20 Questions to Test Your Geonomic IQ
This test focuses on aspects of the economy that can change as often as daily. The answers can be found at official sites or professional sites that cull the official statistics.
September 30, 2018
Jeffery J. Smith

This test focuses on aspects of the economy that can change as often as daily.

These questions come from the board game WONKS, which like MONOPOLY is designed to entertain and enlighten at the same time. Believe me, there are some mind-blowing stats out there. The answers to these questions can be found at official sites or professional sites that cull the official statistics.

The links are provided. But no cheating! Do take a guess first … and have fun!

1) How much do Americans spend not on death but on Taxes? Out of the work year, when do Americans quit working to pay for taxes on income, sales, buildings (property), and imports (tariffs)?


2) Currently, the US federal government collects taxes totaling $3.4 trillion annually, yet spends much more than that most years. (Gee, why can’t we all do that?) After years of this, by now how much is the Federal Gov’t’s Debt?


3) In the recent past, “experts” said it’s normal for Americans to spend a quarter of their income on Housing. Are you normal? Now days, what percent of median income goes to mortgage or lease (“rent”)?


4) You’ve heard Americans have the best medical system that most Americans can not afford to use, thanks to the huge markup on medicine and medical products and services. Out of gross national income, what how much goes to getting well (hopefully)?


5) To afford the cost of living, how much do average Americans earn? If you don’t make that much, don’t feel too bad since very high incomes pull up the average. Anyway, how much is the Mean Income?


6) Most recently, taking into account inflation, did most Americans’ Real Earnings rise or fall?


7) When you go shopping, how far does your dollar go? How much is the current or most recent Inflation Rate, officially or corrected?



8) To take their mind off money matters, how much do Americans spend on Entertainment? Out of the mean income of working Americans, what percent goes to going to the movies, a sporting event, a park, etc?


9) What’s the most Common Leisure activity by far, and is it yours?


10) Among fun stuff Americans do, in what place does Game-Playing come in?


11) What is the Highest Paid, typically non-negotiated, salaried job? Your mother or grandmother wanted you to be one.


12) What is the Most Common non-negotiated, salaried job? It’s more often praised than paid.


13) While usually about two-thirds of Americans are buying a home—paying a mortgage on a house or condo—what percent of Americans Own their Home outright, with no mortgage, first or second, nor any home equity loan?


14) Is GDP such a hot indicator, since a healthy economy need not be relentlessly growing?How about abundance, or Surplus? That’s the value of assets never produced, assets like land. As a proxy for land value, how much is the selling price of all US residential real estate?


15) The stock market is much smaller than the housing stock. The aggregate price of US houses is a great indicator for anyone wanting to buy or sell or invest large sums. What time is it on the Real Estate Cycle Clock?


16) If techno progress—getting more from less—were applied to shrinking the workweek, by now it’d not be most of a week but less than a day. How much is the current or most recent rate of Productivity?


17) Are you going abroad, leaving the country for fun and adventure? What is the Exchange Rate between the US Dollar and any other currency?


18) Do you worry about the dollar losing its purchasing power? About other countries no longer stockpiling it or using it as the global standard? And want to convert to what used to give men fever? So, how much is Gold selling for today?


19) Do you worry about the dollar losing its purchasing power? And want to convert to a currency based on the tech revolution? So, how much are Bitcoins selling for today?


20) Who is the most recent winner of the “Nobel” prize in economics”?


BONUS) Why is the name of this laurel in quotation marks?



How’d you do? Did you notice that the two biggest expenses—housing and taxes—total nearly two thirds of average income? Not much leftover for everything else.

Do you have any better sources for answers? Any other questions to include in our next pop quiz? Let us know. And thanks for taking it.

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Jeffery J. Smith

JEFFERY J. SMITH published The Geonomist, which won a California GreenLight Award, has appeared in both the popular press (e.g.,TruthOut) and academic journals (e.g., USC's “Planning and Markets”), been interviewed on radio and TV, lobbied officials, testified before the Russian Duma, conducted research (e.g., for Portland's mass transit agency), and recruited activists and academics to Progress.org. A member of the International Society for Ecological Economics and of Mensa, he lives in Mexico. Jeffery formerly was Chief Editor at Progress.org.