Final Exam Questions

Ok, folks, we’re near the end.  It’s been a rough journey but we’re close.

Here’s what I want you to do for the “final exam”.   I am listing three questions below.  I want you to answer them on your blog by creating a post.  You can either create a single post with your answers to all 3 questions OR make 3 separate posts.  Please Title your post as “Final Exam Responses” or “Final Exam Response 1”, “Final Exam Response 2”,  etc.  Take your time and think about your answers.  There is no time limit per se.  Simply

Question 1:

What is the most (or one of the most) significant, insightful, or helpful comments that a fellow student made. Why? How did it help, change, or open your thinking. Find a comment, post, or book project post created by one of your fellow students and explain to us why you liked it and what you took away from it.  Be sure to link or reference the comment/post/book project in your comment.  Feel free to quote from it.

Question 2:

What is the most significant thing you learned during your readings and thinking in this course. What or how has your thinking changed?  (if you feel you covered this in an earlier reflection post on your blog, feel free to simply edit that post and add “Final Exam Response 2” to the title and be done with this one)

Question 3:

Imagine the future. What do you see as the greatest challenge facing society (related in any way to economic systems) over the coming 10 to 20 years.  Why? How does the system need to change to respond to it? Please take some time to think this through and perhaps go deeper.  For example, suppose you think responding to climate change is the major challenge. In that case, don’t just talk about how threatening climate change might be, but talk about what we need to change in the economic system so that we can respond effectively to it.

That’s it.


Last Topic Readings

If you didn’t see it already, here’s the last set of readings to comment on.

Topic 12 (last) – Capitalism & Politics; Critical Perspectives

Please comment.  Again, you can use either your blog or comment/reply here.

There’s one more post coming from me with assignments. That will be directions for the “Final Exam”, which is actually a blog post assignment.


Topic 12 – Intergenerational and Healthcare

For this topic discussion, we have four readings, two of which are from my blog.  If you listen to major new media and politicians today, you’d think that healthcare and intergenerational economics would be pretty pessimistic or depressing.  In this case, these readings aren’t! You will find some good news.

First has to do with Social Security, the US government intergenerational transfer program that provides the foundation for our senior citizen’s ability to live past their retirement age. It also provides support for those that are disabled and their dependents.  While politicians and the media often claim Social Security is going “bankrupt” (actually an impossibility), the truth is quite different. There is no economic, financial, or demographic reason why Social Security won’t be around for you when you retire. The only threat is if politicians choose to eliminate it.

Next, Our World in Data site reports how life is getting longer around the world.  Which then leads into an article about how spending on healthcare is related to life expectancy.

And that leads to the last reading: why the US healthcare system is so much more expensive than any other developed nation’s system.  It’s insurance forms.

NOTE:  If you’re interested in the Social Security topic or Medicare, an analysis of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, or Trumpcare (if it happens), you might want to come to the LCC Centre for Engaged Inclusion in Gannon 2nd floor on April 25.  I’ll be giving an hour lecture with half-hour discussion of these topics. It’s open to the campus.

As usual, please read. We are interested in your thoughts and reactions to these readings/video. You may participate by blogging on your own blog (remember to categorize it as ECON 260), creating a new post on the front page of this site, or reply/comment here.

Topic 12 – Intergenerational & Healthcare
Thursday, April 13, 2017

Topic 11


For this topic discussion, there are two readings.  We are trying to take a step back here and get a big-picture perspective of the modern US economy.  In particular, these two posts take a look at things that don’t show up in everyday reporting or discussion of the economy or the economic system.

In the first, Umair Haque explores the importance of trust in an economy. He asserts that trust has seriously deteriorated in the US with the result that the US has moved from a constructive capitalism to an extractive capitalism that is essentially devouring itself:

You might think: trust isn’t that important. It’s just soft stuff! You can’t touch it or taste it or smell it, like, say, fresh money, a gleaming new car, apps. But trust precedes all those. Without it, the money doesn’t get spent, the goods don’t get made, the investments don’t happen. Do you spend much of yourself on what and who you don’t trust? Your money, at stores? Your time, with coworkers, Your love, with people? Perhaps you see the point. Trust is a kind of capital that precedes money and effort and ideas, financial and human and intellectual capital.

