At What Price

“The truth is like poetry. And most people f**king hate poetry.”  The Big Short

An entirely minor political poem of mine from almost five years ago is beginning to sound more predictive than sarcastic. Any sort of “Final Economy-Boosting Solution” is not the future I want to see.

And yet…we are living in a time when influential people suggest, for real, that elders should sacrifice themselves–should die– for the sake of the economy. Those voices are getting louder and much more alarming.

Yusuke Narita, an economics professor at Yale, has repeatedly advocated for mass suicide of older people. Today the New York Times offered this evidence.

“I feel like the only solution is pretty clear,” he said during one online news program in late 2021. “In the end, isn’t it mass suicide and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?” Seppuku is an act of ritual disembowelment that was a code among dishonored samurai in the 19th century.

It may seem like one professor isn’t likely to have an impact, but Dr. Narita has over 569 thousand followers on his mostly Japanese-language Twitter account. He is also a popular guest on television, and friendly with several wealthy young Japanese entrepreneurs.

Japan’s economic problems have been blamed on low birth rates and longer-lived adults, a situation increasingly common across the industrialized world. Kill-the-elderly opinions may boost shock-based ratings, but rapacious capitalism has increasingly burdened young people with untenable work hours, low pay, exploding housing costs, and unaffordable childcare.

Dr. Narita’s fantasy of matricide may go back to his mother’s brain injury when he was 19, which left him with the unwelcome financial burden of contributing to her care. Maybe counseling would be a better outlet for his bitterness. Or actually working toward sustainable solutions to invigorate a country’s workforce by advocating for paid training and education, workplace policies friendly to parents, and welcoming immigrants.  

Instead, on a recent show, he answered a schoolboy’s question about forced elder suicide by saying “If you think that’s good, then maybe you can work hard toward creating a society like that.” He has also speculated about making euthanasia mandatory.

How close are some in the U.S. to these views?  

In the pandemic’s early days of March 2020, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested the demographic most endangered by Covid-19 should be willing to lose their lives for the sake of the economy. “Let’s get back to living,” he said in a Fox News interview, “…those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.” Conservative pundits agreed, including Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, and Brit Hume. Lt. Gov. Patrick doubled down in April, saying “I’m sorry to say that I was right on this.” At that time, 495 had lost their lives. As of today, 93,699 people have died in Texas from Covid. Across the U.S., the vast majority of Covid deaths have been among those 50 and up, with mortality increasing by age.

This doesn’t include those suffering with long Covid. The CDC says one out of every five people who tested positive for Covid experienced or continue to experience symptoms such as cognitive problems, dizziness, depression, heart palpitations, heart attacks, fatigue, pain, digestive issues, blood clots, strokes, shortness of breath, unexplained fevers, and more. As many as four million people are currently unable to work due to long Covid. The mean age of long Covid sufferers is 40.5 years old with the largest demographic hit aged 36 to 50. Sacrificing for the economy, at any age, doesn’t work here on a planet where all of us are inextricably interconnected.

Here’s the poem I mentioned. It was published by Tuck Magazine in April 2018 and recently reprinted in Mad As Hell: An Anthology of Angry Poetry. Please, let’s not get any closer to this being true.     

Final Economy-Boosting Solution  

Our privatized Congress really is making America great again. 
Who’d have thought the Productive Adult Initiative,
complete with elder joycamps, would work so well?
Consumer confidence is volcanic.
Health care costs, barely a budget blip.
For the first time trickle down works,
a fricking waterfall, old to young.

No more elderly folks shuffling through store aisles,
clogging the roads, saving for a rainy day.
No feel-good stories about some couple married 70 years.
And all those pricey assisted living complexes,
now the place to be for young creatives.
I mean come on, studio rent and chef-driven meals
with services galore. What’s not to like? 

Plus, you don’t have to go home for the holidays
or write thank you notes to your Great Aunt Irena.
Though you do miss her pastries, warm from the oven.
And your children can’t remember her accent,
or the handkerchief she used to wipe tears
from her soft crinkled face. Sometimes you think
answers to questions you forgot to ask
might be the greatest wealth.
But hey, nothing’s better than 
consumer spending power, am I right?

