Tuesday, December 15, 2020

When a Scotch Egg Is Like an Apple (iPad)



Sometimes an egg can resemble an Apple.

Where are we going? To the new incentives that regulations create.

Regulatory Incentives

Scotch Eggs

A Scotch egg can be hard or soft boiled, baked or deep-fried, surrounded by bread crumbs or a slice of sausage. Sort of like grabbing a sandwich before boarding a plane, the Scotch egg was created for 18th century coach travelers.

Suddenly now, after years of neglect, it has hit the headlines. The resurgence of the Scotch egg has been caused by coronavirus rules. After ending its lockdown, the U.K. mandated a series of Tier 2 restrictions on bars that could have prevented mass re-openings. Instead bar owners realized that by serving a meal with a drink, they could be in business again. The reasoning from regulators was that the food minimized drunkenness. When people were less tipsy, they were more likely to wear masks and social distance. But the meal had to be “substantial.”

The question though is whether a Scotch egg is sufficiently substantial. Most agree that fish and chips are a meal whereas a “packet of prawn cocktail crisps” is not. Because bars needed a meal that could be served without a kitchen, the Scotch egg idea was hatched and subsequently debated.

Displaying its complexity, a British politician sidesteps the Scotch egg issue:

regulatory incentives

Apple iPads

Like coronavirus restrictions, tariffs also create incentives. For Apple, with new U.S. import taxes and regulatory constraints on Chinese-made electronics and components, Vietnam became more attractive. So Apple asked Foxconn, its China-based iPad and MacBook manufacturer, to open a plant in Vietnam’s Bac Giang province. Satisfying what 24 (or so) industrial parks will need, a six-lane thoroughfare will replace the one lane road that supported a rural region.

Because of regulatory incentives, U.S. imports from Vietnam have ascended:

regulatory incentives Vietnamese imports

Our Bottom Line: Regulatory Incentives

Whether looking at healthcare, trade or countless other activities, government regulations create incentives that have consequences. Like enabling bar crowds, the consequences could be unintended. Or, they could intentionally encourage supply chain diversification.

The one sure thing is that regulations will redirect the markets invisible hand and connect eggs to Apples.

My sources and more: Thanks to Yahoo moviesThe Washington Post, and The Guardian for each adding to the Scotch eggs regulatory story. Then, for the Apple parallels, Reuters and a slew of other media including Bloomberg had the details.

Our featured image is a Scotch egg.

Thursday, December 10, 2020





Join us for a Professional Development webinar designed to help educators promote curiosity and question-asking in their students. We will model the use of no-cost izzit.org materials for remote or in-class learning as tools to help students "dig deeper" into subject content and current events, becoming self-directed, lifelong learners.

The webinar will be led by Dean Graziano, J.D., VP of Education at izzit.org with over 25 years in education. He's the recipient of the United States Department of Educations' American Star of Teaching Award and the 2017 State of New Hampshire's Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator of the Year.

Susan Gable, Director of Education at izzit.org, will also take part. Certified to teach in three states, Gable has 10 years of classroom experience. She's a sought-after workshop presenter who's provided workshops for educators, parents, and writers in a wide variety of settings, including the NCSS and AMLE National Conferences.

This event will take place on Zoom. All attendees will be emailed the Zoom link.

DATE: Monday, December 21, 2020

TIME: 2:00 - 3:00 pm ET

NO COST.

Register HERE

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

izzit really happening? The last day? – Civics with Dean – Blog 7

 


I knew the day was coming - the last day of the quarter and my final izzit Civics class. We had prepared for this class the week before with reviewing what barter means [utilizing the Teachable Moment, "Barter & Entrepreneurship"]. In addition, we discussed how people “vote with their wallets”, and focused on "Consumer Choices Drive Price, Supply & Demand "[another izzit.org Teachable Moment].

 

With a brief explanation of  restricted trade versus open trade, we began the simulation game Win-Win, found in izzit.org's Educational Videos. Win-Win is a classroom trading game that gets every student involved. Through the experience of actually trading items, students learn important lessons about economics and trade. The real-life dimension of the game (that students get to keep traded items) engages them in a way few classroom exercises can match. [Pease see pictures]


 

After the allotted time to trade was up, the class discussed their experiences. Some traded to monopolize a particular item (candy), thus allowing them to clearly trade for what they really wanted. Others were willing to trade multiple items for the one they really sought, thus securing what they perceived to be a value. Finally, others chimed in that they saw the restricted trade first a hurdle in seeking what they wanted in a limited “pool” of items, but pointed out everyone was better off from trading and all ended in a Win-Win outcome.

