Brexit Political Cartoons

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June 16, 2016

The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

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Is a Brexit from the European Union (EU) imminent?

Tagged: . | Category: Blog

June 16, 2016

Today, this became a very serious and sobering question, as a Member of Parliament (MP) was killed in what is looking like a response to her stance on Great Britain leaving the European Union (EU). The “Brexit” (British exit) has been gaining speed among voters in Great Britain, and it is expected to go to a vote next week.  Preliminary polls show that “most Brits” want to leave the EU (53%).

 

The Telegraph (UK) has a pretty good overview of both sides of the argument.  Barron’s looks at how a potential Brexit could affect the United States.  Markets are in an uproar today.  Overall…what could this mean for students?

Have students research the European Union and issues they’ve encountered over the last few years.  Why is the Brexit a question – what is going on that part of Britain wants to leave the union?  Add on to that with – how could it affect us here?

 

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Panama Papers Political Cartoons

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

June 6, 2016

The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

 

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Taxation & the Panama Papers

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

June 6, 2016

An article yesterday in the New York Times did a pretty good job outlining the issue with the so-called “Panama Papers”.  In general, in April, the papers were leaked from a law firm in Panama, and details assumed tax-evasion tactics from at least 2400 US clients, by setting up allegedly bogus companies.  There’s even a basic overview of how the company, Mossack Fonseca, worked with clients.

Image from bbc.com

Although setting up offshore companies is perfectly legal in the United States, the leaked documents show that Mossack Fonseca worked extra hard to show how to evade US income tax law.  For example, they would set up said company with an unrelated, paid person to be the proxy, hiding the true US owner.

I find this to be a great, current, real-life example to tie to UFR Lesson 1.4 on Taxation and the National Debt.  Although the focus of the lesson is a tie to the debt, it is a terrific overview of our taxation system, and the essential dilemma pulls it all together:  “Is there a fair and efficient way to fund and maintain the public services we want?”.  Have students research the Panama Papers in more depth and ponder:  what is “fair”?

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Universal Basic Income

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May 31, 2016

One of the basic rules of economics and inflation is that if you print more money, the value decreases, and prices rise.  It’s kind of like the sun rising in the East – when there is more of something, it loses value.  If everyone can get it, the value decreases.

I came across an article in the New York Times about the Universal Basic Income term that’s been thrown about lately.  This goes back to the idea of a “living wage”, which in general, ties to the fight for a higher minimum wage by certain sectors of the country.  It guarantees a certain level of income for every household.

On June 5, the population of Switzerland will vote to decide if UBI will stand.  In Europe, however, this is more of a European Socialist movement, with the government ensuring a base amount of support for every household.

Eduardo Porter, in the Times article mentioned above, points out issues such as “where would the money come from?” and “what does this mean for taxes?”. He also points out the creation of a  disincentive to work. A counter argument from Matthew Yglesias on vox.com states that he is not convinced from Porter’s article, and that a UBI from the federal government would “absolutely” solve poverty.  Yglesias compares it to extending Social Security to everyone.

Am I the only one who remembers the inflation lesson?  If everyone has something, the overall value decreases?

If we take UFR Lesson 1.1 on Social Security and the National Debt (or any of the Social Security UFR lessons), and, in the essential dilemma, replace “Social Security” with “UBI”, does it change the equation for students?  Have students research and design a cost-benefit analysis for UBI.  Where do they fall in this discussion?

 

 

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TSA Political Cartoons

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

May 31, 2016

The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

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TSA woes

Tagged: . | Category: Blog

May 31, 2016

I’ll admit it.  I’ve been on vacation.  My husband and I took a plane and I checked my work email twice.  It was wonderful.

Before we left, a friend posted this article about long lines for security at O’Hare International Airport (Chicago).  Now, we didn’t fly out of O’Hare, but it scared us into arriving pretty darn early for our flight.  “Lines longer than the eyes can see”! and “over two hours to get through security”!!

Photo published for TSA troubles could spell a long summer for travelers. Here’s how to lessen the pain

The supposed reason behind these delays has to do with the federal contract with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the laying off of thousands of TSA workers.  This comes at the same time that “passenger numbers are approaching record numbers“, causing huge delays.  TSA had hoped the new “pre-check” system would help, but has found that fewer people than expected have signed up for it.  I haven’t.  The application process just seems clunky and long, and the nearest service center (where you are required to go for an interview) was over 30 miles away.  But when I was able to upgrade our flights to business class, it automatically pushed us into TSA PreCheck, which I found rather weird.

The New York Post states that after complaints were brought against TSA, the agency response was that the lines were the fault of unprepared travelers.  At the same time, CNN reported that the Department of Homeland Security will approve the use of overtime and additional staff to improve the situation.

