The essay for the course, worth 10% of the final grade, is a case study on government intervention in
markets. It will be due midnight on the last day of the last week of class, so Friday 5/20. There will be no
presentation component, only the written submission. The exercise asks you to apply our discussion of
markets and government policy to a real world scenario, and to use what you’ve learned in class to
understand and comment on the purpose, design, and impacts of government policy on markets.
The Task
First, choose a government policy where the government intervenes in a market. This could be a local,
state, or federal government policy. It could be a tax, a subsidy, a direct regulation, a price control, etc.
Be sure to use an actual law that is (was) in place, and not just a general kind of policy (for example,
don’t talk about subsidies in general, but instead talk about a specific subsidy for some good in the
world around us). I advise you to choose something that interests you, as the assignment requires some
reading and research into the policy and the market affected. An interest in the policy you choose will
make the process much more enjoyable and will most likely lead to a better result. Document and
explain what the government intervention is/was, i.e. what action the government has taken, what
markets they were/are targeting, and how the policy is designed to work. It could be a historical policy
or a contemporary one, it is your choice.
Second, explain why the government has engaged in this policy. Relate this purpose to the possible
motivations for government policy that we have discussed in class – ethical/moral reasons, equity
reasons, and efficiency reasons, etc. Explain the primary arguments for and against this particular policy.
Third, explain what the implications from this policy have actually been. Examine both the distributional
implications and the efficiency implications. Has it worked as it was supposed to? Why or why not? If
you are choosing a relatively new policy, you may not be able to find much information or analysis about
what actually is happening. However, use anecdotes and the results from similar policies to try and
understand what the likely impacts will be.
Finally, conclude with your own perspective on this policy. Indicate whether or not you agreed with the
reasoning behind the decision to implement the policy and whether or not you would consider it a
success. In other words, characterize this policy as either an example of government failure or successful
government intervention.
I expect a formally written essay, roughly broken up into the four components above. You will likely be
using government sources and other papers and books that discuss the policy you have chosen, so
please cite your sources appropriately and include a references page. Please use MLA stye citations. I
expect that, when all is said and done, your essay should come out to 3 or 4 pages (not including the
works cited page). However, this is a “soft” requirement. Grading will be based upon how completely
you cover the four objectives I have laid out above, and how thoughtful you have been in applying what
we learned in class to the policy you are discussing. I highly recommend doing some background
research and analysis from other economist’s and policy analysts to help support and round out your
own analysis. If there are dissenting perspectives on the analysis, please provide and consider them.

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