Friday, December 2, 2016

The Economics of Marriage

Who you marry is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life.  While most products and legally-binding agreements have a set service life or contract time, it is exceedingly rare to find a circumstance where one puts money, products or services down "until death do us part."  If you are going to make a decision based on "forever", you had better have an understanding of what you are gaining and what you are giving up.  To explore this topic, I have included the following links.

Freakonomics Podcasts:
Why Marry? (part 1)
Why Marry? (part 2)

Additional Thought-Inducing Readings:
Hodgepodge of Marriage Phenomena
Marriage Increases Inequality
Marriage Benefits the Middle Class More

Some questions to think about:
1.  What benefits do you hope to gain from marriage?
2.  What are the consequences of getting married?
3.  What benefits do you hope to gain from not getting married?
4.  What are the consequences of not getting married?
5.  Do you think that men and women get the same things from a marriage?
6.  Is marriage really an equal partnership?
7.  Has marriage changed over the years?
8.  How does divorce affect your estimation of marriage?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Humans Need Not Apply

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

This video gives an explanation for how robots and AI may overtake nearly all jobs in the not-so-distant future, a premise which before fell under the process of creative destruction. As menial labor jobs are destroyed, jobs open up to to maintenance and building those robots.

However, Grey brings up the idea — what about when those robots can just build and maintain themselves?


http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21669597-computers-will-get-smarter-humans-charge-machines-thinking

Also here's another interesting article about the same idea.


Some questions I think might be good to think about are:

Is the analogy comparing humans losing their jobs to horses losing their jobs valid?

What can humans do in the future if the demand for humans is so low? Will human populations fall as there is less to do in the world?

Are there positive and negative externalities to humans not having jobs?

Would this lead to a Star Trek-esque society (where people don't have to work because scarcity is a thing of the past so people just do stuff in order to live a more fulfilled life)?




Thursday, November 10, 2016

In regards to previous discusion

In the last SWEET meeting I talked about the dude who broke down Trumps campaign in relation to The Art Of War by Sun Tzu  well here are his posts about it.

post one (on the art of war): http://imgur.com/account/favorites/HO5TT

post 2 (on trumps attacks at Hillary): http://imgur.com/gallery/SxpJC

post 3 (on The Wall): http://imgur.com/gallery/ZtcST

Monday, October 31, 2016

Neopian Economics

By Destiny Dowling

Childhood is an essential period of time in a person's life. It is the time where we learn our basic skills, and the ways in which the world works. According http://www.techaddiction.ca/media-statistics.html, children consume over three hours of media in a typical day. 

One of my favorite games, since elementary school, is Neopets.com. This children's gaming site ranks #4, right below World of Warcraft, in roleplaying games. Launching in 1999, it is still up and running today. This site is reflects a mini market economy and community. There are elements of an economy incorporated within the website, such as a stock market, a bank, a trading post, a food bank, an auction house, etc. Neopets is a great website, however, it still has its faults. 

If you are interested, here is a video explaining its history:

Here are some articles that people have written, to give you an idea of the nature of the website: 

Discussion:
1. What online games, if any, did you play when you were a child? Do you think that the children are aware of the educational / real-life concepts that are incorporated in the games that they play? Why or why not?

2. Is Neopets helpful or harmful? What are the benefits of Neopets? What are the costs? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

3. There are two money sources within the site: neopoints, and neocash. Neopoints are earned by playing games within the site. Neocash is purchased with real-world money. Do you have a problem with either of these sources of virtual income for children? Why or why not?

4. Should children's gaming sites be more like Neopets? Why or why not?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Who will you chose

The crook or the offensive groper? these are the main arguments used by opposing sides to justify their reason for voting for the other party. attached are some pages listing why to vote for one side or the other. along with that there are some questions I'd like everyone to think about for tomorrows meeting. Apologies for the lateness of this posting.
Who do you think we should vote for?
What about 3rd party? do they have a chance?
Opinions on Trump?
Opinions on Hillary?
Who votes for Giant meteor for President?
Also what about economic benefits will each bring to the table, the last two links bring you to pages that show their stance on everything imaginable. 
Lastly from the "media" sources below do you think that they are reporting this information on a bias for one side or the other? (sources were screened but not 
http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2016/02/27/40-reasons-not-to-vote-for-donald-trump-n2125585

http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2016/08/06/25-reasons-not-to-vote-for-hillary-clinton-n2202375

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFNq2MjaCC0
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/why-not-to-vote-for-trump-from-a-to-z-w441964
https://www.google.com/#q=why+vote+for+hillary&eob=m.0d06m5/m.07g82/full
https://www.google.com/#q=why+vote+for+trump&eob=m.0cqt90/m.04gg7xx/full

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Worldwide Wifi

https://www.cnet.com/news/facebooks-self-flying-solar-powered-internet-broadcasting-airplane-has-a-successful-first-flight/

https://www.wired.com/2016/07/facebooks-giant-internet-beaming-drone-finally-takes-flight/

https://www.wired.com/2016/02/google-shot-laser-60-miles-just-send-copy-real-genius/


Some Questions.

