World's Biggest Companies

What is the world's biggest company by market cap (total financial value)?

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 3.03.17 PM.png
  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you about this list?

  3. Which of the top 5 companies do you use/visit?

  4. Which of the top 5 companies have you never heard of?

  5. What questions do you have?

  6. How many of the top 5 companies are American (hint: look at the names)?

  7. Would it be more accurate to describe this chart as business globalization or business Americanization?

  8. What kind of businesses are the most powerful companies (manufacturing, tech, financial, energy)?

  9. If you wanted to advise someone how to get rich. What would you tell them to sell?

  10. The Market cap (financial value) of Facebook is greater than the GDP (financial value) of Finland. Share your thoughts about the relative power of corporations in the comments section below:

Learning Extension

Learn more about the world's most valuable businesses in this PWC report.

Action Extension

Ask ten people to name the world's ten biggest companies and share the results in class or on social media.

Bonus Visual from 2012*

As of 2012

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 3.07.01 PM.png

Federal Government Spending as share of GDP

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of the GDP did the federal government spend in 2016?

Pew Research Center

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your silly prediction?

  2. Would you be embarrassed to share your prediction with your most special friend?

  3. How surprised are you by the overall portion of the GDP that the federal government spends?

  4. You do know what GDP means, don’t you?

  5. Spending by what other levels of government are not included in this chart?

  6. How do you think this spending level compares to other advanced post-industrial countries like Switzerland, Japan, or New Zealand?

  7. What are two trends in spending you see in the chart?

  8. Explain the cause of one of those trends.

  9. What is a consequence of one of these trends?

  10. Based on the trends in the chart, what portion of GDP do you think the US government will be spending by 2028?

  11. How familiar are most Americans with the data from this chart?

  12. Currently, what is the biggest single expenditure from the US government?

  13. Why do you think that is?

  14. Donald Trump, in his budget outline, has proposed increases in defense spending (very light blue section of chart) and decreases in "other" spending (darkest blue section of chart) for things like the NEA, NASA, and the CPB. Do you support that idea?

  15. If you had to cut any one area of spending in this chart, explain which area it would be.

  16. Which areas in this chart are entitlement or mandatory spending, and cannot be simply cut by a new budget?

  17. Overall, is this chart good or bad news?

  18. What would the framers of the Constitution think about this chart, besides “what the heck is a social security?”

  19. Former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, the federal government is basically “a gigantic insurance company,” albeit one with “a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.” Based on the data from the chart, does Fisher's assessment seem correct?

Learning Extension

Read this swell new Pew Report putting federal spending in perspective.

Action Extension

Contact the POTUS, or if you're not at Mar-a-Lago, go to his website to share your opinion of US federal spending and what he should do about it!

Visual Extension (at absolutely no additional cost to the federal government)!!!


Aw, that's adorable.

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

Changes in Spending

AP US Government & Politics

By 2040, what portion of U.S. Federal budget spending will be discretionary

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending?

  3. List two examples of mandatory spending:

  4. List two examples of discretionary spending:

  5. What story do these charts tell?

  6. What is one reason for the changing nature of U.S. federal spending?

  7. What are two consequences of the changing nature of U.S. federal spending?

  8. As discretionary spending gets squeezed, what are some specific discretionary U.S. government programs that you think might get cut?

  9. Describe the general trend in overall (discretionary + mandatory)U.S. government spending?

  10. What specific parts of the government play a major role in creating the budget?

  11. Describe the U.S. Government’s budgetary process.

  12. Let's say that you felt the government was spending too much money on mandatory spending. Is there anything the federal government could do about this?

  13. Overall, is this good news or bad?

  14. Why doesn't the U.S. save money and just stop paying the interest on the debt?

  15. What questions do you have about all this?

  16. In the comments section below, list one program or expenditure that you wouldn't mind seeing cut from the US federal budget.

Visual Extension


Learning Extension

Learn more about the changes in discretionary spending at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Action Extension

Plug in your family information to the tax receipt calculator to see where the federal government spent your family's taxes.