Laura Grace Weldon

Earth’s Bright Future

I clicked on an article titled, “Study finds our galaxy may be full of dead alien civilisations,” thinking, Wow, a career in space archeology would be fascinating.

Researchers used an extended version of the Drake Equation, which determines the odds of extraterrestrial intelligence existing in our galaxy, to consider factors necessary for a habitable environment. They speculated that intelligent life may have emerged in our galaxy about 8 billion years after it was formed. (Here on Earth, humans emerged 13.5 billion years after the Milky Way was formed.)


And then I got to the passage about “the tendency for intelligent life to self-annihilate…”

What? We know about the fall of empires but did we know science says our species’ selfishly destructive ways are likely take us all out? According to the article,

“While no evidence explicitly suggests that intelligent life will eventually annihilate themselves, we cannot a priori preclude the possibility of self-annihilation,” the study reads.

“As early as 1961, Hoerner suggests that the progress of science and technology will inevitably lead to complete destruction and biological degeneration, similar to the proposal by Sagan and Shklovskii (1966).

“This is further supported by many previous studies arguing that self-annihilation of humans is highly possible via various scenarios, including but not limited to war, climate change and the development of biotechnology.”

This is staggering to consider, especially while we are living through (well, hopefully living through) a tangled knot of crises including a pandemic, climate change, widening inequality, and political unrest. I’m pretty sure we don’t want to leave a dead planet relevant only to space archeologists, even if we currently seem to be heading that way.

I take refuge in hope. Here are a few of the many reasons why.

  1. Crisis has saved us in the past. After all, the Renaissance followed the Black Plague. And there’s much earlier evidence that crisis leads humanity forward. It appears a near-cataclysmic moment in the Upper Paleolithic period led to the preeminence of modern humans. Environmental degradation reduced our kind to near-annihilation. We emerged from this crisis only because we developed new collaborative practices such as trading with strangers and loyalty initiation rituals, engendered to create grudging trust. It took a near-extinction level events for humanity to socially evolve in the Paleolithic. Imagine how our response to this pandemic might move us forward.
  2. Nonviolent action is not only an ethical choice, it is actually the most powerful way to shape world politics. Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, examined hundreds of social/political change movements over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.
  3. A recent survey by World Economic Forum indicates an overwhelming desire for change. Out of the more than 21,000 adults from 27 countries who were questioned, 86% would prefer to see the world change significantly – becoming more sustainable and equitable – rather than revert to the status quo. Even on an individual level,  72% say they prefer their life to change significantly rather than go back to how it was before the COVID-19 crisis started. Numbers are somewhat lower for the U.S., but a majority support initiatives to combat climate change.

How to bring about real change? That’s a huge topic, but here are a few hopeful glimpses.

Increasing momentum for positive social change is happening around the world, especially among young people. Otto Scharmer, a senior lecturer at MIT, points out these movements differ from earlier student moments because they emphasize a change in consciousness, collaboration with people of all ages, and using technology in new ways to shift awareness toward solutions. Dr. Scharmer explains that this activates an axial shift in learning and human development, moving away from closed to open presence.


Cooperative behavior is not only natural, it’s contagious. When people benefit from the kindness of others they go on to spread the compassion. The tendency to “pay it forward’ influences dozens more in an enlarging network of kindness. And even more heartening, the effect persists. Kindness begats more kindness, blotting out previously selfish behavior. It doesn’t seem to matter how people are exposed to kindness. They might read about altruistic behavior, see it in a video, or witness it in person. It also doesn’t seem to matter if the person offering kindness was similar to them, or if the help was material (like money) or non-material (like comfort). We are influenced not only by the people around us but also what we’re exposed to online and in the media. Time to pay closer attention to our influences, amplifying the kindness that’s so intrinsic to our human nature.


