Preschool lessons applied to international trade


COLORS OF EXCHANGE — Comparing international trade with the sharing of crayons ex-
plains how better opportunities arise. (Good Housekeeping)

The Early Years Development and Childcare Partner- ship (EYDCP) lists community as one of the primary fundamentals of pre-school. Within this fundamental, the EYDCP encourages pre-schools to hold “the spirit of helping and giving” as a backbone to instruction. In other words, sharing is similar to trade in the sense of the brightly colored room of al- most every pre-school. Adorning posters from these pre-days to middle school, the school systems of both public and private institutions encourage this vital sharing through countless group projects, Peanuts posters and the potentially not selected, but influential, limited resources of sport equipment, books and crayons.

We are taught to share out of the virtue of goodness, kindness and, although not as boasted about, desperation. If Sally only has crayon colors blue, purple and green and Connor has col- ors pink, orange and yellow, sharing their resources will lead them both to more colorful illustrations. Due to our finite world, there is an interconnected and blossoming beauty in shared resources. Stemming from the lessons of childhood stories like Stone Soup, which explains the way for a hungry village to make soup out of a stone is solely by sharing the few ingredients each person has. Sharing makes sense to most, from the age of pre-school, that combining resources can lead to more colorful drawings and yummier soup.

The same benefits link to international trade. Most econo- mists will agree on two, and most likely not many more than two, primary truths of their study. Firstly, that the study of economics exists due to limited resources. If everyone had what they wanted, there would be no need to examine trade, income or gross domestic product. Secondly, that international trade benefits everyone, on a global scale. Nothing has been able to reduce poverty and factors such as starvation, poor medical sup- plies and lack of funding for education that led to it. These truths stem from the EYDCP’s fundamentals of pre-school; in sharing, everyone can optimize their potential for more colorful drawings, yummier soup and a better world for all.

However, with age and experience, the sharing for Sally and Connor and the villagers of the stone soup story becomes blurred by influences not evident in the pre-school classroom. In a briefing in The Economist entitled “Donald Trump’s trade bluster,” President Trump’s definition of international trade is explained as, “a patriotic contest in which countries strive to take each other’s jobs—or seize them back.” Building off his backbone of protectionism, President Trump takes the counter argument to international trade. From this perspective, critics will argue that Sally and Connor will actually be better off using only their own crayons.

There are three main arguments that counter the listed benefits of international trade: less international trade seems to more directly increase domestic job stability, diminish conflict that may arise with other countries by trading and limit the amount of exploitation that poor countries may be subject to. These issues pull different strings of American hearts and often lead different courses of action. One of these is supporting government interference to the world of international trade. This force is mostly covered through tariffs, quotas and embargoes on goods being imported from other countries. These three claims are vehicles that the Trump Administration has taken and plans to continue implementing in their efforts to combat the perceived negativities to international trade.

Many times in discussion, the economy and trade gets pushed in the junk drawer because their ever-changing nature seems to fill the brain with more clutter than clarity. However, the most vital lesson of any economics course stems back to the fundamental that we, being all people of the world, are the economy. Scarce resources might be the reason the study exists but we are the driving force, the strong breath of the beast that is the economy. As explained earlier, all the down-turns to international trade are simply opportunities to improve the benefits. There exists no perfect system, but we hold no more optimal system.

Sharing may seem to be an overly simplistic or rosy way to view trade, but Sally and Connor will soon grow up to make the consumer choices that fill the lungs of the economy. However, we, as the people making the “adult” decisions right now are the ones who most vitally must remember the basic principles of sharing.

Professor of Economics at Hope College Dr. Sarah Estelle, explains, “The best thing the general public can do in support of freer trade – and college stu- dents are in a perfect position to do this – is to educate themselves on why trade is beneficial.” With knowledge, go forward and trade crayons; create a world with better opportunities for all.

Sophia Vander Kooy ('20) is a political science and international studies major with an unofficial passion for taking creative writing classes. She was the Production Manager at the Anchor during the spring semester of 2020, and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief. She is also a member of the Women's Track and Cross Country teams at Hope, the STEP Community Outreach Student Director and the Co-President of Hope Yoga. Sophia loves writing, being outside, cooking, running and connecting with all kinds of people. She has found the space to be herself at The Anchor and knows that she is not alone in that.

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