 

As class was coming to an end, the final assignment was their post-assessment. In September, 13 students took the pre-assessment and 6/13 passed with an 80% or better [my standard for mastery]. This resulted in a 46% pass rate with no classroom instruction. On the post-test, 11 students took the test, and 8/11 passed, or 73% pass rate with 80% considered mastery. Some  questions and answers included:

 

 

1. Why are property rights important?

A - Private property is necessary for a functioning capitalist economy.

B - When you control your property, nobody can like the city in CT.

 

2. Name 2 rights in the first Amendment and why important?

A - Freedom of religion and freedom of the press - they are granted to us in the Constitution so government cannot dictate what we read and how we choose to worship.

B - Freedom of speech and press - The right to practice any religion YOU want without being told. Same with press, print without interference from government.

 


Overall, I am extremely fortunate to be back in the classroom utilizing ONLY izzit.org materials and 25 years of award-winning strategies. The students taught me a few lessons as well - in a Covid-19 school setting, students are still relying more on digging deeper via research and exploration, critical-thinking skills, and seeing relevance in their learning to real-world applications.

 


 

 

Monday, November 30, 2020

izzit Civics Blog – Blog 6 – Alternative to Screen Time





Back in the 1980s, Cyndi Lauper sang a song, “Time after time” which has become (in the COVID-19 world,) screen time after screen time as a result of remote learning classrooms. While my Civics class utilizes technology, I prepped this week for the culminating class which is a program titled Win-Win and devoid of technology (screen time).

Win-Win is a hands-on classroom trading game that gets every student involved. Through the experience of actually trading items, students will learn important lessons about economics and trade. The real-life dimension of the game (that students get to keep traded items) engages them in a way few classroom exercises can match. After they play the game, you can debrief them on their experience and share important lessons. We've suggested some possible points for discussion. Even the most disinterested student will be drawn into the excitement of Win-Win. (In fact, you may be surprised to find that the student who is often most disengaged may be the shining star in this game!)
Removed from screen time, this simulation is a hands-on student interaction activity (in a socially distanced, safe environment!) Note, once back to in-class education, this is a great way to have students learn away from the computer and focusing on key topics - free enterprise, capitalism, globalization, and property rights!


I began the class with my opening discussion point, what is bartering, and have you ever bartered anything? Quick responses involved bartering with a sibling/family member. Others shared talents they possess and how they "bartered” for expertise by others. I then showed the izzit.org Teachable Moment, "Barter and Entrepreneurship" which illustrated the rudimentary theme that providing a service is beneficial to both sides - actually stated by one of my students!

The worksheet was distributed prior, and asked students to answer - Have you ever had to barter for something? Most people have, even if they don’t realize it. Think of any time you have exchanged something other than money for another object or service. Moving to izzit.org educational video, The Foundations of Wealth, which is designed to help students understand what the subject of Economics is all about. Economic decisions are made every day, even though students may not be aware of them. For example, all of us think about: How will I choose to spend my time today? How will I choose to spend my money? Who made the things I use? How were they made? This video will help explain a great deal about the way in which these decisions are made.

I focused on segments 1, 2, & 6, for a total of a half hour of video time and proposed the following:
  1. What is the “secret” which enables a society to start improving its way of life?        
  2. What happens when you spend all your time at one job? 
The class will culminate next week with the hands-on simulation on bartering and trade, both open and restricted!
 
Pictures and follow-up next week!
 
Want to learn how to use Win/Win with your class? Watch this instructional video.
 

Dean Graziano is the Vice-President of izzit.org. He is a multi-state, award-winning educator and former Curriculum Specialist Teacher grades 6-12 Social Studies, with over 25 years in education. He served on the Massachusetts MCAS Standard Setting Panel, and also selected by the College Board to be an Advanced Placement Reader for U.S. History. He worked on the historical inquiry model and a national presenter for ABC-Clio, a Social Studies data base company.

In 2007, in a surprise visit to his school, he was awarded the United States Department of Educations' American Star of Teaching Award. Dean was selected as the 2017 State of New Hampshire's Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator- of -the Year. Dean’s pilot program in Rochester, NH was singled out by NH Governor, Chris Sununu as the model for the State of N.H. Career Academies. In 2019, he developed and implemented a proposal to purchase a Mobile Classroom ( a new & remodeled 36’ RV, aka M.A.P.s) utilizing Perkins V funding, to bring CTE/WBL programming - leveling the playing field/equity for ALL NH students and spoke nationally at several ACTE Conferences on this model.

