Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Teaching Economics by Running a Coffee Shop

My children recently showed me an online game called Coffee Shop. The game can be found at a site called Cool Math Games.
In the game, you are giving seed money to buy supplies (coffee, cups, sugar, and milk). You then must come up with a recipe - strong or weak coffee, how much sugar, and how creamy. And finally, you set the price (but you soon learn that the price is set by supply and demand). You get feedback from customers and you adjust your price and recipe accordingly. The demand for coffee is affected by the temperture and, just like in real life, the temperture changes over the 14 days you operate the coffee stand. At the end of everyday you have to reorder supplies and adjust your recipe.
This is a wonderful game for teaching economics to children and it is appropriate for chidren of all ages.
There is also a similar game based on running a lemonade stand.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Problem with Johnny

“The problem isn't that Johnny can't read. The problem isn't even that Johnny can't think. The problem is that Johnny doesn't know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.” - Thomas Sowell

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why do libertarians like the Little House books so much?

Why do libertarians like the Little House books so much? Well, yes, Laura Ingalls Wilder was the mother of Rose Wilder Lane who wrote one of the great libertarian books, The Discovery of Freedom, but, in the end, it is about the story and the message.

Here is what Robert Thornton said in an article originally published in The Freeman in 1972"

"These books can help us recapture the spirit of the pilgrims, patriots, and pioneers who founded this nation and made it great. Part of that spirit is the taste for independence and a sense of individual responsibility.

Laura's family didn't expect anyone else to take care of them. They took care of themselves and recognized that having freedom means the freedom to fail as well as to succeed. Another part of this great spirit is not to bemoan one's fate or complain about not getting one's "fair share" of the world's goods. Another, is a sense of community where so much is accomplished on a voluntary basis, everyone pitching in to contribute whatever he can in time, talent, and money."

Go read Robert Thornton's complete review at Mises.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Inconvenient Presentation

The Climate Skeptic has a presentation for anyone interested in hearing the other side of the global warming "debate." I put debate in parenthesis because the other side refuses to debate the issue. They prefer to claim the science is settled and, therefore, they see no reason to debate. For the more open minded . . .

A pdf file of the presentation is here (2.7MB): Download pdf

A Google docs version of the presentation: Climate Presentation, online viewer

Addendum: This just in . . . global warming scientists (advocates?) have been cherry picking the data.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Unionism vs Volunteerism (or SEIU vs Eagle Scout)

So you are a hard working, conscientious teen who saw a need not being filled and decided to do something for your community. You know, the way things used to get done before everyone looked to the government for everything. This story is appalling.

In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson, 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours hours over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park.

Little did the do-gooder know that his altruistic act would put him in the cross hairs of the city's largest municipal union.

Nick Balzano, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told Allentown City Council Tuesday that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing Anderson to clear a 1,000-foot walking and biking path at Kimmets Lock Park.

"We'll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails," Balzano told the council.

Balzano said Saturday he isn't targeting Boy Scouts. But given the city's decision in July to lay off 39 SEIU members, Balzano said "there's to be no volunteers." No one except union members may pick up a hoe or shovel, plant a flower or clear a walking path.

Hat tip: Hugh