Social justice makes us happier. Interviews with nearly 170,000 individuals across 28 countries show people whose countries emphasize social justice are happier, more pleased with their lives, and show greater trust in one another. Greater social justice demonstrates that people have value, which is crucial to psychological well-being. It also builds confidence in communities which, in turn, improves our relationships with others. It may help reduce prejudice as well. Social justice is shown to benefit the economy, including its gross national product. Countries with higher social justice showed higher GDP. To build a stronger economy plus a happier, healthier population, countries need to prioritize social justice policies. (Studies in the United States also show people experience greater happiness in states that spend more to promote the public good such as parks, libraries, public safety, and infrastructure.)


Covid-19 as well as climate change brings into sharp focus what we need to do to restore the environment. Emergency physician James Maskalyk and Dave Courchene, founder of the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness and chair of its National Knowledge Keepers’ Council, explain.

“The answer is already here, and has been known for thousands of years. It is in the wisdom and sacred teachings of Indigenous people across the world. They have the deepest connection to the spirit of the Earth and its history, and from this intimacy, healing can occur.

This is neither speculation nor fantasy. A 2019 study from the University of British Columbia, looking at biodiversity in Canada, Australia and Brazil, found more species of birds, animals and amphibians on land managed by Indigenous people, even greater than in national parks. In the same year, a collaboration involving 50 countries and more than 500 scientists, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), concluded that human activity and the resultant lack of biodiversity allowed for five new diseases to emerge every year with the potential to infect humans. They noticed that Indigenous land, though it faced the same pressures, was eroding less quickly. Capturing their knowledge, and expanding their stewardship, was cited as necessary for a healthier world.

No one created the problems that threaten to overwhelm us from malice. Not the plagues, nor climate change, nor extinctions. They have occurred as side effects of a system whose rapid growth is both encouraged at all costs, and blind to natural limits.”


Creating a truly regenerative economy means moving into transformative change. Back in 1973, E.F. Schumacher, author of the influential book Small Is Beautiful, wrote about the importance of people and place-based economics built around relationship, craft, and environmental stewardship. While some of Schumacher’s observations don’t stand up nearly 50 years later, he would be pleased with today’s increasing focus on local food movements, ethical investment, worker-owned companies, and regenerative business models.  We are becoming more aware that we must shift our way of being on the planet from an exploitative to a regenerative presence. There are many inspiring paths to explore. I particularly appreciate Daniel Christian Wahl‘s book, Designing Regenerative Cultures, as well as Charles Eisenstein’s body of work including Climate: A New Story, The Ascent of Humanity, and Sacred Economics. For the most immediate collaborative solutions, I’m impressed by (and have written for) Shareable. Among other things, they offer 300 free home and neighborhood sharing guides. Here’s a bit about the sharing revolution, from their “about” page.

New and resurgent solutions are democratizing how we produce, consume, govern, and solve social problems. The maker movement, collaborative consumption, the solidarity economy, open source software, transition towns, open government, and social enterprise are just a sample of the movements showing a way forward based on sharing.

The sharing transformation shows that it’s possible to govern ourselves, build a green economy that serves everyone, and create meaningful lives together. It also suggests that we can solve the world’s biggest challenges — like poverty and global warming — by unleashing the power of collaboration. At the core of the sharing transformation is timeless wisdom updated for today — that it’s only through sharing, cooperation, and contribution to the common good that it’s possible to create lives and a world worth having.

And herein lay the engine of the sharing transformation: When individuals embrace sharing as a worldview and practice, they experience a new, enlivening way to be in the world. Sharing heals the painful disconnect we feel within ourselves, with each other, and the places we love. Sharing opens a channel to our creative potential. Sharing is fun, practical, and perhaps most of all, it’s empowering. 


You may be activating change right now by the content of your conversations, the ideas you see taking hold around you, the way you stay informed, the way you raise your children and treat other children, how you interact with others, how you choose to spend your money as well as not spend your money, the way you earn money, the causes you advocate and believe in, and how you interact with our living planet. You, like so many change-makers, may already be living through deeply felt, personally lived ethics. That itself causes rippling change. Torchbearers of the last century who brought about so much good could do so because awareness shifted and deepened. A side benefit is depriving alien archeologists of the chance to explore a ruined planet!

