All of us have taken classes where we wondered whether this class would be useful in the real world. However taking Economics at CB is certainly not one of those courses. While some classes such as AP Lit might make you do boring things such as reading the most pretentious writing from Jane Austen’s Pride […]
All of us have taken classes where we wondered whether this class would be useful in the real world. However taking Economics at CB is certainly not one of those courses. While some classes such as AP Lit might make you do boring things such as reading the most pretentious writing from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, economics can be a challenging, yet rewarding class that gets you to explore new concepts and new ways of thinking. But what, exactly is Economics?
Economics ranges from making everyday choices in life to the production and consumption of goods and services in the world. Some believe that economics involves heavy mathematics and graphs and trying to measure the optimal situation of things such as the supply and demand of a firm, while others view economics as an extension of their political beliefs on how the country should be run.
Thankfully, CB students can satisfy their curiosity on the economy by taking Economics with Mr. Raymond Lawrence “Larry” Reel III ’91, who, along with students who have taken his class, decided to give us a sneak-peek on what goes on in Room 405. Mr. Reel explains that economics is about personal choice as he demystified misconceptions about economics as being simply about money.
“Economics is the study of decision making. It is to maximize one’s resources to meet one’s wants and needs” he began. “Many people think it is about money or finance, but really it is about decision making and how to make choices. Economics can be about how to manage and maximize your time. It can be about choosing with the college you should go to or what classes you should take in college.”
Kamron Soltani (’21) took Economics because he wanted to expand his political beliefs. “I’m not really big into Econ, but I really like politics, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn how economics works. I sometimes get lost in budgetary economics, so I thought this class would be a good way to brush up on that” he explained. “I also like Mr. Reel.”
Before Kamron took the class, he was worried about how much math would be in the class. “I thought there would be a lot of math, graphs, and scenarios,” Kamron explained. “I ended up learning on how government overreach affects stuff such as supply, demand, quantity, and I got to talk about capitalism as well as its flaws. I also learned a lot more about how domestic economic policy benefits the rich.”
Jacob Schnetz (’21) took the class because he thought it would be similar to personal finance. “I took economics because I thought it would be good for my future financially, and I wanted to have a general idea on how money flows.”
Jacob also thought there would be more math in the class, but overall he expected basic economic concepts to be emphasized. “I expected a lot more math, but I expected things such as supply and demand as well as micro and macro,” he says. “In the class, you learn a lot about supply and demand, the graphs associated with it, as well as all of the possibilities out of that. You’ll also get a basic overview of Microeconomics and how it works.”
Layla Airola (’21) took Economics as a way to learn more about the world. “I’m really interested in international relations. I took a Global Studies class at Sacramento City College and learned about international economic relations.”
Layla thought that Economics would be more about money and not about decision making and choices. “I didn’t really know what the class would be like, but I thought it would talk more about money and less about choices. I also thought the class would be more about Macroeconomics or world economics instead of Microeconomics.”
One benefit to taking Economics is that the concepts you learn in the class can be applied to everyday situations in real life. All three students gave examples and scenarios as to how economics can be used in the real world.
For Kamron, economics is all about decision-making and budgets. “Every single decision is an economic decision, such as how much you value your time. Economics can also be understanding how our domestic budgets work.”
Layla mentioned that learning economics can be used for those interested in business. “It’s good for people planning to get into business, especially if they start one. Learning about supply and demand can help with that. Economics isn’t really about money, rather, it’s more about prioritizing time and learning about the opportunity cost of things.”
Jacob applied some of the concepts he learned in economics during a charity event. “I had to think about supply and demand; how much people are going to demand, and how much should I supply.”
Kamron, Layla, and Jacob might have used a lot of economic terminology, but Mr. Reel assures that all you need to prepare for the class is to have an open mind. “There is no need for preparation before you take the class, as long as you have an inquisitive mind,” Mr. Reel reassured calmly. “Economics is meant to get people about decision making. The number of life experiences everyone experiences is enough for people to be prepared for the class.”
Mr. Reel also shared about how he incorporates current events in the class. “The course is centered on Microeconomics instead of Macroeconomics, but we do talk about current events such as the economic effects of the stimulus package passed in March. The class changes depending on the group of kids, so sometimes we discuss a lot depending on what the class is interested in.”
Taking economics would either reinforce or challenge some long-held beliefs, especially on some of the hot-button economic issues affecting our country. For all three students, taking Economics only served to reinforce their economic ideologies, although some of them reached opposite conclusions.
