Friday, November 30, 2012

More On Poverty

Last year I had a link about the Gini coefficients for wealth. Go to What has happened to the distribution of wealth in recent years?

To see international data on poverty rates click on this site from the OECD

To see international data on the distribution of income click on this other site from the OECD

To see the Census Bureau's poverty and income report press release, go to Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011

For more Census Bureau data, go to Poverty Data and Poverty Main

Below is a graph of some poverty rates over time. The source is Table 2. Poverty Status, by Family Relationship, Race from the Census Bureau.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Some Possibly Surprising Facts About Poverty

I have been covering poverty and the distribution of income in micro this week. Here are some interesting links from the blog of economist Mark Perry called Carpe Diem. He actually has moved recently to a new location, so click here to see it.

More on The U.S. Poor Getting Richer, And Being Envy of the World's Poor. Here he shows how the percentage of poor households in America that owns various appliances and conveniences is very high, often about as high as the entire population of Sweden.

5 Problems With Census Poverty and Income Data. This one shows that over time, median household income per household member has been increasing. Part of the problem with household income numbers is that they don't ofteh adjust for declining size of household.

Our Poor Are the Envy of the World's Poor. Here he mentions that: "In 1971, only about 32 percent of all Americans enjoyed air conditioning in their homes. By 2001, 76 percent of poor people had air conditioning." It is true for other appliances as well.

Consumption Equality 7X > Than Income Equality. Here he mentions that:
"The bottom fifth earned just $9,974, but spent nearly twice that — an average of $18,153 a year. How is that possible? Those lower-income families have access to various sources of spending money that doesn’t fall under taxable income. These sources include portions of sales of property like homes and cars and securities that are not subject to capital gains taxes, insurance policies redeemed, or the drawing down of bank accounts."
New Mpls. Federal Reserve Bank Study Shows Significant Earnings Mobility Between 2001-2007. Here he shows that 44% of the people in bottom quintile in 2001 had moved to a higher quintile in 2007.

Pew Research Calls It "Hollowing Out of the Middle Class," But 150 Americans Moved Up for Every 100 Who Moved Down Between 1971 and 2011. He mentions that:
"Between 1971 and 2011, the share of adult Americans in the “middle class” decreased by ten percentage points from 61% to 51%. Of that 10% of American adults who left the middle class, 6% moved up to the “upper-income” category and 4% move down to the “lower-income” category."
Census Data Show Significant Income Mobility. Here says that:
"From 1996 to 2005, we have the income mobility data for income quintiles. Of those filers who were in the lowest 20% in 1996 and who also filed in 2005, 42.4% remained in the bottom 20% but 57.6% had moved up to a higher quintile: 28.6% were in the next highest quintile, 13.9% were in the middle quintile, 9.9% were in the second highest quintile, and 5.3% were in the highest quintile."
The Rich Are Getting Richer and the Poor Are Getting Richer; The Good Old Days Are Now. In 1971, 88.3% of all American households had a refrigerator. Today, 98.5% of poor households do. This is true for many other goods. More poor people have them now than did the average people in 1971. In 1973, the average worker had to work 89 hours to buy a refrigerator. Today it is only 23 hours. This is true for many other goods.

Bad News for 2 Americas Myth: The Poor Got Richer. Here is one thing it says, as of 2007: "The CBO reports that low-wage households with children had earnings after inflation in 2005 that were about 80% higher than in the early 1990s."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Real Per Capita GDP Over Time

I used data from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. The graph below shows GDP per capita in 2005 dollars since 1929. It has increased 2.06% per year, on average, since 1929 (that is a compound annual rate, as are the others I mention below).

I also wondered how much it was per worker. Starting in 1946, the Bureau of Labor Statistics started counting only workers who were 16 or older. So I start there. Real GDP per worker since then has increased 1.67% a year, on average.

Here is GDP per capita in 2005 dollars since 1929. That average annual growth rate is 1.87%.


