Honors Gov: Interest Groups

Interest Groups3     Americans join all kinds of groups that reflect their interests. When such groups seek to influence government, at any level, they are called special-interest groups or special interests. The term special interest refers to a particular goal or set of goals that unites the members of a group.

There are thousands of interest groups in the United   States. Although they differ in many respects, their basic goal is the same: they all try to persuade elected officials to take actions to support their interests. Special-interest groups fall into several categories, depending on their membership and goals. Americans join interest groups for various reasons. Some join for the information and benefits the groups offer. Many interest groups publish newsletters and host workshops and conferences for members. Some offer training that helps members qualify for higher-paying jobs.

All interest groups need both money and people, but they are organized and financed in many ways. Most interest groups have an elected board of directors or trustees who set policy and decide how the group’s resources will be used. Many groups have both national and state chapters, each led by their own boards or trustees. Funding methods vary among interest groups. Many economic and single-issue groups get most of their operating expenses from dues, membership fees, and direct mail fundraising campaigns. Some public interest groups get their primary funding from foundations or government grants.


Interest Group Web Site

You will work to create a poster web site to help others understand the views of your interest group. Underlined headings on the example must appear on your poster web site. You must write a slogan appropriate for your interest group and display it prominently. Create at least three talking points that explain why the issues you represent are important and how you want them handled by elected officials. Add color and other creative touches to make your Web site visually appealing

Interest Group Website


Econ: Market Structures Graphic Equation

Graphic Equation Wheat Industry-2014

You will create a graphic equation. Your graphic equation must visually explain how an industry illustrates the four main characteristics of market structures.

Read your handout and learn about your assigned industry and decide which market structure it exemplifies. Identify the four characteristics of market structures—number of producers, similarity of products, ease of entry, and control over prices—as they relate to your industry. Based on these characteristics, identify your industry’s market structure.

Create your graphic equation:

  • Visually demonstrate how the four characteristics of market structures apply to your industry. Include two graphs and two illustrations.
  • For each characteristic, write a one- or two-sentence summary explaining how it uniquely functions in your industry. Make sure all four summaries relate to their accompanying graphs or illustrations.
  • Do not use the name of your industry’s market structure anywhere in your summaries. Your classmates will determine the market structure by examining your graphic equation.


Honors Gov: Incumbent Politicians

Members of Congress, once elected, are likely to be reelected. Members of Congress can use their office to publicize themselves, pursue a service strategy of responding to the needs of individual constituents, and secure pork-barrel projects for their states or districts. House members gain a greater advantage from these activities than do senators, whose larger constituencies make it harder for them to build close personal relations with voters and whose office is more likely to attract strong challengers. Incumbency does have some disadvantages. Members of Congress must take positions on controversial issues, may blunder into political scandal or indiscretion, must deal with changes in the electorate, or may face strong challengers; any of these conditions can reduce members’ reelection chances. By and large, however, the advantages of incumbency far outweigh the disadvantages. Incumbents’ advantages extend into their reelection campaigns: their influential positions in Congress make it easier for them to raise campaign funds from PACs and individual contributors.

gerrymandering2  Gerrymandering is a way politicians draw boundary lines for legislative districts in ways designed to keep one party or the other in power in that particular district. In the last 10 years, 78% of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is almost four out of every five members of Congress, did not change party hands even once. In California, with 53 seats, the most in the nation, incumbents were kept so safe that only one of those seats changed party control in the past decade. David Wasserman, redistricting expert for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, says only 20 races for Congress are expected to be tossups in the 2012 election. That’s only 20 out of the 435 seats in the House. “In general elections, it’s almost rigged,” he said. And that may be part of the reason why Congress is so polarized.



Econ: Foundations Unit Test

 cat-sitting-desk    Foundations Unit Test   Paw - Integrity_sm




HGov: Political Parties


A political party is a group of people with broad common interests who organize to win elections, control government, and thereby influence government policies. Most nations have one or more political parties. In a one-party system, that party is the government, and party leaders set government policy. One-party systems are usually found in nations with authoritarian governments or in countries where religious leaders dominate. In nations with multiparty systems, voters have a wide range of choices on Election Day, and one party rarely gets enough support to control the government. Several parties often combine forces to obtain a majority and form a coalition government. Disputes often arise, and many nations with multiparty systems are politically unstable. The United States has two major parties, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Minor or third parties rarely win major elections. They often form over a single issue, such as right-to-life. Others form over an ideology, such as the Communist Party USA. A third type is a splinter party that often forms over a political figure. Third parties often influence politics by promoting new ideas.


Econ: Market Structures Simulation

Candy Sim Market Structures

The class was divided into the four groups. Through participation in four rounds of candy buying and selling, students will simulate four market structures: perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly, and monopoly. By analyzing each round in the simulation students will derive the characteristics of the market structures from their own experience.

Perfect competition have about 15+ students, monopolistic competition have 5 students, oligopoly have 3 students, and monopoly will have 1 student. Each student receives a specific type of candy. Everyone in perfect competition gets a smartie. Everyone in monopolistic competition gets a jolly rancher. Everyone in oligopoly gets a regular tootsie roll. And the monopoly gets a snicker bar.

I explained that I will buy a piece of candy from one firm in each market. I will pay somewhere between 5 cents and 25 cents and I will allow them, the business firm/student, to come up with the price of their candy. I explained to them to make sure they think about it before they decide on a price. Choose your price strategically. They wrote down on their price on a blank sheet of paper, nice and big so I can read it, what their price is, but not to let anybody see it. Perfect competition and monopolistic firms cannot talk, oligopoly firms can talk.


HGov: Political Campaign Financing


It takes a great deal of money to run a successful campaign for a major political office. The great majority of candidates must reach out to their supporters for funding. Most campaign funds come from individual citizens. These donations are often raised through direct-mail or Internet fundraising campaigns and are typically in the $25 to $100 range. Candidates also host fundraisers to raise money from large donors. The amount of money an individual could donate to a single candidate is limited by law to $2,300 for the primary campaign and another $2,300 for the general election. Political action committees are another important source of campaign funds. PACs are organizations formed by corporations, labor unions, or interest groups to channel funds into political campaigns. Similar to individual donations, PAC contributions to a single candidate are limited to $5,000 for the primary campaign and another $5,000 for the general election. Campaign financing is heavily regulated and disclosed publically. Presidential candidates can accept federal funding from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which gives money to each major candidate as long as he or she agrees not to accept any other direct contributions.

In 1974, Congress created the Federal Election Commission to enforce laws that limit campaign contributions. The FEC requires candidates to keep accurate records of donations to their campaigns and to make those records available to the public. Despite this oversight, campaign spending continued to spiral upward. Much of the money came from interest groups who had found loopholes in existing campaign finance laws. Calls for reform led to the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, which bans the use of soft money in individual election campaigns. It also limited how much soft money an individual could contribute to a political party. Parties could only use soft money to encourage voter registration and voter turnout. One side effect of the reform act has been the growth of 527 groups. These organizations are formed under Section 527 of the tax code. Because they are not tied to a political party or candidate, they are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose candidates. 527 groups and their donors have found a loophole that allows the continued use of unregulated soft money in political campaigns.