Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Long Way Gone

Summary: Economic concepts from a best seller.

Ishmael Beah writes that a bribe to the immigration officers was 300 Leones to one Guinea. In terms of Guineas, how much as one Leone worth?

When Ishmael was working through rebab, he was given school supplies. He sold them so he could have money to go to the city. Eventually, he could not sell the supplies at any price. Was this a change in supply or a change in quantity supplied?

When Ishmael was in rehab, one of his friends was given a soccer shirt. The friend rented it out for toothpaste and soap. What tenet of capitalism does this illustrate?

Why does Africa's stagnate?

These are some questions I had as I read this powerful book. If you have students in AP Literature class, maybe answering these questions will make economics relevant in other content areas.

My answers to the questions are: .0033; change in quantity supplied; private property; and incentives are destroyed. In the last question, agricultural crops were stolen by the rebels and many men and children were killed. As long as there is civil war in Sierra Leone, the country will not grow.

One last thought. Can a free market develop without a government?

It seems to me that there must be some enforcement mechanism in place for the price system to work or disorder will develop. The questions run too deep right now.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics and iMacroeconomics VB blogs.


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