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

GDP you later!

AP Government and Politics

What country's GDP or Gross Domestic Product - the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period - is the same as your state's?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Which state-country GDP comparison most surprised you?

  3. What does this map tell you about the relative wealth of the US?

  4. Should Arkansas be embarrassed?

  5. If California were its own country, what rank would it's GDP be?*

  6. According to this map, what country's GDP was the same as your state?

  7. Does that make you state-proud?

  8. Based on this map, what adjective would you use to describe our nation's wealth?

  9. Explain the effect of the Trump presidency on the U.S. GDP now and in the future.

  10. What country's GDP is closest to that of the U.S. of A.?*

  11. What questions do you have about all this?

  12. In the comments section below, explain why you think the US is so crazy rich?:

*Answer: California would have the world's 11th biggest economy, right behind India and just before Canada, eh.

Learning Extension

Read the Business Insider story about different countries' GDPs relative to US States'.

Action Extension

Contact President Trump and advise him on two things he should do to increase US GDP:

Bonus Chart*

The U.S. and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Deficit

AP U.S. Government and Politics

Under the recent spending bill passed by congress and signed by the president, what will happen to the U.S. budget deficit over the next two years?

AP U.S. Government and Politics

AP U.S. Government and Politics

Critical Questions

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What does budget deficit mean?

  3. What is the difference between deficit and debt?

  4. What is the big story this chart tells?

  5. Explain whether you think this is good news.

  6. What is one major cause for the expanding budget deficit?

  7. What is one major consequence of an increasing budget deficit?

  8. If the budget deficit continues to grow, what will happen to the overall U.S. debt?*

  9. How does military spending versus non-military spending compare in the current spending bill the president just signed into law?**

  10. On Thursday, February 8 the U.S. government shut down because one U.S. senator held the floor and would not allow the Senate to vote on a funding plan that would have kept the government open. Is this a good way to run a government?

  11. What role does Congress play in spending and funding the government?

  12. What role does the President play in creating budgets?

  13. What does the brief government shutdown tell us about checks and balances?

  14. What do you think the framers of the Constitution would think about our current debt?

Visual Extension


Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 7.14.55 AM.png


Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 7.14.45 AM.png


Learning Extension

Check out the U.S. national debt clock in real time!!!!

Action Extension

Contact your congressional representative, share a link to the U.S. debt clock and tell them what you think about the deficit that we are adding to the U.S. debt.



Bling Bling

Let's say we took the wealth of the top 4 richest men in America and added that up. If we started with the poorest American and added their wealth to the next poorest American, and theirs to the next poorest and so on, until the wealth of those poorest Americans = the wealth of those four richest men. What # of Americans would it take to equal the combined wealth of those four men?

  1. Surprised?

  2. How accurate was your prediction?

  3. Explain how it happens that in one country 4 people are worth as much as 40% of the entire population:

  4. Is that good news or bad news for America, for those four men, for you?

  5. What is a consequence of this concentration of wealth?

  6. How does this concentration of wealth impact American politics and government?

  7. How would a libertarian and a socialist differ on their views of this chart?

  8. If you were to create a chart comparing 128 million Americans on one side and 4 Americans on the other, what would be a creative and accurate way to illustrate this:

  9. Describe one policy the US government could undertake to lower the disparity between the richest and the poorest Americans.

  10. Explain whether you believe the Trump administration will enact policies that will decrease or increase wealth equality?

  11. In many countries, it would be unacceptable for someone to have as much wealth as the four richest Americans. In others it is not only acceptable, it is considered good and righteous. Which of these two viewpoints is more prevalent in the US?

  12. What about American history explains that viewpoint and that general political culture?

  13. What would Thomas Jefferson say about this concentration of wealth?

  14. What do you think the odds are of ending up as rich as those 4 men?

  15. Explain whether you would rather live in a county where wealth was more evenly distributed.

Learning Extension

Check out all the cool graphs and charts in this Metrocosm story about American inequality.

