Sunday, September 26, 2010

Honors World History II: 27 September 2010

Current Events:

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer comments on the "state of nature" in Iran, 1:20.

Charles Krauthammer, on Obama's response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech to the U.N. General Assembly (hat tip - NRO):

So: After that speech, the U.S. delegation at the U.N. says that what the president of Iran had said was abhorrent and delusional. And then [the] State Department issues a statement, and it accuses him of being outrageous.

And yet an hour earlier, our president, on the same stage, same podium, reaches out his hand, opens the door to new negotiations with a man who apparently is abhorrent, delusional, and outrageous.

Now there's a real disconnect here.

Obama operates under the assumption that all Iran has to do is to show its sincerity, that it's meeting its obligations under the NPT. This is the way a law professor speaks about the duties and obligations of a citizen in a cozy civil society where all of us agree on the norms.

The international arena is a state of nature where there are no norms, especially for a regime like Iran's, a rogue regime. And it acts in its own interest to acquire its own -- and to augment its own -- power. To pretend, as Obama does, that this is only a question of obligations and duties, and to again stretch out a hand that's been spat on for 20 months is simply unbelievable. It betrays a misunderstanding of the nature of the international community that is not even a law professor's -- it's an adolescent's.

Arms buildup, 3:20

Reports throughout the summer (this report originally aired on June 29, 2010) documented that the U.S is amassing a greater military presence in the Middle East. The alleged build up is also rumoured to involve the Israeli use of Saudi Arabian air space. It’s thought by some to be in preparation for an attack on Iran.

More recently, Obama proposed "the biggest arms deal in US history" to Saudi Arabia, and intriguingly, the unique Stuxnet worm is possibly specifically targeting Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility. At this point it is unclear where the worm originated.

Chapter 10: Revolution and Enlightenment, 1550–1800, Section 2 The Enlightenment

The Scientific Revolution gave rise to the Enlightenment, an eighteenth-century movement that stressed the role of philosophy and reason in improving society. Enlightenment intellectuals, known as philosophes, were chiefly social reformers from the nobility and the middle class. They often met in the salons of the upper classes to discuss the ideas of such giants as Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot. In the economic sphere, Adam Smith put forth the doctrine of laissez-faire economics. The later Enlightenment produced social thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and an early advocate of women's rights, Mary Wollstonecraft. Salon gatherings, along with the growth of book and magazine publishing, helped spread Enlightenment ideas among a broad audience. Most Europeans were still Christians. However, the desire for a more spiritual experience inspired new religious movements, such as the Methodism of John Wesley.

Rights of Women
The Enlightenment slogan “free and equal” did not apply to women. Though the philosophes said women had natural rights, their rights were limited to the areas of home and family.

By the mid- to late-1700s, a small but growing number of women protested this view. Germaine de Staël in France and Catharine Macaulay and Mary Wollstonecraft in Britain argued that women were being excluded from the social contract itself. Their arguments, however, were ridiculed and often sharply condemned.

Creative Quotations from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, 1:26

In-class assignment: paraphrase one of Wollstonecraft's sayings in your own words and email/hand-in with your daily HW.

A thought provoking collection of Creative Quotations from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851); born on Aug 30. English author; She is best known as the creator and author of "Frankenstein," 1818.

Wollstonecraft was a well-known British social critic. She accepted that a woman’s first duty was to be a good mother but felt that a woman should be able to decide what was in her own interest without depending on her husband. In 1792, Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In it, she called for equal education for girls and boys. Only education, she argued, could give women the tools they needed to participate equally with men in public life.

Reading Check


How did Mary Wollstonecraft use the Enlightenment ideal of reason to advocate rights for women?

Social World of the Enlightenment

The Growth of Reading

The Salon

New literature, the arts, science, and philosophy were regular topics of discussion in salons, or informal social gatherings at which writers, artists, philosophes, and others exchanged ideas. The salon originated in the 1600s, when a group of noblewomen in Paris began inviting a few friends to their homes for poetry readings. By the 1700s, some middle-class women began holding salons. Here middle-class citizens could meet with the nobility on an equal footing to discuss and spread Enlightenment ideas.

Madame Geoffrin (zhoh fran, far right in blue), in her famous salon where Enlightenment thinkers gathered to share ideas.

Madame Geoffrin (zhoh fran) ran one of the most respected salons. In her home on the Rue St. Honoré (roo sant ahn ur ay), she brought together the brightest and most talented people of her day. The young musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played for her guests, and Diderot was a regular at her weekly dinners for philosophers and poets.

