Essay 1: Economist’s Jargon: Unite and Divide Essay 2: No Title



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Examples of Good and Bad Essays

Examples

Assessments

Essay 1: Economist’s Jargon: Unite and Divide
Essay 2: No Title
Essay 3: The Heisenberg Principle and Economics
Essay 4: The Difference between Physics and Economics
Essay 5: Consuming Less Rationally
Essay 6: Consuming Less Rationally

Essay 1: Economist’s Jargon: Unite and Divide
Essay 2: No Title
Essay 3: The Heisenberg Principle and Economics
Essay 4: The Difference between Physics and Economics
Essay 5: Consuming Less Rationally
Essay 6: Consuming Less Rationally

To give you a sense of what is acceptable writing and what is unacceptable writing, here we present six essays. These essays are possible student answers to three assignments which are similar to assignments you might receive in class. Essays 1 and 2 deal with the following question:

Professions have a tendency to develop a separate terminology that only members can follow. One reason for doing so might be described as society-serving and another might be described as self-serving. In a short essay discusses which of these two reasons do you think is more important in the case of economic jargon.

Essays 3 and 4 deal with the following question:



The Heisenberg principle states that there is a limit to our knowledge of reality because as we study certain physical phenomena we change them. Might a Heisenberg-type principle be relevant to economics? Write a short essay explaining why or why not.

Essays 5 and 6 are responses to the following:



In a Wall Street Journal article, a woman named Ms. Luhrs is quoted as saying, “If you’re continually consuming, you have to keep working, you can’t get off the treadmill.” Write a short essay explaining whether this a rational statement.

After presenting all six essays we grade them and provide a brief overall assessment of the essays. We also provide some specific comments about what we liked and what we didn’t like.

When you read our comments, think about the process of grading. That process has, by its nature, both an objective and a subjective element to it. The objective element of grading is the easiest. The objective part of the grade is based on considerations such as: Does the essay answer the question posed? Are the grammar, formatting, spelling, and standard elements of style up to speed? There is no debate about these relatively objective issues. For example, if you don’t answer the question you’re supposed to, you probably won’t do well on the essay. And if your paper has many grammatical mistakes, you’re in trouble.

The subjective element of grading works like a wild card in the grading process. Usually, there are many ways a question can be answered. Some ways will strike a chord with your reader; some won’t. The same is true with discretionary elements of style. Some professors may like your style; some won’t. For example, Colander, the guy who wrote your textbook, has a very informal, matter of fact, style. His style turns off a number of economics professors. Some of these consider his work abominable because of that style; they assign his book nonetheless, because, on objective grounds, it is a great book. (That’s a Colander ironic stylism, in case you were wondering.) And still others, we’re happy to say, like his style. (If they didn’t the book wouldn’t sell, and the Colander text would be eliminated from the market.) The point of this example is that wild cards average out, so you shouldn’t concern yourself too much with the discretionary elements of style. If you get the objective elements right, you’ll most likely do well. So concentrate on objective elements first.

Examples

Essay 1

Economist’s Jargon: Unite and Divide

By Con Scientious

The economics profession’s jargon serves a variety of purposes. For example, their common terminology serves to make for more precise communication. It allows ideas to be communicated clearly and exactly. This exactness and clarity of terminology serves society by allowing economists to discuss economics with each other and with society with clarity so that other economists have a better understanding of what an economist is saying.

A common terminology also serves to divide insiders from outsiders. For outsiders, for example economic students, who do not have a clue what these terms mean, economists’ terminology is exclusionary. It makes economists the gatekeepers of economic ideas. Economists’ terminology serves as a barrier to entry, restricting the supply of economists, and increasing the value of the services provided by existing economists.

Which of these two reasons is the strongest? To answer that question let us consider two examples given by Amanda Bennett, the author of The Wall Street Journal article, “Economists + Meeting = A Zillion Causes and Effects” [The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 1995]. The two examples are the concepts of externality and utility, Why do economists use these terms? Based on her article, and on my classroom experience, I would judge that, of the two reasons, the self-serving reason is the stronger. Essentially, economists create their terminology primarily to make life difficult for students.

Consider the first example: externality. Why no simple call externalities “unintended side effects”? It would be much easier for students to comprehend. Or alternatively, consider the second, utilities. How much clarity can the concept, utility, provide when the text tells us that, essentially, it means happiness? If it means happiness, why not use the term, happiness? The very fact that Ms. Bennett can provide a simple translation of economists’ jargon suggests that the jargon was unneeded for precise communication. And even, if there is some value added in terms of clarity of the jargon, do its costs in additional memorization for students, outweighs the gain. For me, the answer is clearly, no.

