2003 Student Congress on Economic Issues

2003 Results

The 2003 Economics Congress was held at the St. Paul Campus Student Center, University of Minnesota on January 9.

Participating high schools:

Edison, North, Henry, Roosevelt, South, Southwest and Washburn.

2003 Results

(winning team from each topic):

Topic One
Team Three: Washburn and North

Topic Two
Team Two: South and Washburn

Topic Three
Team Two: Southwest and Washburn

Topic One

What are the benefits and drawbacks of the capitalist economic system? Let's say a country is deciding which economic system to adopt. Defend your team's position by showing how the benefits of your system are greater than the other teams' positions relative to each system's disadvantages.

TEAM ONE: A laissez-faire free market system with little government involvement. The government is to limit its responsibilities to protecting property rights. South/Henry

TEAM TWO: A market system in which government plays an active role in regulating industries. Southwest/Roosevelt/Edison

TEAM THREE: A socialist system in which the government directly provides basic needs for all people, including unemployment insurance, medical care, and a guaranteed minimum income. The government owns or heavily regulates many of the major industries—the “commanding heights” industries. Washburn/North

Topic Two

Representatives of Congress are debating a bill about reducing emissions for vehicles. Each team represents a different opinion of a representative in Congress.

TEAM ONE: Increase the standards on emissions. Tighter regulations provide an incentive for producers to build cars and trucks that emit less pollutants. North/Roosevelt/Edison

TEAM TWO: It's important to reduce emissions, but increasing standards isn't the most efficient means to reduce air pollutants from vehicles. Increase the gasoline tax. This provides an incentive to use all vehicles more efficiently. South/Washburn

TEAM THREE: Keep emissions standards as they are. An increase in emissions standards would hurt the profitability of the automobile industry, a vital part of the U.S. economy. Eventually the market will produce efficient solutions to vehicle emissions; however, the technology isn't available yet. Southwest/Henry

Topic Three

While the U.S. economy has had substantial growth over the past two decades, the disparity of wealth between the poorest and the richest Americans has grown. How should the government address the tension between policies designed to spur economic growth and those that promote wealth equity? Name examples of policies that your position supports.

TEAM ONE: Free market, strong economic growth position. The free market system, which has been notably successful in providing a high standard of living for millions of Americans, is the most promising way to achieve higher wages over the next generation. The best way to increase everyone's share is to make sure that the economic pie keeps growing as rapidly as possible. Americans believe in rewarding effort, providing incentives for new economic ventures, and letting people get rich when they work at it. Government policy should reflect those values. North/South/Edison

TEAM TWO: Fair Share Position. The fact that income for most American families stagnated until recently is due in large part from economic rules that favor affluent Americans at the expense of everyone else. Those at the top of the income scale are getting the lion's share of the benefits of economic growth. But most members of the labor force are not sharing in the gains. Sharp differences in income generate social unrest, which can lead to uncertainty, declining investment and weak economic growth. Government should enact a more progressive tax and social service system to help reduce the disparity between the poorest and richest Americans.

TEAM THREE: Equal Opportunity Position. The promise of America is equal opportunity. Government's task is to do everything possible to provide an equal opportunity for economic advancement. The fact that income for most Americans has not risen steadily in recent years is a result of our failure as a nation to prepare people adequately so everyone has a chance to compete for good jobs. What's needed is an expanded effort to improve America's schools, to provide equal opportunity for all youngsters regardless of their parents' occupation and income. Roosevelt/Henry

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