So there is a link. Somehow, suspicious of each other to the last, the American economy has turned extractive: GDP “grows”, while life expectancy falls. Think about that for a moment — it means that extreme capitalism is eating itself, you, me, democracy, the planet, society as we know it.

Why? What is the link between a loss of trust, an extractive economy, and a collapsing society — one where the government itself is turning authoritarian?

In the other reading, Anil Dash, a software startup CEO, claims that tech in the past 20 years hasn’t actually improved the functioning of markets. Instead it has brought about the appearance of markets that are actually rigged.  To the degree he is right, it means that all the promises of efficiency, growth, and the magic of free market capitalism is an illusion. It means that we’re really just being taken by the tech capitalists for their riches and we don’t become better off.

As usual, please read and watch. We are interested in your thoughts and reactions to these readings/video. You may participate by blogging on your own blog (remember to categorize it as ECON 260), creating a new post on the front page of this site, or reply/comment here.

Topic 11 – Drugs, Social Norms, & Individual Behavior

Topic 9 – Migration

NOTE:  this post was scheduled for March 23 but I forgot to hit the publish button.  Feel free to comment on this or Topic 10 this week.

This topic deals with migration.  I saw migration because immigration and emmigration are simply two sides of the same movement. Every immigrant to a nation is also an emmigrant from their home country.

The readings for this topic are:

Here’s the presentation I made recently at the LCC Centre for Engaged Inclusion about “Mythbusting Immigration”. Most of the slides are graphs or data. Links to the original articles and sources of those graphs/data are included in each one.

If the embedded slides don’t display, you can access the file in Google Slides at

A last minute addition to the readings from Vox:

Topic 10 Environment and the Commons

In this next Topic we discuss the environment and the issues it presents for an economic system. This is not a science course, it’s a social science course. So I’m not so interested here in questions such as how badly polluted the environment is or how much/how fast global climate change is happening. For our purposes here, it is sufficient that we just know pollution or a wrecked environment is indeed possible from economic activity. Our concern here is: in what ways does the economic system contribute to or hinder the maintenance of a healthy environment for humans?

So I will not spend your time with trying to raise your awareness of environmental issues. There is plenty of information available about environmental issues. We may disagree about specific issues such as global warming, the availability of natural resources such as oil or coal, or the specifics of any particular environmental issue.  But what is well established is that the production methods of the 20th century need to change. The technologies and processes that produced the high standards of living for the fortunate 10-15% of the world’s population in the first world industrialized nations cannot and will not produce the same living standards for the entire world. There simply aren’t enough resources. We must make a change to more sustainable methods of production, be it energy production, agriculture, industry or waste disposal.

At it’s core, the environmental issues about sustainability are economic system issues. The economic system and its’ institutions determine what costs are considered when deciding how and what to produce. The economic system determines what the “externalities” are that should be ignored or remedied by government regulation. How, when and whether we move to sustainable production or “green” energy will ultimately be determined by how we change our economic system.

A major issue that is always brought up when environment and the economic system is discussed is the commons. The commons is the term used by economists to describe things or property that are not exclusively private property but may be used by all or many.  The historical example of a commons in the literature (and a source of much poor generalizations about commons) is that of English villages before the 18th century. Villages back then tended to have a pasture that was shared in common by all. In other words, all farmers could graze their animals there since no one farmer controlled it. The question arose as to whether farmers would attempt to graze too many sheep and thus over-graze the commons, ruining it for all. The issue of the commons is whether this lack of private property combined with self-interested behavior by individuals leads to over-use and non-sustainability or not.  As you’ll see in the first reading, the popular conception of the commons as being unsustainable is not really in line with empirical evidence.

The other two readings have to do with whether the goals of growth in an economy conflict with environmental sustainability and how.

