DENVER – It really is all about the Benjamins.
Three busloads of local fifth-graders Tuesday rode to Denver’s Young AmeriTowne for a lesson in free enterprise, business and economics. They had a great time, and they get it.
Kevin Azcona was vice president of the AmeriTowne Bank and looked dashing and professional in his black business suit.
“You have to make money in your business because you have to pay people,” he said. “They buy things from other businesses, and the money comes back to my bank.”
And the money goes back out and comes back in. Cash flows like the tide, and business blossoms.
Young AmeriTowne is a hands-on lesson in free enterprise. Fifth-grade students and teachers at Gypsum’s Red Hill Elementary School worked weeks preparing, learning some basic economics and matching their skills with the jobs available.
Every kid gets around $25 in AmeriTowne money, they’re trained for a job they’ve chosen, and they set about the business of business.
AmeriTowne is a classic town square, bordered by Success Street, Penny Lane, Profit Point and Banking Boulevard.
Kids bounce around everywhere, except each business has one kid behind a desk, hunched over a ledger and counting money, keeping track of everything. They are the accountants, and they’re learning why accountants truly rule the world – quietly.
In AmeriTowne, accountants earn more than most people.
“Accountants are a tougher job to fill,” said Zachary Fink, a fifth-grade teacher.
Some business is funny, such as the Four Young AmeriTowne Laws:
One, you have to break dance when you pass Towne Hall.
Two, you have to put your arms out like you’re a bird or an airplane when you pass the travel agency.
Three, when a teacher talks to you, boys have to curtsy and girls have to show their muscles.
Four, when you pass the college, you have to strike a pose.
That’s it. Remember those, and the good-natured AmeriTowne police – Finn Larson, Zane Ray and Willie Ruiz – won’t write you a ticket and send you to see Judge Kelsea Baldwin. But everyone forgets, and everyone spends a little quality time and a couple of bucks with Judge Kelsea, which is both time and money well spent.
Mayor Adrian Torres cut the ribbon on Towne Hall and concluded his opening ceremony remarks with, “Now, get to work!”
AmeriTowne, like all free enterprise, is based on goods and services exchanged for currency. This is how to raise a capitalist.
Junk food sells well because it’s short-term and instant gratification. Investments were a little harder to move.
The snack shop was selling soft drinks for $2. Then, by design, they started running low on cups as a quick lesson in how scarcity can drive prices. They raised their prices to $4 and still sold out.
For the same reason, AmeriTowne’s newpaper, The Nosy News, jumped from $1 to $4. Maybe there’s hope for the print media, after all.
If you feel sick or get hurt, you go to the medical center. If you don’t, they can come get you and assign you an illness or ailment. Your treatment costs a couple of AmeriTowne bucks.
The ambulance cannot come fetch you for the medical center while you’re working, being a productive citizen of AmeriTowne. You can only get medical care while you’re working, which apparently makes workers comp one of its specialties.
While you’re there, they’ll try to sell you a sticky eyeball, which your real-life medical clinic probably won’t do.
As the day wound down, the lessons sunk in.
There’s a cost for justice, said the judge.
“I learned that a lot of people get arrested,” said Judge Kelsea, in the midst of administering justice, fairly and equitably.
Deadlines matter and must be met.
Ryan Boeke was working with the television crew, filming commercials. They had to be done by lunchtime.
“When we were filming we weren’t sure we’d finish, but we did. We had to,” Boeke said.
Then he ran off to check his investments, break dancing past Towne Hall and avoiding a fine.
Martha Huffman was with AmeriTowne College. Education matters, she said. So does technology, and they work better together if they both work.
“We had only one computer working for a while, and that made it difficult,” Huffman said.
“The free enterprise system is the eighth wonder of the world,” says Colorado philanthropist Bill Daniels, who helped found the program. “Teaching young people to be active participants is our responsibility for its preservation.”
About the only glaring omission was not requiring the kids to hand 38 percent of everything they earned to the federal government in taxes.
Still, the kids were like everyone else. By the end of the day they had spent their money on things they needed, a few things they wanted and helped a few people along the way.
If this were real, they’d get out of bed and do it the next day, and the next, and the …
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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