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UFR has moved!

Category: Blog

June, 2016

Understanding Fiscal Responsibility is now housed in EconEdLink, through the Council for Economic Education.  Stay tuned for videos, student interactives, and a training guide for using the curriculum!

 

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Brexit: Will others follow?

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June 29, 2016

One of the theories being bandied about is that a Brexit will also lead to a Swexit (Sweden) and a Grexit (Greece).  This is showing up in the NY Times (Will other countries follow?), Politico magazine (How Brexit will change the world), and UK Sky News (After Brexit, will it be Swexit and Grexit?).  I think this creates a really interesting opportunity for students to look at past issues in the EU and work to draw conclusions from information they have.

UFR Lesson 4.4, World History specifically looks at Europe’s Debt Crisis, focusing in on Greece.  The essential dilemma offers a chance to observe the Brexit in context with Greece: When is one country’s problem everyone’s problem?

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June 29, 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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The Brexit.

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June 29, 2016

I apologize for the delay in posting – I’ve been on the road for work.

Last week, voters in the UK decided (on a very close vote) to leave the European Union.  NPR has an up to date overview of what is happening in Britain and the EU, and works to outline numerous issues surrounding the seemingly imminent exit of Britain from the EU.  David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has resigned because of the results of the referendum, and stock markets around the world have been on a roller coaster ride for the last week.

27 EU countries are meeting today to discuss what the Brexit means for the rest of the EU, and Prime Minister Cameron was sent out of the discussions.  Although we’ve seen hints of other countries leaving the EU (see Grexit from last year), this is the first time it’s actually gotten to the point of a country voting to leave, and is a cause of reflection in other EU countries.

Meanwhile, an op-ed piece in The Guardian (UK) by a non-Britisher outlines why the Brexit is a good thing for the rest of Europe.

And, as an outlier, there is some question on whether it will actually happen.

Have students read through current information on the Brexit, and try to determine what this has to do with the United States.  How will this potentially affect us here?  Why does it matter?  How could it affect our federal budget?

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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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