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it. ~Arundhati Roy

Raising Media Aware & Current Events Savvy Kids: 21 Resources

critical thinking for kids, current events for kids, think for yourself,

Critical thinking without media overload. It’s possible. (image: Kids in America)

We want to raise kids to be informed and active citizens without subjecting them to an information overload or current events-related despair. Here some activities and resources to make that easier.

1. Let current events become a regular topic. Just as you’d bring up any other subject that interests you, talk about topical issues in front of your kids. This is easy to do informally while driving or sitting around the dinner table.

2. Welcome their interests and opinions without trying to push your point of view. As they get older, help them see that using facts to bolster their talking points helps to convince others.

3. Model civil discourse. When people who disagree can engage in conversations with respect and integrity, they’re on the way to creating solutions. This is true in backyard squabbles, regional disputes, and diplomatic negotiations. A key is finding common ground. That happens after every person involved has access to the same information and feels that their input is understood. This is a critical skill to practice. Make it a part of your daily life for smaller issues so you can more easily use it when harder issues arise. Notice it in use by individuals and groups around the world.

4. Emphasize accurate and varied information sources so kids are equipped to think for themselves rather than led by popular opinion.

5. Hang a laminated world map on the wall. Notice where news happens and where friends travel. Mark places you’d like to go. Whiteboard markers wipe off this surface, so it’s easy to write directly on oceans and continents. This is also a subversive way to advance geographical knowledge.

6. Make timelines of your lives. Once kids have added details to their timelines such as when they lost the first tooth, got a dog, and moved into a new neighborhood help them go back to add events and discoveries that happened the same time. Continue the timeline on toward the future, speculating where you will live, what you will do, and what will be happening in the world around you. Getting kids to predict the future gives a lot of insight into their worldview.  You can also make a timeline for a grandparent, filling in newsworthy events, particularly those impacting the person’s life.

7. Get to know logical fallacies like guilt by association, appeal to fear, or red herring. By avoiding fallacies you can craft well-reasoned opinions while pointing out fallacies to deconstruct faulty arguments. Write some of the most common fallacies on place mats you use everyday or hang a list on the refrigerator to defuse squabbles. Get everyone involved by playing Logic Shrink, an entirely free game you can enjoy as you choose (basically everyone shouts out logical fallacies as they notice them committed by politicians, pundits, and others). Enjoy Ali Almossawi’s wonderful book An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, free online and also available hardcover or audio format.

8. Pay attention to positive news. Don’t let the family news diet center heavily on the negative. Subscribe to high quality children’s magazines such as MuseSkipping StonesOdysseyNew Moon Girls, and Kazoo. Get updates from KarmaTube and Good News Network. Talk about what kids have seen or heard that makes them feel optimistic.

9. Find age-appropriate news sources. Try Scholastic NewsDoGo News, and the similarly named GoGo NewsKid’s Post (offered by The Washington Post), National Geographic KidsNews-o-Matic, and Time for Kids. Teens are likely to enjoy the news-based wit of The Daily Show  and Last Week Tonight.

10. Understand media input. There’s a heavy emphasis on celebrity worship, superficial attractiveness, material possessions, and violent use of power. As much as possible, counteract this through wise use family policies and a regular technology sabbath. There are excellent sources of information on media literacy including Campaign for a Commercial Free ChildhoodMedia SmartsCenter for Media Literacy, and National Association for Media Literacy Education.

11.Talk about the impact of marketing on daily decision-making. Point out product placements in movies, video games, and television shows. Notice how ads are targeted to specific markets. Talk about the way attractiveness is portrayed and the effect on self-image. Find out how marketing information is gathered on potential customers. Read Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know by Shari Graydon (for kids) and Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel by Jean Kilbourne.

12. Analyze the news. Check out the same story from different information outlets, maybe a major television station, a major newspaper, an alternative newspaper or site, social media, or blog commentary.  Notice what angles are reflected differently and what’s missing from a single news source. Is the media the message? Is there a commercial slant? Find out what’s behind the reporting with Source Watch which tracks the people and organizations shaping our public agenda and PR Watch which exposes public relations spin and propaganda.

13. Open up to reporting and commentary from other countriesPEARL World Youth News is an online international news service managed by students from around the world. OneWorld is a global information network designed to link people who see and share the news. Survival International and Cultural Survival are organizations sharing news about and advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. And check out links to dozens of links to far-flung news sources.