 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

econlife - Who Will Sacrifice Civil Liberties During a Pandemic? by Elaine Schwartz

 


In a new NBER paper, a group of Harvard and Stanford scholars investigated how much of our civil liberties we would trade for better health conditions. Their data came from 370,000 individuals in 15 countries. Given to participants between March and October 2020, the surveys were ongoing.


As a teacher, I could not resist beginning with a quiz. Before seeing the results of the survey, do give it a guess. Starting with the country least willing to sacrifice civil liberties for better health conditions (#1) and ending with the place most willing (#14), please create a 1-14 ranking. (In this part of the survey, one of the 15 countries, Sweden, was excluded because of different data.)

The countries:

Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, The United Kingdom, the United States

The answers are in the five graphics that precede “Our Bottom Line.”

Civil Liberties Tradeoffs

Asked about the tradeoff through survey questions, 80 percent of the participants were willing to trade off some civil liberties for better health conditions. However, as you might expect there was a big difference between the United States and China. During a major crisis, four times as many U.S. respondents as those from China were unwilling to give up civil liberties. Among the Chinese participants, only five percent were unwilling to sacrifice rights.

The researchers, though, cited individual differences.  For certain people, as worry about the health risk went up–especially those most susceptible to COVID-19–so too did their willingness to give up liberties. Others valued civil liberties above all, They also found that individuals with less education, less attachment to the labor force, and (in the U.S.) racial and ethnic minorities were less willing to trade liberties. As for the time factor, initially, there was less willingness to give up liberties. Then, after June, attitudes plateaued.

Quiz Results

For the quiz results, it all depends on which civil liberty you select. The length of the bars reflects individuals’ unwillingness to give up that civil liberty. You can see that China is definitely last and respondents from Singapore (SGP) and India wound up with shorter bars. I found it interesting that “Endure Economic Losses” had the least resistance.

Sacrifice Own Rights and Relax Privacy Protections:



Suspend Democratic Procedures:



Sacrifice Free Press and Endure Economic Losses:


Our Bottom Line: Trade-offs

As always, looking at trade-offs through an economic lens, we can say that, “Choosing is refusing.” Furthermore, we should always keep in mind that every decision has a cost. Defined economically, cost is a sacrificed alternative that need not be money.

My sources and more: Today’s post was based on this new NBER paper. Ninety pages long, it has much more than I presented. I suggest taking a look. It is un-gated.

Our featured image is a National Park Service photograph of the Liberty Bell that is located in Independence National Historical Park.

Ideal for the classroom, econlife.com reflects Elaine Schwartz’s work as a teacher and a writer. As a teacher at the Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, she’s been an Endowed Chair in Economics and chaired the history department. She’s developed curricula, was a featured teacher in the Annenberg/CPB video project “The Economics Classroom,” and has written several books including Econ 101 ½ (Avon Books/Harper Collins). You can get econlife on a daily basis! Head to econlife.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Civics with Dean - Class 5 – Mock Election

 


It doesn't get better than this - teaching Civics during a Presidential Election year!

izzit.org diligently worked on creating mock-election materials, including key terms students should know as they navigate their way through election media coverage. In addition, izzit.org provided I Voted stickers to truly emulate the voter experience. 

Since my class is in New Hampshire, I wanted to keep up with the First-in-the Nation motto, so I decided to have my class be the izzit.org Mock Election pilot. We began the class with a new Teachable Moment, "Why Reading Matters," which features economist and educator Thomas Sowell. The message I wanted the class to understand was that reading, researching, and being aware of the candidates makes citizens better informed. Rather than relying on hearsay, students (electorate) need to be self-reliant and take responsibility while performing their civic duty. I prefaced to the students that when they do the reading (research), they alone can decide devoid of other opinions or misinformation. One part of their homework was to research who they would be voting for today!

I then turned on the television and selected two channels with opposing viewpoints - the Ah, Ha moment happened! Some students heard what was important to a particular political base on one channel, and a very different perspective from the other station. Several topics were discussed as replicated from the talking points at the second presidential debate. They included:

1) Economy
2) Covid
3) Race issues
4) Foreign relations
5) 2nd Amendment (as both candidates had local ads in NH addressing this issue)

I then introduced Jeff Kelman, VP of Development at izzit.org and a well-researched expert on the 2nd Amendment. Jeff explained the Framers' intent, and further discussed the implications on both sides of the issue. My students had some focused questions, including the fact that new gun technology was never foreseen by the Framers. My students insisted that this meant the Constitution is a living document. Finally, I shared the impetus behind the 26th Amendment and that eighteen is the age to be able to vote in the United States.


