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Nichole Bonham

ECON 1740
Joseph Howell
Due: 19 April 2016
Free or Equal Questions
While watching Free or Equal, answer the questions as follows:
Fill-in-the-blank questions - Use the precise language from the video.
Short answer questions - Summarize the concepts in your own words.
Question 10 - Analyze the proposal & provide your unique perspective.
1. If the government gives everybody the same freedom to work and
reap the rewards, some will do better than others. The result will be
equality of opportunity, but not equality of outcome.
Answer 1: equality of opportunity
Answer 2: equality of outcome
2. Immigrants who arrived in the late-1800s/early-1900s found that
America was truly a land of opportunity. Describe the factors these
immigrants encountered which helped them thrive.
Factors: Friedman described an environment with few government
programs but also few rules or regulations; no licenses, no permits, no
red tape - they found a free market.
3. Professor Friedman referred to Hong Kong as the freest market in
the world. Summarize how he described the free market.
Free Market: He described a free marked as "thriving, bustling,
dynamic". It's a system that allows people to go into any industry, to
trade with whomever they want, buy in the cheapest markets, sell in
the dearest markets; but most important - if they fail the bear the cost
and if they succeed they get the benefit. He felt it was that
atmosphere of incentive which induced people to work, save, and
produce.
4. Human and political freedom has never existed (and cannot exist)
without a large measure of economic freedom. Those of us who have
been so fortunate as to have been born in a free society tend to take
freedom for granted to regard it as the natural state of mankind. It is
not. It is a rare and precious thing.
Answer #1: economic freedom
Answer #2: take freedom for granted
Answer #3: natural state of mankind
5. Explain how the lead pencil & the smart phone are examples of
invisible hands. Invisible Hands: Friedman used a pencil to
demonstrate that people that had never even met had all worked

together to produce a common item. Someone had cut the wood for
the pencil, which required a saw, which in turn required someone to
manufacture the saw, further requiring someone to mine the ore. The
smart phone is another example, one more obviously global. To
produce one smart phone there is someone in Japan making the
screen, someone in Vietnam making the camera, the microphone in
Austria, the chips from France, the memory from Korea and the battery
from China. Thousands of people on several continents working
together to make each phone.
6. Explain the concept of creative destruction as described in the
Free or Equal video. Creative Destruction: Creative destruction is the
constant renewal of the economy. To advance we must stop doing old
things in old ways and start doing innovative things in better ways. But
when consumers move on to new goods it can be difficult on the
people still producing the older goods: factories close, people lose their
jobs. And yet, even that hardship is seen as a positive since it pushes
people to move in new directions, expand and change in order to avoid
getting left behind.
7. The idea that the economic race should be so arranged that
everybody ends at the finish line at the same time, rather than that
everyone starts at the beginning line at the same time. This concept
raises a very serious problem for freedom. It is clearly in conflict with
it, since it requires that the freedom of some be restricted, in order to
provide the greater benefits to others.
Answer #1: freedom
Answer #2: be restricted
Answer #3: greater benefits to others
8. Our economic system gave us Henry Ford, Thomas Alva Edison, Bill
Gates & other very successful entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs all
went in with their eyes open, knew what they were doing & win or lose,
we (society) benefited from their willingness to take a chance. If we did
not allow these successful entrepreneurs to become incredibly rich, we
would be more equal. But, would we be better off? If entrepreneurs did
not think that a possible reward for all the sacrifices they make, all
their hard work, all the risk they take is a lot of wealth, then they might
do something else instead. In that case, we would not have the goods,
services and technologies(they created) that make our lives better.
Answer #1: willingness to take a chance
Answer #2: sacrifices they make
Answer #3: hard work
Answer #4: risk they take