14. Play video games. Socially responsible games combine challenges with real life lessons about current situations. (Some are pretty heavy on the message.) Check out listings at Games for Change.

15. Report your own news. Capture the sights and sounds of your family, neighborhood, or travels in a family newspaper, blog, or video diary.

16. Consider the source. Watch the same topics covered in different news shows, such as conservative Fox and Friends versus liberal Rachel Maddow. Weigh assertions made by leaders in politics or business against historical example. Look up what a politician or pundit said on the topic years ago compared to now.

17. Look at coverage. Why are some stories headliners, others barely covered, and still others never reported? You might consider immediacy, negative impact (“bad” sells better than good), celebrity connection, and surprise factor.  What about stories Project Censored claims aren’t covered by mainstream outlets?

18.Think globally. Notice where toys, clothing and other household purchases are made, perhaps locating the country of origin on a map. Focus your interest on an area in the world, paying attention to the news, weather, and celebrations taking place there.  Put into place suggestions found in Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World by Homa Sabet Tavangar and consider changes suggested in The New Global Student by Maya Frost. Check out the information shared by the United Nations Cyber School Bus.

19. Connect with people around the world.  Talk about issues with people on forums and social media. Pose and answer questions on Dropping Knowledge, an incredible resource where there are dozens of current discussions such as, “Why don’t schools teach us to form our own opinions?” and “Would a universal language help us get along?”

20. Compete. Student Cam is C-SPAN’s annual documentary competition for young people. We The People hosts competitions for middle school and high school students. Do Something honors young volunteers. Academic WorldQuest is a team game testing competitors’ knowledge of international affairs, geography, history, and culture.

21. Host an international visitor. (Here’s what happened when we did just that.) You might welcome an exchange student through well-established programs such as American Field ServiceYouth for UnderstandingRotary Youth Exchange, or World Exchange. A short-term stay by a visiting professional might be more convenient, through Fulbright Scholar Program or National Council for International Visitors.

This is an excerpt from Free Range Learning

current events kids, teach critical thinking, teach media awareness,

Look beyond. (image: Valley Magnification)

Help Kids Learn About Business & Finance: 60+ Resources

money smart kids, teaching kids about money, finance education, financial literacy, young entrepreneurs,

“Money often costs too much.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Our society is preoccupied with money, but on the most superficial level. The meaning underlying monetary choices is rarely discussed. Still, right now, we have a profound impact on our children’s attitudes about finances and spending. It’s useful to take a close look at the wisdom behind the choices we demonstrate to them.

Do our spending decisions reflect our values?

Do our careers foster our own abilities?

Who are our financial role models?

What does it mean to have enough?

Do we have ample time for our families, for activities we enjoy, for quiet reflection?

In Your Money or Your Life, authors Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin redefine a transaction we take for granted, working. They describe it as trading life energy for money. That life energy is subtracted from the hours we have to live. The same goes for spending. If money represents hours of life energy expended, our use of money also expresses how we choose to literally “spend” our time. Not everyone would agree with the authors’ valuation. But most of us recognize the peace that comes of living in harmony with our own priorities.

Here are dozens of ideas and resources to help you raise money-wise young people.

Start budgeting and personal finance early. Some parents prefer to have all family members involved in running the household economy. They draw up a budget, talk over expenses, and pay bills together. This way children come to know what terms like “interest,” “finance charge,” and “invest” mean as they take part in this family chore, even if at a young age they are only putting stamps on envelopes and discussing what charities to support. Involved children are also less likely to wheedle for purchases because they understand exactly what it takes to save for longer-term goals such as a family vacation. And they see how personal decisions impact financial security.

Use real money. Adding up purchase prices, figuring percentages off, comparing costs, and calculating change make more sense using actual money. Practice at home, then empower children to use these new skills at the bank, farmer’s market, and movie theater.

Learn about economics through picture books. Check out  If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith, , Bananas: From Manolo to Margie by George Ancona,  A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert, Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman,  Abuela’s Weave by Omar Castaneda, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst, One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Kate Smith Milway, and Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money by Amy Axelrod.