For Kamron, taking Economics reinforced his belief that capitalism is broken and that the economy is rigged in favor of the rich. “Taking economics gave me a better idea on how flawed our system is and how much it benefits the rich. It shows that the economics of our country is corrupt and that economic theory does not necessarily apply to practice.”
Layla expressed some skepticism at some of the concepts taught in the class. “Taking economics gave me a new way of looking at economic issues such as the minimum wage. I’m pretty skeptical of some of the graphs taught, such as how it shows that the minimum wage would decrease supply. Couldn’t companies just absorb the price increase in wages instead of taking the supply loss? I also wonder whether economics has to be so mathematical.”
Jacob said that taking economics reaffirmed his existing belief in supporting a free-market system. “I see economics the same way I always had — that free-market economics is the best form of economics. It allows the supplier to decide how much they sell or what they can sell based on what people demand, as well as increasing competition on providing better quality goods. For example, the free market gives a choice of fast-food restaurants and nicer restaurants without any restrictions from the government such as taxes.”
All three of them also voiced some disagreement with some of the concepts taught in the class.
Kamron disagreed with supply and demand as well as the effects of the minimum wage. “I simply disagree with supply and demand, and its emphasis on trying to reach market equilibrium. I also disagreed with the concept that the minimum wage would somehow decrease profits — that’s not how it really works in the real world. The textbook thinks that labor costs need to be too low, it’s too market-based, and it has a huge Western bias from an American point of view,”
Layla also agreed with a lot of Kamron’s points and thinks economics can be too negligent on human suffering. “I think the class and textbook take humanity out of labor,” she says. “For example, the class mentions how a $15 minimum wage would cause layoffs and a loss of profits, but it doesn’t take into account the homelessness due to the current low minimum wage. Graphs are also put first instead of who the economic policy is benefiting. Economics doesn’t really value people and that’s not good.”
Jacob also disagreed with some of the concepts taught in the class such as government regulation. “I did mostly agree with the class, but I disagree with how much the government should control the economy. I think if the government controls the economy, too much it can end up going against the people,” he commented.
For Mr. Reel though, while Economics might challenge people’s views, the class is not really meant to try to convert all students into believing one economic thought. “The students don’t really change their views, but rather become more aware of the economy. Students might agree with a certain school of economics before they take the class, but taking the class might make them become more aware of the school of thought they subscribe to. It’s more important for students to see why they have their belief rather than change their belief.”
That doesn’t mean that some students will have all of their views unquestioned, especially if some students try to challenge Mr. Reel on some of the concepts taught in class. “Occasionally some students try to challenge me.” he responded. “My job is to push and challenge the students, and I would sometimes play devil’s advocate to try to get people to shift and see things in a different way. I want to try to get the students thinking.”
While economics is primarily a social science, there is also a math component to economics as well. For prospective students worried about the amount of math in the class, fear not. “There is minimal math in the class,” Mr. Reel assured. “Instead, I take the emphasis off the math and focus on the concepts. My goal is to have students use economic language rather than math. If you do plan to major in Econ, you will do math such as calculus but in this class, a little bit of math shouldn’t scare anyone.”
Kamron, Layla, and Jacob recommends that all students should take the class and gave some final tips to do well in Economics.
“You get to learn how econ works and the class gives a great taste of what’s to come if you want to take Econ in college,” Kamron says. “Plus, Mr. Reel is a great teacher. The class isn’t difficult as long as you pay attention and do your readings.”
Layla also notes that the class shouldn’t be too hard for students and that it’s a good complement to future subjects. “There are some challenging concepts such as elasticity, but Mr. Reel does a good job teaching them. Econ can expand on subjects people might want to take in the future, such as finance.”
Jacob mentions that the class is nothing to stress over about. “It’s a pretty relaxed class, and Mr. Reel is a pretty nice teacher. The class is open to a lot of discussions, and it can be pretty interesting. Make sure you go into it with an open mind, and think about the different parts of markets and how it works while you take the class.”
Finally, Mr. Reel recommends that every student should take this class. “It’s part of everyone’s lives to use econ in their daily lives,” he notes. “Taking econ can be utilized in different ways. You can use econ for a variety of disciplines — history, political science, math, and more. Economics is simply about decision making.”
While economics might have plenty of complex topics packed into the subject, it ultimately boils down to simple decision-making in everyone’s lives. The class might challenge students of their pre-conceiving beliefs, but every student will come out of the class with a broadened perspective of the world around them.