Action Extension

Help us educated the POTUS (operation Contact the White House and share the data regarding American wealth inequality. Offer the President one specific policy he could enact to increase inequality and one specific policy he could enact to decrease inequality along with your recommendation of which policy he should pursue.


Make a chart as outlined by question 8 above, and post it in your school or online.

Take Our Survey
Take Our Survey
The fact that four American men have the same as 128 million Americans is good.

Bonus Charts


What portion of US jobs are in manufacturing?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What % of US jobs do you think the average American would predict are in manufacturing?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think this is happening?

  5. What is one consequence of this?

  6. Overall, is this good or bad news?

  7. If this trend were to continue, by 2025, what percent of US jobs would be in manufacturing?

  8. In 1950, almost 1/3 of all US jobs were in manufacturing (factory work); in 1900, 38% of all US jobs were in agriculture (farming); today, around 80% of all US jobs are in the service industry. Considering economic opportunity, explain which time period you would prefer to live in.

  9. Where have these manufacturing jobs gone?

  10. Are the countries where manufacturing makes up a much larger percentage of jobs, generally wealthier or poorer than the US?

  11. Many of these manufacturing jobs have been automated and are now performed by robots.

  12. Do you think Donald Trump should declare a war on robots?

  13. How do you think the data from this chart impacted the 2016 election?

  14. How do you think the data from this chart impacts US politics in general?

  15. Do you think Donald Trump will be able to bring back manufacturing jobs?

  16. Do you think Donald Trump should try to bring back more agricultural jobs?

  17. What is one program or policy the government could pass to try to bolster manufacturing jobs in the US?

  18. Many of the rust belt states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio) that were once home to manufacturing centers and reliably voted for Democrats, supported Donald trump in the 2016 election. Why do you think that is?

Learning Extension

Research the following countries: China, Croatia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Somalia, and the US. List their % of jobs in manufacturing and their per capita gdp.

Action Extension

Share your learning extension data and conclusions you have drawn with your class or online.

Bonus Charts

Economic Distress Signal

What states have the highest percentage of population living in economic distress?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this map and information?

  3. What region of the US is the most economically distressed?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of this?

  6. Is this map good news?

  7. How different do you think this map would look in other wealthy countries like Canada or New Zealand, for example?

  8. Explain the relationship between federalism and economic disparity within states:

  9. How do you think these levels of economic distress impact voting and political party identification?

  10. According to this map, what part of the country has the lowest percentage of people living in economic distress?

  11. What could the federal government could do to try to even out poverty levels between states?

  12. How do you think this report defines and would you define economic distress?*

  13. Would you say that your state is correctly classified by this map?

  14. How do you think race and ethnicity relates to this map?

  15. Will Hillary Clinton win any of these most economically distressed states in the 2016 presidential election?

Learning Extension

Read the entire EIG Report on American Communities in economic distress.

Action Extension

Compare a map of party affiliation and see how it compares to the map above. Print out and post both maps on a posterboard along with a title and post it in your classroom or hallway and discuss with your friends.


*The EIG report calculates what it calls a "distressed community index" using seven metrics: housing vacancy rates, the number of adults working, the poverty rate, median income, the number of people with high school degrees, the change in employment and the rate of business formation.

In the one-fifth of ZIP codes found to have the most distressed scores, 55 percent of adults are not working and nearly one-quarter have no high school degree.

Regional Inequality

What region of the nation has the highest level of inequality?

According to the Gini coefficient, the darker the state the higher the level of inequality.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this map?

  3. What is the big story this map tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is a consequence of this information?

  6. Is this good news?

  7. Explain whether you think inequality is bad.

  8. How do levels of inequality of states impact how those states vote?

  9. Over the next 10 years, explain whether you imagine the U.S. will get more unequal.

  10. How is this information impacting this year's election?

Learning Extension

Check out this BBC News report on how the Gini coefficient works.

Action Extension

Contact the Clinton or Trump campaign and tell them what you think about this information!