Tour local businesses. Field trips open a child’s sense of possibility in their own career aspirations.

Host an entrepreneurial fair. Invite children to create a product to sell. This may be a craft, service, invention, edible item, or work of art. Provide an area to promote and display their wares at a group meeting or public venue. They should have sufficient supplies of their product to meet demand, but as with any business the exact number is an educated guess. You may choose to have start-up meetings beforehand to discuss product development, displays, and other details. Encourage each child to keep track of expenses so they can evaluate the business potential of their product afterwards. Promote the fair to the public, invite extended family, and encourage your group to support the efforts of their youngest business people. Have a follow-up meeting with participants to talk about their earnings in relation to the time and expense of making their product.

Involve young people in a family business. Whether a small-scale Etsy business or a full time company, children can provide valuable assistance while learning what it takes to find customers, keep track of expenses, pay taxes, and build a strong business.

Seek learning relationships with adults who have careers or skills of interest through your own knowledge networks as well as person-to-person learning networks.

Have fun. Invent a new form of currency. Learn about bartering, then try it. Save up for a family adventure by selling things on Craigslist or eBay Turn lunch at home into a restaurant meal complete with menu listings, service, and bill. Write up movie descriptions with viewing times and prices for family video night.

Play board games such as The Farming GameThe Construction GameMonopolyPay DayThe Game of LifeLawsuit, and CASHFLOW for Kids

Teach kids to budget. Ensure that children make regular monetary decisions. Talk about needs versus wants, perhaps consulting Jennifer Larson’s book, Do I Need It? or Do I Want It?: Making Budget ChoicesAs with other learning experiences, young people need the opportunity to think through their choices, make mistakes, and try again.

You might choose to create three budget categories (long-term savings, short-term savings, donations) with your child. Between you, decide on a percentage of money for each category. If your child decides to change the percentage or the amount when his or her income fluctuates, recalculate.

Encourage budding enterprises before your children reach a typical hiring age. They might mow lawns, walk dogs, help parents entertain young children, sell homemade goodies, help with yard sales, assist with computer service, remove pet waste in yards, move garbage cans from house to street and back, rake leaves, be a child-minder during meetings, weed garden beds, set up/explain electronics, help with holiday decorations, watch pets, sell crafts, etc.

Hold a garage sale or charity fund-raiser. Involve children in all phases from planning to follow-up.

Learn how you vote with your dollars. Research products according to health value, corporate responsibility and other standards using Good Guide. Check out how those statistics are gathered and how ethical shopping choices can make an impact.

Invest. With your child, sign up for a joint account on e-Trade or other low minimum investment company. Choose stocks together and watch what happens.

Track mock Investments. Build a mock investment portfolio with your children. Have them list several companies they choose (perhaps related to their interests or favorite products). Help them locate ticker symbols and current stock prices. Every week, help them record the latest prices along with the date. Calculate the gains or losses. These are short-term fluctuations, so talk about longer term trends as well.

You might start a investment club. Using hypothetical funds, members research stocks and returns, competing for the best results. They may wish to use online stock market simulation sites or register for The Stock Market Game (which charges fees). 

Build skills and experience through community service. Here are 40 ways kids can volunteer.

Seek out finance lessons. Companies dealing in finance such as banking institutions, insurance companies, and brokerage firms may happily offer a speaker for a group meeting or materials for a class. As with any curricula offered by a business, be aware that there may be implied advertising for the company’s services or tendency to advance the company viewpoint. It’s often eye-opening to discuss this aspect with your children.

Make connections with area businesses. Find responsive businesses and career-related clubs willing to offer programs, workshops, classes, and volunteer opportunities for area youth. Your librarian as well as your local Chamber of Commerce can guide you to organizations, clubs and programs. Again, be wary of educational offerings for kids that are thinly disguised promotions.

Look at the larger economic picture (and remember that economic theory is just that, theoretical). Check out the financial platforms of different political parties. Explore how different countries handled the finance sector failures of 2008 (comparing US to Iceland is particularly interesting). Look at measures of income inequality in different countries. Learn about GNP, GDP, and Gross National Happiness.

