Hello dear Pablei,
Although I like the story of the classroom socialism, I believe it’s one of those stories shared by old people on Facebook to proof something of high complexity with a very simple story. Personally, I believe this story is a myth. I’ll explain myself on why I don’t think this is an actual experiment that took place and why it isn’t even feasible.
First, put yourself on the student situation. I’m sure we all have been on group projects, group homework’s or even group tests. How have you dealt with a ‘free rider’? I’ve been both the student that thrives on a group project and the free rider on others. The effort you put into depends completely on how much you care about the outcome.
Do you think that it might be possible that if this hypothetical experiment you’re referring would take place in our classroom, the effect on grades would be the opposite? Since a high grade is highly valued by ITAMitas, maybe in our classroom most of the students would do an even bigger effort to deal with the free riders.
I’d agree with you if the social value of the outcome is low. Then it makes sense for the group to breakdown because of the free riders. On the other hand, when the reward is highly valued by most of the group, then I’d say that the outcome would be opposite and could be even higher than the outcome without any regulation.
As a final reflection, I would look at this type of stories skeptically. Even though human behavior tends to be over simplified by economists, creating a science out of the humans decision is far from being this simple. Personally, if I were to convince someone about the negative effects of socialism, I’d follow John Maynard Keynes advice on the gifts an economist must possess and tell stories through the past, reflecting into historical lessons that have shaped economies, which is far greater than a classroom.
What do guys think? Even though I liked the story, I believe this is not the right way to criticize socialism.