"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Playing Games in Washington DC

Back in June a local group put on a week long Vacation Liberty School to teach kids in 5th-8th grade principles of freedom, both personal and economic. The lessons were taught both in classroom and with relatively simple hands-on games. Several of the economic games were played with dice and used Jolly Ranchers as a surrogate currency. By playing the games the children quickly saw for themselves how a free market produced better individual results, where wealth was only limited by your aversion to risk. While there were those who clearly had been taught the lesson of saving for a rainy day, there were also some aspiring Donald Trumps in the crowd who accepted certain losses because they understood the potential for higher gains in the long run. The children also recognized the role of government and taxes on their personal wealth, and how quickly the principle of "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" is adopted by those in charge.'

When these kids go back to school this fall, they won't have to take the word of a teacher that capitalism is good, they will have seen it played out for themselves. They will also be able to see the bias in teachers who preach from the blackboard that capitalism is bad.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak explained that the SNAP
[Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] (i.e. food stamp) program was a stimulus program because the simple act of purchasing food supported jobs throughout the food distribution system,

Mr Vilsak's logic is that of a habitual gambler who only counts his wins. He said,
Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.”
After reading this, it occurred to me that there is a need to develop a new VLS game for adults. Using similar tools of dice and poker chips, we should be able to develop a game for those in Washington to play that demonstrates the fallacy of Agriculture Secretary's statement. In the game there would be producers who increase the overall quantity of chips, and Recipients (a nicer name than parasites) who must wait for producers to give them chips to spend. Government would be there collecting revenue, from producers only, for both producing and purchasing. As with the SNAP program, Recipient's purchases produce no government revenue nor do they generate government income from producing.

While possibly true, that every SNAP dollar spent generates $1.84 in economic activity, Mr Vilsak conveniently forgot the lost opportunity cost for that dollar going to someone who did not themselves work to contribute anything to the economy. If you or I go to the store, we also generate $1.84 in economic activity but, in addition, we generate economic activity for all our hours at a job.

I realize
these economic princples are probably way too advanced for many in Washington and that is why we need a VLS game to break it down for them. In recognition of the enthusiasm in modern education for manipulatives and making learning fun, maybe we can gin up a few game sets and instructions and send them to DC to play.

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