Friday, November 23, 2012

An Essay In Honor Of "Small Business Saturday" And Entrepreneurs Everywhere

Tomorrow is "Small Business Saturday." Here is what an article from the San Antonio Express-News says about it:
"American Express created the day three years ago, it says, to help small businesses struggling during the recession. The credit and charge card company encourages cardholders, who have registered in advance online to make purchases with their cards in exchange for a $25 rebate paid for by American Express, if they buy something at a participating business. American Express won't say how much the promotion costs, but Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN, the company's small business division, says it is a considerable amount."
Click here to read the article. My essay on how entrepreneurs are like heroes from mythology is below. Candace Allen has said that
"Just as the society that doesn't venerate winners of races will produce fewer champion runners than the society that does, the society that does not honor entrepreneurial accomplishment will find fewer people of ability engaged in wealth creation than the society that does."
That is from her essay The Entrepreneur as Hero. Many others have said that entrepreneurs are heroes. I provide more information on this after my essay. So here it is. It was originally published in The New Leaders: The Business Bulletin for Transformative Leadership, November/December 1992. Title: The Calling of the Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are heroes. They are not like heroes, they are heroes. Heroes and entrepreneurs are called to and take part in the greatest and most universal adventure that life has to offer: the simultaneous journey of self-discovery, spiritual growth, and the personal creativity they make possible. In fact, the entrepreneur’s journey closely resembles the journey of the “hero” in mythology, as outlined in the book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. There is an amazing and profound similarity between not only the journey that entrepreneurs take and the adventure of heroes but also in their personality traits. The comparison is profound because the myths are about universal human desires and conflicts that we see played out in the lives of entrepreneurs.

But what is the hero's adventure? Campbell writes "The standard path of the mythological adventure of the hero is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation-initiation-return, which might be named the nuclear unit of the monomyth. A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." How is the hero's adventure similar to the entrepreneur's adventure?

The hero's journey begins with a call to adventure. He or she is awakened by some herald which touches his or her unconscious world and creative destiny. The entrepreneur, too, is "called" to the adventure. By chance, he or she discovers a previously unknown product or way to make a profit. The lucky discovery cannot be planned and is itself the herald of the adventure.

The entrepreneur must step out of the ordinary way of producing and into his or her imagination about the way things could be to discover the previously undreamt of technique or product. The "fabulous forces" might be applying the assembly line technique or interchangeable parts to producing automobiles or building microcomputers in a garage. The mysterious adventure is the time spent tinkering in research and development. But once those techniques are discovered or developed, the entrepreneur now has the power to bestow this boon on the rest of humankind.

Heroes bring change. Campbell refers to the constant change in the universe as "The Cosmogonic Cycle" which "unrolls the great vision of the creation and destruction of the world which is vouchsafed as revelation to the successful hero." This is similar to Joseph Schumpeter's theory of entrepreneurship called “creative destruction.” A successful entrepreneur simultaneously destroys and creates a new world, or at least a new way of life. Henry Ford, for example, destroyed the horse and buggy age while creating the age of the automobile. The hero also finds that the world "suffers from a symbolical deficiency" and "appears on the scene in various forms according to the changing needs of the race." The changing needs and the deficiency correspond to the changing market conditions or the changing desires for products. The entrepreneur is the first person to perceive the changing needs.

Regarding personality traits, the hero and entrepreneur are risk-takers and creators. But what is the source of their creativity? People become creative when in the words of Campbell, they "follow their bliss." This is the message of mythology. It means you should engage in an activity, pursue a career or entrepreneurial venture because it is what you love to do and it gives you a sense of personal importance and fulfillment, not because the social system dictates that you do so. The drive comes from within. It is this courageous action that opens up doors and creative possibilities that did not previously exist. This is the journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. Although it may be long, painful, and lonely, it is very rewarding.

Both the entrepreneur and hero are aided by mentors, are humble enough to listen to others in order to learn (and thus become creative), and face a road of trials where they must continually slay the demons and dragons of their own unconscious (such as fear, their egos) in order to discover their creative ability which ultimately comes from giving themselves up to a higher power.

Ultimately, they become selfless and can see the creative possibilities that the universe offers. They become masters of two worlds, one of imagination and creativity and the other of material things and business. This mastery makes it possible for them to bestow the boon.