After the readings, I’ve embedded a video below about sustainable fish farming that offers another perspective and raises questions of how we organize our food supply.

As usual, please read and watch. We are interested in your thoughts and reactions to these readings/video. You may participate by blogging on your own blog (remember to categorize it as ECON 260), creating a new post on the front page of this site, or reply/comment here.

Topic 10 – Environment & the Commons

Video to Watch:
TED Talk: Dan Barber – How I Fell in Love With A Fish

What It Is About

Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles his pursuit of a sustainable fish he could love, and the foodie’s honeymoon he’s enjoyed since discovering an outrageously delicious fish raised using a revolutionary farming method in Spain.

I am not an ecologist or biologist. Dan Barber may or may not be correct in his assessment of sustainability of the particular farm he talks about. But that is not the point here. The point I want you to pay attention to is how Barber describes a different approach to agriculture. Think about that. Think about how we do current agriculture (if you’re not really aware of current agriculture practices you may want to watch Food Inc.). How will these changes affect our economic systems? Will our economic systems produce sustainable production?

How I Fell In Love With A Fish (alt link if embedded video doesn’t display)

Topic 8 Education, Families, Children

For this week we turn to another issue that poses complex challenges to societies involving their choice of economic system. This is the question of education and the care of children.  This is another area where economic systems, the societal arrangements for dealing with scarcity and value production, have had to evolve as nations have developed or industrialized.

For a moment, let’s consider a very poor, un-developed nation. Some  of the poorest nations today are in central and sub-Saharan Africa, but even they are rapidly growing beyond the state I’m considering.  I’m thinking back to before the industrial revolution. Life was short – 30-40 years was generally max life expectancy. It wasn’t because nobody lived longer but rather because infant (before age 5) mortality was so high. So put yourself in the (non-existent) shoes of two adults then. You scraped out a living doing subsistence farming. Very labor intensive, but simple labor. The rational choice was to have lots of kids for two reasons. First, most of the them wouldn’t live to survive to adulthood, so it made since to up the odds by having several. Second, by the age of 6 a child could start doing labor on the farm. By 6, they could generate enough value from labor to offset the additional food cost of feeding them. More kids = more production.

The industrial revolution, and now the computer revolution, changes all that. We have machines for simple unskilled labor. To make kids valuable, we have to educate them. That takes time.  It also takes time for that investment in education to pay out. It does pay out, but only over decades. To complicate matters, the pay-out is both to the individual and to the society as a whole – what we call positive externalities.

The U.S., dating back to pre-colonial times in New England, along with England was  a leader in the world in pioneering public education. That is, education paid for by the public and required by law. People pay taxes as a society and those taxes fund the education. Since the entire society benefits, it is a good investment. It also solves the financing problem for the student (or their parent).  Older people pay taxes now to educate the young. When the young get older, they will be more productive and pay taxes to educate the next generation. It’s what’s called an “intergenerational transfer”.  By the time of WWII, nearly all kids were getting a high school education. In the post-WWII era, we expanded this approach to college by funding the GI Bill and colleges/universities directly. In the 1960’s in some states, notably California, college and university education, even at University of California Berkeley, was free to California residents.

As you’ll see in the first reading, things have changed since then. Ok, you know from your own tuition bills that college isn’t free anymore – at least not in the US.  But the free college concept as a social good is still alive in other countries such as Germany and Denmark.

To participate in this discussion, read the three required readings below and respond. As usual, you may choose to respond by writing a post on your blog and categorizing it as ECON 260, or create a new front-page post on this site, or use the reply/comment link to this post.

Topic 8- Education, Families, Children



Starting points for additional research if you are interested or your project relates to this topic:



Update – Midpoint of Semester (IMPORTANT)

Ok, folks, it’s the midpoint of the semester.

