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Economics

For this assignment, you will be expected to write a 4-6 page (1000-1500 words) paper using the existing course materials.

One of the central questions that this course asks is whether capitalism is a rational economic system.  Does it make sense, for people, to let the market be the central and determining factor in our lives?  In the world today, nearly every person on this planet is dependent on the market for their survival; as such, we need to consider what to do about it.

Your assignment is to assess whether it is sensible (a good idea) for human societies to be shaped so powerfully by market forces. Are people better or worse off as a result of capitalism?  In the final sections of your paper, you should provide suggestions for what people or governments might do to improve upon the current situation.

You are expected to draw from the course materials, the readings and films and modules. This is important: all of the information you need to build a strong argument is provided, and while I know there is a lot of interesting stuff out there to read, I want you to work with the material I have given you.

Your grade will be primarily (but not entirely) based on:

1) the coherence of your argument. Does it make sense? Is it logical? Does it hold together? Think of yourself as a lawyer making a case, and the case needs to be coherent and consistent if it is going to convince anyone.

2) your demonstration of complex critical thinking. It is easy to just repeat what you hear in the world without reflecting critically on it. For example, you’ve probably heard that private companies are more “efficient” than government institutions. But just because people say it, doesn’t make it true: there may be a strong argument that private companies are very wasteful and inefficient, depending on how you look at it. Your paper should reflect the fact that you have thought critically and deeply about the things we are usually given as “common sense.”

3) the clarity of your writing. Writing clearly can be challenging. I’m not talking about grammar and spelling, I’m talking about whether someone can sit down and read what you’ve written and understand your point. The trick here is to write simply and clearly. Do not try to dazzle your audience with the big words you know (because maybe you don’t actually know them). Do not try to construct really long complicated sentences. This usually backfires! Write in the same way you speak, and write as if you *need* the person reading it to understand *exactly* what you mean. That way, your ideas will shine through, and will not get lost in confusing sentences and big words.

4) your effective use of course materials. I’ve provided you with a lot of interesting material, and this is your chance to use it. Make sure you use it well! If you take an idea or a quote from a reading, you have to cite it (I don’t care what format you use, as long as you communicate to me where you got it.) If you quote something make sure you understand what it means, do not just throw random quotes into essays. Show me that you’ve read and understood the material well enough that you have an opinion about it. This is part of the reason I do not want you to find outside sources, I want you to illustrate that you understand these ones. If I see outside sources referenced, I will assume you are being dishonest, which leads me to…

5) the integrity and honesty of your work. You will not get bonus points for not cheating, but you will get zero and a possible expulsion if you do cheat. It is totally not worth it. Do not write the essay with your friend and change a few words around (blackboard will catch it, I’ll notice, you’ll both get busted). Do not google a few things and throw that into your essay (blackboard will catch it, I will notice, you’ll get busted). Do not pay someone to write your essay for you (if I find it questionable, I will ask you to explain your essay to me personally on zoom). Do not copy your essay from somewhere and then run it through cheat-busting software like Spinbot to words into their synonyms (it is extremely obvious, you will get brutally busted.)

In fact, I strongly urge you not to use any software like synonym generators or grammar fixers, because it will look like cheating to me. I will not take off marks if your spelling and grammar is a bit off, because I want to hear *your voice* come through your essay. If you do your own work, even if it isn’t the best work in the world, I will be generous with part marks, because my goal here is to help you succeed. However, if I suspect that you have been dishonest, I will no longer be generous.

Make sure you understand this: if I doubt the integrity of your work, you will have to talk to me on zoom, face to face, to discuss your essay. You will need to explain it to me in real time, and I will have to be satisfied that you did indeed write the essay yourself. This is not a fun way to meet me! It will be stressful and uncomfortable. It is much easier to simply write the best essay you can and trust that your effort will be rewarded. If you need any help in the weeks prior to the essay being due (not the night before) I will be happy to help if I can. It is an interesting and complicated question that can be answered many different ways and I will be looking forward to seeing what you all think. Good luck!

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