Photos of long security lines made social media, egged on by the hashtag #ihatethewait.

All of this has led to some discussion of airports hiring private security firms to replace TSA screening.

If we look at national security as a whole, how does the TSA, a federal government agency, fit in?  UFR Lesson 1.3, The Economics of National Security, does not necessarily address TSA in specific, but does outline national security with the essential dilemma “How do we know if we are getting good value out of the money we spend on defense?”.  After using 1.3, have students turn to the TSA and research more about what is currently happening (hint: it’s improved in the last two weeks).  Where does public scrutiny fit in?

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Kiosks, Robots, & Housekeeping Opt-Outs (AEI)

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

May 31, 2016

Sorry, I’ve been on vacation a few weeks.  Time to catch up!

I read a really interesting blog post at American Enterprise Institute, outlining what some markets are choosing to circumvent what seems like imminent minimum wage increases.  They point out that for sectors such as certain fast-food franchises, buying mechanical arms/robots or using kiosks for ordering food is much cheaper, overall, than paying $15/hour for a person to do the same work.

Even more interesting, however, is the movement by hotel chains (they mention Marriott as the leader in this) to offer extra “bonus points” to their free reward/loyalty memberships for people who opt out of housekeeping duties (Teachers College does not endorse Marriott, this is an example only).  This does a few things:

  • Cuts down on the number of housekeepers/hours worked by housekeepers, therefore limiting how much is paid in housekeeping wages,
  • Provides incentives to the people actually staying (not necessarily paying) at the hotel, as it is targeted for potentially longer-staying business travelers, and
  • In the case of business travelers, doesn’t affect the ones paying for the hotel.

Interestingly enough, Marriott is also the chain that worked with journalist Maria Shriver a few years ago to add housekeeper tipping envelopes to guest rooms to encourage tipping (due to low wages).

I like tying the minimum wage debate to UFR Lesson 2.4 on political beliefs. What do your students think?

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Sanders and Taxes

Tagged: , , . | Category: Blog

May 11, 2016

Note: Discussion and blog posts on presidential candidates does not equate to endorsement of any candidate by Teacher’s College or Columbia University.

Continuing the look at the major candidates for president in the 2016 election and their tax plans, we focus today on Bernie Sanders. On his website, Sanders outlines pretty clearly that he plans to increase taxes on corporations, Wall Street speculators, and those who inherit more than $3.5 million.   Under his Medicare plan, he outlines the revenue raised from a new progressive income tax plan for the highest earners in the country:

  • 37% on income between $250k & $500k
  • 43% on income between $500k & $2m
  • 48% on income between $2m and $10m
  • 52% on income above $10m

He also suggests increasing the capital gains tax, and limiting tax deductions for the rich.

CNN Money points out that Sanders’ tax proposals will increase taxes for only 5% of households, but when adding in the combined proposals that he has for Medicare, college costs, and long term care support, it could add to more than $18 trillion in deficits, since the programs would outpace the increased revenue proposed.

Taxation directly relates to UFR Lesson 1.4on Taxation and the National Debt.  Have students consider the essential dilemma “Is there a fair and efficient way to fund and maintain the public services we want?” while considering Mr. Sanders’ tax plan.

 

 

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Clinton and Taxes

Tagged: , , . | Category: Blog

May 10, 2016

Note: Discussion and blog posts on presidential candidates does not equate to endorsement of any candidate by Teacher’s College or Columbia University.

My previous post on candidate Donald Trump and his stance on taxes got me thinking about the other major candidates for president, as well.  This one will focus on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s tax plan.

On Clinton’s campaign website, there’s no single place that outlines her stance on income taxes.  However, under “Plan to Raise American Incomes“, she does outline tax relief for families, a tax cut for families with college students, and a tax cut for businesses who use a profit-sharing model with employees.  Clinton also focuses on cutting taxes for small businesses.  In addition, although there is a section on “Reforming our tax code so the wealthiest pay their fair share”, there is little information on what that means other than closing various tax loopholes such as the “Buffett Rule“, hinting at the story that Warren Buffett has related that he actually pays a lower effective tax rate than his own secretary.

The media has also focused on Clinton’s tax plans.  The Tax Policy Center has a succinct outline of effects of Clinton’s proposed plans: revenue would increase by $1.1 trillion, with the majority of those increases on the top 1% of wage earners.

(Chart from OyeTimes:  http://www.oyetimes.com/news/america/93293-the-clinton-tax-plan-what-we-know-so-far )

As with the post on Mr. Trump, taxation directly relates to UFR Lesson 1.4 on Taxation and the National Debt.  Have students consider the essential dilemma “Is there a fair and efficient way to fund and maintain the public services we want?” while considering Ms. Clinton’s tax plan.

 

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