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12E.1.1 Gold scales

Oroville Chinese Temple and Museum Complex

People have to make choices every day due to scarcity. Everyone has limited resources and time, but we all have unlimited wants. Every day, we choose how we spend our limited resources — like our time and money — to make the best of what we have.

What do the scales indicate about our daily choices?

If you don’t define scarcity prior to using this source set, you could use this resource to have students explain how they think scarcity could be represented by a scale. Students could work with a partner to make a list of items that are scarce in their lives, or you could give them the list of economic resources (land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship) and then a list of wants (jewelry, fashionable clothing, entertainment, recreation, new car, new smartphone, unlimited Wi-Fi, etc.) and have the students place the terms on either side of the scale. The two sides of the scale could be labeled “resources” and “unlimited wants.” It may be useful to explain here that people often consider adding as many of the unlimited wants as they can with the resources they have. Individuals may experience satisfaction as they allocate their scare resources to achieve their unlimited wants.