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Economics 101


An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Can you think of a reason for not sharing this?
Neither could I.

Shamelessly copied from Paul Marks Facebook page via Steve Forbes.


  1. john in cheshire says:

    I’ve read this several times in several variations. However, it is nonetheless true and needs to be repeated until it sinks into the minds of the socialists. Unfortunately, I suspect that it will be wasted on them and you’ll end up just preaching to the converted.

  2. Lynne says:

    Can’t fault the message.

  3. Paul Marks says:


  4. Julie near Chicago says:

    Make that four…. :)

    However, repetition matters. Repetition can be very effective. In fact I was just yesterday reading a remark saying that a given propagandistic message must be repeated seven times before it’s effect. Takes that long to sink in.

    Of course, better the message should be repeated in slightly different ways, by different people, in different venues.

    And preaching to the choir is also useful.

  5. Julie near Chicago says:

    “…before it’s effective.” :(

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    It’s worth having it set down here for anyone who happens to come along. I learnt a long time ago on Usenet that for every active contributor there’s a horde of lurkers. It’s easy to forget that, not least because it’s hard to know how many there are, but it’s those lurkers that a site like this needs to reach: the people who aren’t certain enough in their opinions either to post encouraging comments or to publicly argue. Posts like this might make it feel like an echo chamber, but on the internet nothing is ever as closed as that. You never know who might be reading this story for the first time.

  7. Julie near Chicago says:

    Yes, Sam! Good point. :>)

  8. permex says:

    Yep! The Little Red Hen.

  9. Alan from Hamiltron says:

    One of the many lurkers here, first off, this is one of the websites I visit daily, keep it up guys, well done.

    Just had to say that I used this post in part of a ongoing “conversation” I have going with a very socialist work mate at the factory we work at. He had simply never seen it that way before, something about it no longer being about money from working but grades from tests clicked, the look on his face was great. Of course he soon made excuses for why its different when talking about all of New Zealand compared to a ‘Murican classroom, but he was on the defensive all day.

    So yeah, every little anecdote helps. Thanx again guys :)

  10. Robert says:

    Someone who I thought had no interest in politics showed me that one in the pub on Saturday night on his mobile phone.

  11. RAB says:

    Quite right Sam. It may seem sometimes that we are talking to ourselves, but we must never forget the lurkers in the dark. My Kevin Ayers Obit pulled in two names that I had not seen before.

    It is all uphill, but the journey must be undertaken, cos the Statists never stop do they?

  12. Stonyground says:

    Socialists have defended themselves by suggesting that the story probably isn’t true, which I suppose is a fair point, but then I never actually thought that it was. The story doesn’t have to be true to make the point. It might be interesting if you could actually do the experiment and see how it played out in real life, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that punishing success and rewarding failure is a bad idea.

  13. RAB says:

    Stony, the most potent form of truth is often to be found in fiction. Animal Farm and 1984 are just two examples, we could all add a thousand more I’m sure.

    The fact that the Economics teacher never tried his experiment is irrelevant (he would never have been allowed to and keep his job) but if he had been allowed to, the outcome would have been the same as illustrated.

    I have an A Level in Economics. It was all Keynsian even then (1970) but my teacher was a good man, who gave us a few lessons on the Austrian school (you were allowed to think for yourselves outside the box back then).

    He was almost metaphorically looking over his shoulder as he told us about it, and encouraged us to do our own reading about it. But he concluded…

    “For God’s sake boys, don’t put any of this into your exam papers, or they will fail you in a moment!” Such was the power of Keynsian orthodoxy even then.

    We have to keep getting the message out, even if it is by allegory, parable and metaphor. And when the real hard facts come to hand… belt them over the head with them!

  14. Paul Marks says:

    Yes RAB – your comment reminds me of my own school days (and university days).

    Accept there were no good economics teachers at school, and only one decent economist at the first university I went to (an IEA member but he was retireing – replaced by an establishment type).

    At the second univerisity I went to there was also one good economist (perhaps there was once an unofficial policy of having one dissentor in an economics department) he had even built up a special library of economics and public policy books (good ones), but he was on his way out (and the library was destroyed – “we need more admin space”).

    Cultural decline RAB, cultural decline……

  15. NickM says:


    “allegory, parable and metaphor”. I seem to recall in the first century AD there was a certain Jewish preacher who did a bit of that. For the life of me I can’t remember his name. Neither can another couple of billion folk globally 😉

    It works.

  16. […] the comments on this excellent posting at Counting Cats (a posting which restates some ancient truths about incentives but puts them in an academic rather […]

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