Your Opinion: Choices lead to consequences

Dear Editor:

Almost every issue can be seen from many different perspectives. My recent letters on basic economics were intended to explain the role of government in the market, not to promote it. My understanding is that economics is about how to make choices among unlimited wants from scarce resources.

As a teacher of high school juniors and seniors my responsibility was to provide my students with the information they needed to make the choices that best met their goals (not mine.) It was to teach them how to make choices, not to tell them what choices to make.

I taught that every choice has a consequence. Good choices have good consequences, bad choices have bad consequences Thus it was imperative that they not only acquire as much information as possible; they also needed to think about the quality of their goals. (My goal was to teach them to think, not just memorize facts.)

On their first day in class I thanked my students for coming because I knew that they chose to come because they would rather be there than anywhere else. They assured me that was not the case. I asked them why they came if they did not want to be there. After we talked about their reasons, I asked if they thought they had made a good choice. After considering the consequences of not coming, they understood why they were where they wanted to be. The lesson they learned was choices had to be made based on the real world, not on what they wanted it to be.

Throughout the semester as we discussed issues I presented them with a variety of perspectives to be considered. In each case we examined the consequences of the possible choices. Inevitably someone would ask me what was the right choice. I would tell them my talk was to explain how to use the tools of decision-making not to make the choice for them.

Once when discussing welfare, many voices their objection to food stamps because they were not wisely used. I was encouraged that they disapproved of those who abused the tax system. I pointed out that their opportunity to get a good education was made possible through taxes. So if they were not doing everything they could to get an education, then they too would be tax abusers.

I suspect everyone is guilty in some way.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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