“It’s the Stupid Economy, Folks!”

Written by Robyn Wright, a senior from Elburn, Illinois, and a biology major at Knox.

“It’s the stupid economy, folks!”

Carol Scotton, professor of economics and business and management, led this week in Election 2012.

Carol Scotton

Our assignment for the week was to contemplate the balance between governmental control, the decentralized decision-making process of the market, and communities. Too much control to one aspect, and the balance is ruined.

In the media, we often hear the phrase that markets are “self-correcting” or “self-regulating,” but we often forget that markets are also amoral. If supply and demand were to work morally, everyone would need to have something to exchange.

This also assumes that consumers have a choice in whether or not to purchase a product. Every human being requires basic necessities for survival, so this “take it or leave it” approach is not feasible.

As a result, 20% of our federal tax dollars go to Social Security and 21% of the budget in 2011 went to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

This is where Professor Scotton challenged us — by asking how we would spend the federal budget if given the choice? We used an online simulation called “The Budget Hero” to debate how to best decrease our national debt.

The task proved difficult for many students, but in a way also allowed us to face reality. When managing personal finances, the advice is always to prioritize paying off debt first, but as a country we’ve begun to look upon our national debt as something abstract that will just eventually go away.

In the upcoming election, it is of utmost importance to compare candidates on how they wish to combat this debt crisis. Is the candidate toting the idea of tax cuts or are they willing to tackle this problem head-on? Voters will need to look at what is best for the overall nation.

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