It’s been a very rocky start to this semester, I’ll admit. First, a mea culpa. Much of that is on me. This course so far hasn’t been up to my normal standards.  It’s not an excuse but here’s why.  I made a critical mistake. Note to self: don’t make 3 major innovations in the pedagogy/design of a course at the same time again! I like what we’re trying to do in this course, course-design-wise, but it’s been a lot rougher on my workflow-wise than anticipated. In addition, I had no clue what the election and political developments would do to me work wise this year.  While this course demanded a lot more time on my part to find readings, etc. than anticipated, it happened just as I was getting asked to speak at a LOT of events this year, including a talk/panel discussion in London (yes, that London) about “Open Education in a Time of Trump and Brexit” at an international conference.  Bottom-line, apologies aside, I pretty sure we’re ready to rock now. I have readings and posting up to date AND postings prepared for coming weeks. So we should be able to get back on schedule and reach some interesting conclusions.

So what’s to do?  In particular, what do you need to do?  There are 8 weeks left. The way to think about what you need to do is to think of working on two parallel, sometimes connected tracks. There’s the weekly discussion topics track and your blog posts-book project track. They all come together in the last week with your final exam which is actually an extended reflective blog post. So a brief summary of what you need to do from here is: Continue reading

Your Blog Assignments and Project

In this post I’m going to recount how to do your blog post assignments and describe what you need to write about and when in blog posts. This includes your book-based research project. Be sure to click the “read more” to read the rest of this post.

Continue reading

What to Say in Your Book Research Project

The Objective of the Book-based Research Project

After you’ve read your book, you need to develop a summary and review of the book. First, let me say what I’m NOT looking for. I’m not looking for a traditional academic research paper. This is about using the web to get ideas across to your fellow students and anybody else out there in the Internets. When other students finish reading the page for your book review(s), they should have a good idea

  • what the book is about
  • what the author is trying to say
  • how it relates to what we’ve studied
  • what your thoughts are about these ideas.

Every one of these books has a “message” – something the author is trying to persuade readers to do, think, or believe. When I and the other students view your post, we need to understand both the “message” the author is pushing AND what you think about it. Do you agree? Disagree? Why? Why not? What do you think the author should have considered but didn’t? Did this book change your thinking? Or did it just make you angry? Or just bored? What would you like to ask or say to the author if you could? Continue reading

Topic 7 Readings Agriculture, Food, and the State

Food, and therefore agriculture/farming/herding, has always been a critical piece of any economic system ever since complex societies formed millennia ago.  Agriculture continues to be a difficult issue in organizing an economic system today but unlike for hundreds of years, the problem really isn’t “how to grow enough food for everybody”.  Worldwide, thanks to technology like tractors & fertilizer, improved science of agriculture, and improved food preservation/distribution, we’ve actually solved the “not enough” problem in the last hundred years. Now the problems are difficult. The hunger or malnutrition remains a problem in many places but it’s a distribution/access/income problem while too much food is actually wasted or destroyed.

No the problems tend to three fold in my view. First, there are power relations. Picking and harvesting food is still often low-paying, difficult, painful labor fraught with risks from pesticides and other dangers. Higher income people in developed countries such as the US increasingly aren’t interested in such work, so it’s necessary to use labor from less developed countries. But what are the conditions they work under? Do we use immigrants and grow here (benefitting our landowners)? Or do we let them grow in their country and import the produce (who gets the profit?)? This labor problem is made much harder because farming is very capital intensive. And capital intensive industries tend towards corporate concentration and not the free-market competitive ideal we like to think. Continue reading

Topic 6 Readings

I thought I had posted this, but apparently I forgot to hit the publish button, so catching up.

For Topic 6, let’s take an introduction into Income Inequality.  It’s a topic that for many decades in the late 20th century and early 21st century wasn’t given much attention in either academic economics literature OR in discussions by politicians.  This was for several related reasons. First, there was a carry-over from the cold war. Starting in the 1940’s and 1950’s, communism was demonized both academically and politically, that any research or political talk of income inequality risked associating the author with communism too. Then, starting in the 1970’s and growing in the 1980’s and onward the economic-political system was taken with what we call “neo-liberalism”.  Neoliberalism is a very pro-market, pro-corporate approach to capitalism that seeks to minimize government involvement in any aspects of the economy as well as promote globalism.  Essentially, all US presidents from Reagan through Obama have been neoliberal. It remains to be seen how neoliberal Trump will be. Continue reading

