Between the Civil War and World War II, railroads were one of the nation's most important businesses and an integral part of people’s lives. In this lesson, students assume the role of detectives investigating why the rail companies experienced a crisis in the 1960s and what helped the freight transport portion of the business return to profitability later in the same century. Students analyze a set of clues that help them explore the impact of government policies and changes in consumer demand on rail service. They discover that government policies (e.g., regulations, subsidies, and taxes) can have both positive and negative consequences in the marketplace. An interactive activity helps students understand that rail service competes in two different markets—passenger service and hauling freight. Students also learn that railroads and government policies have had to adjust as the transportation industry changed in the second half of the twentieth century.
While precise numbers are not known, it is believed the number of boycotts has grown markedly in the past fifty years. Consumers seem to be besieged by requests from special interest groups to refrain from buying certain goods and services. In this lesson, students study how boycotts have been used throughout U.S. history to help promote economic, social and political change. After researching current boycott targets, students create promotional flyers providing a glimpse at the goals people today hope to achieve through this consumer market action. Students also consider what economic and non economic factors are likely to influence the effectiveness of a boycott.
On November 1, 1999, Walter Payton, former Chicago Bears running back, died waiting for a liver transplant. Payton's death re-opened the nation's attention to the issue of organ donation. The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 (NOTA) made giving or receiving compensation for organ donation illegal in the United States. Currently in the United States there exists a large shortage of viable organs which are allowed to be used for transplant. In this lesson students will be asked to research the issue of organ donation, and to debate, in a class discussion, the different alternatives which are being proposed to meet the demand for organ transplants using economic analysis.
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