Actually, to answer anything other than economists are self-serving would show that I have not done my homework. Economists’ basic premise is that people are self-serving. Why should economists be any different. With a difficult to learn economic terminology, economists can create a monopoly position for themselves; they can restrict supply and increase price for their services. To quote the textbook, “people do what they do because it’s in their self interest.” Thus, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that economists have developed their economic jargon with their self-interest, not society’s interest, in mind.



Essay 2

I think the self serving reason why professions develop a separate terminology that only members can follow is more important because people are greedy and always want what is good for them, not what is good for society because of the problems of the barriers to entry and the free rider and thus, the self serving reason is more important.

On the other hand, it is good for society if professions develop a separate terminology that only members can follow because then everyone can understand them, and they can understand each other. A common terminology permits effective interpersonal communication, thereby resulting in clear, complete, open dialogue. So in a way, the society-serving causes of professionals’ terminology outweigh the self-serving causes because if we didn’t have it, then we wouldn’t be able to understand the weighty and eloquent locutions spoken by the eminent economists of yesteryear and today. For these reasons, I think that sometimes the society-serving reason is the most important. This the intellectual importance of the self-serving reason which is also the most important sometimes. The whole theory of the principle of rational choice theory which says that one should do that which yields the maximum marginal utility according to your self interest which is to say that selfishness is the thing that drives most people. Economists do not find it in their best selfish interest to use normal English to discuss economic theory because then everyone would be speaking it in the society, and the marginal utility is low. Instead of that, economists developed a terminology which only they could use, so people would have to attend institutions of higher learning to make it possible for them to profess economic tenets. This is called barriers to entry because people are barred from entering the world of economics by the insurmountable difficulties in attaining a sufficiently acceptable level of proficiency in the economics terminology. Barriers to entry create monopolies, market structures in which one firm makes up the entire market. Three important barriers to entry are natural ability, increasing returns to scale, and government restrictions, economics terminology can’t really be considered any of these because it’s more similar to learning by doing. Also the free rider problem undermines people’s willingness to perform service to their society further strengthening the argument that self-serving reasons have prompted economists to adopt their own terminology.

Keeping people from becoming economists or talking about economics through the language barrier. This causes another dramatic consequence. The supply for economists is restricted, so that each economist who exists in the present market for economists may value their work at a higher price.

So as you can see, the most important reason is the self-serving one, and subsequently, economists’ use of an economic terminology results in increased benefit to the economists at the expense of society. The society-serving reason pales in comparison.

Essay 3

The Heisenberg Principle and Economics

By Con Scientious

A quick skim of The Wall Street Journal on a daily basis for just a week should prove to you that the Heisenberg principle does indeed apply to economics. The Wall Street Journal provides daily analyses of economic events and economists’ perspectives on what has happened as well as what is likely to happen. The Wall Street Journal ‘s curculation is evidence that these analyses are taken seriously by both businesspeople and consumers.

To see how economists’ predictions change the course of economic events, look at economists’ assessment of leading and coincidental indicators and the subsequent movement up or down in the markets for stocks and bonds. Leading indicators are used to predict what is likely to happen in the future, while coincidental indicators are used to describe the economy’s current condition. When the economists say that the indicators demonstrate that the economy is in a recession or entering a recession, consumers and businesses react immediately to prepare for the anticipated recession by reducing consumption and investing more cautiously. This often serves to hasten the onset of a recession, fullfilling the economists’ original prediction. In turn, if consumers and businesses expect good times ahead, they invest and spend their money more confidently. High levels of investment and consumption translate to strong economic growth.

An examination of “Orders for Durable Goods Plunge by 6%,” [The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1995] yields an example of how this cycle works. Note Marilyn Schaja’s prediction that the Fed will move toward “an easier policy stance” and the reaction of investors in the bond markets to this statement and others similar to it; the bond market soared due to speculation that interest rates might be cut soon. This is only one example of how economists’ predictions directly affect the bond market, but the bond market rises and falls dramatically each day in response to speculation about what the Fed will do or whether the economy is predicted to speed up or slow down. Other examples abound on the second page of The Wall Street Journal.

