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TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION, DEBATE, AND SPECIAL REPORTS
I. Sociologists say that most people should try to own their own homes. Do you agree? Why? What agencies are there to help people own their own homes? Why do more people own their own homes in Philadelphia than in New York? In Indianapolis than in Chicago P In the country than in the cities? 2. Should the amount of inheritances be limited by law? If so, what should be the limit? Show some instances in which inherited property has been a benefit to the recipient and to society. Show some evils that have resulted from inherited property. Why should a man be compelled to"pass an examination before he can practise medicine? Why should he not be required to pass an examination before opening a grocery store? Many states require a year or more study in college before a person may begin the study of medicine in a medical college. Is this a reasonable restriction ? Why? 4. Give some examples of customs that have an effect upon
economic life in your community. What customs are beneficial to the community as a whole P What customs are harmful? 5. What are the economic results of the custom of giving presents at Christmas? What considerations other than economic ones enter into the giving of Christmas presents?
WANTS AND THEIR SATISFACTION
Elementary Wants.-The most elementary wants for every one of us are food, drink, clothing, and shelter. Man shares these wants, except clothing, with the animals. Primitive men were satisfied with the simplest things. With an increase in civilization the elementary wants became refined. Food and drink must be clean and attractively served. Clothing and shelter must be pleasing to the eye.
Cultural Wants.-Every advance in civilization has brought new wants. An ability to read develops into a desire to read and appreciate the best literature, not only in one language but in several. A love of music, once satisfied by the beating of tom-toms or a jazz band, becomes a love for symphony concerts, or other forms of music which are really music to a cultured taste. A multitude of wants arise, such as travel, study, art, and social service. Fortunately these wants can in many cases be supplied even to those whose wealth is very limited, and culture does not always vary directly with a person's increase in wealth. It is a well-known fact that in the great opera-houses, the poor man in the gallery often more keenly enjoys the performance of a grand opera than does the occupant of an orchestra seat. The want of religious consolation, present in an elementary way in a savage, becomes to many persons of refinement, a most important want, and for its satisfaction vast sums of money are expended. As old wants are satisfied, new ones appear. Were this not the case, life would hardly be worth the living. We no sooner, for example, learn the use of a rowboat, than we want a sailboat, then a motor-boat. Seeing others receiving pleasure incites us to desire to imitate them. It was a brave man who ate the first raw oyster, but he gave indications of enjoyment and soon eating oysters became popular. Education causes a host of wants to arise. The study of literature causes the desire to own books and to subscribe for a literary magazine; a growth of the artistic sense prevents one from being satisfied with the crude art of the Sunday papers and leads to a desire to possess reprints of works of art. The educational process is to a large degree the refinement of old wants and the creating of new ones. Advertising Creates Wants.-Advertising not only tells us where goods may be obtained, it also creates a desire to possess these goods. A new automobile, operating on a new principle, is advertised and at once some persons want to see it and, if the demonstration is satisfactory, to secure one. The newspapers announce a new breakfast food and the billboards blazen its catchword, and thousands buy it to see what it is like. Goods.-Whatever satisfies a human want is a good. Its want-satisfying capacity is called utility. All goods are known as wealth, and the term is not limited to great riches. The peddler's cart is wealth just as much as is the millionaire's automobile. Personal services such as those of a physician satisfy wants and are utilities.
Free Goods and Economic Goods.-Some goods are furnished in such quantities by nature that there is enough for all and to spare. These goods are known as free goods. Air and water are examples of free goods. Free goods decrease in number with growth of population and fuller occupation of the land. In colonial times wood for fuel was so abundant that any one could have it who would take the trouble to cut down a tree; game was plentiful and was often given away. Economic goods are limited in amount and are secured only after an effort. Under certain conditions goods which are usually free goods may become economic goods and vice versa. Water, if it become so scarce as to be difficult to obtain, may be an economic good. An unusually large crop of apples, where shipping facilities are lacking, may make apples so abundant as to be free to any one who desires them.
The Consumption of Goods.-The consumption of goods means the using up or destroying their utilities. Some goods are destroyed in satisfying a single want; such goods are known as perishable goods. Other goods, like a wagon, may satisfy many wants before becoming unserviceable, and such goods are called durable goods. Few goods are absolutely durable, though land might be so called in some respects, as its supporting power is not destroyed, though every farmer knows that if it is not enriched at intervals its productive power wears out.
Present and Future Goods.--Future wants are usually less highly regarded than present wants, and finished products which are able to satisfy a present want are more highly esteemed than goods which will be available for use only at Some future time. Most persons would prefer $1oo at the present time rather than $100 six months from now. The future is always uncertain; of the present alone we may be sure. Useful and Harmful Consumption.—Any use of goods which aids a person physically or morally is a useful consumption. For example, if a laboring man spends a Saturday afternoon at a ball-game and comes home with his nerves rested and a good appetite for dinner, the time and money may have been spent to advantage. A night of dissipation on the other hand leaves a man unfit for work the next day and is not an economic use of time or money. The spending of money upon harmful drugs or whiskey is uneconomic because the use of these articles reduces ability to work, but reasonable expenditures for recreation of a wholesome kind increase ability to work and are therefore economic. Public Wealth.-Our wants are satisfied not alone by the possession of private property. Public property satisfies many wants. Public roads, parks, bridges, art galleries, museums, schools, and hospitals are examples of public wealth. Another variety of public wealth is such natural wealth as rivers, lakes, harbors, and public forests. Public wealth belongs to all of us collectively, and it should be a matter of concern to all citizens that public property should not suffer at their hands and that they do not allow others to injure it without their protest. To disregard signs requesting people not to walk on the grass, to injure shrubbery in a park, or carelessly to cause a forest fire are offenses which a good citizen never commits. Summary.—Elementary wants are those for food, drink, clothing, and shelter. Even primitive men had these