1. Since both google and facebook are US based companies would the company's in the wifi barren places (thinking 2nd and 3rd world countries) follow local law or american law.

2. how do you think technology and industry would advance in these countries if everyone had access to the internet. Would we see a rapid jump towards modernization or would there be little change with the majority of the inhabitants still not having access despite its presence.

3. what impact would this have culturally with the people suddenly having access to the internet and through that the entire rest of the world?

4. what monetary reason would these companies have to provide such a service to small poor countries? Would the goverment pay or would the provider have something like  add revenue?

5.  I have mostly applied this to poorer countries but could this also revolutionize Americas internet system?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bitcoin



Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency gaining in popularity.  It has no central point of authority, and nothing backing its redemption.  Here are a few informative videos:

How does Bitcoin work?

What are the qualities of a good currency?

Bitcoin vs. the Federal Reserve:

Now, what are some of the economic concerns?  Could bitcoin go mainstream, or is it likely to just remain a component of black market transaction?  Since there is no central authority, it could never be used to affect monetary policy.  Is having a digital 'gold standard' better than a central fiat currency?  What about legal tender laws?  Also, bitcoin will not be inflationary within a few decades; is that a good for growth, or is it likely to end in failure?

Also, I have a small amount of bitcoin I would be willing to share.  If anyone brings a bitcoin wallet to SWEET, I would be happy to get them set up with some bitcoin and start transacting!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Big Data, why should we care?



This video from Forbes gives a very concise explanation of big data, and some of its many uses.

For those concerned about the misuse of data, I found some of these ted talks insightful (and a bit frightening): http://www.ted.com/playlists/130/the_dark_side_of_data

If you want to look more into the benefits of big data, there are some talks about that as well: http://www.ted.com/playlists/56/making_sense_of_too_much_data

And then, some questions that big data raised for me:

With the amount of  data that is being collected, should people have more rights regarding their data?

What are some of the potential costs to society for Big Data?

Do the benefits of Big Data make it worth surrendering our information? (obviously many people are willing, but would they be as willing if they knew the extent of the data collection?)

And lastly, what would you do about it? do you care?

Friday, September 23, 2016

CRISPR: Sci-Fi becoming reality


The above video created by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell explains some recent advances in genetic engineering and some of the possible consequences.

The video focuses on the discovery of CRISPR which allows genetic engineering to be done much more easily and at a lower price.

If you're interested here's an article about CRISPR from a year ago in the New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/magazine/the-crispr-quandary.html?_r=0

Questions to bring up:

If the price of genetic engineering goes down dramatically, in theory, the quantity demanded of genetic engineering should increase and as the quantity goes up it may become more acceptable in society which would increase demand making the quantity demanded go up further. Is this accurate? Are there other things to consider?

The narrator says that banning genetic engineering would have negative consequences since it would then be up to the black market to do with it what it will. Is regulation a good idea and how much if so?

What might be some of the externalities or secondary effects of more genetic engineering in our society?

If humans were to greatly increase their lifespan, would that be a negative externality on humans who are born in the future since population (and resource consumption) would increase even faster than it does currently?


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Economic inequality and education inequality.

Listening to conversations about the state of our country would lead me to believe that everything that is going wrong in our country is the fault of the government, and/or the rich people. From the perspective of someone who knows a little about free markets and how trade works, I'd like to challenge that, and explain why society seems to misappropriate blame.

First of all, in a free market society, the way that growth in the economy occurs is by individuals striving to maximize their utility, or in other words, people do what makes them happy, and because people are happy with different things and different jobs, they end up with different quantities of wealth, thus naturally, some people would be wealthier than others. The way a situation where everyone is equally wealthy would come about would be to limit the opportunities of those who would become wealthier than others which would result in less total wealth for the society, and ultimately lower quality of life, because if people don't have something to strive for, why bother.

Secondly, the government being blamed for problems is like blaming a doctor for not curing cancer. We live in a country which has a representative republic, which means that policy decisions are largely in keeping with the wants of the greatest number of people, or at least the loudest. Which means that the problem originates with us as a society. This points to a problem in what the majority of people want, but somehow the majority of people don't see the problem.

Which brings me to why this occurs.
People place blame when they feel entitled to something that they don't have, and are misinformed about why they don't have the thing that they feel entitled to receive. Additionally, when people are misinformed they are more likely to misallocate the blame onto people or organizations that might help the situation, simply because the people really have no idea. This is what is occurring in our society today, as the population grows larger, and unfortunately quality of education declines, especially economic education, the majority of people don't know what a good decision looks like, and so when someone comes along and starts blaming the government or rich people for the problems of our country, people are willing to agree, because is sounds plausible if they don't know what is actually going on.