As students came up to receive their ballots, vote, and return their ballot to our “voting box,” they received an I Voted sticker (see picture). After ballots were read, the class selected former Vice-President Joe Biden to win over President Trump by 6-4.

izzit.org's complete Mock Election results can be found here: https:/izzit.org/mock_election


Dean Graziano is the Vice-President of izzit.org. He is a multi-state, award-winning educator and former Curriculum Specialist Teacher grades 6-12 Social Studies, with over 25 years in education. He served on the Massachusetts MCAS Standard Setting Panel, and also selected by the College Board to be an Advanced Placement Reader for U.S. History. He worked on the historical inquiry model and a national presenter for ABC-Clio, a Social Studies data base company. 


In 2007, in a surprise visit to his school, he was awarded the United States Department of Educations' American Star of Teaching Award. Dean was selected as the 2017 State of New Hampshire's Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator- of -the Year. Dean’s pilot program in Rochester, NH was singled out by NH Governor, Chris Sununu as the model for the State of N.H. Career Academies. In 2019, he developed and implemented a proposal to purchase a Mobile Classroom ( a new & remodeled 36’ RV, aka M.A.P.s) utilizing Perkins V funding, to bring CTE/WBL programming - leveling the playing field/equity for ALL NH students and spoke nationally at several ACTE Conferences on this model.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

econlife - Does a Calorie Label Make Us Eat Less? by Elaine Schwartz


According to the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), 2011 was the year that specified food vendors and restaurant chains with more than 20 locations had to post calorie counts. But because of “Big Pizza’s” resistance, they waited until 2018. Domino’s even said that their custom pizzas could have 34 million calorie permutations. Pizza Hut said it had 2 billon possibilities. (Is that possible?)

The ACA goal was to get us to eat fewer calories.

The Impact of Calorie Labels

In a recent study at one restaurant, researchers compared 1546 diners who did and did not have calorie labels on their menus. After the meal, the participants were asked about their calorie consumption.

A significant number of the group without the labels underestimated their calorie intake. Whereas they ordered meals with an average of 1341 calories, their average estimate was 1080. The size of the error ranged from 10 percent to more than 50 percent.

You can see below that the higher the calorie count, the larger the under-estimation:


Predictably, the group that had the menus with the calorie labels were more accurate. But not entirely.  Accuracy was up by 4 percent. Still, some underestimated their calorie intake and others overestimated. Men tended to pay less attention to the calorie totals.

At this point I was curious about the impact of knowing your calories. According to one recent study on what we order at fast food outlets, it did not make a huge difference. Using data from 104 restaurants before and after implementing the labeling law, researchers wound up with three years’ of transactions. From 50 million purchases, they observed that there was an initial decrease of approximately 60 calories. However, the decline was not sustained. It soon dwindled down to 23.

Our Bottom Line: Present Bias

A behavioral economist might have suggested that the calorie labels required by the Affordable Care Act will have a minimal impact because of our tendency toward a present bias. In the present, the cost of caloric restraint is considerable. We have a bias toward our current benefits and postponing the cost for later.

My sources and more: Always handy, this month’s NBER Digest alerted me to the calorie study. Then the BMJ had the fast food study.


Ideal for the classroom, econlife.com reflects Elaine Schwartz’s work as a teacher and a writer. As a teacher at the Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, she’s been an Endowed Chair in Economics and chaired the history department. She’s developed curricula, was a featured teacher in the Annenberg/CPB video project “The Economics Classroom,” and has written several books including Econ 101 ½ (Avon Books/Harper Collins). You can get econlife on a daily basis! Head to econlife.




Thursday, October 22, 2020

Put Away the Tech, Part 4 by Scott Harris

For many Silicon Valley parents, the new “must have” is a nanny contract that requires the nanny to expose their charges to either very limited or no-technology during the day. There are even nanny-spies who will use technology to report nannies in public parks if the nanny happens to be on their phone. 

Several articles on this are behind paywalls, but here’s one that isn’t: https://www.activistpost.com/2018/11/silicon-valley-parents-spy-on-nannies-to-make-sure-they-arent-using-screens-around-their-kids-and-make-them-sign-no-screens-contracts.html

This follows the 2011 New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html) that showed how the very people that create the digital technology that we love so much – and that if our children don’t master will certainly be left behind – prevent their own children from being exposed to it. 

