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I currently attend Grade Eleven at an academic high school that is widely acclaimed as one of the best, if not the best, high school in all of Western Canada. Our current topic of discussion is economics. As the government holds a monopoly on education, I think that what we are taught is, in general, being taught all over Canada (or at least Alberta).

We were give a "sample essay", written by a student, that recieved perfect marks according to Alberta Education requirements. I just want to show you what passes as 100% these days. I'm not going to reprint this entire essay, only several choice sections that best represent its overall intellectual state.

The topic is (judging from the content of the essay): poverty and how it relates to different economic sysyems

Introduction Paragraph:

"Poverty is defined as the state of being poor. While some people believe that poverty is a natural part of life, relating it to the "survival of the fittest", poverty has a dettrimental effect on society. Everyone may not be born with equal abilities, but all are equal as human beings. If no help is offered to the impoverished, then society must carry the burden of crime but most importantly, the burden of lost potential. Governments should provide for citizens to the extent that their basic needs are fulfilled, including food, shelter, physical and psychological security. The government should not completely intervene in the economy like the U.S.S.R., nor should it maintain a completely laissez-faire approach like the U.S.A. Instead, governments need to take a balanced role, providing all citizens with the basic platform to develop potential without impeding on their motivation and initiative."

(grammar mistakes are included)

The essay then proceeds to bash the Stalinist system of government, pertaining to it's lack of efficiency.

The following is all one paragraph, but I split it in order to make it readable.

"Too little government intervention, however, also does not decrease poverty. The American economy is propelled by the profit motive, which often leads to the demoralization of the people and increased poverty. Even during the Industrial Revolution, capitalists were more converned with making money that providing humane conditions. Since the capitalist ethic preached no government intervention, buisinesses were free to do as they wished. Children, men, and women are exploited, having to work 12-hour days under atorcious conditions. Children were chained to machines and those who objected were beaten. The workers returned home to slums, that were overcrowded, badly lit and poorly ventilated. Garbage and wastes filled the streets. Crime, prostitution and poverty increased dramatically.

Even today, the American economy is motivated by the desire to sell, leading to the denigration of the society. For example, marketers have tapped into the power of sex to sell. Sex has become such a common feature of AMerican society that most people are desensitized to it. The sex mania has put greater pressure on youner people to engage in sexual activity. It has degraded the image of women to purely sexual objects, who should be subservient to males. This has caused rippling effects on the American society, increasing teen pregnancies, prostitution, rape, child pornography, and sexual offenders. Those things that are the most profitable are not necessarily the best for society. The government needs to intervene to protect society and its values.

The laissez-faire system not only demoralizes the people, but also creates instability. THe lack of government intervention during 1929, led a small group of financial investors to manipulate the stocks in what today would be called insider trading. The stock market crash propelled the depression. It was not the only factor, however, to cause it. Lack of government intervention, allowed huge corporations like GMC and General Electric to increase their production substantially, while wages did not increase. This lead to demand being lower than the high supply. Thousands of banks failed, again due to lack of government intervention. If the government had intervened in the economy to provide Federal Deposit Insurance, then the banks would not have collapsed because the government would have ensured people's savings.

The greatest factor leading to the Depression, though, was the large gap between the rich and poor. Large corporations were increasing their profits, while wages remained stagnant. Five percent of the population was earning one third of the country's income. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer. The purchasing power of the average AMerican citizen became dangeorusly low. The economy was fuelled by consumer spending and collapsed once the average citizen was unable to afford basic amenities. All of the factors which caused the Depression had one common feature, lack of government intervention. The government did nothing to intervene or help the economy, leading to one of the worst periods of economic recession in the world, the Great Depression.

During this period, people were depsperately poor. One fourth of the labour force was unemployed. One hundred thousand businesses failed, five thousand banks failed and wages declined by forty percent. The standard of living declined substantially. People struggled to afford food and shelter. The economic disarray and resulting plight of the people forced the government to implement drastic measures. Like Gorbachev who introducted perestroika to help the struggling economy, President Roosevelt introduced the New Deal. The American laissez-faire system does not decrease poverty and fosters a demoralized population with an unstable economy."

Honestly, the blatant lack of logic and misrepresentation of history are so obvious that they are not even worth mentioning.

If THIS is considered a role model essay for a graduating student (this was written in a Social Studies 30 IB class)...then.... :lol:

Even worse is that I have to write one too. They want an illogical essay glorifying the current mixed economy state of Canada, and, sadly, a thorough defense of capitalism is going to be all but impossible in the time limit, given that the ABOVE is accepted unquestionably and as the ideal. :huh:

Don't worry though; the last thing I am going to do is compromise on this important a topic.