Reading Check


What was the importance of salons?

Religion in the Enlightenment
John Wesley Sermon: Thoughts on War, 5:30

In-class assignment: in your own words, summarize Wesley's sermon on war in a paragraph. Email the assignment with your HW for the day.

Mark Topping as John Wesley. Taken from the DVD dramatizing significant moments in his life: Cf.; for more about the Methodist Church of Great Britain: Cf.

Reading Check


What are some of the central ideas of Methodism?



Section 3 The Impact of the Enlightenment

We will spend approximately 4 days on Section 3.

The Enlightenment influenced both art and politics. The baroque and neoclassical styles of art endured, while a more delicate style, called rococo, emerged. The works of Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart

represented one of the greatest periods in European music. Novels attracted a middle-class audience. The Enlightenment interested the absolutist rulers of Europe. However, only one, Joseph II of Austria, attempted far-reaching reforms based on Enlightenment ideas; they were largely a failure. The reforms of Catherine the Great of Russia and Frederick the Great of Prussia were far more limited. Territorial disputes in Europe and in the colonial empires of Britain and France produced the War of Austrian Succession, followed by the Seven Years' War. In the end, France lost India and most of North America, and Britain emerged as the world's greatest colonial power.

Taking Notes

Fill out this concept web to help you record information from this section. Add more circles as needed.

*Describe how the Enlightenment affected the arts and literature.
*Understand how philosophes influenced enlightened despots.
*Explain why Enlightenment ideas were slow to penetrate into the larger European scene, how individuals were censored from broadcasting their ideas, and were thus unable to reach most Europeans.
Terms, People, and Places



enlightened despot

Frederick the Great

Catherine the Great

Joseph II

One of Mozart's most famous compositions is his Eine kleine Nachtmusik, (Allegro, 8:55). We can listen to a selection.

In-class assignment:

How does the music make you feel? That is, does it sound upbeat and happy, or, downbeat and sad?

In a short paragraph, describe the feelings and sentiment expressed in this selection.

You will hear one more selection from Mozart, The Magic Flute, to include in this paragraph after first hearing Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

Mozart, the Musical Genius

As a young boy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart astonished royalty with his musical talent. Although his life was relatively short, he composed more than 600 pieces of music. Many pieces embraced the spirit of the Enlightenment.

“Few have captured the spirit of the Enlightenment, its intellectual and social agenda, as has Mozart in his opera, The Magic Flute, . . .

The Magic Flute, 5:30

[It] is a series of variations on the triumph of light over darkness, of sun over moon, of day over night, of reason, tolerance, and love over passion, hate, and revenge.”

—Isaac Kramnick, historian

In-class assignment:

Does The Magic Flute evoke a different emotion than Eine kleine Nachtmusik? What is the difference?


Focus Question (Honors students should be able to add detailed, specific, examples in answering this question).

As Enlightenment ideas spread across Europe, what cultural and political changes took place?

Paris, France, the heart of the Enlightenment, drew many intellectuals and others eager to debate new ideas. Reforms proposed one evening became the talk of the town the next day. Enlightenment ideas flowed from France, across Europe, and beyond. Everywhere, thinkers examined traditional beliefs and customs in the light of reason and found them flawed. Even some absolute monarchs experimented with Enlightenment ideas, although they drew back when changes threatened the established way of doing things.

New Ideas Challenge Society

Enlightenment ideas spread quickly through many levels of society. Educated people all over Europe eagerly read not only Diderot’s Encyclopedia but also the small, inexpensive pamphlets that printers churned out on a broad range of issues. More and more, people saw that reform was necessary in order to achieve a just society.

During the Middle Ages, most Europeans had accepted without question a society based on divine-right rule, a strict class system, and a belief in heavenly reward for earthly suffering. In the Age of Reason, such ideas seemed unscientific and irrational. A just society, Enlightenment thinkers taught, should ensure social justice and happiness in this world. Not everyone agreed with this idea of replacing the values that existed, however.

Writers Face Censorship

Most, but not all, government and church authorities felt they had a sacred duty to defend the old order. They believed that God had set up the old order. To protect against the attacks of the Enlightenment, they waged a war of censorship, or restricting access to ideas and information. They banned and burned books and imprisoned writers.

