Liberal Arts Blog — The End Point of the Math Curriculum — “Earnings Models” and “Budgets”

Liberal Arts Blog — Monday is the Joy of Math, Statistics, Shapes, and Numbers Day

Today’s Topic: The End Point of the Math Curriculum — “Earnings Models” and “Budgets”

The real world is about making a living. How does the math of making a living work? If you don’t know the math, you don’t know the math. Should that math be the thread that connects math curricula from kindergarten to 12th grade? Perhaps. The math of how a business makes money is called an “earnings model.” The math of how governments make money is called the “budget” ending up in a surplus or a deficit. The math of how families make a living is called the “family budget.” Were you ever taught how to keep all three? Should every 18 year old have this skill? If so, is math class the place this should happen? Or should math just play a much bigger part in social studies curricula? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

HOW FAMILIES MAKE A LIVING — revenues and expenses

1. When should kids be taught what the family income is?

2. When should kids be taught what the family expenses are?

3. When should kids be taught about the family’s balance sheet?

NB: With what periodicity should families meet to update their family “earnings model”? Should every member of the family be a whiz at Excel spreadsheets by 5th grade? 8th grade? 10th grade?

HOW BUSINESSES MAKE A LIVING — from small to large to huge. from retail to manufacturing and finance

1.About 20% of businesses fail within their first two years. 45% within five years. 65% within the first ten.

2. How easy is to gauge the market for a product? to find the right price points? to package it in a way what will sell?

3. How easy is it to expand without expenses getting out of control? How easy is it to pay employees enough to motivate them but not so much as to blow up your earnings model?

NB: How on earth does that restaurant stay in business? What’s the math? How does a bank’s earnings model differ from that of a manufacturer?

HOW GOVERNMENTS MAKE A LIVING — who’s minding the till?

1. Tax more, lose votes. Spend more, gain votes.

2. Hmm. Whatever shall I do asks the politician.

3. Taxing the few (the rich) and spending on everyone else makes perfect sense.

NB: But then again the rich have more potential as donors. Oh, life is tough. A balancing act. How does that balancing act differ from the local to the state to the federal level? And of course, you should hide the real debt — the net present value of the unfunded liabilities. When should this math be introduced? 5th grade? 8th grade? 10th grade? See three links below. Can 17 Nobel laureates be wrong?

Quote of the Month:

“The single biggest challenge in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” (William H. Whyte, author of The Organization Man” (1956)


#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20

Last four years of posts organized thematically:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to math, statistics, or numbers in general. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to math.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.


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