But economists are not gods. They cannot know for sure what is going to happen to the economy, and they often disagree with one another. When there is a majority consensus, the Heisenberg principle operates in full force. Businesses and consumers are often susceptible to the majority opinion, and economists’ predictions will likely be fulfilled just because the predictions have been made. When all economists seem to disagree, the individual is left to make his own decisions. In this case, the outcome is less predictable, and it might seem that the observed is less likely to be affected by the process of observation.

Essay 4

The Difference between Physics and Economics

by N. Otime

I don’t think the Hiesenberg principle can be relevent to economics because its a phisics principal. Phisics and economics are two different subjects, phisics being a natural science, and economics being a social science.

I don’t think that economic predictions have anything to do with the events that they predict. The article compares economists to meteoroligists.

Meterologists’ predictions don’t change the whether, so economists predictions don’t change the economy. This means that the Hieisenburg isn’t appliable.



Essay 5

Consuming Less Rationally

By Con Scientious

Underlying economic reasoning is economists’ analysis of individual choice. That analysis is based upon the observation that, generally, people act according to their rational self-interest, trying to get as much pleasure as possible out of life. From this proposition and subsequent measurement of pleasure, comes economists’ basic principle of rational choice: spend your money on those goods that give you the most marginal utility per dollar.

An economist would use this principle to assess whether or not Ms. Luhrs’s statement is rational. If Ms. Luhrs calculated the marginal utility per dollar of leisure to be greater than that of consumption of material goods, and thus, work, her statement would be assumed to be rational by economists. The article, “When Shopping Sprees Pall, Some Seek the Simple Life,” [The Wall Street Journal, May 24, 19995] discusses that the decision is hers and that it has been made after careful thought. For example, Ms. Luhrs’s statement “It’s a freedom thing, the way I see it,” demonstrates the high value she gives to freedom, and the low value she gives to material goods. The fact that many people do not share her valuation of leisure versus material wealth is irrelevant to the issue.

There is nothing in economics that says that people must want more and more material things. A second part of the principle of rational choice is the principle of diminishing marginal utility: as our consumption of an item increases, the marginal utility obtained from each unit decreases. It could be argued that Ms. Luhrs is demonstrating this principle: that after a certain point, work and consumption of material goods becomes less and less satisfying; the marginal utility of consumption of material goods falls.



Essay 6

Consuming Less Rationally

by W. Ordy

No, it is not rational because according to the economic theory, you should spend your money on those goods which yield the maximum utility per dollar. MUx/Px must equal MUy/Py. If MUx/Px is less than MUy/Py, than it is the consumer’s duty to buy more of good Y. If MUy/Py is less than MUx/Px, than the consumer must use more of good X. When you work more, you can consume more, each additional unit yielding additional, marginal utility, so you continually increase the sum of your total utility. Following the tradition of economic reasoning, more is better. She may be right about that treadmill because there is a cycle in which consumption results from work which necessitates further consumption, but theory would indicate that this is a positive, self-perpetuating cycle because increased consumption yields increased utility, therefore maximizing utility.

The book says that the rule to follow is to vary consumption until the marginal utility for every dollar for one thing that you are consuming is the same as the marginal utility for every dollar for another thing that you are consuming. Ms. Luhr’s dissatisfaction from her current status in our society must come from her failure to vary her consumption of a variety of material goods. For goods, the marginal utility may start to be less than it was before after a while, and then we are advised to switch our buying to other goods. Ms. Luhr needs to find the goods which work for her. Then she wouldn’t be talking about the negative aspects of work because it is work which allows her to consume and maximize her utility. Her utils are at their highest the more she consumes.

In my view Ms. Luhr is succumbing to her emotions rather than her logic because everyone knows that increased work yields increased wealth and increased utility, and this is the ultimate goal of a rational person who is acting selfishly which is how economists think people act. If Ms. Luhr were truly being selfish and self-interested, she would obtain greater satisfaction from greater consumption, but her statement is defying this tenet of rationality which is so important to economic reasoning. She doesn’t want more. She must be irrational.



Assessments

Essay 1



Grade: A

General Assessment

The first thing we look for in grading an essay is whether the essay answers the question. This one does, or at least tries to do so. It has a clear thesis statement; she has chosen a side and attempted to defend it in an organized way. The defense may not be all that persuasive but it is a difficult question and may have no answer.

