd Kreider March 3, 2016 at 7:07 pm

My father is a retired economist and the only econ lesson I recall learning was opportunity cost. For some reason, that seemed to come up ever few months when growing up. Eg. “You went cruising around town for two hours last night when you could have been at home reading Moby Dick”, although I bet like most parents he sometimes slipped and said “should have been reading Moby Dick” rather than the more helpful “could have been reading Moby Dick.”

Then again, there were times where I thought that he could have used a refresher course on preferences and utility maximization…

89 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 11:59 pm

If you’re going to learn just one thing about economics, opportunity cost has got to be it. If the entire electorate had a good grasp of opportunity cost, I think that alone would enormously improve the quality of public debate.

90 Todd Kreider March 4, 2016 at 12:04 am

+1 yep. Opportunity cost is it. Spread the word!

91 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 4:43 pm

As Thomas Mann famously pointed out, Americans are conformists and like to be told what to do and what to think. Americans feel they need a Big Dad in the White House to lead them. In the past, it meant Roosevelt and H. Bush’s patriarchal charm, Eisenhower’s aura of honesty and reliability or simply Washington. Even Obama has the same gravitas your 5th grade Social Studies teacher had. For today’s impoverishered, scared, besieged American Middle Class, however, it means Trump’s no–holds–barred style. A nation of impressionable 8-year-old children is choosing Mr. Trump to be their dad because they think he can beat Ahmed’s dad– he boasts so much. http://blog.dilbert.com/post/140353736681/a-letter-to-donald-trump-from-a-voter-not-me That is either what an actual Trump voter’s mind looks like or what his Mad Men think his current potential (but not yet sold on him as a group– see, people? a Black guy) voters’ minds look like.

92 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 5:09 pm

As Thomas Mann famously pointed out, Americans are conformists and like to be told what to do and what to think.

As opposed to Brazilians, who are insufferable know-it-alls who like to talk out of their asses.

93 Pshrnk March 3, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Thiago talks out of you?

94 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 5:59 pm

“As opposed to Brazilians, who are insufferable know-it-alls who like to talk out of their asses.”
Not to mention Communists, since Brazil is still a Catholic country, and, as, Mr. Limbaugh likes to point out, the Pope is a Red. Also, as Ms. Coulter likes to say, the Founding Fathers had good reasons to fear those Papist barbarians.
https://twitter.com/AnnCoulter/status/646686463891902464?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

95 msgkings March 3, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Thiago, most folks in most countries like to be led by a strongman. We were once apes you know. Even Brazilians.

96 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Surely, but most people resist the urge to fling feces most of time. Not to be condescending, quite the opposite. I understand it, Mr. Trump was on TV. We, too, almost elected a TV star president (he was also a TV Network owner, so he was a kind of Berlusconi plus Trump). The fact is, American countries in general are behind Europe in political maturity.

97 So Much For Subtlety March 3, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 4:43 pm

As Thomas Mann famously pointed out, Americans are conformists and like to be told what to do and what to think. Americans feel they need a Big Dad in the White House to lead them.

Unlike, of course, Mr Mann’s fellow Germans. Remind me again why Mr Mann and his Jewish wife had to spend the years 1939-1945 sheltering under the protection of those mindless American conformists?

98 Thiago Ribeiro March 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Because there is an ocean between Europe and the American Continent (you may even have heard of it) .Brazil did get its fair share of refugees), but you don’t intend to write an ode to Brazilian character, right?

99 enoriverbend March 3, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Here is an ode to Brazil welcoming “refugees”.

100 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2016 at 12:23 am

I am pretty sure European refugees (the ones the USA did not send back to death, I mean– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_St._Louis#.22Voyage_of_the_Damned.22) who fled to Brazil had bigger concerns than the activities of a movent we outlawed before the war even had started: for example worry about the ones who were not lucky enough to put an ocean between them and Hitler.

101 Thor March 3, 2016 at 11:04 pm

Americans are conformists? Really? This certainly doesn’t accord with my experience living there. Naturally there are conformists everywhere. And certain age groups are more prone to it. But I think Mann was pulling stuff out of his hat.

102 efim polenov March 4, 2016 at 12:09 am

Thomas Mann had two big skills, in the absence of either of which we would never have heard of him: he was (a) someone who really loved words and (b) someone who knew how to put words together in a way that made people want to read those words hour after hour. That combination of skills is not coterminous with the set of skills needed to determine whether Americans are conformists or not (they are not, by the way, but I can’t blame Herr Mann for not knowing that, I have, effectively, had several hundred thousand hours of conversation with Americans and Thomas Mann had, maybe, five to ten such hours).

103 So Much For Subtlety March 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm

“To be honest I like the exercises that center on a command economy,” says 11-year-old Mairead Chase of city state Eshnunna. “I like authority. I like to have a goal,” she shrugs and smiles. “Sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do.”