Update Feb 19

Update Feb 19:  Hi folks, well this has been a real lesson for me this semester. What’s the lesson you ask? Don’t make 3 major innovations/experiments in the course at the same time, especially when it wasn’t clear I’d teach the class until a few weeks before semester started.   Here’s where we are:

  • I just posted a description of the readings for topic 5 which we should be discussing this week.  Reminder: you can respond and comment either by clicking “reply” to that post, OR you can create a new post directly from the front page of the website, OR if you’ve gotten started on your blog and have a longer thought to post, you can post it there.
  • If you  ever miss what or forget what the readings are for a particular topic/week, there’s a page that has all of them for the semester. It’s available from both the Required Readings and What To Do tabs on the menu.  Go to those menu items and click on the Topics, Readings, Schedule Plan.
  • The Topics, Readings, Schedule Plan list of readings for the rest of the semester is shaping up. Much of it is already listed and I’m actively working on filling in the rest as fast as I can. It would still be useful to discuss these various readings during the time frames listed, but by  knowing what’s coming you can read ahead or read on topics that are related to what your book project will be.
  • Expect a post in the next day or so with more detail about what’s expected for your blog posts & project.  In a nutshell, use your blog to make some longer, more thoughtful posts on topics of special interest to you.  I suggest thinking of them as posts that help you refine your thinking leading up to your project.
  • Finally, I know this is an online course and most of you can’t get to campus easily, but IF you can, you may want to check out these four dates.  I’m giving public lectures/discussions at the Centre for Engaged Inclusion (GB 252.02 – upstairs from the Commons). All LCC students and staff are welcome. I have four topics left this semester and they correspond to topics we’ll discuss in the course.  If you can’t come, I’ll be including my presentation slides and blog posts along with our readings like I did for Death of American Dream.
    • Weds, Feb 22,  10 am – Role of Big Government, Big Agriculture, Big Food
    • Weds March 22,  12noon – Immigration Myths Debunked
    • Tues, April 11, 10 am – Crony Capitalism
    • Tues, April 25, 12 noon – Social Security, Medicare & Obamacare Myths Debunked


Topic 5 Readings

For topic 5, we’re going to take a look at Trade, Globalization, and Corporatism.

I’ve assembled 4 readings to start. You are, of course, welcome to discover other articles on your own and bring them to our discussion.  Read a description plus links below the fold…

Continue reading

Topic 4 Readings: Economic Systems

Just one required reading for this topic, but it’s fairly long/involved.  It’s the Wikipedia entry for Economic Systems.  What I like about this reading is that it really helps bring out the variety and complexity of economic “systems”.  It really is much, much more complex than the simple “capitalism vs. communism vs. socialism” that we are often taught in K-12 schools or that are used in popular political discourse.

I suggest doing two things here.  First, explore. Don’t just read the text, follow some of the links in the article to gain a richer understanding.  Second, it’s worthwhile to remember this article. It will make a useful starting point for some additional research for when you start writing longer posts on your blog or when you write about the book project.



Book Suggestions

Obviously the first step in your book review project is to select your book,  obtain a copy, and read it.  The purpose of this post is to help you figure what book to read. I really urge you to shop and browse for a book that corresponds to what you said you were most interested in when we started this course.  To help jump start your browsing, I’ve the link below will take you to a list I created on Amazon.  These are books that I’ve run across that I thought might be interesting for ECON 260 students.  I’ve read some of them. Others are on my to-do list, so I don’t take a book being on this list as an endorsement that it’s an excellent book!

Jim’s List of Books for ECON 260 on Amazon.  (will open in new tab)

Note: I’m using Amazon here mostly for the convenience of building and linking the list.  Don’t feel like you need to buy it from Amazon. Consider a library as on option

If you want to use reply to this post to let me know what your book will be, that’s fine.