To avoid censorship, philosophes and writers like Montesquieu and Voltaire sometimes disguised their ideas in works of fiction. In the Persian Letters, Montesquieu used two fictional Persian travelers, named Usbek and Rica, to mock French society. The hero of Voltaire’s satirical novel Candide, published in 1759, travels across Europe and even to the Americas and the Middle East in search of “the best of all possible worlds.” Voltaire slyly uses the tale to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of European society.

Satire by Swift

Jonathan Swift published the satirical Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. Here, an illustration from the book depicts a bound Gulliver and the Lilliputians, who are six-inch-tall, bloodthirsty characters. Although Gulliver’s Travels satirizes political life in eighteenth-century England, it is still a classic today.

What did those opposed to Enlightenment ideas do to stop the spread of information?

Arts and Literature Reflect New Ideas

In the 1600s and 1700s, the arts evolved to meet changing tastes. As in earlier periods, artists and composers had to please their patrons, the men and women who commissioned works from them or gave them jobs.

From Grandeur to Charm

In the age of Louis XIV, courtly art and architecture were either in the Greek and Roman tradition or in a grand, ornate style known as baroque. Baroque paintings were huge, colorful, and full of excitement. They glorified historic battles or the lives of saints. Such works matched the grandeur of European courts at that time.

Louis XV and his court led a much less formal lifestyle than Louis XIV. Architects and designers reflected this change by developing the rococo style.

Rococo art moved away from religion and, unlike the heavy splendor of the baroque, was lighter, elegant, and charming. Rococo art in salons was believed to encourage the imagination.

For example, we can consider: "Rococo Art." We will examine this art in more detail (see below).


Rococo art was an important element of French culture during the ancien regime. The style is highly suggestive of the attitudes and atmosphere in the royal court during the period leading up to the French Revolution. In this activity you will read about four rococo painters and how they experienced the shift from rococo to neoclassicism, and from the ancien regime to the era of the French Revolution.

Destination Title: "Ancien Regime Rococo"


Start at the Ancien Regime Rococo Web site.

* Read the introductory section, taking notes as you go.
* Click on the links to read about the rococo artists François Boucher and Jean-Honore Fragonard.

After considering the link, "Ancien Regime Rococo," we can pick up the lesson from the previous material.

Furniture and tapestries featured delicate shells and flowers, and more pastel colors were used. Portrait painters showed noble subjects in charming rural settings, surrounded by happy servants and pets. Although this style was criticized by the philosophes for its superficiality, it had a vast audience in the upper class and with the growing middle class as well.

The Enlightenment Inspires Composers

Operas originated in Florence, Italy, in the seventeenth century. First called drama per musica, or drama through music, these musical performances typically involve large casts and elaborate sets and costumes. When Italian operas were performed in France, they emphasized glory and love, and included ballet and lavish stage settings to please the French court. Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini composed some of the world’s most famous operas.

La Scala, Milan, Mid-1800s

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, whose country ruled Italy by the early 1700s, founded Milan’s La Scala (background image), one of Europe’s oldest and most celebrated opera houses. Built in 1776, this opera house still showcases the great operas of the nineteenth century, including composer Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpieces, Aida and La Traviata. Verdi’s first opera, Oberto, was performed at La Scala, and he was the beloved house composer for many years. After years of care and renovation, the interior of La Scala retains its elegance as operatic performances continue to entertain audiences today.

The “Three Tenors” (from left), Placido Domingo, José Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti, are some of the best-known opera singers of the modern era. In the hierarchy of the opera stage, the tenor is the highest male voice and usually plays the part of the hero. The female lead is typically sung by a soprano, which is the highest female voice. Singers in the lower ranges (mezzo-soprano and alto for women, baritone and bass for men) generally play villainous or comic roles.

The new Enlightenment ideals led composers and musicians to develop new forms of music. There was a transition in music, as well as art, from the baroque style to rococo. An elegant style of music known as “classical” followed. Ballets and opera—plays set to music—were performed at royal courts, and opera houses sprang up from Italy to England. Before this era, only the social elite could afford to commission musicians to play for them. In the early to mid-1700s, however, the growing middle class could afford to pay for concerts to be performed publicly.

Among the towering musical figures of the era was Johann Sebastian Bach. A devout German Lutheran, Bach wrote beautiful religious works for organ and choirs. He also wrote sonatas for violin and harpsichord. Another German-born composer, George Frideric Handel, spent much of his life in England. There, he wrote Water Music and other pieces for King George I, as well as more than 30 operas. His most celebrated work, the Messiah, combines instruments and voices and is often performed at Christmas and Easter.