The technical aspects of the paper are sound; the formatting gives the paper a nice look; the grammar, style and spelling are is correct. Sentence structure varies, and the essay has a decent flow.

Specific Comments


  1. The paper starts with a thesis statement; in the remainder of the essay she provides support for her thesis.

  2. The first paragraph is very redundant; it could be shortened.

  3. Overall, the sentence structure is solid. The variation in sentence structure in paragraph 4 shows an understanding of style. For example, in paragraph 4, the student uses a question, an acceptable fragment, a long sentence, a short sentence, and a longer sentence.

  4. The last paragraph refers back to the thesis statement and adds a nice touch to the essay. It probably accounts for our decision to give it an A.



Essay 2

Grade: D

General Assessment

This is, quite frankly, an awful essay, and it is only our charitable nature that moves it up from an F to a D. It is a long essay, but length does not make up for a lack of a central thesis or organization. Neither does showing that you have read the subject. The author includes many economic terms, evidently to prove some knowledge on the subject. But, the essay never gets around to answering the question posed. In our assessment the author did not take the time to think about the question and develop her own ideas and answer. That’s a major flaw.

The technical aspects are also horrendous; the formatting is awful; the essay lacks a title and a name. (We can understand why the author didn’t want her name on it.) The margins are too small. There are many grammatical mistakes.

Specific Comments


  1. There is no thesis statement. What’s the answer to the question? In the first paragraph she moves from one position to another, contradicting her previous arguments.

  2. There are logical problems: “I think the self-serving reason ... is more important...and thus, the self serving reason is more important.” doesn’t work logically.

  3. The sentences are too long; there is much redundancy and ambiguity, and there are too few paragraphs.

  4. The sentence “...then everyone can understand them, and they can understand each other” is totally confusing. Who can understand whom?

  5. The sentences are wordy. For example, in paragraph 2 it would be sufficient for the author to say “open dialogue.” Use of “clear” and “complete” is ridiculous and borderline redundant. “Insurmountable difficulties” is an exaggeration, and “sufficiently acceptable” is redundant.

  6. There are sentence fragments and run-on sentences. For example in paragraph 2, “The whole theory of the principle of rational choice theory which says that one should do that which yields the maximum utility according to your self interest which is to say that selfishness is the thing that drives most people” may be long, but it is not a complete sentence. The sentence second from the bottom of this paragraph is a run-on. “economics terminology can’t really...” should be separated from the preceding sentence by a semicolon or a period rather than a comma. The first sentence of the last paragraph is a fragment.

  7. In paragraph 2, “Marginal utility” of what is “low”?

  8. The author’s listing of the three important barriers to entry did nothing to further her argument. Develop only those points that matter.

  9. The author uses “also” to tack on a sentence about the free rider problem that did not belong in that paragraph at all.

  10. Paragraph 3 begins with a sentence fragment.

  11. In paragraph 3, the second sentence is useless. Obviously, “this” will “cause” a “consequence.” All consequences are caused.

  12. In paragraph 3 there is a problem of subject pronoun agreement. “Each” should be followed by “his” or “her,” never “they.”

  13. There are many more mistakes but the above list gives you a good idea of why the paper received a D.



Essay 3

Grade: A-

General Assessment

The essay is a solid, well argued essay; it has a clear thesis statement; it has a well-organized argument structured to support the thesis; it has a nice conclusion that gives the essay a little pizzazz. The answer is an adequate and appropriate response to the question. The technical aspects of the paper are also solid. The grammar and spelling are correct and the style is acceptable.

Why then not a solid A? There are a number of reasons. First, the paper has a lot of awkward grammatical construction, and a couple of spelling mistakes. The ending seems tacked on—it does not fit nicely into the paper.

Specific Comments


  1. The first paragraph gives a nice start to the answer. It gives a broad summary of the answer. However, in the second line “anyone” would have been preferable to “you”.

  2. In the third sentence the second paragraph, the “the” before economists should be deleted.

  3. “Circulation” is misspelled in the first paragraph and “fulfilling” is misspelled in the second paragraph.

  4. The second paragraph gives a specific example.

  5. The sentence starting with “When” in the second paragraph does not use parallel construction. In that sentence, there should be a comma after “recession” and “is” after the “or” to make the sentence parallel.

  6. In the 3rd paragraph,provides” would be much preferable to “yields”.

  7. The next to the last sentence in the third paragraph is too long and includes many unneeded words. All she had to say was: “predictions directly affect the economy”.

