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In any economic system, people must decide what to produce, how to produce it, when to produce it, and who will get it. This lesson looks at the when question. In particular, if society has only a finite amount of some resource, when should that resource be used -- today, tomorrow, or not at all? This problem is sometimes called the cake-eating problem: given a cake (with good preservatives!), what is the best way to eat it? All at once? A little each day? or by some other pattern of consumption? In this lesson students learn how people making decisions in the market for a nonrenewable resource decide when the resource will be used. After reviewing the news around Clinton's Africa visit and his focus on environmental issues in Botswana, they are introduced to the when question with a spring holiday variation of the 'cake-eating' problem. The snacks described in the problem are then used to demonstrate how a market for a nonrenewable resource works.
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