In any economic system, people must decide what to produce, how to produce it, when to produce it, and who will get it. This lesson looks at the "when" question. In particular, if society has only a finite amount of some resource, when should that resource be used -- today, tomorrow, or not at all? This problem is sometimes called the "cake-eating" problem: given a cake (with good preservatives!), what is the best way to eat it? All at once? A little each day? or by some other pattern of consumption? In this lesson students learn how people making decisions in the market for a nonrenewable resource decide when the resource will be used. After reviewing the news around Clinton's Africa visit and his focus on environmental issues in Botswana, they are introduced to the "when" question with a spring holiday variation of the 'cake-eating' problem. The snacks described in the problem are then used to demonstrate how a market for a nonrenewable resource works.
ESSENTIAL DILEMMA What responsibility does the federal government have to ensure the elderly a secure and stable standard of living?
The environment has recently been the focus of much research and discussion. Because productive resources are limited, it is important that we use resources wisely to ensure that resources will be available for use in future generations. Of concern to both environmentalists and economists are the trends in the world's population [Note to Teachers: Not all students may feel comfortable discussing some of the consequences of China's "one-child" policy addressed in Task 6.]
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