Your Blog is Ready – What to Do

You now have your own blog/website on LCC’s new scholarly commons.  The commons is called and student blogs/websites are located at  (there’s a directory of the more than 150 student blogs so far – it’s a bit disorganized and not pretty but that’s because it’s a work-in-progress).

Why A Separate Blog + the Course hub site?

You might be wondering why you’ll be asked to post some things on your own blog site when we already have a discussion site going on the course hub at  That’s a good question.  There are three reasons.

  1. Simple text vs. Complex text. Posts on the coursehub are limited in what you can create. Specifically, it’s harder to style text, add links, add images or videos or insert quoted material from another website in your post.  The coursehub is really just about conversation and discussion.  For some posting assignments, you’ll want to write more in-depth pieces that are based on some research. You’ll want to link to other sites, quote material, and maybe insert some images or videos.  These more in-depth written pieces are what your blog/website is for. It’s easier to do them there.
  2. Permanence.  The coursehub site,, is relatively temporary.  It will stay up and be public after the semester ends (unlike D2L), but it’s not clear how long it will make sense to keep the site up since it’s purpose was to be a place to have a conversation.  Your blog/website, however, can be more permanent.  It stays up afterward the course is over. You control it. It’s your blog and website.  LCC simply hosts it as part of our scholarly commons. But it’s you. You can post whatever you want on whatever topic you want (subject to a very few limitations like legality, no ecommerce, and suitable for work/school).
  3. Digital Identity and Portfolio.  One reason LCC is experimenting and creating this scholarly commons of blogs/websites for students is because it is increasingly important that students, graduates, and professionals have a “digital identity” that they control on the Web. This blog/website of yours is your site.  It helps establish who you are on the Web. Google will eventually find it. It becomes a digital portfolio of who you are as  professional or scholar.  If you later you don’t like the LCC hosting, your blog/website is a WordPress site which means it can be easily be exported and transferred to just about any webhosting firm in the world. It’s your data.  I’ll give a brief example of why this permanent digital identity might matter to you.  A student from a few years ago had a student blog for this course and wrote his major project on his blog.  A couple years later after the course, this student had transferred to four-year school. He had an opportunity for a scholarship at that school but needed an example of his “scholarly work”.  No problem. He just gave them the URL address of his blog post where he had done his course project. Oh, by the way, he got the scholarship.

How Do the Student Blogs & the Course Hub Work Together?

Our conversation, the talking to each other and replying/responding, takes place on the course hub site.  But sometimes, especially later in the course, you’ll have need to make longer, more in depth posts. Instead of commenting on something else, you’ll be wanting to make a statement of your own with research support or images/videos.  You’ll do that writing on your blog/website and publish it there. If you simply check a “category” box to categorize your post on your own site as ECON260 (there’s instructions), your post will be not only be published on your site, but the course hub site will automatically find it, make a copy from your site, and post that copy into the course hub with a link back to your site.  All that happens auto-magically in the background. That way you publish on your site but other students get to see/notified of what you wrote.

How to Get Started

To get started, see the How To Use Your Blog-Website page. It can also be found in the menu bar under the How To tab.




Finally Getting There

Update:  You should have now received a new email to your LCC Student email account with a “different” password and a login address to your personal scholarly blog on The emails were sent out at 8:30pm on Monday, Feb 6.  If you don’t see it in your inbox at first, please check the “SPAM” folder (click the “more” on your Gmail interface- below the inbox).

I have lots of instructions and a full schedule of readings/topics in draft that will be posted tomorrow.

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Unit 3 – Death of the American Dream Readings

One of our first topics is the death of the American Dream -well, at least I think the dream is dead.  I recently gave a talk at the LCC Centre for Engagement on the question. Based on the historical analysis I’ve done, I’ve concluded it is indeed dead.  So below here you’ll see a link to my blog post on the topic.  I wrote a little about how I approached the topic and then I’ve got my Powerpoint slides embedded in the post and links to five other articles that formed some of the main sources I used for my analysis.

