Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

June 2, 2015

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.

 

Marian Kemensky - Slovakia -  TSIPRAS IS HANGING - English - Tsipras,EU crisis,Merkel,Hollande,Le Garde,Juncker,greece crisis

Gatis Sluka - Latvijas Avize - Euro zone problems - English - euro,zone,dead end,dead,end,money,economy

 

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Greece’s Debt Proposal

Tagged: , , . | Category: Blog

June 2, 2015

Looks like Greece has a “debt proposal” in place with its creditors and may avoid being forced out of the Eurozone and a potential collapse of their entire economy.  The BBC reports, however, that the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and leaders from Germany and France are meeting to take up the question of Greece – without Greek president Tsipras being invited.

In June Greece owes 6.74 billion euros

In July Greece owes 5.95 billion euros

In August Greece owes 4.38 billion euros

(Infographics courtesy of BBC)

No details of Tsipras’ plan were yet available, but the NY Times seems unsure that an agreement could be reached.

What does this mean for students?  UFR Lesson 4.4 reviews Europe’s debt crisis, most especially Greece, and UFR Lesson 4.1 looks at the IMF and developing nations (although there could be a great classroom discussion on what makes a nation “developing”).  Students could also go back to previous posts on Greece to watch the development of this issue over the past few months.   Have students read through and take a stance :  what should Greece do?

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Los Angeles and the Minimum Wage

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An interesting story is coming out of Los Angeles, as the city council confirms that they will raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020.  Minimum wage is always a sticky discussion – there is no denying income inequality in the US, and minimum wage has not kept up with general wage increases over the last 30 years.  However, most economists will point out that increasing minimum wage will lead to increased unemployment and/or a decrease in small business operations.  

Mark J. Perry of the American Institute for Enterprise looks at the increase as a $12,000 “tax” on business owners, and quotes a long-time LA business owner who states he will leave LA when the minimum wage law goes into effect.

On the other hand, the LA Daily News highlights the city council’s decision, where council members said it was a “moral obligation” to increase the minimum wage.  The LA Times focuses on a smaller codicil to the proposal – that after 2020, the minimum wage would be permanently indexed to the cost of living.

Have students consider: should there be an increase in the federal minimum wage?  What evidence do they have to support their opinion?

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Greece again – political cartoons

Tagged: . | Category: Blog

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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John Nash & Economics

Category: Blog

There’s no denying the contributions mathematician John Nash gave to economics.  His sudden death in NJ earlier this week has brought out many eulogies in print for the brilliant mind behind game theory and the Nash Equilibrium.

The Economist offers a student-friendly explanation of the Nash Equilibrium of game theory – but more importantly, shows how Nash was primarily responsible for moving game theory into the open in economics.

The New Yorker looks past his work in economics to how game theory can be applied in just about any venue where people interact strategically.  Perhaps more interesting, they also go into a brief history of the field of economics, and how von Neumann and Morgenstern outlined game theory in the first place.

The Washington Post focuses on Nash’s history of mental illness and how that may have affected his thinking – and therefore his theories.

Finally, Ron Howard (director of the movie based on Nash’s life), commented on the man himself.

Overall, there are multiple opportunities out in the blogosphere and internet for students to learn about game theory and one of the brightest minds of mathematics and economics.

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Texas Flooding, Federal Relief, and Political Cartoons

Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

I’m including this only because of the recent talks about federal relief for the Texas flooding.

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.

 

Dave Granlund - Politicalcartoons.com - Texas flooding - English - Texas, flooding, storms, Houston, record floods, damage, rain

Bob Englehart - The Hartford Courant - Flooding In TexasCOLOR - English - Flooding In Texas, weather,rain,texas,houston,gulf of mexico,downpur,san marco,austin,texas,tornadoes

 

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Greece and Debt Crises

Tagged: , , . | Category: Blog

Once again we face a debt crisis with Greece at the forefront.  Greece’s governing Syriza party has stated they want to make payments to the International Monetary Fund, but there is division within the party on the debt terms and the need for aid.

The New York Times goes a little further, stating that Greece is all but bankrupt.  City and national infrastructure is in danger – although the trash is being collected, the Times states that not much more is happening. In a socialist state, where so much of the population depends on the government for everything from hospitals and public safety to universities and general state security (internal and external), this could be disastrous.  Two weeks ago, Greece defaulted on a debt payment of about $825 million, and it is not looking good for them to be able to make the next payment on June 5th.

At the same time, Greece is facing an increasingly aging population, a large increase in attempted immigration from African groups, and a crippling unemployment rate.

Going back to other posts on Greece over the last year, this downward trend is concerning, but not necessarily surprising.  How does this affect the Eurozone, and how could it affect the United States?

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Warren Buffett, the Minimum Wage, and the EITC

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How do all of these things fit together under the umbrella of income inequality?  Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the richest men in the world, wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal that instead of raising the minimum wage, the federal government should offer tax incentives for low income wage earners with a controlled increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Buffett gives two key sets of data:

  1. “In 1982, the first year the Forbes 400 was compiled, those listed had a combined net worth of $93 billion.  Today, the 400 possess $2.3 trillion, up 2400% in slightly more than 3 decades, a period in which the median household income rose only about 180%.”
  2. “Meanwhile, a huge number of their fellow citizens have been living the American Nightmare – behaving well and working hard but barely getting by.  In 1982, 15% of Americans were living below the poverty level; in 2013 the proportion was nearly the same, a dismaying 14.5%.  In recent decades, our country’s rising tide has not lifted the boats of the poor.”

He goes on to point out that the innovations from the Sam Walton and the Steve Jobs of the world have changed how we live, and they are not undeserving of their wealth.  However, he sees the widening gap as a consequence of our shift from an agrarian-based economy to a technology-based one.

This could not only be a fascinating discussion for students, but a powerful research and analysis tool for them.  Add to it Buffett’s suggestion – to have a controlled increase of the Earned Income Tax Credit instead of an increase in the minimum wage due to the shocks the latter could cause in our economy – and it’s a great opportunity for students to take a stance and support it with evidence.

Could income inequality be decreased through a controlled increase in the EITC?

 

 

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Tagged: , . | Category: Blog

May 5, 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.

 

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Reforming Social Security – the Graham way

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South Carolina Representative Lindsey Graham has not yet announced his intended run for president in 2016, but he has outlined Social Security reform which will ask everyone to “give up a little bit to make sure the system doesn’t fail.”  In general, Republicans oppose anything that would cause taxes to rise, and Democrats oppose anything that would cause benefits to fall.  This has created a DC stalemate for years.

Borrowing heavily from the Simpson-Bowles commission (2010), provisions would include having wealthier Social Security recipients pay more, raising the benefits age for both Medicare and Social Security, raise the amount withheld from workers’ paychecks for Social Security, and elimination of certain personal and corporate tax breaks.

UFR Lesson 2.1 outlines the essential dilemma of Social Security:  What responsibility does the federal government have to ensure the elderly a secure and stable standard of living? Begin with the lessons for the unit, and bring Graham’s suggestions to students.  What is the feasibility of the proposal?  Would Congress vote for it?  Would the President?  What evidence do they have to support their opinion?

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