To learn about all the other writers and experts who have said that entrepreneurs are heores, see my paper, Who Says Entrepreneurs Are Heroes? (Remarks prepared for the first HERO'S JOURNEY ENTREPRENEURSHIP FESTIVAL, March 31st, 2007 at Pepperdine University). You might need to save it first as an MS Word file and then open it.

Joseph Campbell, the author of the book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (which was one of the inspirations for the Star Wars movies), said in an interview that entrepreneurs were heroes. See Joseph Campbell on Entrepreneurship. If you want to hear that interview, click on this link. It is a video of my Pepperdine presentation. It comes up at about the 15 minute mark.

Click here to learn about Elliot McGucken's "Hero's Journey Entrepreneurship Festival"

To read about how important Schumpeter is and will be, go to A Vision for Innovation, Growth, and Quality Jobs by Lawrence H. Summers, former head of the National Economic Council.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Parkinson's Law: A Book That Should Be Required Reading At All Colleges

It was written by C. Northcote Parkinson. Click here to go to the Amazon listing. Here is there description:

"Parkinson's Law states that 'work expands to fill the time available'. While strenuously denied by management consultants, bureaucrats and efficiency experts, the law is borne out by disinterested observation of any organization. The book goes far beyond its famous theorem, though. The author goes on to explain how to meet the most important people at a social gathering and why, as a matter of mathematical certainty, the time spent debating an issue is inversely proportional to its objective importance. Justly famous for more than forty years, Parkinson's Law is at once a bracingly cynical primer on the reality of human organization, and an innoculation against the wilful optimism to which we as a species are prone."

Where they say "as a matter of mathematical certainty, the time spent debating an issue is inversely proportional to its objective importance" it refers to a section where a committee spends very little time debating a mult-million dollar nuclear power plant but they spend way more time discussing what refreshments to serve in the break room (or something like that). I think if you like the Dilbert comic strip, you will like this book. It humorously describes many of the ways bureaucracies are disfunctional.

By the way, the "C" in C. Northcote Parkinson stands for Cyril. Yes, I was named after him (of course I was, since I was born after he was I was named after he was named).

This site has a good sampling of some of his brilliant insights: C. Northcote Parkinson Quotes. Some deal with economics like "Expenditures rise to meet income."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are Electric Cars Cost Effective?

See JD Power study: Electric vehicle economics don't pencil out. Excerpt:
"“EV owners report an average monthly increase in their utility bill of just $18 to recharge their vehicle’s battery — which is significantly less than the $147 that they would typically pay for gasoline during the same period of time,” the study said.

The problem, said Neal Oddes, senior director of the green practice at J.D. Power, is that there “still is a disconnect between the reality of the cost of an EV and the cost savings that consumers want to achieve.”

A battery-powered all-electric vehicle will cost about $10,000 more than a similar gasoline-powered vehicle, he said. Based on annual fuel savings, it would take an average of 6.5 years to recoup that money."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Are Pessimistic "Animal Spirits" Still Hurting The Economy?

Ben Bernanke seems to think so. See Bernanke: Banks' tight standards hurting economy.
"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says banks' overly tight lending standards may be holding back the U.S. economy by preventing creditworthy borrowers from buying homes. Bernanke says some tightening of credit standards was needed after the 2008 financial crisis. But he says “the pendulum has swung too far the other way.” He says some qualified borrowers are being prevented from getting home loans. Bernanke comments to an audience in Atlanta came on a day when it was reported that average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a record low of 3.34 percent. Rates have been low all year but have fallen further since the Federal Reserve started buying mortgage bonds in September to encourage more borrowing and spending."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why High Taxes To Pay Back The Debt Might Be A Problem For Economic Efficiency And Future Economic Growth

This is a continuation of Sunday's topic.

Suppose that you buy a new shirt every month for $20. But now there is a high tax on shirts to help pay back the debt so that the price is $35. You might not buy that new shirt. Many other people might not, either. Then some stores go out of business and some t-shirt makers lay off workers. This will slow down economic growth in the future.