Edited by Daniel Giterman
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I've heard plenty of criticisms of the alleged negative effects of capitalism, but the charges of rape,prostitution, and child porn are new to me. Surely, none of these things exist in Canada.

It is ironic that though one might be tempted to charge modern education with an overall incompetency, it has proven extremely competent in regurgitating the leftist mythologies of capitalism. I hope you can use your essay as an opportunity to spread some rational thought, or at least further educate yourself. Doesn't sound like the teachers are offering much help up there.

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Well, since you are (thankfully) unwilling to compromise, all I can suggest is to make sure you back up each statement with facts, facts and more facts.

In C:UI Ayn Rand gives numerous suggestions for reference materials that may be of interest to you.

Perhaps you might also challenge each of these taken-for-granted myths about the horrors of Capitalism with documentation. Since the only rebuttals to these arguements are bland generalisations and regurgitated leftist propaganda (with no basis in facts) you should be able to defend your position with the correct preparation. Most of these horrors can be laid at the doorstep of Statism and the 'mixed economy'.

Good luck with your essay :)

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I'm shocked, that's a terrible essay, I wonder in what way is it judged as a perfect example??? Content, technical structure?

Quote Ayn Rand often in your essay :D

Hm that essay is horrible. I, however, wouldn't quote Ayn Rand at all. Say it in your own words. That's more effective. Use reason, not quotations. Ayn Rand won't have any authority among your listeneners anyway.

This is the stuff I hear about capitalism from my parents. Reason doesn't help. They won't listen. But it's worth a try. State your position clearly. :)

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You dont have to write an essay glorifying laissez faire if you feel that it'll result in you failing the course; theres no point martyring yourself when theres nothing to be gained. But I'd advise you to ask your teacher whether (s)he believes that producing such an essay would result in a poor grade; as long as it was properly argued and was written to a high academic standard (eg it included references to things other than Ayn Rand essays), I dont see any reason why you would receive a poor grade. Many economists have free-market leanings even if they dont go all the way to laissez faire, so as long as you were arguing rationally and citing high quality sources like Friedman and Mises, I'd expect you to do well.

But assuming this isnt the case, there are other ways that you could produce an essay that would receive a high grade without compromising your principles. Instead of glorifying capitalism as a whole, why not concentrate on a particular topical issue where you could make pro-free market arguments (perhaps something like farm subsidies, import tariffs, or minimum wage laws). Or you can write a history of how moves towards free-market policies have generally resulted in higher economic growth. Or an essay on the importance of distinguishing between relative and absolute poverty, and an explanation of how capitalism tends to decrease the latter even if not the former. The possibilities are endless.

It shouldnt be the position that youre arguing which matters for grading purposes; it should be the quality of your arguments and research.

Edited by Hal
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Hal makes some very good recommendations.

When it comes to economic education, the situation in US schools is equally appalling. Students are not given even a basic understanding of Capitalism and myths are often passed off as truth. It's both a sad and disturbing situation.

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We were give a "sample essay", written by a student, that recieved perfect marks according to Alberta Education requirements. I just want to show you what passes as 100% [...]

"The government should not completely intervene in the economy like the U.S.S.R., nor should it maintain a completely laissez-faire approach like the U.S.A."

Would it be possible for you to organize with other students, with each student taking on one alleged fact in the model essay?

For example, one student could begin with the above snippet from the essay, apply the meaning of the word "maintain" and conclude that, according to the 100% essay, the USA does have a completely laissez-faire approach. Then the entire essay could be devoted to demonstrating that the USA does not have a completely laissez-faire approach. Such an essay would mostly depend upon independent research by the essay writer, but it could also rely upon the 100% essay. For example, if the 100% essay blames the Great Depression on laissez-faire and yet includes the statement "Like Gorbachev who introducted perestroika to help the struggling economy, President Roosevelt introduced the New Deal", then all parts of the New Deal that are still in place are evidence against the claim that the USA currently "has a completely laissez-faire approach."

We were give a "sample essay", written by a student, that recieved perfect marks according to Alberta Education requirements. I just want to show you what passes as 100% [...]

"[...]If no help is offered to the impoverished, then society must carry the burden of crime [...]

I'm trying to analyze that one.

