Drug Bust

Relative to other wealthy countries, what happened to drug prices in the US over the past few decades?

*Fun facts: Americans use prescription drugs for 12 percent fewer days per year than their counterparts in other wealthy countries. And we use a greater proportion of generic drugs here than most other countries — 84 percent of prescriptions are generic.

Though Americans take a lower proportion of brand-name drugs, the prices of those drugs are a lot higher than in other countries. For many drugs, U.S. prices are twice those found in Canada, for example.

Prices are a lot higher for brand-name drugs in the United States because we lack the widespread policies to limit drug prices that many other countries have.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Describe one trend from the chart?

  3. Explain one reason for the trend?*

  4. Other countries decline to pay for a drug when the price is too high. Why do you think the U.S. pays for overly expensive drugs?

  5. What about our political culture or American political values explains why we pay so much more for drugs than other countries?

  6. Describe one consequence of the trend from the chart?

  7. Describe one action the U.S. Congress could take if it wanted to reverse this trend?

  8. Considering that it did not reverse the trend from the chart, explain why the Congress would NOT try to lower drug prices in the U.S.?

  9. Describe one action the President could take regarding the trend:

  10. For whom is this trend good news and for whom is it bad news?

  11. In what way does the data in the chart either support or counter the claim that America is a democracy, where the government does what is best for the people.?

  12. Imagine an American did not like the fact that we pay so much more than our peers for so much less - we pay more, they live longer. Describe a political action they could take.

Learning Extension

Read the details of why we pay so much more for so much less than other countries from the Upshot.

Action Extension

Think about an action you could take about this issue and share your ideas in class or online. Brainstorm with your class about the most politically efficacious action you could take and lay out a course of action.


Scroll to the bottom of the article on drug prices from The Upshot and leave a well reasoned claim on their comment page.

Suprising Therapy Animal Extension

We’ll share photographs of our favorite therapy animals over the next few class starters. Enjoy! If you have any crazy therapy animal photos please send them to me at jonathan@gopopro.com

Gov Lov

What U.S. Federal agency is the most popular?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this information?

  3. Why do you think so many people have a positive opinion of the US Postal Service?

  4. What was the least popular federal agency in this list?

  5. Why do you think that is?

  6. Overall, would you say that Americans have a favorable view of federal agencies?

  7. What is one political consequence of this data?

  8. Is this good news? Do you even know what each of these agencies does? If not, educate yourself.

  9. What is your absolute favorite federal agency? Write a rap about it and submit it in the comments section below!

  10. We are about to enter into a period of divided government (whoot! whoot!). What impact will that have on the federal bureaucracy?

  11. The loss of which of these agencies would be the most damaging to the United States?

  12. According to this data, Americans seem to like most federal agencies. At the same time, most people hold negative opinions about the president, the congress, and the US government in general. Explain those seemingly contradictory positions.

  13. Why isn't NASA at the top of the list?

  14. Donald Trump has already announced a hiring freeze on almost all federal agencies. How do you think that will effect their ability to operate?

  15. No one enjoys paying taxes, yet 58% of Americans approve of the IRS. Explain this apparent contradiction.

  16. Over the 8 years of the Obama administration, the public's favorable opinion of these federal agencies generally increased. What effect do you imagine the Trump administration will have on the public's opinion of federal agencies?

  17. How do you think partisanship affects opinions of the federal agencies?*

  18. How different do you imagine these numbers would be in a one-party country like Cuba, China or Russia?

Learning Extension

Read the Pew report on Americans' opinions of federal agencies

Action Extension

Show 10 people a list of these ten agencies. How many of them can even tell you what each agency does? Ask them to evaluate each agency as favorable or unfavorable. Compile your data to show the aggregate opinion of each agency and compare your score to the American public's. Share your results online or in class.

Visual Extension*

Therapy Animal Extravaganza 2018

We’ll share photographs of our favorite therapy animals over the next few class starters. Enjoy!

Old Congress, Young Congress

What is the age of the youngest member of the incoming 116th U.S. Congress?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How old is the oldest member of Congress? What the what?????

  3. Describe the difference between the median age of new members of Congress and of continuing (returning/incumbent) members of Congress?

  4. What explains this difference?

  5. Donald Trump is 72 years old. How much do you think his age has contributed to higher voter turnout among youth and the election of a younger Congress?

  6. Describe one political consequence of electing a Congress that is relatively younger than previous congresses?

  7. Describe a political issue or policy you would consider a youth issue, and a political issue or policy you would consider an elderly issue.