Handel, Hallelujah (4:07)

Composer Franz Joseph Haydn

Haydn, The Bird, 4th movement, (3:34)

Haydn was one of the most important figures in the development of classical music. He helped develop forms for the string quartet and the symphony. Haydn had a close friendship with another famous composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was a child prodigy who gained instant celebrity status as a composer and performer. His brilliant operas, graceful symphonies, and moving religious music helped define the new style of composition. Although he died in poverty at age 35, he produced an enormous amount of music during his lifetime. Mozart’s musical legacy thrives today.


Rococo Reaction

The Novel Takes Shape

By the 1700s, literature developed new forms and a wider audience. Middle-class readers, for example, liked stories about their own times told in straightforward prose. One result was an outpouring of novels, or long works of prose fiction. English novelists wrote many popular stories. Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe, an exciting tale about a sailor shipwrecked on a tropical island. This novel is still well known today. In a novel called Pamela, Samuel Richardson used a series of letters to tell a story about a servant girl. This technique was adopted by other authors of the period.


How did the arts and literature change as Enlightenment ideas spread?

Enlightened Despots Embrace New Ideas

The courts of Europe became enlivened as philosophes tried to persuade rulers to adopt their ideas. The philosophes hoped to convince the ruling classes that reform was necessary. Some monarchs did accept Enlightenment ideas. Others still practiced absolutism, a political doctrine in which a monarch had seemingly unlimited power. Those that did accept these new ideas became enlightened despots, or absolute rulers who used their power to bring about political and social change.


Enlightened Rulers in the Eighteenth Century

Go online to,, for an audio guided tour and related questions. The text in the audio is on the page as well. Enter web Code: nap-1721, in each of the two boxes listed there.

Easy-to-Use Web Codes


To use a Web Code:
1. Go to
2. Enter a particular Web Code.
3. Click on GO!
There are three questions there, listed below:

Map Skills: Map of Eastern Europe

Although the center of the Enlightenment was in France, the ideas of reform spread to the rulers of Austria, Prussia, and Russia.

1. Locate

(a) Paris (b) Prussia (c) Austria

2. Location

Which enlightened despot ruled farthest from Paris?

3. Draw Conclusions

According to the map, approximately how much of Europe was affected by the Enlightenment?

Frederick II Attempts Reform

Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great, exerted extremely tight control over his subjects during his reign as king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786. Still, he saw himself as the “first servant of the state,” with a duty to work for the common good.

Frederick openly praised Voltaire’s work and invited several of the French intellectuals of the age to Prussia. Some of his first acts as king were to reduce the use of torture and allow a free press. Most of Frederick’s reforms were directed at making the Prussian government more efficient.

To do this, he reorganized the government’s civil service and simplified laws. Frederick also tolerated religious differences, welcoming victims of religious persecution.

“In my kingdom,” he said, “everyone can go to heaven in his own fashion.” His religious tolerance and also his disdain for torture showed Frederick’s genuine belief in enlightened reform. In the end, however, Frederick desired a stronger monarchy and more power for himself.

Catherine the Great Studies Philosophes’ Works

Catherine II, or Catherine the Great, empress of Russia, read the works of the philosophes and exchanged letters with Voltaire and Diderot. She praised Voltaire as someone who had “fought the united enemies of humankind: superstition, fanaticism, ignorance, trickery.” Catherine believed in the Enlightenment ideas of equality and liberty.

Catherine, who became empress in 1762, toyed with implementing Enlightenment ideas. Early in her reign, she made some limited reforms in law and government. Catherine abolished torture and established religious tolerance in her lands. She granted nobles a charter of rights and criticized the institution of serfdom. Still, like Frederick in Prussia, Catherine did not intend to give up power. In the end, her main political contribution to Russia proved to be an expanded empire.

Joseph II Continues Reform

In Austria, Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa ruled as an absolute monarch. Although she did not push for reforms, she is considered to be an enlightened despot by some historians because she worked to improve peasants’ way of life. The most radical of the enlightened despots was her son and successor, Joseph II. Joseph was an eager student of the Enlightenment, and he traveled in disguise among his subjects to learn of their problems.

Note Taking

Reading Skill: Summarize
Fill in a concept web like the one below with information about the enlightened despots and their contributions.

Joseph continued the work of Maria Theresa, who had begun to modernize Austria’s government. Despite opposition, Joseph supported religious equality for Protestants and Jews in his Catholic empire. He ended censorship by allowing a free press and attempted to bring the Catholic Church under royal control. He sold the property of many monasteries that were not involved in education or care of the sick and used the proceeds to support those that were. Joseph even abolished serfdom. Like many of his other reforms, however, this measure was canceled after his death.


