Jan 8, 2019

Passing the buck

A side benefit of moving to decentralized, renewable electricity would be getting out from under these guys:

As California’s deadliest wildfire was consuming the town of Paradise in November, some of the state’s top power company officials and a dozen legislators were at an annual retreat at the Fairmont Kea Lani resort on Maui. In the course of four days, they discussed wildfires — and how much responsibility the utilities deserve for the devastation, if any.

It is an issue of increasing urgency as more fires are traced to equipment owned by California’s investor-owned utilities. The largest, Pacific Gas and Electric, could ultimately have to pay homeowners and others an estimated $30 billion for causing fires over the last two years. The most devastating of those, the Camp Fire, destroyed thousands of homes in Paradise and killed at least 86 people.

Realizing that their potential fire liability is large enough to bankrupt them, the utility companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions. Their goal: a California law that would allow them to pass on the cost of wildfires to their customers in the form of higher electricity rates.

Read more here and here.

Plus update on the saga here.

Jan 7, 2019

Workers on boards?

Sue Holmberg of the Roosevelt Institute makes the case for a big change in corporate governance:

American workers are in a crisis that stems, in part, from having no voice in their economic lives. For decades, American corporations have been run exclusively for the benefit of shareholders, and that model has enabled rising inequality, stagnant wages, runaway executive compensation and underinvestment in research and innovation.

Read more here.

Dec 26, 2018

Unions & inequality

A picture worth 1,000 words, from the Economic Policy Institute’s top charts of 2018:

See more here.

Dec 19, 2018

The hangover from imbibing Homo economicus

More subtle understandings of human behavior have bounced off the teflon coating of Econ 101 with baleful consequences:

What students are taught in their economics classes can perversely turn models and charts that are meant to approximate reality into aspirational ideals for it. Most economics majors are first introduced to Homo economicus as impressionable college freshmen and internalize its values: Studies show, for instance, that taking economics courses can make people actively more selfish.

Read more here.

Dec 17, 2018

Economics: a diversity deficit

The economics profession lags behind the country:

Half a century ago, the American Economic Association, a prestigious 133-year-old society dedicated to encouraging the careers and research of economists, set up the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession in response to concerns that minorities were underrepresented. These concerns are just as relevant today.

Read more here.

Dec 3, 2018

Puppets rap ‘economic man’

Homo economicus? These puppets have a better idea of who we are:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sx13E8-zUtA.

Nov 12, 2018

Annals of hypocrisy: Welfare … or social insurance?

Robert Reich dissects the hypocrisy about government “handouts”:

Read/see his comment here.

Nov 11, 2018

Our World in Data

Our World in Data presents eye-popping visualizations on an array of topics. Check out, for example, worldwide death rates from air pollution:

See more here.

Nov 8, 2018

Promoting Economic Pluralism

An international initiative seeks to “make space for diversity in economics,” among other ways by creating a new accreditation program for pluralist economics masters programs around the world. Check them out here.

Nov 2, 2018

Merkel’s Eurausterity

Outgoing German chancellor Angela Merkel’s record as a champion of Europe has a nasty stain:

Like many national leaders, Ms. Merkel, time and again, catered to domestic political interests at the expense of broader European concerns, dismissing calls that Germany’s prodigious savings be put on the line to rescue debt-saturated members of the bloc….  She adamantly opposed debt forgiveness to Greece, even as it teetered toward insolvency, and even as joblessness exceeded 27 percent — a special source of outrage given that German banks were primary lenders in Greece’s catastrophic explosion of borrowing.

“She was at the heart of the design of the flawed Greek program, which not only imposed austerity, but most importantly resisted restructuring the debt in order to save the German and French banks,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist at Columbia University in New York. “The rhetoric that she used suggested that the crisis was caused by irresponsible behavior by Greece, rather than irresponsibility on the part of the lender.”

Read more here.

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