1. Thomas Paine suggested some ways for governments to more efficiently help the most destitute. Based on that sentence alone, it seems theoretically possible that the author of the 100% essay would not oppose the establishment of the kind of government that Thomas Paine advocated.

2. Do you think the author of the 100% essay is claiming that impoverishment accounts for a significant amount of crime or merely that there are some people who commit more crime when they are impoverished than when they are not impoverished? Also, I'm wondering whether people who are receiving government assistance count as impoverished. For example, does it make sense to say that the US government has to provide housing projects because otherwise there might be some crime, but you can expect there to be a high crime rate in government housing projects because the people who live there are impoverished?

We were give a "sample essay", written by a student, that recieved perfect marks according to Alberta Education requirements. I just want to show you what passes as 100% [...]

"Even today, the American economy is motivated by the desire to sell, leading to the denigration of the society. For example, marketers have tapped into the power of sex to sell. Sex has become such a common feature of AMerican society that most people are desensitized to it. The sex mania has put greater pressure on youner people to engage in sexual activity. It has degraded the image of women to purely sexual objects, who should be subservient to males. This has caused rippling effects on the American society, increasing teen pregnancies, prostitution, rape, child pornography, and sexual offenders. Those things that are the most profitable are not necessarily the best for society. The government needs to intervene to protect society and its values."

Is the author of the 100% essay trying to combine a traditional Republican-style government control of the spirit with a traditional Democrat-style government control of the economy? Perhaps that paragraph is a subtle signal that the author of the 100% essay might be a Muslim and that a mark of less than 100% might provoke the student to make accusations of racism and oppression? (Some students in Canada who failed the bar exam claimed that the exam was racist. The remedy they received was not an inquiry into the exam or an opportunity to rewrite the exam. They simply received automatic passes.)

We were give a "sample essay", written by a student, that recieved perfect marks according to Alberta Education requirements. I just want to show you what passes as 100% [...]

"[...] wages did not increase. This lead to demand being lower than the high supply. Thousands of banks failed [...]"

I would be surprised to read even Keynes make that kind of insinuation. "Our wages aren't increasing fast enough. That might cause a major economic depression!"

Honestly, the blatant lack of logic and misrepresentation of history are so obvious that they are not even worth mentioning.

Okay, so my above analysis is worthless. However, the 100% essay is also worthless.

I demand a mark of 100% for this message! (I'm kidding)

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I wrote the essay today. It was an in class assignment, and we were only given one hour. This means no quotes, not much research, and little time.

The topic given was "Should government encourage profit motive?". I wrote that the essay question itself was contradictary, and that the only way the government can "encourage" profit motive is by leaving the economy alone - ie. laissez-faire.

The sad thing is I had to spend a good part of the beginning equating profit motive with capitalism, because for some ungodly reason my teacher thinks that they are two different things and can be mutually exclusive. Needless to say, I'm not expecting a good mark. Hoping for a seventy, maybe. Not that I think I wrote it badly, but just the fact that we were supposed to glorify the socialism of Sweden as a role model economic system (this was repeatedly implied). Instead, I bashed Sweden and contradicted the teacher and the curriculum.

Interestingly enough, we were required to state the faults of our economic system. We were required to recognize that it was bad in some resepcts (ie. nothing is perfect), but how "overall" our system was the best. I didn't do that either. :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally got the essay back, after two weeks of marking.

Mark? 7/15, or 47%.

Criticism? She said that I went off topic by refusing to argue that Government should encourage profit motive (this is a contradiction). She said I refused to recognize that capitalism can exist in degrees, and instead discussed an all or nothing approach towards profit motive. Finally, she said that I confused the issue by introducing a new question. Meaning, I equated profit motive with individual freedom.

The good news is that if I significantly improve on my next essay, she'll only count the second mark. Should I glorify Sweden?

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Should I glorify Sweden?
Yes, absolutely. Assuming you did a good job on the assignment, your instructor has revealed herself to be an intellectually dishonest slug. There is no sense in further sacrificing your grade by writing something that is perfectly reasoned and logical. She apparently prefers the opposite.
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I currently attend Grade Eleven at an academic high school that is widely acclaimed as one of the best, if not the best, high school in all of Western Canada. Our current topic of discussion is economics. As the government holds a monopoly on education, I think that what we are taught is, in general, being taught all over Canada (or at least Alberta).