Pay attention to the news with an eye to the impact on business and the economy. Talk about differing theories on what factors create high prices, inflation, unemployment, and more. Teens may enjoy Economics for the Impatient by C.A. Turner as well as The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume One: Microeconomics
and The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume Two: Macroeconomics both by Yoram Bauman.

Guess where income tax dollars are spent. Draw a pie chart and allocate resources where you think they are spent or where you think they should be spent. Then compare your chart to data based on actual government spending by searching online for “U.S. federal discretionary spending pie chart.”

Draw up a “flying the nest” budget. Ask teens where they’d like to live and what work they’d like to do in a few years. Your son wants to live on a boat and lead adventure tours? Check out houseboat rental costs and what income he might expect as a guide, as well as regular expenses like food, insurance, and phone coverage.

Take a clear look at college and college alternatives.

Participate in the collaborative consumption movement. It’s about sharing knowledge, skills, and resources. This trend not only helps save money and preserve resources, it connects us to people in meaningful ways. It’s part of what’s often called a gift economy. Teens and up can learn more about this by reading Charles Eisenstein’s wonderful book. Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition.

De-emphasize the importance of “stuff.” There’s strong evidence that the more materialistic young people are, the unhappier they tend to be. Research shows that people who hold materialistic values are more likely to suffer from a whole dumpster load of problems. This includes aggressive behavior, insecurity, depression, low self -esteem, narcissism, even physical maladies. And when people place high value on material aims, they’re prone to have trouble with interpersonal relationships and intimacy. Materialism is also related to less independent thinking and lower value placed on being “true to oneself.” That’s a festering mess we’d like to avoid. (For more information and useful ideas, check out Five Ways Frugal Living Benefits Kids.)



Educational Game Resources

The Bakery Shop is a business game for young children, letting them decide what ingredients, baking mitts, and bakers will keep customers happy.

Coffee Shop is a business game for kids 8 and up. Players need to factor in variables including supplies, recipes, past sales, even weather predictions. Find many more math games at Cool Math.

Sense & Dollars is a set of games challenging kids on what they know about earning, spending, and saving money. Charge, for example, lets students choose luxury objects and pick a payment plan.  It then calculates the object’s real, eye-opening cost once credit card interest is calculated.

International Racing Squirrels provides amusing financial literacy through the trials of managing a team of racing squirrels.

The Great Piggy Bank Adventure lets players pursue goals through smart saving tactics.

Heifer International enables players to create sustainable solutions to poverty.

Sweatshop provides a wealth of real world moral dilemmas as players work to please bosses in the fashion industry.


Online Resources

PBS Kids Don’t Buy It has a wealth of resources about advertising tricks, the effect of commercials on buying habits, and how to determine what a product is really worth.

The Story of Stuff Project offers programs and resources as well as highly informative videos including The Story of Stuff, The Story of Bottled Water, and The Story of Cosmetics.

Institute of Consumer Financial Education offers quizzes, tips and facts in the “Children and Money” section of the website. 

Interactive Mathematics Money Math lets young people find out what a $1,000 credit card debt looks like over time, how long it takes to double money based on the interest rate, and other personal finance calculations.

Junior Achievement (JA) provides volunteers from the business community to present JA curriculum to groups of students. Junior Achievement Student Center is a teen-friendly site geared to help explore careers, learn how to start up a business, and prepare for higher education.

Young America’s Business Trust is a non-profit established as an outreach effort of the Organization of American States.

Econedlink provides classroom style economic and personal finance resources for learning.

Foundation for Teaching Economics offers resources like videos made by kids, easily accessed benchmarks for the US economy, and teaching resources.

HiP provides tips to help entrepreneurs attract new consumers and organizations interested in supporting, investing, and buying from a new business. (Thanks Nick!)

Print Resources

Beyond the Traditional Lemonade Stand: Creative Business Stand Plans for Children of All Ages by Randi Lynn Millward

Money Sense for Kids by Hollis Page Harman

The Complete Guide to Personal Finance: For Teenagers by Tamsen Butler


Portions of this post excerpted from Free Range Learning.

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