Essentials of Economics – Standalone book 10th Edition
Election campaigns bring out the best and the worst economic ideas. Virtually every candidate promises a “chicken in every pot,” without regard to the supply of chickens. They will clean up the environment, fix our schools, put more police on the streets, build more affordable housing, and, of course, guarantee every American access to quality health care. And they’ll do this while cutting taxes, subsidizing alternative energy sources, and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.
Don’t you wish you lived in such a utopia?! I know I do. And our students overwhelmingly embrace these promises.
The problem is, of course, that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Nor free health care, free environmental protection, or free infrastructure development. As economists, we know this; we know that resource scarcity requires us to make difficult choices about competing uses of those resources. We know that politicians can’t place a chicken in every pot without allocating more resources to poultry production—and fewer resources to the production of other desired goods and services.
Our first task as instructors is to convince students of this basic fact of life—that every decision about resource use entails opportunity costs. If we can establish that beachhead early on, we have a decent chance of instilling in students a basic appreciation of economic theory.
The other challenge for us as instructors is to instill in students a sense of why the economic problems we analyze are important. We know that inflation and unemployment cause serious hardships. But most of our students haven’t experienced the income losses that accompany unemployment or seen their retirement savings decimated by inflation. We have to explain and illustrate why the macro problems we seek to solve are politically, socially, and economically important.
The same reference gap exists in micro. Formulas and graphs illustrating externalities or lost consumer surplus are meaningless abstractions to most students. If we want them to appreciate these concepts, we have to illustrate them with real-world examples (e.g., the death toll from second-hand smoke; the higher airfares that result on monopoly airplane routes). For most students, this course is their first exposure to economics. If we want them to understand the subject—maybe even pursue it further— we have got to relate our concepts and theories to the world that they live in.
This has been the hallmark of Essentials from the beginning: introducing the core concepts of economics in a reality-based, policy- driven context. This tenth edition continues that tradition.
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|February 18, 2017|
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