Summer SAVY 2017, Session 3/Day 2- Big Money, Big Decisions (Rising 4th/5th)
Day 2 in Big Money, Big Decisions was a success. Today we talked taxes. Yesterday we learned about what government does and how much it costs, so today we moved on to where government gets its money. We actually focused on how we can evaluate whether a tax is “good” or not. Please ask your students about the four considerations of how we do this! The first is economic efficiency, which is an incredibly difficult topic to grapple with. Your kids got a crash course in markets, economics, and tax incidence (or who bears the burden of a tax). We actually created our own market with buyers and sellers of goods. In the first round, before people knew what the average and reasonable price was, the same good was sold to one student for $3 and to another student for $15! This quickly adjusted once we learned and the next round the range had dropped to $5-$7. Of course, nothing stays the same once we add in taxes!
I think you would also have been really proud of them in the discussion of our second criteria for judging taxes, equity. They were open and honest about what fair means to them. They also really saw that fairness means A LOT of different things to different people and that is very challenging to nail down even what you think is fair. For example, child credits. Does a single person with no kids have the same ability to pay as a family with three kids, even if their incomes are the same? They all agreed no, but they did not all agree as to whether it was fair for the person with no kids to pay higher taxes! Please ask them about this and let them know that they are examples of that tax deduction!
One of the most exciting parts of the day was our discussion of a fire fee. We watched a news story about firefighters who let a house burn down because they had not paid their firefighting fee. It is a tragic story but the students were able to take up both sides and discuss what the city should have done. If they had put the fire out would ANYONE have paid their fee the next year? How would you feel if your house burned down and couldn’t have the guy just have paid afterwards? Ask your student their thoughts about the case tonight!
Tomorrow we are going to start talking about how politics influence these decisions. I cannot wait!
Dr. Whitney Afonso