Why were the philosophes interested in sharing their beliefs with European rulers?

Post detailed, specific examples on our Shanawiki page.

Lives of the Majority Change Slowly

Most Europeans were untouched by either courtly or middle-class culture. They remained what they had always been—peasants living in small rural villages. Echoes of serfdom still remained throughout Europe despite advances in Western Europe. Their culture, based on centuries-old traditions, changed slowly.

By the late 1700s, however, radical ideas about equality and social justice finally seeped into peasant villages. While some peasants eagerly sought to topple the old order, others resisted efforts to bring about change. In the 1800s, war and political upheaval, as well as changing economic conditions, would transform peasant life in Europe.

Important Composers included in this section: Bach, Handel, and Haydn, among others. Music is available on Songza.

Bach, Air on the G String (5:21)

Haydn, Deutschland Ueber Alles (3:35), and a bit of trivia about this composition. Do you know which 20th century German political group adopted this song to represent their movement and point of view? Traditional German music was transformed for political and propaganda purposes.


During this time, why did change occur slowly for most Europeans?


Abuses inherited as a result of a controlling aristocracy may be seen clearly in this work.

Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act by E.P. Thompson

Pop Art Goes Mozart, Tornados, single released March 1966, 2:33

Falco, "Rock me Amadeus," 3:21

HW: email (or hard copy) me at

Monday HW

Email only your answers (if you voluntarily choose to participate):

Last week what I liked least about the class was . . .

Last week what I enjoyed most about the class was . . .

On the other hand, there is HW for everyone:

1. Geography Skills, p. 313, #1-2.

Honors Business Economics Chapter 1 Section 3, 27 September 2010

Current Events:

Should $6 Billion taxpayer dollars have been spent bailing out union auto workers in Detroit? 5:28

Chapter 1: What Is Economics?

Section 3: Economic Choices and Decision Making, p. 19

Choices are explained in terms of trade-offs, or alternatives that are available whenever a decision is made. The cost of every decision is measured in terms of its opportunity cost, which is the cost of the next best alternative use of money, time, or resources when one choice is made rather than another. Trade-offs can be analyzed with a production possibilities frontier, a diagram representing various combinations of goods and services an economy can produce when all its resources are in use. Furthermore, economists use cost-benefit analysis to evaluate choices.

Guide to Reading

Section Preview

In this section, you will learn that you face trade-offs and opportunity costs whenever you make an economic decision.

Content Vocabulary

The first three terms are the HW for tonight.


opportunity cost

production possibilities frontier

economic model

cost-benefit analysis

free enterprise economy

standard of living

Academic Vocabulary



Reading Strategy


As you read this section, complete a graphic organizer similar to the one below by identifying the ways in which you can make economic choices and what these strategies allow you to learn.

Problems; Strategy; Purpose:

Trade-offs; decision-making grid; helps evaluate choices.

Opportunity cost (p. 20); decision-making grid; helps in deciding the next best alternative.

Comparing choices; cost-benefit analysis (p. 24); helps make choices with the highest return for the dollar spent.

Back to School is a 1986 comedy film starring the politically incorrect and blunt Rodney Dangerfield.

Use of the image qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

Rodney Dangerfield's First Economics Class, 3:02

Activity: Collaborative Learning


Division of Labor (recall Adam Smith):

1. In a small group you will form a fictitious business that manufactures a product (I have four products to suggest and the products will randomly be assigned to your group): computers, shoes, automobiles, and microwaves.

2. Using the division of labor idea, each group will write an organizational plan for their business, where each group member is assigned a single job to perform.

3. Groups should ensure that every position has a job description that contributes to the success of the company.

4. When groups have completed their plans, a volunteer will present them to the class and predict how division of labor will influence their company's productivity.


After the presentation, we should be able to grasp how division of labor benefits each fictitious company.

People in the News

The Grease Pits of Academia

Trade-Offs and Opportunity Cost, p. 20


The Death of Economics Trade-Offs, 6:00

This video by Christopher Barnatt discusses how the "green trade-off", the "consequence behind the price" and "challenges beyond economic solutions" may mean the end of economics as a primary decision making mechanism.

Barnatt discusses the "green trade-off", the "consequence behind the price," and contemporary "challenges beyond economic solutions."

What does he mean by the end of economics as a primary decision making mechanism?

If economics is not a primary decision making mechanism, do you think the economy will grow or decline?