Also, if taxes are especially high, businesses will have less incentive to invest (build new factories, stores, restaurants, buy new capital, etc.). Less capital means less economic growth. The problem with taxes is that each incremental tax increase causes more harm to economic efficiency than the previous increase (and probably harms economic growth more). I will explain more of this below.

But also remember that just a small drop in the growth rate hurts us in the long run. For example, in the last 30 years or so, the annual growth rate in the real GDP in the U.S.has been about 2.8%. If per capita GDP goes up 1 percentage point less than that to take population growth into account, we would have a per capita growth rate per year of 1.8%.

If 30 years ago per capita GDP was $27,500 then today it would be about $46,900 (actually close to what it really was last year). But what if we had only grown 1.3% per year? The per capita GDP would be only $40,500. That would be $6,000 less, which is big and that kind of difference just keeps getting bigger over time and that is only a .5% lower growth. This big difference is due to compound interest.

Below is a letter to the editor of the WSJ I wrote a few years ago. It helps explain the exponentially growing damage that taxes cause:

"Stephen Moore did a great job explaining how complicated our tax code is and how high taxes have gotten relative to what was originally promised in 1913. One other way to see the insidiousness of taxes is to realize that they are just as much the "noise" in the economy as prices are the "signals." The income you get paid is the price for your services and therefore signals the value of those services. But taxes reduce the clarity of that signal (hence, they are noise) by reducing how much of your pay you actually get to keep. As taxes increase, the noise-to-signal ratio in the economy increases even more, meaning distortions, and the misallocation of resources they cause increases disproportionately. For example, if the income tax rate is 10%, you keep 90% of your income. The noise-to-signal ratio is .111 (or .1/.9). But if the tax rate goes up by .10, or to 20%, the noise-to-signal ratio goes up even more, by .15 to .25 since you keep 80% of your income. The .25 comes from .20/.80 equaling .25. Another .10 increase in the tax rate increases the noise-to-signal ratio by .179 from .25 to .429. Then going from a 30% tax rate to a 40% tax rate makes it go up by .238, from .429 to .667. Every tax increase causes increasing damage to the economy's ability to efficiently allocate resources."

This is consistent with the fact that deadweight loss also grows exponentially with tax increases. There will be some links to deadweight loss at the end of this post (my students can simply look at the appendix to chapter 3 in their textbooks). But the idea is that a tax on a good causes the problem mentioned above when the price of a shirt increases.

In supply and demand, if an excise tax has to be collected by the seller, the supply line shifts up by the amount of the tax. In the graphs below, the green triangle shows the deadweight loss or the total economic harm from the tax.

In the first graph, the tax on the good is $2 per unit, so the supply curve shifts up by $2 (the red line represents the new supply line). The area of the green deadweight loss triangle is 1 (one-half times the base times the height (I turn it sideways to make a base of 2)).

But in the second graph, the tax is doubled. It is $4 per unit, so the supply curve shifts up by $4. Now the area of the deadweight loss triangle is 4. So we doubled the tax but the damage caused has quadrupled. This shows that tax increases cause exponential damage to economic efficiency, which harms economic growth in the future.

If the supply line gets shifted up by $20 (if taxes were that high), then there would be no market left at all.

Links on deadweight loss:

Deadweight loss

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Deficit Trials 2017 A. D.

I recall a commercial like this back in 1985 or 1986. It paints a bleak picture of America in the future, presumably caused on the growing national debt ($2 trillion then, almost $16 trillion now). I think this thing is way over the top but there may be some real dangers from the debt that I mention below. You might have to watch a brief commercial for some product first. We have been covering the deficit and debt this week in my macro classes. If the embedded video does not appear, use the link below it.

Ridley Scott - W. R. Grace Deficit Trials by angelseyth

Real problems the national debt might cause
. About 28% of the debt is owed to foreign citizens (that is according to the textbook by Tucker-it is probably closer to 33% now). When they get paid back, they come and buy American goods. That leaves fewer goods for Americans (who can't afford to buy as much due to higher taxes that were needed to pay back the debt). BUT THIS MIGHT NOT BE A CONCERN IF WE ORIGINALLY BORROWED THE MONEY FOR A GOOD PURPOSE.