[cut]

"Poverty is defined as the state of being poor. While some people believe that poverty is a natural part of life, relating it to the "survival of the fittest", poverty has a dettrimental effect on society. Everyone may not be born with equal abilities, but all are equal as human beings. If no help is offered to the impoverished, then society must carry the burden of crime but most importantly, the burden of lost potential. Governments should provide for citizens to the extent that their basic needs are fulfilled, including food, shelter, physical and psychological security. The government should not completely intervene in the economy like the U.S.S.R., nor should it maintain a completely laissez-faire approach like the U.S.A. Instead, governments need to take a balanced role, providing all citizens with the basic platform to develop potential without impeding on their motivation and initiative."

(grammar mistakes are included)

[cut]

Okay, even if I were to disregard the actual content of this paragraph then it still would not have earned a very high grade. What happened to engaging openings? My history teacher hates it when you start with dictionary definitions. What happened to simple, declarative sentences? There are way too many commas for my taste.

*sigh* I feel for you. I'd love to say it's just your teacher, or just your class or something, but it's not. Since I'm in 11th grade this year as well, and getting ready to take the SAT it's becoming more apparent that what the U.S. education system thinks is important in writing is not what you write, or even really how you write it, but rather, whether or not it follows their cookie-cutter definition of good writing. Most of the "good" essay examples I've seen are boring, shallow, and catered to what the SAT graders will be able to notice in two minutes of grading.

Finally got the essay back, after two weeks of marking.

Mark? 7/15, or 47%.

Criticism? She said that I went off topic by refusing to argue that Government should encourage profit motive (this is a contradiction). She said I refused to recognize that capitalism can exist in degrees, and instead discussed an all or nothing approach towards profit motive. Finally, she said that I confused the issue by introducing a new question. Meaning, I equated profit motive with individual freedom.

The good news is that if I significantly improve on my next essay, she'll only count the second mark. Should I glorify Sweden?

Oh dear. :) She's pushed you into a corner. That's awful. You could always write it on Sweden and subtly mock her... You know, like Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. Though, that might not improve your chances of a high grade. It'd probably be lost on her, but that's what I'd try to do anyway. But then, I'm kind-of insolent when it comes to teachers that annoy me.

Edited by non-contradictor
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Two questions:

Is your next essay going to be in class too?

What the hell is "profit motive"?

I absolutely wouldn't glorify Sweden. I'd either just write another one about capitalism, or do as Tea says, and mock her. Something along the lines of "Sweden is so great. No wonder they're such a world super-power!" would be quite funny.

Also, I'd bring the topic back to rights. All liberals love their "human rights". Well, say something about where rights come from, how they apply to everyone, and how a government based on rights is the only legitimate kind. Then, you can bring in laissez-faire capitalism. I'm actually writing an essay somewhat close to this for my English class also. My teacher is a self-proclaimed "liberal, femininist, tree-hugger" but she also reconizes good writing and good arguments.

By the way, I would call a conference with your teacher. Just talk with her about the fairness of her grading system and tell her you want to know why you did so poorly, when the other essay did so well. You could punch as many holes in the arguments of the 100% essay as she can try to in yours. And ask her how it is "off topic" to refute a basic false-dichonomy in the question.

If your essay is out of class and you want me to edit it, just PM me. I'll be happy to look at it.

Zak

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First off Daniel, I really associate with your situation, as I attend grade 12 in a British Columbian school. The solution is to write an essay completely sarcastically. The teacher will never know, and you won't puke when writing it. I did that when I had to write an essay talking about how the media controls our minds. I went all out and blamed the media for absolutely everything in society. I got %96, because I had one or two grammar mistakes. That was grade 11 English. :)

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First off Daniel, I really associate with your situation, as I attend grade 12 in a British Columbian school. The solution is to write an essay completely sarcastically. The teacher will never know, and you won't puke when writing it. I did that when I had to write an essay talking about how the media controls our minds. I went all out and blamed the media for absolutely everything in society. I got %96, because I had one or two grammar mistakes. That was grade 11 English. :)

This seems like the correct choice. I was actually considering doing this in the first place, but gave the teacher the benefit of a doubt.

RealityCheck44, yes, it's going to be in class. In fact, the next essay will be during the mid term examination. And profit motive, I believe, is taken to mean by my teacher/class to be a system in which the incentive to work is the desire for money.

And I don't think I should revert to the topic to individual rights, because that is almost precisely what I did with individual freedom. This was seen as "off topic rambling" and subsequently lowered my score. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that reverting the topic to individual rights is perfectly rational.

Seems like sarcasm will be the way to go. Thick, however subtle, sarcasm. The only problem is that it may be easier for her to deduce that its sarcasm seeing as how my next essay will directly contradict this one. :)

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