Opportunity Costs

Opportunity Cost, 3:39

Opportunity cost is one of the most critical concepts in economics - outside of economics, it's an often-overlooked component when costs are considered.

The opportunity cost of any alternative is defined as the cost of not selecting the "next-best" alternative. Let's consider a few examples of opportunity cost:

* Suppose that you own a building that you use for a retail store. If the next-best use of the building is to rent it to someone else, the opportunity cost of using the business for your business is the rent you could have received. If the next-best use of the building is to sell it to someone else, the annual opportunity cost of using it for your own business is the foregone interest that you could have received (e.g., if the interest rate is 10% and the building is worth $100,000, you give up $10,000 in interest each year by keeping the building, assuming that the value of the building remains constant over the year -- depreciation or appreciation would have to be taken into account if the value of the building changes over time).

The opportunity class of attending college includes:
the cost of tuition, books, and supplies (the costs of room and board only appear if these costs differ from the levels that would have been paid in your next-best alternative), foregone income (this is usually the largest cost associated with college attendance), and psychic costs (the stress, anxiety, etc. associated with studying, worrying about grades, etc.). If you attend a movie, the opportunity cost includes not only the cost of the tickets and transportation, but also the opportunity cost of the time required to view the movie.

When economists discuss the costs and benefits associated with alternative activities, the discussion generally focuses on marginal benefits and marginal costs. The marginal benefit from an activity is the additional benefit associated with a one-unit increase in the level of an activity. Marginal cost is defined as the additional cost associated with a one-unit increase in the level of the activity. Economists assume that individuals attempt to maximize the net benefit associated with each activity.

If marginal benefit exceeds marginal cost, net benefit will increase if the level of the activity rises. Therefore, rational individuals will increase the level of any activity when marginal benefit exceeds marginal costs. On the other hand, if marginal cost exceeds marginal benefit, net benefit rises when the level of the activity is decreased. There is no reason to change the level of an activity (and net benefit is maximized) at the level of an activity at which marginal benefit equals marginal cost.

Reading Check


How are trade-offs and opportunity cost related?

Production Possibilities, p. 21

Scarcity implies the existence of tradeoffs. These tradeoffs can be illustrated quite nicely by a production possibilities frontier.
For simplicity, it is assumed that a firm (or an economy) produces only two goods (this assumption is needed only to make the representation feasible on a two-dimensional surface -- such as a graph on paper or on a computer screen). When a production possibilities curve is drawn, the following assumptions are also made:

1. there is a fixed quantity and quality of available resources,
2. technology is fixed, and
3. there are no unemployed nor underemployed resources

Very shortly, we'll also see what happens when these assumptions are relaxed.

For now, though, let's consider a simple example. Suppose that a student has four hours left to study for exams in two classes: introductory microeconomics and introductory calculus. The output in this case is the exam score in each class. The assumption of a fixed quantity and quality of available resources means that the individual has a fixed supply of study materials such as textbooks, study guides, notes, etc. to use in the available time. A fixed technology suggests that the individual has a given level of study skills that allow him or her to translate the review materials into exam scores. A resource is unemployed if it is not used. Idle land, factories, and workers are unemployed resources for a society. Underemployed resources are not used in the best possible way. Society would have underemployed resources if the best brain surgeons were driving taxis while the best taxi drivers were performing brain surgery.... The use of an adjustable wrench as a hammer or the use of a hammer to pound a screw into wood provide additional examples of underemployed resources. If there are no unemployed or underemployed resources, efficient production is said to occur.

The table below represents possible outcomes from each various combination of time studying each subject:

Notice that each additional hour spent studying either calculus or economics results in smaller marginal improvements in the grade. The reason for this is that the first hour will be spent studying the most essential concepts. Each additional hour is spent on the "next-most" important topics that have not already been mastered. (It is important to note that a good grade on an economics examination requires substantially more than four hours of study time.) This is an example of a general principle known as the law of diminishing returns. The law of diminishing returns states that output will ultimately increase by progressively smaller amounts as additional units of a variable input (time in this case) are added to a production process in which other inputs are fixed (the fixed inputs here include the stock of existing subject matter knowledge, study materials, etc.).
To see how the law of diminishing returns works in a more typical production setting, consider the case of a restaurant that has a fixed quantity of capital (grills, broilers, fryers, refrigerators, tables, etc.). As the level of labor use increases, output may initially rise fairly rapidly (since additional workers allow more possibilities for specialization and reduces the time spent switching from task to task). Eventually, however, the addition of more workers will result in progressively smaller increases in output (since there is a fixed amount of capital for these workers to use). It is even possible that beyond some point workers may start getting in each others way and output may decline ("too many cooks may spoil the broth...." sorry.... I couldn't resist).