  8. The final paragraph needs a lead in. For example, he might have started it: “While economists influence economies, they…”

  9. The third sentence would have been better if it stated: “When there is a majority consensus, the Heisenberg principle is most likely relevant. Economists’ predictions...”

  10. There are other stylistic problems, but the above list should give you a sense of the problems.



Essay 4

Grade: F

General Assessment

It is quite clear that the textbook author believes that the Heisenberg principle is a general principle that may apply to all academic disciplines, not just for physics. It is not wrong to answer the question in the opposite way, but it is a much more complicated argument to make. Generally, if you’re contradicting the answer the book or your teacher is leading you to, you should construct your argument carefully.

The argument in this essay is not constructed carefully; it argues that because the article compares economists to meteorologists, that they are the same in all aspects. That is highly questionable. The economy is influenced by people’s decisions in a much more direct way than the weather is. Expectations are of central importance in the economy, and all things that affect expectations can affect the economy. If one is answering this question negatively, one would have to address this obvious connection and explain why it is relevant. The essay itself is probably too short. There are short and sweet answers, and there are just plain short answers. This is just plain short. The author obviously did not spend much time thinking about this question or writing this essay.

A consideration of the technical aspects of the essay makes it clear that the author did not put in any time or thought into this essay. There are innumerable grammatical and spelling errors.



Specific Comments

  1. The first two sentences start with “I don’t think.” The phrases are unnecessary and lead the reader to suspect that perhaps, you haven’t “thought.” In this case that suspicion is probably correct.

  2. The second sentence of the first paragraph is horrendous. The author should have used semicolons or made them three separate sentences.

  3. Spelling. You should always at least use a spell check, but also remember that that isn’t enough. This author misspelled “physics”, “relevant”, “principle”, “whether” and “Heisenberg” in two different ways. (The spell check would only have caught “relevant” and “physics”.)

  4. Three paragraphs is too many for this short of an essay. And, moreover, the paragraphing doesn’t have any logic behind it.



Essay 5

Grade: A

General Assessment:

This essay contains the elements of a solid A essay. He has presented a thesis statement—that Ms. Luhrs’s statement is rational—and he has constructed a solid argument to support his thesis statement. His conclusion serves to bring the reader back to the original point and ends the essay effectively. This author could have further developed certain ideas within his argument, but his development adequately answered the question posed.

His sentence structure, grammar, and word choice are generally correct. His information is accurate. The essay is short, but this is acceptable since the author has presented a logical and complete argument.

Specific Comments


  1. The sentences are varied and about the right length; they make the essay read well.

  2. The third sentence of the first paragraph contains a comma error.

  3. The addition of the second part of the principle of rational choice in the last paragraph gives the answer a sense of depth.



Essay 6

Grade: C-

General Assessment:

The biggest problem with this essay is that the author clearly does not understand the principle of rational choice. Regurgitation of the formulas presented in your textbook does not indicate understanding and will not impress your professor. This student presented the MUx/Px = MUy/Py formula, but then went on to say that maximizing utility translates to consuming as much of a good as possible. Moreover, the student failed to consider leisure as a possible good, and she failed to remember the principle of diminishing marginal utility.



The grammar and sentence structure in this essay is clumsy, and there is no excuse to ever misspell a person’s name within your essay. (The statement was provided by Ms. Luhrs, not “Ms. Luhr.”)

Specific Comments

  1. When writing a persuasive essay, you should formulate your thesis in such a way as to let your reader know what the question is. “No, it is not rational” is a thesis statement, but it fails to introduce your reader to your topic.

  2. Do not use pronouns unless it is clear to what they refer.

  3. Do not use repetitious words or phrases. “Additional” or “marginal” rather than “additional, marginal” would have sufficed. This author repeats this mistake frequently.

  4. Avoid basing your argument on unfounded assumptions. This author states in the second paragraph that “Ms. Luhrs’s dissatisfaction from her current status in our society must come...” Use of “must” here states that no other possibility exists. Unless the author knows Ms. Luhrs personally, she cannot make that assumption. The author says, “Her [Ms. Luhrs’s] utils are at their highest the more she consumes.” On its face this proposition is questionable. Besides, it is inconsistent with the consumption rule given at the beginning of the paragraph.

  5. In the first sentence of the last paragraph, the author says, “everyone knows that increased work yields increased wealth...” Never use the term “everyone knows.” Most likely everyone does not know.


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