One aspect of perfect competition that is being changed by the Internet is how well informed buyers are. Before the advent of advertising, buyers depended on their own experience and recommendations or warnings from people they knew when choosing a product. During the 20th century, advertising by the sellers of a product or their competitors became the primary source of information for consumers. Although consumer advocacy organizations began publishing studies and ratings of many products, to obtain the information, buyers had to purchase their publications or go to the library to find them. Today, however, buyers have access to product information at their fingertips. Through the Web, they can obtain information about product specifications as well as performance or quality reviews. And they can get recommendations and warnings from consumers in distant parts of the country.
- Shelton, Ted. “Advertising: Now a Conversation.” BusinessWeek. January 18, 2008.
Bill Gates and Microsoft
As a family foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation addresses the problems the family believes to be most pressing in today’s world. Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda French Gates, and his father, William H. Gates, Sr. all take an active part in the work of the foundation, providing the vision and setting the general strategy. Other professionals serve as chief executive officer and presidents of the different program areas. The foundation does not run any programs but funds programs that are implemented by other non-profit organizations.
Bill Gates and his family have decided to focus their efforts in three general areas: Global Development, Global Health, and the United States. The Global Development Program funds work is aimed at helping small farmers increase their production and market their crops. It helps provide banking services and insurance to people who do not have access to these. It also supports the spread of free Internet access, so people in poor regions can be better informed. The Global Health Program funds the distribution of medicines and vaccines that can be used to cure and prevent diseases that kill large numbers of people. Secondly, it supports research to develop new treatments, particularly those whose cost is low enough and whose implementation is easy enough to be used in poor nations with few hospitals and little infrastructure. The United States Program funds initiatives to improve high schools, cut back drop out rates, and increase access to college to more young people. It also supports the expansion of free access to computers and the Internet through public libraries. Finally, it provides funds to organizations in the foundation’s home region, the Pacific Northwest, that help low-income families.
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Leadership.” (accessed May 16, 2008).
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Global Development Program.” (accessed May 16, 2008).
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Global Health Program.” (accessed May 16, 2008).
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “United States Program.” (accessed May 16, 2008).
U.S. real GDP per capita
Since the Constitution was signed, the United States economy has grown by leaps and bounds. For example, using 2000 dollars for comparison, the real GDP per capita in 1790 was $916, around the start of the Civil War in 1861 it was $2,277, and in 2005 it was $37,232. You can calculate what the real GDP per capita in the U.S. was for each year in the nation’s history by going to the Economic History Services Web site.
- Johnston, Louis D. and Samuel H. Williamson. “The Annual Real and Nominal GDP for the United States, 1790–Present.” Economic History Services, April 1, 2006.