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1999-2000 Essay Contest - What does this 1973 picture of a gas station without gas to sell imply about how markets work? How can the lessons portrayed in the picture guide policymakers today?

This year the Essay Contest examines a photo of an economic event during 1973. Participants are asked to answer the above questions based on clues offered by the picture. As you gaze at this photo, ask yourself questions such as: What economic concepts are depicted in this image? What happened in the U.S. and international economies that left Don Roberts without any gas to sell? Could a similar situation develop again in petroleum or another industry?

Students should take time to reflect on what they have learned in their economics classes and/or economics books and magazines. They will explore how the picture relates to their knowledge of economics. Most important, students have the opportunity to creatively interpret the picture and find diverse resources to support their ideas.

The Bibliography provides sources about economic thinking as a starting place for different viewpoints to look at the picture. Resources include the Beige Book Archive, which describes economic conditions across the United States from 1970 to the present. Students are also encouraged to brainstorm with their classmates about the economic significance of this photo. Then write a creative essay that combines economic events with concepts suggested in the picture.