In any case, the law of diminishing returns explains why your grade will increase by fewer points with each additional hour that you spend studying.

The points in the table above can be represented by a production possibilities curve (PPC) such as the one appearing in the diagram below. Each point on the production possibilities curve represents the best grades that can be achieved with the existing resources and technology for each alternative allocation of study time.

Let's consider why the production possibilities curve has this concave shape. As the diagram below indicates, a relatively large improvement in economics grade can be achieved by giving up relatively few points on the calculus exam. A movement from point A to point B results in a 30-point increase in economics grade and only a 10-point reduction in calculus grade. The marginal opportunity cost of a good is defined to be the amount of another good that must be given up to produce an additional unit of the first good. Since the opportunity cost of 30 points on the economics test is a 10-point reduction in the score on the calculus test, we can say that the marginal opportunity cost of one additional point on the economics test is approximately 1/3 of a point on the calculus test. (If in doubt, note that if 30 points on the economics exam have an opportunity cost of 10 points, each point on the economics test must cost approximately 1/30th of 10 points on the calculus test -- approximately 1/3 of a point on the calculus test).
Now, let's see what happens a second hour is transferred to the study of economics. The diagram below illustrates this outcome (a movement from point B to C). As this diagram indicates, transferring a second hour from the study of mathematics to the study of economics results in a smaller increase in economics grade (from 30 to 45 points) and a larger reduction in calculus grade (from 75 to 55). In this case, the marginal opportunity cost of a point on the economics exam has increased to approximately 4/3 of a point on the calculus exam.
The increase in the marginal opportunity cost of points on the economics exam as more time is devoted to studying economics is an example of the law of increasing cost. This law states that the marginal opportunity cost of any activity rises as the level of the activity increases. This law can also be illustrated using the table below. Notice that the opportunity cost of additional points on the calculus exam rises as more time is devoted to studying calculus. Reading from the bottom of the table up to the top, you can also see that the opportunity cost of additional points on the economics exam rises as more time is devoted to the study of economics.
One of the reasons for the law of increasing cost is the law of diminishing returns (as in the example above). Each extra hour devoted to the study of economics results in a smaller increase in the economics grade and a larger reduction in the calculus grade because of diminishing returns to time spent on either activity.
A second reason for the law of increasing cost is the fact that resources are specialized. Some resources are better suited for some some types of productive activities than for other types of production. Suppose, for example, that a farmer is producing both wheat and corn. Some land is very well suited for growing wheat, while other land is relatively better suit for growing corn. Some workers may be more adept at growing wheat than corn. Some farm equipment is better suited for planting and harvesting corn.

The diagram below illustrates the PPC curve for this farmer.

At the top of this PPC, the farmer is producing only corn. To produce more wheat, the farmer must transfer resources from corn production to wheat production. Initially, however, he or she will transfer those resources that are relatively better suited for wheat production. This allows wheat production to increase with only a relatively small reduction in the quantity of corn produced. Each additional increase in wheat production, however, requires the use of resources that are relatively less well suited for wheat production, resulting in a rising marginal opportunity cost of wheat.

Now, let's suppose that this farmer either does not use all of the available resources, or uses them in a less than optimal manner (i.e., either unemployment or underemployment occurs). In this case, the farmer will produce at a point that lies below the production possibilities curve (as illustrated by point A in the diagram below).
In practice, all firms and all economies operate below their production possibilities frontier. Firms and economies, however, generally attempt to get as close to the frontier as possible.

Points above the production possibilities cannot be produced using current resources and technology. In the diagram below, point B is not obtainable unless more or higher quality resources become available or technological change occurs.
An increase in the quantity or quantity of resources will cause the production possibilities curve to shift outward (the curve should shift outwards for both wheat and corn). This type of outward shift could also be caused by technological change that increases the production of both goods.
Thus, for the production of both goods: an increase in the quantity or quantity of resources will cause the production possibilities curve to shift outward.


In some cases, however, technological change will only increase the production of a specific good. The diagram below illustrates the effect of a technological change in wheat production that does not affect corn production.

Identifying Possible Alternatives

Fully Employed Resources

The Cost of Idle Resources

Opportunity Cost, p. 22

Economic Growth

Reading Check


How can the production possibilities frontier be used to illustrate economic growth?

