Why is Walmart paying triple the minimum wage in North Dakota?

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

June 14, 2014

The Carpe Diem blog from the American Enterprise Institute looks at a Walmart in Williston, ND, where they are posting jobs starting at about $17 an hour.  How can that be?

It’s a great story of labor supply and demand.  If Walmart offered standard minimum wage at this location, they would not have enough workers to keep the store open.  Why?  Because the Bakken oil fields are nearby.

Now, AEI is a right-wing think tank, and will obviously lean towards the conservative part of the story, stating that a national minimum wage cannot work.  However, students could analyze the situation and information provided, find more data through research, and take a stand for or against a national minimum wage that stands on more than personal opinion.

Mark Perry, author of the blog, also posts some photos of the interior of this Walmart in North Dakota, where supplies are leaving the store so quickly that consumers take items off of pallets – they literally cannot keep the shelves full.  This provides another great opportunity to discuss supply and demand of resources with students.  Like as not, they’ve never seen empty shelves, unless it was on Black Friday shopping day.

I love it when you can find stories that allow students to see economic concepts in action so clearly!

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Were the Clintons “dead broke”? Political cartoonists respond.

Category: Blog

June 11, 2014

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.

 

149565 600 Hillary Dead Broke cartoons

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Post-Dispatch, 2014

 

149573 600 Dead Broke cartoons

Jeff Koterba, Omaha World-Herald, 2014

 

149574 600 Dead Broke cartoons

Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer, 2014

 

Editorial cartoon by Bill Bramhall featuring Hillary Clinton

Bill Bramhall, The New York Daily News, 2014

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Were the Clintons “Dead Broke” – and does it matter?

Tagged: . | Category: Blog

June 11, 2014

A few days ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that upon leaving the White House after her husband’s presidency, they were “dead broke”.  CNN reports the story, FoxNews pokes fun at it (as do political cartoonists), and many questions have come up across the blogosphere regarding…does it really matter?

Citing legal fees from President Bill Clinton’s final years in office, Hillary Clinton claims they had somewhere between $2 and $10 million in debt, and were unable to pay their mortgages or their daughters’ college education.  When asked about the enormous speaking fees the couple demands, she defends herself with mention of the huge debt.

Republicans claim that the statement proves how “out of touch” the Clintons are with the average American.  There have also been mutterings around the blogosphere that it was an attempt by Clinton to look “normal and average” and perhaps take the magnifying glass off of the Benghazi scandal.

Why do I bring this up?  Regardless of whether students agree or disagree that the Clintons were “dead broke”, by putting this forward in the political arena – from someone who is rumored to run for president – makes it fall smack dab into political rhetoric.  If we look at rhetoric as the attempt to use words and language to persuade people to certain political ways, this offers a great analysis of language used on all angles of this event.  Why would Hillary Clinton say they were “dead broke”?  When looking at the media’s response, what is the main message we hear?  How could that possibly affect presidential politics?

 

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Living Wage Surcharge surfaces at SeaTac Airport

Tagged: . | Category: Blog

June 8, 2014

As I was scrolling through my blog RSS feed, I found a really interesting post regarding the minimum wage.  It seems that SeaTac Airport has raised the minimum wage of workers to $15 an hour, but at the same time, has added a $.99 daily charge on parking.  The Washington Policy Center broke the story last week, saying that although the hourly wage rose for these workers, they lost the opportunity for benefits such as paid vacation and holidays, free parking and food, and overtime hours.

Although seemingly a flat tax, a 99 cent “living wage surcharge” for daily parking adds up quickly – a $6.93 charge was added to an $84 parking bill, constituting a 8% tax.  The American Enterprise Institute computes that a monthly “living wage surcharge” constitutes an almost 15% tax.

The glory of economics is that this is all about choice – choices that SeaTac makes in compensating their workers, choices the workers make to stay or go, choices customers make whether to park their car there.  However, an increase in minimum wage has to come from somewhere, whether it is a decrease in a business’ profits or an increase in their prices.

What would this look like on a national level?  Granted, a jump from where we’re at to a national $15/hour minimum wage is a very large one, but what happens with increases in minimum wage?  Have students do some research to see what’s happened in the past.  There are two sides:  one says there is no net change, the other says prices rise.  What information could students find to support their theory?

 

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Developing World and Income Growth

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

June 3, 2014

An interesting article and graph in The Economist caught my eye, regarding the middle class in developing countries.  We hear so much on US news about our income gap, but rarely look beyond the borders to see what is happening in other areas of the world.  The Economist has a section entitled “Daily Chart”, and often has thought provoking topics.  These can be brought into the classroom as class starters or bell ringer activities, and still increase student’s analysis and decoding skills.

The graph is actually very positive news: the number of people in the world who are living in extreme poverty has decreased dramatically over the last 20 years.  Although not evenly spread across the globe, they state that the majority of jobs opening in the developing world enable workers to live above the US poverty line.

Although not necessarily impressive to those who believe in pure equality of income, this is a huge change and worthy of classroom discussion.  What does this mean, overall?  What is the difference between relative and absolute poverty?  What does this have to do with policy choices and decisions?

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National Student Loan Debt

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

May 31, 2014

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.

 

Spring college graduation across the country have also brought out the political cartoons on student loan debt!

148990 600 Debt Degree cartoons

Larry Wright, 2014

 

148896 600 Most Likely to Pay Student Loans cartoons

Mike Luckovich, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2014

 

148525 600 Student Loans/Student Debt cartoons

Bob Englehart, Hartford Courant, 2014

 

148905 600 Starting Out From A Hole cartoons

Steve Breen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2014

 

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More VA Cartoons

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

May 30, 2014

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.