  8. Imagine the next Congress had a median age of 30 (!!!!!) Describe two policy changes which you imagine would result from this age change:

  9. Explain whether you think the incoming Congress is more likely to make policy to appeal to youth or to the elderly?

  10. As the median age of Congress is set to decrease, the median age of the U.S. is set to increase. Why do you think these countervailing trends are happening?

  11. Given the age requirements of the U.S. Constitution and the age of the youngest member of the U.S. Congress, which chamber must the 29 year-old Congressperson be a member of: the House or the Senate?

  12. If you were to rewrite the age requirements for the U.S. Congress for today, what would the age minimums be?

  13. We have age minimums for Congress. Explain whether you would support an age maximum for the U.S. Congress.

  14. Which American generation (Millennial, Gen X, Boomer, Silent) has the most members of the U.S. Congress?*

  15. Respond to the following claim: A Congress which (on average) is much older than Americans cannot represent America well. Respond to that claim.

  16. Do you think the election of a younger Congress will make people in your generation pay more attention to politics and be more likely to run for office in the future?

  17. In 1776, the American colonists left England because of “taxation without representation.” Would it be fair to say that people under the voting age have taxation without representation?

Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Read the Pew Research Center’s analysis of age and the 116th Congress.

Action Extension

Contact one of the millennial members of Congress and write them a congratulatory email.

Goat Yoga in Washington, D.C. Extension (kids in the capital)

Goat Yoga  is a real thing.

Goat Yoga is a real thing.

One Government, Divisible

Over the next two years the United States will have divided government (Democratic House, Republican presidency). What percent of Americans think that President Trump will be successful at getting his programs enacted over the next two years?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Why do you think most Americans feel that Trump will NOT be successful at enacting his agenda?

  3. How big a partisan divide is there in this data?

  4. How successful do Americans think the Democrats will be at getting their programs enacted over the next two years?

  5. If most Americans think that neither Trump nor the Democrats will be successful at getting things done, what will they expect the government to do until 2020?

  6. What is one consequence of gridlock and government inaction?

  7. Describe two powers in Article I of the U.S. Constitution that allow Congress to thwart the will of the President?

  8. Describe one power the President is given in Article II of the U.S. Constitution that allows him to check the Congress:

  9. What would James Freaking Madison say about the gridlock we are probably going to have in the next Congress?

  10. How successful do you think President Trump will be at getting his programs enacted over the next two years?

  11. In a parliamentary system, there cannot be divided government (the same party necessarily controls both the executive and legislative branches). Do you think the United States would be better off with a system that did not allow for divided government?

  12. Do you think there is any common ground or any programs that both the Democrats and Trump can agree on over the next two years?

  13. Will the fact that the President’s party is in charge of the Senate help President Trump achieve any part of his agenda?

  14. Do most Americans expect partisan relations to get better or worse between the President and the Democrats in Congress?*

  15. The majority of Americans say they approve of the Democratic leadership’s policies and plans more than they approve of Trump. What specific policies do they approve of?*

  16. Based on the data in the charts, do you think Trump will win reelection in 2020?*

  17. If you were an advisor to the Trump administration, what topic would you tell the Trump White House to focus on?*

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Think of this as an early Christmas present and read this Pew Research Report on Americans’ views on gridlock!

Action Extension

Nancy Pelosi is the leader of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives and is likely (although not certain) to be the next Speaker of the House. Contact Leader Pelosi and tell her what you think the Democrats should do now that they have a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gridlock Extension

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Goat Gridlock is real - Extension

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Turkey Time

Are there more turkeys or humans in America?

*There are currently 318.9 million human Americans.

That's a lot of birds.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. What trends do you see in the chart?

  4. What do you think explains the trends in the chart?

  5. Is this good news or bad news?

  6. What question do you have about this information?

  7. So there's roughly 75% of a turkey for every single American (including babies, people without teeth, and even vegetarians like me). Is that enough, and what do you imagine this number would be like for a very poor country like Nicaragua?

  8. What would these numbers be like in a country like Turkey, and do they have birds there named Americas??? 

  9. Would it be better to be born a turkey or not born at all?

  10. Every year, the President of the United States of America pardons a turkey. Don't believe me? Check out the video at the bottom of the page. In the comments section, explain whether you think the president should pardon a turkey this year, even if it is a terrorist turkey.

What's up with North Carolina?

Action Extension

Raise your own turkey, pardon it for Thanksgiving, and release it into the wild.