Mairead would be an Irish name would it? Possibly red hair. Give her another decade and I think she would make an excellent fifth Mrs Trump. She likes authority, being told what to do, men with goals. Definitely wife material.

Personally I look forward to Ms Trump nee Chase occupying the White House in 2026.

104 msgkings March 3, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Um, Drumpf will be term-limited out of the White House in 2024.

105 Dmitri Helios March 3, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Not if he Makes America Great Again and goes back to pre-independence political structures i.e., a monarchy with His Excellency Donald Trump President. I look forward to King Trump with Queen consort Mairead Chase-Trump in 2026 waving to delirious crowds from the top of the White..er, Trump House.

106 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 5:08 pm

The current Mrs. Trump is the 3d to hold that title and she’s been with him for 17 years. What’s your idea of what the 4th Mrs. Trump will be like (presumably acquired and cast off in the next 10 years)?

107 msgkings March 3, 2016 at 5:46 pm

This is an easy one: she will be a former model between the ages of 25 and 35 and probably foreign born.

108 So Much For Subtlety March 3, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Cast off? By no means. I expect Trump to reach out to marginalized communities in the United States in order to heal wounds yada yada yada. So in the end he won’t be able to pimp out the Lincoln bedroom a la Clinton because he will need every room for his four beautiful wives.

Which is totally OK in a modern non-judgemental multi-faith postChristian society like the US, right?

109 Thiago Ribeiro March 4, 2016 at 3:59 am

Wouldn’t it be discriminatory against non-“beautiful women” and male homossexuals? Also none of the Mrs. Trumps was Black or Hispanic (two-thirds of them are not even American-born– another job Americans don’t want, it seems).

110 Heorogar March 3, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Seems as if the public school system is working as planned: indoctrinating statist drones.

111 carlolspln March 3, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Give it a fucking break.

They’re children.

112 too hot for MR March 3, 2016 at 6:10 pm

When does indoctrination happen in your model?

113 Thor March 3, 2016 at 11:09 pm

We have a particularly militant Teachers’ Union here where I live in Canada. The kids — and I have two in grade school — were encouraged to write lessons on why the current Premier, who is not a favourite of teachers, is doing a poor job.

And then, when my daughter was in grade 2 when Obama was reelected, her class was asked to give reasons why Obama is great for the world.

I made a joke to the missus: “Is Obama marvellous or merely great?”

114 Nathan W March 4, 2016 at 12:04 am

Wow, sounds a lot different than what I experienced in Canada in grade 2. Our letter writing was limited to pen pals with foreign students, and we exchanged about cultural differences relating to things like maple syrup, snow and hockey (or … just whatever you felt like writing).

115 Mc March 3, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Without individual property rights, you lose a language, the language of the catallaxy.

116 Ray Lopez March 3, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Nobody has mentioned that the article is misleading: Mesopotamian society was feudal but not “command” like in the USSR (unless you were a slave of the king, or, if you were a peasant working for the king)

http://www.historiasiglo20.org/egypt/mesopotamia.htm

From the year 3000 BC , cities grew enormously and their population consisted of thousands of people. Life in these cities became more complex and it was necessary to make a division of work. Each person was dedicated to a specific job and got all his other needs at the market. People lived in a different quarters of the city depending on how rich they were and what their job was.

Privileged groups were a minority who had all the rights and possessed most of the wealth.
The aristocracy consisted of the king, his family and the nobility. They owned a great part of the land and were in charge of the highest positions in the army and government.
The priests, who lived in the temples, led the religious rituals. They possessed part of the land and craft workshops and co-operated with the government.
The scribes stood out among the civil servants. They came from noble families and had great power. They were assigned other tasks such as being couriers, managers, cup-bearers, etc.
The rest of the population was divided into either free people who had rights, or slaves who had not rights and were treated as objects.
Some of these other free people were:
Peasants, who rented the lands that surrounded the city. These lands belonged to the king or the temple. To keep them the peasants had to give the temple or the king part of the harvest they obtained. They usually cultivated barley, wheat, beans, chickpeas, cucumbers, etc. with rudimentary ploughs.
Craftsmen, who worked in workshops. There were different craftsmen according to their specific work: weavers, carpenters, goldsmiths, perfumers, etc.
Women were the property of men. They did not always work and when they worked, their pay was half of what an adult man earne

117 Harun March 4, 2016 at 2:21 am

I recently finished a book on Mesopotamia, and the reality is that its a huge history!

The author of this book said a certain period had proto-communist state planning, but only for one period.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00603KW4U?keywords=Babylon%3A%20Mesopotamia%20and%20the%20Birth%20of%20Civilization&qid=1457075782&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

The key is they left a ton of records: clay tablets survive. And these show state-run taverns/inns, etc. and planning, according to the author. (I don’t read cuneiform!)

