David R. Henderson  

My Daughter's Thoughts on Economic Policy

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My wife and I were cleaning out a closet last weekend and came across some of our daughter Karen's writing from elementary school. This is a letter that she wrote to President Clinton on May 26, 1994. She was nine years old. My guess is that the teacher had told them that they should write a letter to the President advocating saving a rare species. I know that my wife, a professional editor, did not edit it, because there are missing words and some incorrect grammar.

Dear Mr. Clinton,
I think the snow leopards are becoming extinct, so I'm going to make a project that the whole country can work on. What we would do is build separate buildings for the snow leopard families and put real grass and other plants and make their natural habitat. This will keep the leopards feeling like they're at home. They won't have to worry about getting food or being hunted.
Government would not have to pay for it because I think that only people who want to help out should pay. It should be their decision. It won't be like taxes because taxes you have to pay. This is only if you want to.
We would raise money by having auctions in all fifty states. People who want to support the fund would donate things to the auctions. What we'll do is hold a conference in California, and a person in every state is invited. I have friends in all fifty states whose parents could come. At the conference, we'll pick one person from every state who is honest and somebody you can rely on and make them a president of the auction. The auction will go on for a month, and if it's a success, it will be much longer.
The reason I thought of this plan is that snow leopards are one of the most beautiful animals, and, though they don't give us food, they help balance nature with their beauty and pride.
Thanks for reading.
Sincerely,
Karen G. Henderson

I had no idea at the time that she was writing this. Can you guess which paragraph I liked best?


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CATEGORIES: Public Goods



COMMENTS (18 to date)
David writes:

That's some pretty mature thinking coming from an elementary schooler. Good job!

Tom writes:

That is a very nice letter written for someone only nine years old. I am curious if the letter was graded and what grade was received. Of course, I wonder if the teacher was a statist and gave it a lower grade because of the non-coercive nature of the letter.

Blackadder writes:

Can you guess which paragraph I liked best?

The second, obviously.

David R. Henderson writes:

Dear Tom,
Thanks. And thanks also to David. There's no grade on it. There are two comments, though. Beside the paragraph about auctions, she wrote, "Unique solution." Beside the paragraph about the snow leopards' beauty, she wrote, "Good rational." Of course, she meant "Good rationale." No comment beside the paragraph about taxes.
Blackadder: Bingo.
Best,
David

Les writes:

Of course we all love our children.

But you have ample reason to be very proud of your daughter - already at only 9 years of age she makes important distinctions, and probably understands more about economics than many members of the Congress.

Zac writes:

So did Karen follow in dad's footsteps? Seems she has some genetic predilection for the economic way of thinking, and perhaps some natural interest in auction theory and market design.

Felix writes:

David R. Henderson: "Bingo"

? ... Despite your claim, I'm guessing the very, very last one:

"Karen G. Henderson"

But, then, it would be hard to find a more delightful person than a 9 year old daughter. 4 year old son, maybe. Or grownup kids. Great ages, all.

Bob Murphy writes:

Dang, Felix beat me to the joke. I was going to say, "If she had signed with a name other than her maiden one, I think you would have been alarmed."

Methinks writes:

If I had a kid, I'd want my kid to be just like your kid. What a delightful daughter you have. And what predictable comments from the teacher. It's very sad when a solution that doesn't involve coercion is considered unique.

For several reasons, this post kind of made my day. Thanks for sharing it.

Zack H. writes:

Some of the most insightful thinking I've seen from a nine year old.
Definitely not a keynesian.

FXKLM writes:

How does a nine-year-old come to have friends in all 50 states?

Jayson Virissimo writes:

"How does a nine-year-old come to have friends in all 50 states?" -FXKLM

The internet?

David R. Henderson writes:

"How does a nine-year-old come to have friends in all 50 states?"

Good question. I think she exaggerated. This was 1994, before our family used the internet.

Mike Rulle writes:

Unbelievable actually.

As an economist, the favorite paragraph is number 2.

As a naturalist or animal lover, of course number 4.

As a business person who appreciates an orderly good plan, paragraph number 3

As a professor who grades papers, paragraph number 1, as it has an excellent opening topic sentence

As father, the whole thing!

Snark writes:

Very impressive for such a young lady.

If the letter had ever arrived on Clinton's desk, he may very well have given it serious thought. He did, after all, have a soft spot for cats. Alas, poor Socks has passed.

The Cupboard Is Bare writes:

I read this earlier in the day and figured the second paragraph was your favorite.

The last paragraph caught my interest, because your daughter understood that even though the animal doesn't provide food, it still has intrinsic value; so, in essence there would be an exchange of a good for a service.

I also felt that the last paragraph demonstrated an artistic nature. I hope that she has continued to write.

Clayton writes:

LOL good rational


I'm impressed she has friends in all 50 states! I don't even have 50 friends!

mr commenter person writes:

I read your intro and the first paragraph, and continued rolling my eyes.

Then I read the next 3 paragraphs. Normally I can't stand cooing at young childrens' letters, but this one is different. It's adorable, clever, and well above the level a normal 9-year old writes at.

Is she still sympathetic to your libertarian views?

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