People borrow money all the time to buy houses and cars. Then they pay it back to a person outside of their family or household. We don’t consider this a burden since the money was put to good use. Right after World War II, the national debt was 120% of the GDP. This was much higher than it is now and we survived. No one complains that we borrowed to win the war.

2. Raising taxes might hurt economic incentives. At higher tax rates, people might want to work and invest less. Fewer businesses might expand and fewer news ones created since you will get to keep less profit. But again, THIS MIGHT NOT BE A CONCERN IF WE ORIGINALLY BORROWED THE MONEY FOR A GOOD PURPOSE. Also, if taxes only go up a little, and the debt is slowly paid off each year (like after WW II), it may not hurt too much.

3. We may have fewer government services in the future if we pay back the debt by lowering government spending. But this means that we are trading more government services today for fewer in the future. THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING IF THE MONEY IS SPENT WISELY (which everyone not might not agree on).

For more info ee Reinhart and Rogoff: Higher Debt May Stunt Economic Growth from the WSJ blog last year.

"To all the reasons to worry about the rapid rise in government debt in the wake of the financial crisis, add another: It’ll stunt our growth.

In a new paper presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard study the link between different levels of debt and countries’ economic growth over the last two centuries. One finding: Countries with a gross public debt debt exceeding about 90% of annual economic output tended to grow a lot more slowly. For advanced countries above the 90% threshold, average annual growth was about two percentage points lower than for countries with public debt of less than 30% of GDP.

The results are particularly relevant at a time when debt levels in the U.S. and other countries at the center of the financial crisis are rapidly approaching the 90% threshold. Gross government debt in the U.S., for example, stood at 85% of GDP in 2009 and will reach 108% of GDP by 2014, according to IMF projections. The U.K.’s gross government debt stood at 69% of GDP in 2009 and is expected to reach 98% of GDP by 2013.

“If history is any guide,” the rising government debt “is very troubling for the U.S. and other advanced economies,” says Ms. Reinhart.

The relationship between government debt burdens and growth is even stronger for emerging-market economies, Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff find. For countries above the 90% threshold, average annual growth was about three percentage points lower than for countries with public debt of less than 30% of GDP. The countries above the threshold also experienced much higher inflation: prices rose more than twice as fast as in countries with small debt burdens."

Friday, November 09, 2012

A College That Costs $61,236 A Year?

It is Sarah Lawrence College. That includes tuition, fees, room, and board. See Sticker Prices Go Up at Public 4-Year Colleges, but at a Slower Pace. I can email that article to anyone who can't get access. It is from the Chronicle of Higher Education (Sarah Lawrence is private). To see the ranking of the highest cost colleges go to Colleges With Highest Tuition.  Excerpts from the article:

"The annual increase in average published tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public colleges, 4.8 percent, is smaller than it has been in more than a decade. At private nonprofit four-year colleges, the increase was 4.2 percent..."

"Last year tuition at public four-year colleges increased by 8.4 percent over the previous year."

"[President Obama proposed] ... to reward states for holding down tuition, among other goals, but also remove funds from colleges that don't offer a good value at an affordable price."

"For the 2012-13 academic year, according to the College Board, the average list price for in-state students' tuition and fees at public four-year institutions hit $8,655, up from $8,256 the year before. At private, nonprofit four-year colleges, the sticker price for tuition and fees rose to $29,056, compared with $27,883."

"Full-time, in-state undergraduates paid an average of $2,910 after grant aid and tax benefits at public four-year institutions in 2012-13. Students at private, nonprofit four-year institutions paid an average net price of $13,380. In 2011-12 the net price was $2,620 at four-year public colleges and $12,600 at four-year private nonprofit colleges."

"Neither sticker price nor net price captures the complex reality of individual variation, the report notes. Prices can be quite different from college to college."

" 2011-12, 49 percent of undergraduate grant aid came from the federal government, up from 37 percent a decade before."

"In the mid-1980s, the states awarded only 9 percent of their undergraduate grant aid without regard for need. But by 2011-12, they were distributing 29 percent that way. More states are focusing their aid programs on keeping top students rather than helping the neediest ones."

