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Opportunity Cost of Doing My Homework

Opportunity Cost of Doing My HomeworkRight now I could be playing with my chickens because they’re so cute but instead I’m doing my homework; the ‘opportunity cost’ of me doing my homework is not being able to play with my chickens. But I do choose to do my homework instead of playing with my chickens because I think it’s ultimately the better choice.

Goober by Smuckers

Goober by Smuckers

Goober is a product created by Smuckers which combines the two complements, peanut butter and jelly, into a single product. Smuckers utilized the economic term of complements in creating this product. -Catherine G

The Evolution of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

PB & J: America’s go-to lunch, snack, dinner, whenever sandwich.  It never goes out of style.  Jerome Monroe Smucker jumped on the PB&J wave at just the right time and has been riding the wave ever since.  J. M. Smucker first started Smucker’s in 1897 from the “back of a horse-drawn wagon”. Since it’s humble beginnings, Smucker’s  has grown and thrived, to say at the least. Now, Smucker’s company brands include Pillsbury, Jif, and many more. The giant success of Smucker’s proves that obviously Jerome must’ve known something about making sandwich spreads that all of his competitors didn’t.  Or, maybe he just knew something about economics that his competitors didn’t.  

The economic concept of complements is one of my favorite because it highlights a very positive aspect of capitalism, making it seem a little less cut-throat.  Complements are described as “Two goods that ‘go together,’ either in consumption or production”.  This concept outlines the relationship between two goods, and unlike with most products, they actually aren’t in competition.  An increase in sales for one product also means an increase in sales for the other.  So one company can actually benefit from the success of another company if their goods are complements.  Two things that people buy together are considered complements, like hot dogs and their buns, or more importantly: peanut butter and jelly.  Smucker’s realized the important economic relationship between peanut butter and jelly and utilized it.  For years, jars of peanut butter and jelly were sold separately as compliments so, yes, Smucker’s had success selling jelly, but this wasn’t enough for Jerome.  When consumers bought his jelly, they also bought another company’s peanut butter, so it was a win for both companies.  But Smucker’s decided that if people were buying their jelly anyway, they should also be buying their peanut butter; they could take over the entire PB&J industry.  And they did. In 1968 the world of PB&J changed forever.  Smucker’s hit the PB&J market with a curveball, something never done before; both peanut butter and jelly together in one jar.   They called it “Goober”.  By acknowledging the unique economic relationship between peanut butter and jelly, Smucker’s managed to acquire even more sales and become an extremely competitive player in the PB&J market.  Jerome Monroe Smucker

Studying economic terms and the patterns in the market has revealed to me that the success of one company or another is not simply due to luck or having a good product; but is a result of the company’s utilization the laws of economics.  As proven with Smucker’s success in the peanut butter and jelly market, knowing the patterns of the market and how to manipulate them can help a company thrive.  The idea of complements is particularly interesting to me because it explains how two companies can actually benefit from the success of each other instead of relying on the failure of other companies for their own success.  Smucker’s realized the relationship between peanut butter and jelly in the market and took advantage of it by starting to produce Goober: peanut butter and jelly in the same jar.  Because Smuckers utilized the laws of economics, they were able to excel as a company and basically acquire a monopoly over the peanut butter and jelly industry.

Popular Vote Isn’t Looking So Popular Anymore

February 28, 2013 2 comments

ImageA government for and by the people: the essence of democracy, right? On the surface, with that reasoning, the popular vote seems much more democratic than the Electoral College. A popular vote seems like the most democratic thing to do.  But, after a deeper look into this clever system of checks and balances our forefathers put into play called the Electoral College, it’s importance in the United States’s election process is inarguable.  Comparing ‘wins’ from each state to come to a consensus rather than looking at the raw number of votes overall, on the surface, seems pointless(according to the large group of people opposed to the Electoral College).  Nobody seems to apply this same type of logic into questioning the system in play with the Senate and the House of Representatives: representatives from each state reporting the will of their own region and decisions being made through this method.  These systems are key to the democracy of the United States and there are crucial reasons our founders put them into play: to avoid the “tyranny of the majority”, to ensure a broad geographical support base for the elected President, and to rat crazy radical parties out of the running.

One fundamental quality of the Electoral College it’s ability to make sure that the voices of the minorities aren’t drowned out by the “tyranny of the majority”.  This ensures that the opinions of the important minorities are taken into account and heard.  Without the Electoral College, the voices of the minorities may be drowned out by the “tyranny of the majority”.  Groups of minorities, economic or ethnic may be big in certain states and in order to win that state’s vote, the candidate must cater(somewhat) to the will of the minority, or address the issues which concern them.  Minorities “both ethnic and economic, would likely be very important in some states”(Monaldo). Even though a popular vote seems like the most democratic thing to do, a popular  vote does nothing to prevent the opinion of the majority from drowning out the voice of the minority, and thus destroying the true democracy in the process.  Giving everybody a fair chance to have a say in the election is crucial to a democratic election process, and the Electoral College does this.belushi-electoral-college-198x300

