Help broaden your students’ understanding of the underlying economic principals behind current events, as well as other more basic economic concepts.
FOR THE WEEK OF May 15, 2011
Article Link "Late mayor's vision saves Japan village," Saturday, May 14, 2011, The Denver Post, 13A
- Costly: something that costs much more than expected. It might be called “expensive.”
- Floodgate: adjustable gates or barriers used to control water flow.
- Seaweed fisherman: the practice of cultivating and harvesting seaweed for food. It usually involves finding and cutting of natural seaweed beds.
- Public good: a good or service that the government must provide because there is no private business that will provide the service. Examples of public goods are police and fire protection. In this article the village of Fudai, Japan decided to build a high floodgate to protect against a tsunami. Everyone in the village benefited when the recent tsunami hit the east coast of Japan.
- Opportunity cost: giving up the second best choice in favor of your first choice means the choice cost you the chance to use or enjoy the second choice. In this article the village had to give up some other public service in order to build the floodgate.
- Cost-benefit analysis: before making an economic decision you should measure the costs and benefits (in money terms) of each choice. This includes the opportunity costs. If the benefits outweigh the costs then you should choose that action. If the costs outweigh the benefits you should avoid that action. Weighing the costs and benefits is complicated by calculating the time value of money. For example, you must consider that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future.
Discussion The article describes how one man, the mayor of the Japanese village of Fudai, decided to have a floodgate built that would save the village in the event of a tsunami. The floodgate was built in the 1970s and considered by many to be wasteful. When the March, 2011 tsunami hit Japan the village and its residents were saved by the 51-foot high floodgate. Mayor Kotaku Wamura is considered a hero by the village because of his decision to build the floodgate and seawall.
Questions for discussion Give an example from your school that demonstrates that the school considered the long-term welfare (safety or comfort) of the students, teachers and staff. Is there a project at your school that would be expensive but would improve the welfare of the school community? Give your school principal an idea for improving the welfare of the school (use this article as an example of a public good).
Article Link "Everybody in the Dumpster! The diving's fine," Saturday, May 14, 2011, The Denver Post, 1D
- Waste: something of no further use. Either used or no longer useful to the owner.
- Treasure: something which is considered lost or forgotten until being rediscovered.
- Money-making: an activity capable of earning income.
- Entrepreneur: someone who organizes economic resources to provide a new product or service. In this article the “treasure-hunter” is re-claiming items that have been discarded and selling or using them for profit.
- Property rights: property is anything defined and protected by government. These rights allow the recognized owner to consume, sell, rent, mortgage, use, exchange or destroy the property to the exclusion of others. In this article the original owners relinquished their rights when they threw the property away. The “treasure hunters” found the property and attached their claim to the rights.
Discussion The article describes how people in ski resorts and college towns are finding discarded items and using or selling them. May is the best month for the activity of “treasure-hunting.” This is the time when students are leaving after finals and ski town residents and employees are leaving. Both of these groups throw away valuable property that others find and re-use. The article is written by Aaron LaPedis who is the author of a book called “The Garage Sale Millionaire.” He tells people how to re-sell these found items for profit on eBay or Craigslist.
Questions for discussion Why do you think people would throw away usable property? Does “treasure-hunting” sound like a good part-time business? Why or why not? How is “treasure-hunting” different from finding a wallet or purse on the sidewalk or parking lot? Is “treasure-hunting” an ethical activity? Why or why not?
Handy Dandy Guide
6 core economic Principals
Colorado Model Content Standards for Economics
Economics is written by Dennis Grogran, Program
Director, Colorado Council for Economic Education. For information about
CCEE's other programs, call 303-752-2323 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.