 

As the VA scandal continues to grow, more political cartoons have arrived!

148920 600 VA Drags Along cartoons

John Cole, The Times Tribune, 2014

 

148961 600 VA Red Tape cartoons

John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, 2014

 

148902 600 Remember Our Soldiers cartoons

Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily, 2014

 

148901 600 Bo Knows cartoons

Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily, 2014

 

148897 600 Tomb of the Unknown Patient cartoons

Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2014

 

148894 600 Cut Those Backlogs cartoons

Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star, 2014

 

148886 600 Long Wait Times cartoons

Chip Bok, 2014

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Is Piketty’s data flawed?

Tagged: , , . | Category: Blog

May 25, 2014

Some interesting information has been blogged through The Financial Times regarding French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital book.  In short, FT blogger Chris Giles states that the data that Piketty based his entire book on – is false.  (For background on Piketty’s book and the waves it has been making in the econosphere, see UFR blog posts from April 22, April 29, and May 13)

One of the most fascinating parts of the FT blog entry is how people are reacting to it.  I love the idea of having students read the background information on Piketty and his now-famous book, then read the blog from FT, and then focus on the responses and comments on the FT blog.  How can all of these be compared?  It’s a great critical thinking lesson on bias in the media as well as rhetoric.  How much do politics come up in the discussions they read?

Another great path comes from economist Paul Krugman, who supports Piketty and his work.  His blog response to the FT blog is a critique of Giles’ critique of Piketty’s thesis.  Are you still following me?  The Huffington Post also had a scathing response to those who say that Piketty’s data was unreliable.  The New Yorker has a fascinating piece outlining the US wealth inequality issue and Piketty’s work.

Piketty himself says he was “ambushed” by Giles and was not given enough time to construct a response.  He has accused FT of “dishonest criticism” and calls the allegations “ridiculous.”

Have students dig through the resources – as well as find their own! – and read through the comments.  Ask them not only what they have learned from it, but look at the polarizing nature of the debate.  How do these articles reflect the political nature of the inequality issue?

 

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Social Security debates in Congress

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

May 21, 2014

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.

 

Financial Advisor Magazine reported today that the Social Security Administration has warned Congress that if they don’t act soon regarding Social Security funding, up to a 25% decrease in Social Security benefits could become a reality.  They added that the SSA stated that disability reserves could be at $0 as soon as 2016.

Unfortunately, although there may be almost universal agreement that Social Security needs to be “fixed”, there is a LOT of disagreement on what that means and how to do it.  ThinkAdvisor offered a decent analysis of current Congressional views on fixing Social Security today – although what it seems to come down to is that “some combination of choices” needs to be made.

This understandably can get extremely confusing for high school students.  In fact, in my classroom experience, many didn’t even want to talk about Social Security because so many people have told them that it won’t exist for them upon retirement that they hold deep resentment towards having to pay in, even as teenagers.  The UFR US History lesson 3.1 can help students understand the history of Social Security, but also provides an extremely helpful scaffold for understanding the current dilemma.  It provides an excellent opportunity to also talk about inflation, the decrease in pensions and increase in personal retirement savings, and government funding for old age.

140607 600 Declining Social Security Benefits cartoons

Monte Wolverton, 2013

 

Another interesting point:  the following political cartoons are from 2004 – ten years ago!  Yet, what they show is very similar to what we’re facing today.  Have students analyze this – what does it mean?  How can this still be a problem in the US?

wolverton Monte Wolverton Cartoon for 03/01/2004 cartoons

Monte Wolverton, 2004

ramirez Michael Ramirezs Cartoon for 3/2/2004 cartoons

Michael Ramirez, 2004

wright Larry Wright Cartoon for 03/02/2004 cartoons

Larry Wright, 2004

powell Dwane Powells Cartoon for 3/1/2004 cartoons

Dwane Powell, 2004

 

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The VA Issue

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

May 18, 2014

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.

 

As scandal regarding the Veterans Administration continues to brew in Washington, the political cartoons have started.  Information regarding the alleged “wait lists” at VA Medical Centers in different states bring up the question of treatment of US veterans, funding for veterans, and in some cases, politicians have tied it back to the Affordable Care Act.  For some background information, there are articles all over the internet, including USA Today, CBS News, and Fox News.  You can also find the entire transcript of President Obama’s reaction online at The Chicago Sun-Times.

When considering the federal budget with this issue, I actually like the way it fits with the Civics lessons over the Economics lessons in UFR.  There are three civics lessons that fit in well with the VA scandal – 2.1 on Social Security, Governance, and the National Debt; 2.2 on Medicare, Governance, and the National Debt; and 2.3 National Security Goals, the Federal Budget, and the National Debt.  I love the idea of taking the time to do all three of these lessons, and have students really delve deep into the Social Security and Medicare issues before comparing/contrasting the VA scandal and information that keeps coming out.  How much do we “owe” veterans?  There’s a lot of power in using current events to answer critical questions.

On to the political cartoons:

148691 600 Wait List Scandal cartoons

Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star, 2014

148535 600 Govt Health Care cartoons

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle, 2014

148449 600 Killing Veterans cartoons

Nate Beeler, Columbus Post-Dispatch, 2014

148294 600 VA Hospitals cartoons

Jimmy Marguiles, 2014

 

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