Question #1: Writing Assignment: Krugman vs. Marriott Prepare a 2-3 page paper using APA format discussing problem 1 in the “Problems to Ponder” at the end of chapter 10. Be sure to address each question in this problem. Problem 1 in the “Problems to Ponder” : Paul Krugman, an MIT economist, states “at the heart of capitalism’s inhumanity- and no sensible person will deny that the market is an amoral and often cruelly capricious master- is the fact that it treats labor as a commodity.” Is it true that capitalist employers treat their workers as “commodities”? In what sense is the marketplace “cruelly capricious”? Give examples. Contrast Professors Krugman’s views with those of Bill Marriott, president of Marriot Corporation, who said: “One of the important things…is to counter the notion that big corporations are faceless machines…When employees know that their problems will be taken seriously, that their ideas and insights matter, they’re more comfortable and confident. In turn, they’re better equipped to deliver their best on the job and to their customer. Everyone wins: the company, the employee, the customer. The philosophy of putting employees first is particularly important in our industry, because Marriott is in the people business, not just the service business… I’ve said again and again that our associates (employees) are number one. It won’t hurt to say it one more time. Without the hard work and dedication of our team, Marriott wouldn’t exist. That’s why taking care of our employees is a top priority for the organization.” Are employees treated as “commodities” at Marriott? Is their labor policy “cruelly capricious” or “caring”? Is Marriott the exception to the rule among big companies? Discussion Question #1: Oil Prices Problem 4 in the “Problems to Ponder” section at the end of chapter 9 asks about the oil price increase from 1973-1980. We have also seen this in 2005 and 2010, although not as dramatic a price increase. Please answer the questions in this problem. Discuss. Problem 4 “Problems to Ponder”: When oil prices increased 10 fold during the 1973-80 energy crisis, many oil companies made huge profits. During this energy crisis, Congress considered imposing an “excess profits” tax on oil companies. If you were in congress, would you vote for such a tax? Do unexpected monopolistic profits serve any useful functions in a market economy? (Hint: Could additional oil revenue be used to explore and develop new oil fields?) Discussion #2: Price Ceilings Problem 8 in the “Problems to Ponder” section at the end of chapter 9 is an issue today. Discuss this proposition and what can be done to solve California’s financial crisis. What role to business firms have to help solve this issue? Problem 8 “Problems to Ponder”: California’s Proposition 13, enacted in 1978, limits the property tax on real estate to one percent of the market value when purchased and a maximum annual increase in the tax amount of two percent. Followers of Henry George contend that Prop 13 deprived local government of its most suitable tax base, real estate taxes, and forced the state to increase other taxes that hurt business activity, and shifted power from the local government to the state. According to the Georgists, Prop 13 did not constrain state spending and caused the budget deficit to grow so that California was hit with a fiscal crisis in 2008-2009. What could be done to solve California’s financial crisis.
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