And so, I urge people, and society as a whole, before you start taking for granted what people say about the government or "the one percent" do some research, find out what is going on, and then make an educated decision, rather than just following the often uninformed crowd.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lack of education in our country

I remember quite a lot about what classes I was required to take in high school in order to graduate. In fact, I still have a recurring nightmare where I am missing one credit and won't be able to finish in time. High school was supposed to prepare us for the next step in our lives. Hopefully, college is the next one but it could also be a trade school, the military, or a job that would provide enough money to exist.  I think that a college education is imperative for a life well lived.  Not only does one learn about new subjects, but also how the real world works.  If one is late or misses a class, then the grade will suffer.  If a paper or test is not complete, then one might fail completely and have to try again and dole out even more money.  Not only would money be lost but the time put forth as well. Education whether formal or informal at the college level is necessary in my opinion.

My Economics education began this semester.  Unfortunately, I am one of those the articles spoke about. I was uneducated and ill informed in both high school and as an adult via the media. I am familiar with the economy and the dire state it is in but only as far as it applies to my family and those around me. I wish my economics education had begun before this year. My perspective has changed with just a few weeks of economic thinking. I am able to analyze what is necessary and at what cost it will incur in my life. I will pass on my knowledge to my children as I obtain it.  It amazes me that Economics is not a requirement everywhere and for every degree.  I agree with Mr. Reed that the government should not be in charge of teaching Economics. The high schools of tomorrow should be aware and worried about what books may be biased and could very well cause future adults to be ill advised and uninformed as much of the public is today.

My hope is that as adults learn more Economics and what constitutes good and bad policy or proper government involvement, the citizens may be able to alter the current trajectory.  More teachers need to stand up and say, "Economics is exciting, let me show you why." I am learning more and more everyday and will continue to educate myself and my children on Economics because maybe they will pass on the knowledge to others and make a real difference in the world.

Economics and Education.

To me, economics and education are nearly synonymous.  Both involve making reasonable decisions to garner a desired outcome.  Unfortunately, I think an understanding of both areas is in somewhat short supply currently, and I'd like to discuss some of the reasons why.

You often hear of the "dumbing down" of America, and while it's nice alliteration, I think it's somewhat of a misnomer.  American productivity has long trended upward and generally continues to do so, and each successive generation is smarter than the last.  I think the true cause of the perception that America is getting stupider probably has more to do with ignorance and profit than it does with true loss of intelligence.

When I think of complete individuals, I often think of the term "Renaissance man", more specifically famous polymaths like da Vinci, Archimedes, Newton, Franklin and Cousteau.  These individuals had a massive spread of personal knowledge which allowed them to innovate, create and accomplish in multiple fields.  The synthesis of knowledge in different disciplines allowed them to solve problems that specialists could not.  These people could have been expected to converse about any number of topics astutely.  Unfortunately, these individuals are products of the past.  I believe that in today's society, there is little pressure to create such well-rounded individuals while there are many incentives to find a niche and specialize from a relatively early point in life.  Evidence of this over-specialization can be seen in our schools.  Classes that create well-rounded people have been pushed aside.  High school classes like shop, home economics, gym and foreign language have been replaced with offerings like "The Art of the Graphic Novel".  While I enjoy graphic novels thoroughly, classes like this aren't creating young adults with a solid base of useful knowledge and critical thinking skills.  In higher education, formerly popular  university subjects like Civics and Economics have seen little interest lately, and some students can never take an algebra or geography class in high school or university and still graduate with an advanced university degree.  In some part, I think we've become over-particularized.  Such tight focus on a tiny part of a single field means that the forest is often overlooked for a single needle on a single pine.  This has created individuals who are highly studied in 13th century altar cloths, but who have little to no understanding of a basic concept like opportunity cost or where Alaska is in relation to California.

The second cause for the dumbing down of America is the college degree industry.  The college degree industry can be broken down into the university systems and loaners/debt-collectors that take advantage of the system.  On the university side, we see the rise of for-profit universities that promise jobs and opportunity for graduates, but have miserable graduation rates.  For that matter, we can also point to traditional non-profit universities who behave similarly.  Some schools even have created classes with absolutely no benefit whatsoever to the student; these classes existing purely to benefit the university.  On the other hand, we can observe the college student loan system.  Student loans can be received from private institutions, state and federal sources.  Private loans carry with the risk of little consumer protection, while the federal student loan program has created a monster where the Department of Education would be the fifth largest bank in the nation by assets held.  This has created an unhealthy education system.

I don't have solutions for these problems.  I do, however, have a few thoughts.  In my opinion, our high school systems should be a place where students get a very wide, useful base of knowledge in multiple subjects.  Every student should be exposed to a wide array of information.  This is both to give the students the ability to function comfortably in society (read: learn how to think critically with some background) and to help them discover their passion in life.  We shouldn't have to resort to offering classes about graphic novels when we can offer them legitimate courses about world geography, a foreign language, personal finance, or logic.  The university systems should continue the expansion of knowledge while allowing focus on a major of study.  To address the university and loan systems, I think the "free money" that is the federal student loan program should come to a screeching halt.  University should be for students who have proven themselves worthy of additional education, not for people seeking the "college experience" with the taxpayer footing the bill.  This will reduce the problems associated with price-hiking we see in university tuition costs and decrease much of the profit drive for businesses that support either the university or loan systems.