They prevent them from being exposed to technology not just in their homes, but in their schools! The NYT article is a must read. It explains how people who know technology better than all of us, often with degrees in computer science, find technology to be not only distracting to learning, but even unnecessary to learning. They then hire teachers who philosophically believe that humans are better at teaching math than computers.

Before we cast them (and me) off as Luddites, the Waldorf teachers cited in the article ask an interesting question: where is the empirical evidence? Where is the overwhelming evidence that all of this technology used in the delivery of instruction has delivered the massive gains? Why aren’t the tech-parents afraid that their kids will “fall behind”? Perhaps they’ve realized that technology-in-the-delivery-of-instruction-as-savior is the latest educational moral panic.

This author is old enough to remember in the early 1990s when articles were showing that Japanese schools already had kindergarteners (!) using computers. We were just phasing them into universities. How would we ever catch up?! And yet the republic endured. 

Defenders of technology-as-savior, typically public-school teachers (of which I am one) and administrators sound the same alarm: digital divide, we need more funding, iPads for everyone! But where are the empirical educational gains such technology promised to bring?

One administrator in Texas I read about in the newspapers said he wasn’t too concerned about the empirical evidence. “All I know,” he said, “is that we’re putting iPads in the hands of a child.” And so it has been spoken. Technology as talisman, a source from which all good things in education spring. 

Technology is a tool, not a savior. Use as appropriate.


Scott K. Harris teaches The Moral Sciences: A.P. Macroeconomics, A.P. Psychology, and Philosophy. He holds a B.A. in History/Psychology and a M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership. He has also taught U.S. History, World History, International Baccalaureate’s Theory of Knowledge, and coached swimming and water polo. He piloted curriculum for Stossel-in-the-Classroom and is an associate producer for izzit.org. 

econlife - Why Zoom Needs the “Mr. Rogers Effect” by Elaine Schwartz

We always knew that Fred Rogers would change into his sweater and sneakers as he asked, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

I hope that you will enjoy this minute with Mr. Rogers: 

Psychologists tell us that there might be a “Mr. Rogers effect.” Changing your clothing can influence how you think and what you produce.

Dressing For Work

It turns out sweat pants and hoodies might not be ideal for working at home.

In a 2012 paper, two Northwestern business school cognitive psychologists investigated the impact of what we wear. Trying to observe the connection between our behavior and our clothing, they used a white lab coat. The goal was to see if focused attention improved when you wore a physician’s white lab coat, a painter’s white lab coat (identical to the physician’s), and when you looked at the white lab coat.

The results have been called enclothed cognition. When people wear certain clothing, their behavior adjusts to what the clothing means. So, when they wore the physician’s lab coat they demonstrated more attentively careful behavior. But, when they thought an identical white coat was for a painter and when they looked at the doctor’s white lab coat, they reverted to less of a focus.

Somewhat similarly, in a 2015 paper, scholars looked at the impact of formal clothing. Starting with the assumption that formal clothing can signal professionalism, they assumed it would add to performance but not friendliness. There, too, they saw a cognitive impact. They found that abstract processing became more acute when people were more formally dressed. Dressed formally, the study’s participants perceived actions on a higher level. Rather than “locking the door,” they were “securing the house.”

Our Bottom Line: Productivity

These cognitive clothing studies return us to the pandemic, our remote work, and our Zoom conference calls. They suggest that dressing for work, even when we remain at home, could boost our productivity. More professional clothing could enhance our attention spans, our abstract thinking, and even how we compare short term immediate gains to longer term benefits. Defined as getting more output from land, labor, and capital inputs, our productivity could increase.

As for Mr. Rogers, his sweater and sneakers, took him to the behavior he wanted to bring to his neighborhood.

My sources and more: The daily morning WSJ podcast always comes in handy. Conveying big and small ideas, yesterday it alerted me to clothing research. Enhancing my productivity, the WSJ news article linked to two academic papers, here and here. I hit a glitch when the first paper was gated but then found this article with the perfect summary.


Ideal for the classroom, econlife.com reflects Elaine Schwartz’s work as a teacher and a writer. As a teacher at the Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, she’s been an Endowed Chair in Economics and chaired the history department. She’s developed curricula, was a featured teacher in the Annenberg/CPB video project “The Economics Classroom,” and has written several books including Econ 101 ½ (Avon Books/Harper Collins). You can get econlife on a daily basis! Head to econlife.





Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Civics with Dean – Class 4 – Dred Scott Case



On October 13, my Civics class at Big Fish Learning participated in an exclusive Zoom call with Lynne M. Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Harriet and Dred Scott of the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott Decision. 


The focus of the class was a post-discussion of the Constitution and Black History, examining how the laws of the United States, starting with the Constitution itself, have impacted the history of black Americans. We covered important legal cases besides Dred Scott, like Plessy v. Ferguson, and Brown v. Board of Ed. We explored how we've moved toward a more inclusive nation that strives to live up to the words Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence, "…all men (people!) are created equal" and accord all equal protection of the law. Lynne shared some interesting insights and talked about the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation in today’s world. She reminded us that there were real people behind the famous case, and that history isn't quite as far away as we often think. (Her father was babysat by Dred and Harriet's daughter, Lizzie.) 

Special dignitaries joined us:  NH Department of Education Commissioner, Frank Edleblut. In addition, US Senator Jeanne Shaheen sent a letter to the class as she was unable to be there in person.


Dean Graziano is the Vice-President of izzit.org. He is a multi-state, award-winning educator and former Curriculum Specialist Teacher grades 6-12 Social Studies, with over 25 years in education. He served on the Massachusetts MCAS Standard Setting Panel, and also selected by the College Board to be an Advanced Placement Reader for U.S. History. He worked on the historical inquiry model and a national presenter for ABC-Clio, a Social Studies data base company. 


In 2007, in a surprise visit to his school, he was awarded the United States Department of Educations' American Star of Teaching Award. Dean was selected as the 2017 State of New Hampshire's Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator- of -the Year. Dean’s pilot program in Rochester, NH was singled out by NH Governor, Chris Sununu as the model for the State of N.H. Career Academies. In 2019, he developed and implemented a proposal to purchase a Mobile Classroom ( a new & remodeled 36’ RV, aka M.A.P.s) utilizing Perkins V funding, to bring CTE/WBL programming - leveling the playing field/equity for ALL NH students and spoke nationally at several ACTE Conferences on this model.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

econlife - The Great Lid Shortage of 2020 by Elaine Schwartz


Perhaps reflecting its necessity, wartime canning was most mentioned in books during 1942. But because this Google Ngram end date is 2019, we cannot see what surely would be an upswing for 2020:

Stuck at home because of the pandemic, people have been planting their own gardens and then pickling the peppers and preserving the peaches. They are canning tomatoes and making blackberry jam.

However, canning’s recent popularity has created a problem.


The Lid Shortage

Soaring seed orders were the first clue that a canning surge was imminent. Ball, the go-to company for canning supplies, says a lot of its items are on back order. A hardware firm in Kidron, Ohio reports a 600 percent pop in canning category sales.

Canners know that jars can be repeatedly refilled. But, since lids cannot be reused, in 1975 and now, there have been shortages.

Forty-five years ago, shoppers responded to rising food prices by doing more canning. In many parts of the country canning kits were available. However, in rural areas like Fayetteville, Arkansas and Whiteville, North Carolina, women wanted to reuse their old jars. That meant they only needed the lids that local stores had run out of. A 1975 NY Times article reports that the House Small Business Committee even scheduled hearings and concluded that there was no hoarding conspiracy.

Instead, the problem was and is supply inelasticity.

Our Bottom Line: Supply Elasticity

In 1975, even with 24/7 production churning out 6.2 million lids a day from 3 major suppliers, there was a lid shortage. I suspect we have the same phenomenon today.

Given short notice, supply cannot stretch. Called supply inelasticity, producers are constrained by their land, labor, and capital. For all three factors of production to increase within weeks is usually impossible. The quantity supplied responds minimally to more demand and even higher prices because in the short run, supply is inelastic. It takes time to add more land, labor, and capital.

I’ve copied this illustration of supply inelasticity from my textbook, Understanding Our Economy:


So, if someone you know needs a lid, just explain he will have to wait a bit for supply to become elastic.

My sources and more: Thanks to NPR’s “Weekend Edition” for alerting me to the lid shortage. From there, I discovered more in The Washington Post and in this 1975 NY Times article.

Our featured image is from The Washington Post.

Ideal for the classroom, econlife.com reflects Elaine Schwartz’s work as a teacher and a writer. As a teacher at the Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, she’s been an Endowed Chair in Economics and chaired the history department. She’s developed curricula, was a featured teacher in the Annenberg/CPB video project “The Economics Classroom,” and has written several books including Econ 101 ½ (Avon Books/Harper Collins). You can get econlife on a daily basis! Head to econlife.