Also, the Electoral College ensures that the President has broad support over the entire country, rather than just large support in a specific region because it takes broad support from all over the country for a candidate to become President.  Otherwise a candidate could be elected because they are heavily supported in a particular region and not necessarily the other regions.  If they’re only regional candidates, then it takes away from the cohesiveness of the country.  Support from several highly populated areas shouldn’t speak for the entire country.  In order for one to be elected by a country this big, a system needs to be called into play to make sure the Presidential support is evened out throughout the country.  Because candidates must campaign to a broad base of people across different regions, they are forced to address issues which are generally supported by a more diverse group of people, which means they must be less radical.  Sticking to a pattern of gradual change has never proved wrong for the stable democracy of the United States, and the Electoral Colleges makes sure to keep our country on track.

Electoral College strengthens broad parties with a large consensus from people of different regions, and rats out radical parties concentrated in one region. Small parties really wouldn’t participate in the election process if the United States simply had a popular vote, it’s the hard truth: they would have absolutely no chance.  With the Electoral College, if the small party is impactful enough, they can win the vote of their state and actually make an impact on the election.  But, essentially the small parties won’t participate in the election at all if they aren’t big enough to sway the vote of their state.  This keeps the small parties from having too much of an impact on the outcome of the election if they don’t have enough support.  The only way a party would be able to win the Electoral College is if they have a broad base

EC_120928_summers425x283The Electoral College compares decisions from each state to come to a general consensus rather than basing a decision solely on the raw numbers each citizen presents.  Arguing against the electoral college is like arguing against the system set into play by the Senate and the House, because they both have the same logic which aims to use equal amounts of input from each state.  The United State’s extreme stability over the years through times of hardship is a reflection of the systems, first coined by our founders, which we use to run our country.  These systems of checks and balances, including the Electoral College, ensure gradual developments and reject radical sudden changes.  Voicing the opinions of the minorities, ensuring a widely supported President, and ratting out radical/closely concentrated extremist groups are some of the key qualities of the Electoral College which have led to it’s success in keeping our country on a stable road to vitality.

Women on the Front Lines: Saving Lives vs Political Correctness

February 22, 2013 1 comment

Can-women-REALLY-do-the-same-job-as-men-in-combat

After 84 women killed in combat and 11 years straight of war, United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has made the decision to lift the ban on women fighting in front-line combat.  This bold move by Panetta has raised both concern and support.  For some, this represents another step away from social barriers, and for others, an unnecessary threat to soldier’s lives.  This controversial move by Leon Panetta was a result of strategic campaigning(by certain organizations).

Women, formerly banned from the front lines by a 1994 rule, are now gaining the ability to fight in front-line combat.  Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defense decided to lift the ban and open up front lines of combat to women.  Although women have had increasing participation in the defense of our nation in the past decade, this is a historic step which will open up thousands of fighting jobs to women for the first time ever. The implementation of this process will be slow and ultimately last until 2016, giving military leaders time to figure out exactly how they plan to put the new policy into effect and clear it with the Defense Secretary.  But combat will not be a new thing for women as women’s casualties account for some “12 percent – or 300,000 – of those deployed in the war efforts in the past 11 years”(Reuters).  ss-101209-fet-marines-12-ss_full

The controversy surrounding this decision is heated, as real lives are at stake, but both sides present a convincing argument.  One point of view is that most women simply would not be physically able.  Many believe that lifting a 200 lb unconscious comrade and running to shelter while carrying all armor and a heavy gun is out of the picture for most women.  There is no room for political correctness when soldier’s lives are on the line.  Others counter this argument by saying that its simply a matter of qualification. Not all men are discriminated against in the army just because some of them are unfit to fight; so not all women should be discounted because most are physically unable to serve on front lines.  Another argument is that women should be allowed to fight in front lines but held to a lower standard.  Ex women from the military, who obviously support equality between men and women in the military, applauded Panetta’s decision.  In a time of liberation for women, the front lines opening up to women seems unquestionable, but the counter arguments present valid points as well.  Debates surrounding the new combat opportunities for women are heating up around the web, as both sides present valid points.

image_previewThe story of how the ban-lifting came about and happened in the U.S. Government is also interesting.  As I know from Government and Economy class, an active citizen has multiple routes to voice their opinion to the government if they feel inclined to do so.  These ‘pathways’ are a special aspect of our democracy which can be utilized by anyone who wants to make a difference, or “routes of change in our system of government”(studyblue.com).  In this case it wasn’t a citizen, but an organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, which reached out.  They “filed a suit in November seeking to force the Pentagon to end the ban on women in combat” and later applauded the Panetta’s announcement(Reuters).  In doing so, they demonstrated the usefulness of the ‘Court Pathway’.

In the balancing act between saving human lives and dealing with political correctness, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, made a bold decision.  Granting women the right to fight in front-line combat raises concern for many and applause from others.  Despite all the controversy, the American Civil Liberties Union’s success story in using the ‘Court Pathway’ to it’s full potential was a perfect illustration of the impact citizens can make on government decisions.

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