Death of the American Dream

Additional articles to read related to this blog post (links are both here and contained in the above blog post from


Ok, I’ve been missing in…

Ok, I’ve been missing in action for 10 days and that’s a problem. Actually, it’s my problem and I’m going to fix it. I apologize. Briefly, I am working tonight on a batch of new readings, creation of your blogs (for longer posts), and a full schedule of topics for the remainder of semester based on your posts of what you’re interested in. That will get posted on Tuesday, Jan 31. In the meantime, you will likely receive 2 emails to your student email address (, the Gmail-based one). They will mention info about a password, etc for your blog. Please don’t delete them. I will explain tomorrow.
— sorry for delays, jim

Update Thurs Jan 19

  • Gradebook in D2L has been updated for unit one.  We all look in good shape now.
  • FYI:  If you ever want to quickly make sure you’re seeing all my posts, which could be a problem if you’ve been gone a few days and lots of others have posted, you can use the little drop-down menu on your right (just below the login) and filter all posts to show only “jimluke”.
  • In unit 2 we’re going to start engaging some outside readings and viewings.  The first reading/viewing is posted having to do “Gapminder” – a tremendous data source. I encourage you to explore that site and even play with the data tools. It’s actually pretty fun.
  • I’ll have another reading or two for unit 2 posted by Saturday.
  • Some questions have arisen about the student blogs where you’ll do your long-form stuff later this semester.  They aren’t ready yet. Expect to get access late next week.  I will post here and send you login information about them.
  • A note on grading of posts for each week’s unit.  There’s 5 points for each unit.  I intentionally haven’t created some quantitative rubric like “to get 5 pts create 1 post and 2 replies”.  Basically, what I’m going to do is ask myself “did the student make an effort to engage the readings and the discussion?”.  Your posts are the evidence I look at.  My assumption is that you will and so I assume you’re getting 5 points. You can do one substantial post or several short ones and still get 5 points.  I’ll only knock off a point or two if you it appears you’re really “mailing it in” such as just putting a few replies that say “yeah, me too”.  Likewise, I’m not grading grammar or spelling per se, but folks, we need to be able to read and understand you. If the typos and erros get in the way of that, then some points off.  Basically, I’m saying don’t sweat the grade. Have fun, explore, discuss, and learn.

Unit 2 Required Reading – Gapminder

The first required reading for Unit 2 is really a required viewing.
Sound economics involves data. Unfortunately in too many discussions of economies or economic systems, many people base their views on ideology or just anecdotes.  In this course, one of my objectives is for you to learn some useful data sources and learn how to explore those sources and use them.  You’re fortunate. Today we have a wealth of not only raw data available online, but incredible resources on the Web for exploring that data and building a narrative out of it.

One of the most powerful data resources is a website called Gapminder.  First I have two videos I’d like you watch where the creator of Gapminder, Hans Rosling, shows how real data can change our understanding of the world. Turns out a lot of what “we all know to be common sense”, isn’t really factual.


After viewing these videos, please go to the Gapminder site at and explore some of the tools.  Post to this discussion site things you learned, found interesting, discovered, or how it may affect the areas/topics you want to research further.  Also feel free to post questions that the data raises or that you have about interpreting the data.

A quick note: If you…

A quick note: If you haven’t already posted your intro & ideas you’d like to study, please do that as soon as possible. Tomorrow (Thursday), I’ll be posting some more required readings to read and offer comments on. I’ve also got some tweaks I want to make to the website but they’ll probably have to wait until the weekend. The tweaks I’m thinking about include a resources/links page, fixing the password change page (which isn’t working right now). Overall, things are looking good and I’m excited.

QUICK NOTE: I’ve been alerted…

QUICK NOTE: I’ve been alerted by a couple of you that the change password capability has a glitch in it now. I’m working on it.

Welcome folks. It’s finally ready…

Welcome folks. It’s finally ready and functional, as you can see. Please explore and click around to familiarize yourself. The most important thing to do is show you can login and make your first post. For more info on what I want for the first post, check out the Unit 1 Assignments which can be found under the menu “What To Do (Assignments)” tab above.