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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Impromptu Lesson in Free Market Economics

“It’s no fair! David is mean!”

Each of the children received a roll of Mentos and some other treats in each of their stockings from Santa.

Mary has eaten all of her “mints.”

David has not.

Mom: “What’s no fair?”

Mary: “David won’t share his mints!”

You see what she’s angling for? She wants a redistribution of the wealth. Because she has eaten all her wealth, she wants some of David’s wealth (think American automakers with taxpayer dollars).

Mom: “David doesn’t have to share his mints if he doesn’t want to. It’s not his fault you ate all your mints.”

Mary: “It’s no fair! I told him he could have some of my PEZ!”

Now, David doesn’t want the PEZ, it is not a desirable commodity because he already has his own PEZ.

Mom: “David doesn’t want your PEZ, what do you have that he wants that you can make a trade for? See, Peter and David are making a deal, you can make a deal.”

The boys are in the living room talking. Peter is allowing David to have some of his extra large paper to make maps and I hear promises of “mints” and “chocolate” coming out of David (more on this later).

Mom: “David got upset yesterday when you wouldn’t let him play your new guitar, maybe you could let him strum it some?”

So, Mary goes to David and offers him the use of her guitar. In exchange, he offers to let her help him design Lego towers as models for the book he’s working on…hmmm, not quite what I had in mind, but if she’s happy…and she is beaming with joy because David has just announced that “Mary is nice!”

As I’m explaining the situation to dear Hubby, David proceeds to correct me: no, he didn’t actually offer Peter mints or chocolates, he said he definitely couldn’t have any mints or chocolates, but he could have anything else. Peter didn’t ask for anything. Turns out Peter was making more of a charitable contribution than a fair trade, as he actually did not receive anything in exchange for his paper. Not really the lesson I was going for. But Mom learned a lesson: if there are any deals being made between the 9-year-old and his younger sibs, the 9-year-old will make out like a bandit. Maybe he has a future in politics?


  1. [smile] It's good to start learning these lessons. Beyond what you have posted here, however, I see one more: We are not in a purely free market--mom or dad could step in at any time and negate a transaction... which may be necessary if the older children keep ripping off the younger.

    Ah... I love these learning opportunities. [smile] Great story!


  2. Aren't those transactions just great? And Luke is right... I know I've stepped in as "government oversight" and outlawed certain transactions. Kids in double digits negotiating with a 3 year old--- well, sometimes that does need an outside party.

  3. I've acted as an intermediary many times...though I don't always know about the negotiations behind closed doors:-)

  4. Hi! I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog.


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