Mesopotamian history was so long and old, that they even did archeology on themselves – searching for old temples to dig up thousand year old ritual tablets (thousand of year old at that time!)

So, its really silly to generalize about their history as they had lots of change.

One thing didn’t change: wives complained to their husbands about the money.

118 Harun March 4, 2016 at 2:23 am

Also, feudalism was pretty brutal. In China, a peasant considered a 60% tax rate a pretty good deal.

So, when we see lefties moaning about capitalism exploiting the poor, consider that early statist/palace economy systems needed tax rates of 60% to function.

Capitalism should be viewed as lowering the amount of taxes poor people have to pay as a great success.

119 Nathan W March 4, 2016 at 5:08 am

It’s a bit of a strawman to put leftists in the position of not liking capitalism for the fact that feudalism was unambiguously worse. The present debates/complaints about capitalism do not propose a return to feudalism, rather, they revolves around debate on the extent of regulation on corporations and the extent of redistribution (largely with a view to non-privileged groups being better able to reach their potential).

120 kevin March 4, 2016 at 9:54 am

It seems a bit unfair to compare tax rates thousands of years ago to tax rates of today. Technology/specialization barely existed. One person didn’t produce anywhere near what they do today. 60% of a workers goods then would be a fraction of 20% of a workers goods today.

121 Heedless March 6, 2016 at 1:34 am

That makes it worse.

The 40% of a peasant’s crop that the mandarins were benevolent enough to leave behind was barely enough to keep body and soul together. In bad years, the peasants starved, but the emperor still collected his due.

122 BC March 3, 2016 at 9:33 pm

At the very beginning of the article, the students are asked, “What is the basic economic problem all societies face?” They give scarcity as the answer, that people have unlimited wants but limited resources. The article title is, “Could you pass Sixth-Grade Economics?” For those that worry that robots will “take all our jobs away”, the answer appears to be no.

123 Hazel Meade March 4, 2016 at 10:49 am

That’s not a bad answer at all. Even many adults don’t seem to grasp it.

124 Justin Kelly March 3, 2016 at 11:37 pm

Down south in Hanover Country (North of Richmond) fifth graders are taught economics… they learn “Natural Capital, Financial Capital, Manufactured Capital, Social Capital and Human Capital”. :-\

125 jorod March 4, 2016 at 12:11 am

So why can’t the adults figure out how to compute interest on a loan? Why do we have all these consumer protection laws?

126 anon March 4, 2016 at 8:32 am

An artist I knew surprised me by buying a Hummer. A year later he told me he was surprised at how much gas it burned. Some people just don’t think to do the math.

127 dux.ie March 4, 2016 at 12:34 am

Re: where prices of goods and peoples’ incomes are decided by the government

Oddly, in a Chinese preschool “MBA” program they were taught to barter without currency hence decentralized value determination.

http://www.ibtimes.com/chinese-parents-send-children-preschool-mba-courses-early-three-1279751

128 anonymous March 4, 2016 at 5:08 am

“To be honest I like the exercises that center on a command economy,” says 11-year-old Mairead Chase of city state Eshnunna. “I like authority. I like to have a goal,” she shrugs and smiles. “Sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do.”

“Few men desire freedom, the greater part desire just masters.”
—Sallust, Histories

129 Tom Warner March 4, 2016 at 5:51 am

It might be a good idea to learn at least a little tiny bit about ancient Mesopotamia before teaching it.

130 Cunning Observer March 4, 2016 at 6:00 am

“I like authority. I like to have a goal,” she shrugs and smiles. “Sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do.”

Sexual submissive in the making.

131 TMC March 4, 2016 at 1:32 pm

More like she’s priming you to be the Sexual submissive.

132 Cunning Observer March 4, 2016 at 3:55 pm

I don’t think 11-year-olds are that cunning. 🙂

133 Nathan W March 6, 2016 at 5:40 am

How about keeping the sexual innuendo limited to the above 18 crowd? Discussing the future sexual submissiveness of 11 year old girls is … disturbing, to say the least.

134 Horhe March 7, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Danish imams are discussing their marriageability.

http://newobserveronline.com/denmark-child-brides-must-be-legal/

We’re living the age of Houellebecq.

135 Zach March 4, 2016 at 8:47 am

Economics could definitely be taught at the sixth grade level. I don’t know about the difference between command economies and market economies. But the concept of supply and demand, utility, indifference curves, budget constraints can all be really beneficial if just the theory of it is taught.

136 Jos. S. Laughon March 4, 2016 at 11:04 am

This….this isn’t good.

137 GU March 4, 2016 at 7:48 pm

See Buchanan, “Afraid to be Free: Dependency as Desideratum.”

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