Thinking Like an Economist, p. 23

Build Simple Models

Apply Cost-Benefit Analysis, p. 24

Cost/Benefit Analysis, 5:24

Here's a short little video that explains the economic concept of Cost/Benefit Analysis, made by high school students for their economics class. We do not own the music, "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson. Also, our use of an H.E.B. store as our filming location was a matter of convenience. We did not intend to promote or disparage the store in any way.

How to Fix Health Care: Lasik Surgery For The Medical Debate, 8:43

Can a market-based health care system work? We can begin to answer this question by looking at Lasik, a medical procedure that's not covered by health insurance. And has gotten better—and cheaper—over time.

"How to Fix Health Care" proposes three simple reforms that will put us on a path to a health-care system that's better, more affordable, and more accessible. And get this—these market-based reforms can be implemented without creating new government programs or raising taxes.

Take Small, Incremental Steps

The Road Ahead

Topics and Issues

Economics for Citizenship, p. 25

Understand the World Around Us

Reading Check

Determining Cause and Effect

How do you think our society would be different if citizens did not study economics?
In an interconnected world of finite resources, understanding the principles that govern the allocation of goods and services—economics—is essential. Although economics has not traditionally been a part of the liberal arts core, informed citizenship in the 21st century requires instruction in economic principles and the fundamentals of the marketplace.

Yet, most colleges and Universities do not require Economics study. Schools receive credit for Economics if they require a course covering basic economic principles, preferably an introductory micro- or macroeconomics course taught by faculty from the economics or business departments.

In which colleges can I study Economics?

Consult the list of colleges that require Economics.

Case Study

Gap, Inc.


Sustainable Energy Systems: Scale, Tradeoffs, and Co-Benefits, 1:03:53

October 14, 2009 - Sally Benson, director of the Global Climate and Energy Project, Pamela Matson, dean of the Stanford School of Earth Sciences, Lynn Orr, director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, Stephen Schneider, Stanford professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, James Sweeney, director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, and Buzz Thompson, co-director of the Woods Institute for the Environment, discuss the interconnected aspects of future sustainable energy systems with a focus on the scales, tradeoffs, and co-benefits involved.

Bachman Turner Overdrive (intro by Keith Moon of the Who), "Takin' Care Of Business," Live '74, 3:48

Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Taking Care Of Business

Lyrics are reproduced for educational purposes only; copyright remains in the hands of the lawful owners.

You get up every morning
From your alarm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There's a whistle up above
And people pushin', people shovin'
And the girls who try to look pretty

And if your train's on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I'm self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day

And I'll be...
Taking care of business, every day
Taking care of business, every way
I've been taking care of business, it's all mine
Taking care of business. and working overtime
Work out

If it were easy as fishin'
You could be a musician
If you could make sounds loud or mellow
Get a second-hand guitar
Chances are you'll go far
If you get in with the right bunch of fellows
People see you having fun
Just a-lying in the sun
Tell them that you like it this way
It's the work that we avoid
And we're all self-employed
We love to work at nothing all day

And I'll be...
Taking care of business, every day
Taking care of business, every way
I've been taking care of business, it's all mine
Taking care of business and working overtime

One, two, three, four
And we be...
Taking care of business every day
Taking care of business every way
I've been taking care of business, it's all mine
Taking care of business and working overtime

HW: email (or hard copy) me at

Monday HW

Email only your answers (if you voluntarily choose to participate):

Last week what I liked least about the class was . . .

Last week what I enjoyed most about the class was . . .

HW for everyone:

Email me at (or in a hard copy hand in).

Define the terms:

1. Content Vocabulary


opportunity cost

production possibilities frontier

Honors World History II: HW for Next Week, Mon. - Fri.

Honors World History II: HW for Next Week, Mon. - Fri.

HW or in-class work due the following day.

You may email to

Monday HW

Only email your answers (if you voluntarily choose to participate):

Last week what I liked least about the class was . . .

Last week what I enjoyed most about the class was . . .

1. Geography Skills, p. 313, #1-2.

Tuesday HW

1. Geography Skills, p. 314, #1-3.

Wednesday HW

Section 3 Assessment, p. 316, #4-5.

Thursday HW

Section 3 Assessment, p. 316, #6 & 8.

Friday HW

Review the four Reading Check Questions in Section 3; you do not need write out the questions and the answers to the Questions but be prepared to answer the content for a Quiz/Test.