9. As Milton Friedman said, The society that puts equality before


freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before
equality will end up with a great measure of both."
Answer #1: end up with neither
Answer #2: great measure of both
10. Professor Friedman compares the concept of equality of
opportunity to a race where everyone begins at the starting line at the
same time. In contrast, equality of outcome guarantees that everyone
finishes at the same time. Today, equality of outcome is referred to as
fair shares for all. If we applied the fair shares for all concept in this
class, all students would receive an average grade of C. This would
be accomplished by taking points away from students earning As and
Bs to give to students earning Ds and Es. Distributing points equally
would result in fair grades for all. 1. Would you approve of this
method in calculating your final grade? Why or why not? 2. Would this
differ from fair shares for all economically? Why or why not? For
example, whats the difference between a successful student being
required to give up some of his/her hard-earned grade and a successful
person being expected to give more of his/her hard-earned income? If
you support redistribution of income and wealth, shouldnt you also
be willing to redistribute academic grades? After all, many of your
fellow students may not have had the advantages in education and
upbringing that youve had. 3. Address the above questions in your
own words, in a minimum of 3 paragraphs.
It seems to me that 'equality of opportunity' is inexorably tied to
'equality of outcome'. It's a matter of perspective, where you are in the
timeline when you compare that equality. If where you fall on the
outcome spectrum restricts your access to healthy food or effective
education then your children are denied the ability to develop at the
necessary level in which to take advantage of possible opportunities.
By not recognizing that opportunity and outcome are linked the entire
problem is both oversimplified and misrepresented.
If you use the metaphor of a foot race then equality of
opportunity is using the same starting line for everybody. But how do
you not recognize that that's not the full story? Some of those people
are arriving at that starting line with no shoes or on an empty stomach
while others arrive at the starting line wearing aerodynamic outfits and
taking performance-enhancing drugs. And just because theyre all
starting at the same place doesnt mean theyre all starting at the
same time. Some people by virtue of who they know are allowed to
start the race early maybe the guy with the stopwatch is their dad. In
that instance it should be acceptable to subtract their head start from
the end time to make a real comparison. If theyre still running faster
than everyone else then more power to them, but they certainly

shouldnt be declared the winners just because they finished first when
they started out before everyone else to begin with.
The main problem with this question is the way it, and the video,
presents the idea of equality of outcome. Here it is represented as an
unrealistic desire to level the finish line have everyone who ran the
race end up with the same run time. When in fact the aim is to level
the playing field. You cant go back in time and give everyone the same
opportunities at the start but you can make adjustments to end times
to account for the differences like subtracting that extra time from
the kids who started the race with an unequal advantage. That way,
when the next heat begins they can move forward from a more
equitable place. Fair shares for all really is ultimately about equal
opportunity moving forward rather than equal outcome right now.
As for the sharing of grades analogy, it too is oversimplified and
a misrepresentation of how redistribution could work in concert with
reward of effort. Im getting an A in this class and yet Im fairly
confident that the level of effort I put into that A is less than the level
of effort someone else in the class put into the B theyre getting or
even the C. This class was a box-check for me, a general ed
requirement not specifically related to my field of study. I did just
enough to get the grade I wanted, to maintain the GPA I want, and I
probably wont retain a large portion of the covered data. However, I
did put in at least that level of effort required to get my A, so no, I
would not be happy if my grade was indiscriminately redistributed and
I had to settle for a C, bringing down my GPA. If this were the only
option for redistribution of grades then I can certainly see how it would
be demoralizing and ineffective but its not the only option. Its just
an oversimplified misdirection meant to demonstrate that
redistribution is a bad idea.
Instead of leveling the finish line by redistributing the grades,
you could level the playing field by redefining how the grades are
assigned. Design a course of study that accounts for level of effort and
retention of concept instead of just raw scores on a series of tests.
Right now I can recognize that the format of this class is slanted
toward someone with my talents for short-term information retention
and ease of data retrieval, so the class doesnt actually require me to
put in much effort or really learn much of the content. Ultimately, I
have no problem with a leveling of the playing field - even if that
means I work harder to maintain the grades I currently have. In the end
those grades would mean more to me.
Alternately, if you cannot get away fully from redistribution of
grades, only do it with the excess. For example, I currently have a 97%
in this class, but I could have as low as a 90% and still maintain the
GPA Im working toward. If that 7% were redistributed to someone with
demonstrably fewer or lesser advantages than I may have had I would
not have a problem with that. I might even work a bit harder in order to

have more to give since it would reward me with a feeling of doing my


part to combat inequality of opportunity.