"About 60 percent of students who graduated in 2010-11 from the public or private nonprofit four-year institution where they started had taken out loans, the report says. Their average debt was $25,300. A larger proportion of graduates of private nonprofit colleges borrowed, and their average debt was about $6,000 higher."

"The more than $1-trillion in total outstanding education debt, including from graduate and professional school, can sound scary. But that sum is driven up by increases in enrollment."

"Of course, college affordability is affected not only by rising prices but also by family resources. Average family incomes were lower in 2011 than they were a decade ago, after adjusting for inflation, according to census data cited in the report."

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Is there sufficient evidence to conclude that women experience systematic pay discrimination?

Not according to Harvard economist Claudia Goldin. See The Truth About the Pay Gap: Feminist politics and bad economics by Steve Chapman. Here is an excerpt from that article:
"I [Chapman] asked Harvard economist Claudia Goldin if there is sufficient evidence to conclude that women experience systematic pay discrimination. "No," she replied. There are certainly instances of discrimination, she says, but most of the gap is the result of different choices. Other hard-to-measure factors, Goldin thinks, largely account for the remaining gap -- "probably not all, but most of it."

The divergent career paths of men and women may reflect a basic unfairness in what's expected of them. It could be that a lot of mothers, if they had their way, would rather pursue careers but have to stay home with the kids because their husbands insist. Or it may be that for one reason or another, many mothers prefer to take on the lion's share of child-rearing. In any case, the pay disparity caused by these choices can't be blamed on piggish employers.

June O'Neill, an economist at Baruch College and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, has uncovered something that debunks the discrimination thesis. Take out the effects of marriage and child-rearing, and the difference between the genders suddenly vanishes. "For men and women who never marry and never have children, there is no earnings gap," she said in an interview."

This issue came up recently in the San Antonio Express-News. See Texas wage gap 12th-lowest. The problem with saying women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make is that it does not take things like occupation and years of experience into account. In 2007 the American Association of University Women issued a report. One of the things it says is:
"Ten years after graduation, women fall further behind, earning only 69 percent of what men earn. Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the research indicates that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained and is likely due to sex discrimination."
I emailed them the following question but never heard back:
"So the 69 percent means that women earn 69 cents for every dollar that men make ten years after college. That makes the gap 31 cents. But when these other factors are accounted for, one-quarter of the gap remains. Since one-quarter of 31 is 7.75, that means when all other factors are held constant, women earn 92.25 cents for every dollar that men make. Is my interpretation correct? How does this compare to what other studies have found? Is this gap changing over time? Were any other causes for the remaining 7.75 cents examined besides sexual discrimination?"
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis just issued a report that says Gender Wage Gap May Be Smaller Than Many Think. Excerpts:
"...the gap between the median earnings for men and women was 16.5% in the second quarter of 2011, a historical low and down from 30% in 1989. ... the gender wage gap is very likely affected by the disparity of men in higher paying professions. That disparity, while troublesome all on its own, may be skewing the data.

“Research suggests that the actual gender wage gap (when female workers are compared with male workers who have similar characteristics) is much lower than the raw wage gap,” the authors write.

... after having children many women prefer jobs that have lower pay but better benefits — either better health-care coverage or other perks like a more flexible work schedule.

Economists Eric Solberg and Teresa Laughlin applied an index of total compensation, which accounts for both wages and benefits, to analyze how these benefits would affect the gender gap. They found a gender gap in wages of approximately 13%. But when they considered total compensation, the gender gap dropped to 3.6%,” the authors write."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Don't Forget That Tomorrow Is Day Of The Deadweight Loss

On this day, economists mourn all the social welfare that has been lost in the last year. That social welfare is lost and we will never get it back. 

Deadweight loss is the loss of social welfare caused by that dreaded demon, inefficiency. Examples are monopoly and externalities. To learn more, go the following link:


One good way to commemorate this day would be to cut out the deadweight loss triangle from a monopoly graph (like the one shown below) and burn it, to symbolize all of the lost social welfare. Doing so is both a life-changing and life-affirming ritual.