Today in class, we began the first round of group presentations. Not only did we listen to each group present, we discussed each topic at the end. I was able to learn about a wide variety of economics related topics. Having presentations was a nice break from regular lecture.
Erin, Andrew, and their group mate Jose were the brave souls to go first. They presented on California’s deficit problem and argued that the best way to reduce the state deficit is to raise taxes because it provides long term stability as opposed to short term gratification. I agree with their argument because the alternative would be to further cut spending in important areas such as education and welfare, which would hurt our society and the quality of life in our state. My cohorts spoke very well and included great visuals in their well-made PowerPoint. In my opinion, they were the best of the day.
The second group was a pair of Swedish boys, Axel and Gustav, who explored government intervention in the Nordic Way. They compared the United States’ management of its financial crisis with Sweden’s and claimed that Sweden handled their crisis better than the U.S. because of high government intervention. I learned that Sweden has the second highest taxes in the world, with income taxes of 55%. I was shocked to discover that Sweden provides unemployment compensation of 80% of salary for up to 500 days. They concluded by arguing that the best government is one that is mixed.
The final group, consisting of Rachelle, Saejal, and Catherine, presented on how the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has a negative effect on the U.S. economy. The Afghanistan War costs $459.8 billion, money that can be used for industrial growth, and requires high amounts of borrowing. It has resulted in high inflation risk, deep cuts in funding for social programs, and crumbling infrastructure. The Iraq War has reduced the GDP, raised oil prices, and slowed economic growth. I agree with their stance on the war’s adverse effect on the U.S. economy and believe that we should quicken the withdrawal of American troops in both countries.
After the presentations, Mr. Coleman lectured on the board about bank balance sheets, how banks create money, the Federal Reserve, and monetary policy. I actually prefer when he writes on the board instead of using PowerPoint. For the last hour of class, we all brought out our laptops that Mr. Coleman told us to bring today and played an economics game on Veconlab, in which we were either firms or workers. My business partner Rachelle and I were a firm. This meant we had to set a wage for workers to work for us and determine a price at which we sold our products. We became very enthusiastic when our working positions were filled and all of our products sold. But this led us to feel overconfident and in the 4th round, we failed to sell anything of our products and our money supply dropped from $32 to $12. This game involved strategic thinking and was actually fun to play.
At 3 PM, my cohorts and I met up with Grace Yuen, the Brown alum who joined us at L’Espalier three weeks ago. It was great to see her outside the formality of our dinner. When Frank, Erin, and I were sitting with Grace on the Main Green, a student with a video camera came up to us and asked to interview us about our experience here for a Summer@Brown video. We were more than happy to help with her video. We shared what classes we were taking, our favorite aspects of Brown, our take on dorm food, and our advice to future summer students. I told her that I enjoyed meeting new people and preferred the Ratty over V-Dub. Andrew and Erinn came later and missed the interview, but we all had fun visiting the buildings Grace took us to see. We had never been inside the Faunce House, which houses the Student Activities Office, or the Maddock Alumni Center, home to the Brown Alumni Association and the Alumni Relations staff, before.Grace is so popular at Brown it seems like everywhere we go, she stops and introduces us to someone new. We actually met Kisa Takesue, who Grace used to work for and just so happens to be the Women and Leadership professor. What a coincidence! Through Grace’s connections, we received free matching Spring Weekend T-shirts, which I’m currently wearing, and a Brown cube. She also introduced us to Brita Larson, her friend that we bumped into who is a pre-med student. We all sat on the Main Green and had a nice conversation about Brown.At 8:30 PM, Session #1 met with Session #2 at Johnny Rocket’s for their dinner. It was great to see the seven girls, their chaperone, and Ms. Larson. Today is also Josie’s birthday so we all sang happy birthday to her—rather loudly too. I feel like I haven’t seen a familiar face from the Bay Area in so long so meeting up with all of them felt strange. Seeing them also made me feel old, as in very experienced and accustomed to Brown. We began heading back at 10, us to our dorms and them to their hotel. Tonight, my RA treated my floor to a Vermonster, a gigantic bucket of ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s. It was scheduled at 10 so I tried to rush back. My RA wasn’t there because she was on duty and had an emergency to tend to. I was only 15 minutes late but all of the ice cream was gone by then. At least I saw how huge the bucket was.Tonight is going to be a long night. Our group is presenting tomorrow, and we still have a lot to work on. I live on the same floor as Emily, one of my group mates, so we will be putting together the PowerPoint long after curfew. Good thing she’s a fabulous partner so I’m confident we’ll finish on time. I will conclude this blog to work on my project now with Emily.Lastly, happy birthday Josie!