Help Wanted

by Russ Roberts on January 30, 2007

in Education

I’m looking for someone who might be able to do some simple animation to tell economic stories. For example, I have an idea for a narrative that would show how the minimum wage hurts the workers with the lowest skills. You could make it a full-blown documentary or animated story. But what I’m thinking of is a low-level of visual sophistication (stick figures or crayonesque drawings) that would have a certain stylish simplicity so that you could create this kind of visual story quickly and at relatively low cost. But it would be fast-paced enough and entertaining enough that people would want to watch.

Do you have any experience in this kind of thing? If yes, and if you’d find this kind of enterprise interesting, send me an email at roberts at gmu do edu with a link to something you’ve done that might be vaguely related. If you don’t have the experience but have seen something akin to this, I’d like to see that too.

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olivier blanchard January 30, 2007 at 10:51 pm

I'm pretty good with finger puppets.

And I do voices too.

Brad January 30, 2007 at 11:38 pm

Check out This is the perfect format for your story. Here's a sample:

You'll soon be able to embed these on any web page ala YouTube videos. Here's an example that shows that feature:

I do a big chunk of the engineering for these things, and they're the perfect format because they're kids books. You can even e-mail them to friends easily as you create them. And the big bonus is that we have a library system where a library owner can store a whole collection of books for the public to read. An econ library would be hot! And maybe even an interesting resource for the youngins.

Drop me a note and I'll be more than happy to hook you up.


flix January 31, 2007 at 5:14 am

Check out this animation:

Please keep us informed on your progress, I'm very interested in this.

Also, my suggestions on the very basic economic themes we have to teach:
subjective value
saving and investment

A great teaching tool for these is the game "settlers of Catan"- it's like monopoly without the zero-sum implications.

flix January 31, 2007 at 5:16 am

you might find this interesting:

Teaching Basic Economics to Fifth Graders
By Arthur E. Foulkes

Doug January 31, 2007 at 12:21 pm

I sent along this posting with links to some of your writings to a friend who is a politically active artist. Here is a link to one of his projects

In my experience, he is pretty much able to do anything graphically. Hopefully he will jump on the opportunity to work with you.

Lee January 31, 2007 at 12:23 pm

I spent most of my school years drawing cartoons. Though not using computer programs, just a pencil and paper.

Though I do have an idea for a story. In short: Mother Nature is up for reelection. The Bumble Bees lobby for bigger, brighter rose bushes, with more nectar than ever before. The bees outnumber the rose bushes and so the legislation is passed. For a time, the roses are bigger, redder and more nectar filled than ever before.

However, to achieve this incredible feat, the rose bushes must divert resources away from other activities. Soon the leaves begin to wither and the stems begin to snap. Furthermore, resources must be diverted from attempts to procreate. As soon as rose bushes cease to profit from the nectar "trade" with bees, then they cease to be able to provide the service.

The ending is open. For the optimist, the bees learn their lesson. For the pessimist, a new generation of bees choose a new flower and make the same mistake.

There are numurous ways in whcih we can use nature to demonstrate elementary economic principles. Potentially all the more powerful due to the fact that topics are more likely to be invoked by opponents of free trade. Though maybe it's too abstract and difficult to relate for most people to understand.

Bowtie65 February 1, 2007 at 1:05 am

I love the idea of teaching basic economics in children's books. They get a heaping helping of socialism now.

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