Proposed Economics Problems

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List here some proposed economics problems for use on homework in this course, or for extra credit or practice:

  • What equation for the demand curve yields an elasticity of precisely one at all points?
  • What does the Coase Theorem say about excuses people often make for not being productive?
  • Discuss the economics of granting patents to inventors.
  • Discuss the time spent worrying about lost items, which Jesus mentioned on several occasions. Is that time well spent?
  • Discuss aspects of the economic parables: Matthew 13:18-23 and 44-46; Matthew 18:21-35; Matthew 20:1-16 and 33-46; Luke 7:36-50; Luke 12:13-21; Luke 14:15-24; Luke 15:8-10; Luke 16:1-13 and 19-31; Luke 18:9-14; and Luke 19:11-27.
  • Quotations to discuss:
Swedish Proverb: "God gives every bird his worm, but he does not throw it into the nest."
Kenneth Chang: "A market is the combined behavior of thousands of people responding to information, misinformation and whim."
  • Why do some refer to economics as the "dismal science"?
  • Discuss the "economic problem," which can be defined as the challenge of satisfying wants that are greater than available (scarce) resources.
  • Is the "free-rider" problem real and, if so, how best should one deal with it?
  • Takings law, including the Supreme Court "judicial takings" case.
  • More quotations to discuss:
Phelps Adams: "Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist, seeing the rich man and his fine home, says: 'No man should have so much.' The capitalist, seeing the same thing, says: 'All men should have as much.'"
Harry Brown: "The free market punishes irresponsibility. Government rewards it."
Milton Friedman: "Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant relatively little to the wealthy. The rich in Ancient Greece would have benefitted hardly at all from modern plumbing : running servants replaced running water. Television and radio? The Patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading actors as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets - all these and many other modern developments woul have added little to their life. The great achievements of Western Capitalism have redounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive perogative of the rich and powerful."
Luke Froeb: "The chief virtue of a capitalist mode of production is its ability to create wealth. Wealth is created when assets are moved from lower to higher valued uses."
Steven E. Plaut: "While it might surprise many ecologists to hear, capitalism is itself the ultimate form of conservationism. Capitalists seek to conserve resources, not because of sentimental feelings about nature or the earth or whales or worry about the well-being of future generations, but simply because every drop of oil, every ton of ore, every shipment of wood saved is a cost reduction and money in the pocket."
Ludwig von Mises: "The desire for an increase of wealth can be satisfied through exchange, which is the only method possible in a capitalist economy, or by violence and petition as in a militarist society, where the strong acquire by force, the weak by petitioning."
Oscar Wilde: "They rage against Materialism, as they call it, forgetting that there has been no material improvement that has not spiritualized the world."

See also