King or Queen (student volunteer)
Leader of economists (student
Narrator (teacher or student
Nation's top economists (rest
students that they are about to see a story acted out from which they will learn all there is to know about economics.
2-3 volunteers to read parts.
skit. (see resource pages)
students that the expression, "there is no such thing as a free lunch", explains all there is know about economics. Unfortunately,
you have to understand the definition of economics to realize the significance of the phrase.
formal definition on board or overhead: "Study of how groups or nations allocate their limited (scarce) resources in which
to satisfy their unlimited wants and needs."
and/or describe bold terms in formal definition:
up the basic economic problem: scarcity--"not enough"
Pass out Dr. Jim Charkins' handout (see below)
need to make decisions
resources: land, labor, capital, entrepreneurship
wants and needs: goods and services (define these terms)
choices--"choosing is refusing"
trade off (consequences)
To illustrate the basic economic problem and to demonstrate opportunity costs: Hold up three different candy bars.
a. Ask: "who would like one of these?" (hopefully more than three hands will go up)
b. "Is there enough?" No--scarcity
c. "How should we allocate these?" solicit opinions (i.e. student with birthday closest
to today or yours, pick a number, etc.), adopt a strategy, and
d. pick "winner", give them their first choice of candy bar
e. ask class if student received the candy bar for free (NO!)
f. ask "winner" what their second choice would have been, this, of course, represents
what they gave up--the value (approx. $0.50) is their opportunity cost.
g. repeat for other two candy bars. (third winner is not refusing anything--no choice--so
it is free to them)
some students what their opportunity cost is for being in class. Thank them for coming, then tell them yours.
does the expression, "there in no such thing as a free lunch" mean? How does this expression define economics?
tell students that these questions bullet will be on their first test and on the final exam.)
Skit: "There's no such thing as a free lunch"
By Roland Lewin
Dos Pueblos High School
from a story written in a textbook in the 1980's)
Narrator: Once upon a time there was this young man (woman), eighteen
years old, who had just been appointed king (queen) of his (her) country. S/he was thinking about what was happening in the
distribution of resources
lacking adequate resources
opportunity for education
Somehow s/he thought all this may relate to economics. So s/he assembled together all of the nation's top economists...
King/Queen: (addressing class of top economists) Ladies and gentlemen, I have heard that economics is all about
how nations make decisions about how to allocate their scarce resources to satisfy their unlimited wants and needs. We all
want our country and our world to be filled with people who are happy, healthy and prosperous. Is it possible that we have
problems because we have made some bad decisions?
Since I will be the leader of this country, I want to know all there
is to know about economics to enable me to make sound decisions. You (pointing to all of class) have been selected because
you are the top economists of our country. Your job is to teach me all there is to know about economics. (with feeling) Can
you do this? Is there one of who can act as spokesperson?
(The leader stands and approaches the king/queen)
Leader: Yes, your majesty. But we will need some time.
Narrator: The top economists formed committees and worked furiously
towards their goal. They wrote down everything there was to know about economics. Ten years later they returned to the king/queen:
Leader: Your highness, here (point to 30 textbooks) is everything
you wanted to know about economics in 30 volumes.
King/Queen: Thank you for your efforts, but we are in the midst
of a great war. I don't have time to read 30 volumes, can you condense your work?
Narrator: The economists gasped in unison. (If your classmates
don't take their cue, say: "I said the economists gasped in unison.") Nevertheless, the top economists returned to their work.
Fifteen years later:
Leader: Your highness, here is everything you wanted to know about
economics--in ten volumes.
King/Queen: Thank you for your efforts, but as you know our country
has been rocked by an earthquake. I have to ensure the safety of our people. I don't have time to read ten volumes. Can you
Narrator: There were murmurs amongst the economists. Nevertheless
the economists formed committees again. They persevered and ten years later...
Leader: Your highness, we have condensed everything you wanted
to know about economics into (hold up one of the textbooks) one volume.
King/Queen: Thank you. However, there has just been a nuclear explosion.
I don't have time to read even one volume. Can you condense it?
Narrator: Fifteen years later the economists returned once again...
Leader: Your highness, we have managed to condense everything there
is to know about economics into one paper.
King/Queen: Thank you for your wonderful efforts. However, as you
know, the country is in the midst of civil riots. I don't have time to read one paper. Can you condense it?
Narrator: Whispers of dismay emanated from the economists. Nevertheless,
the economists went back to work on their project. Three years later they were summoned to visit the king/queen, who was on
King/Queen: Ladies and gentlemen, I still want to know everything
there is to know about economics. As you can see I do not have much time left. Can you condense everything there is to know
about economics into one sentence?
Narrator: The room was filled with gasps, murmurs and whispers.
The economists quickly huddled together. Almost as quickly, the leader emerged from the huddle and approached the king/queen.
Leader: Your highness, everything there is to know about economics
can be reduced to this: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.
King/Queen: I understand, thank you. (Now act out the death scene)