Browsing articles in "Uncategorized"
Jul 24, 2019

School segregation in the USA

Nikole Hannah-Jones dissects the renewed controversy about “busing” in the effort to break apart America’s educational caste system:

I was one of those kids bused to white schools… Starting in second grade and all the way through high school, I rode a bus two hours a day. It was not easy, but I am perplexed by the audacity of people who argue that the hardship of a long bus ride somehow outweighs the hardship of being deprived of a good education.

Read more here.

Jun 25, 2019

New left economics

Interesting piece in The Guardian on new thinking about the economy:

There is a dawning recognition that a new kind of economy is needed: fairer, more inclusive, less exploitative, less destructive of society and the planet. “We’re in a time when people are much more open to radical economic ideas,” says Michael Jacobs, a former prime ministerial adviser to Gordon Brown….

This “democratic economy” is not some idealistic fantasy: bits of it are already being constructed in Britain and the US. And without this transformation, the new economists argue, the increasing inequality of economic power will soon make democracy itself unworkable.

Read more here.

Jun 25, 2019

“Time to tear up our economics textbooks”

“”I don’t care who writes the nation’s laws – or crafts its advanced treaties – if I can write its economic textbooks.” – Paul Samuelson

In the Washington Post, Robert Samuelson (no relation) writes:

The modern era in economics textbooks began in 1948 with the publication of Samuelson’s first introductory edition. We now are at a similar moment. We need to tear up the existing texts and start over, adding what is relevant and discarding what is outdated or unimportant….

The role of introductory textbooks is not to educate the next generation of economists. They will take many courses. For most of us, the purpose of studying economics is more modest. It is to make the world a little more understandable and, with luck, to force us to acknowledge what’s realistic and what’s not. But to play this constructive role, the textbooks must be up to date.

Read his piece 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.

May 11, 2018

Political Economy of the Environment: New video series from Econ4

Econ4 is pleased to announce its new video series on the Political Economy of the Environment, produced in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst department of economics.

Part One: Introduction

  1. The economy & the environment. Are people different from pondweed?
  2. Limits to growth – of what? It’s time for a new formula: grow the good, and shrink the bad.
  3. Political economy. Who wins, who loses, who decides?
  4. Safety, efficiency, sustainability, and justice. What should be the goals in environmental policy?

Part Two: Environmental protection – in theory and practice

  1. What is efficiency? There’s more – and less – to neoclassical efficiency than meets the eye.
  2. Discounting the future. Are the lives of our grandchildren worth less than our own?
  3. The value of a statistical life. How do economists put a monetary value on risks of death?
  4. Externalities. External costs and benefits are not the exception – they’re the rule.
  5. The Coase theorem. Why private bargaining can seldom solve environmental externalities.
  6. The tragedy of the commons. More accurately, the tragedies of open access.
  7. Environmental justice. Defending the right to a clean and safe environment.
  8. Power & the environment. Costs and benefits weighted by the power of those to whom they accrue.
  9. Regulation & environmental protection. Rules as a solution to environmental problems.
  10. Incentive-based environmental policies. Prices as another way to solve environmental problems.
  11. Market failure & government failure. Democracy versus oligarchy: beyond the market-versus-government debate.

Part Three: Global dimensions

  1. Globalization & the environment. The globalization of market failure poses new challenges for governance.
  2. The environmental Kuznets curve. What happens to the environment as per capita income goes up?
  3. Population & the environment. What Malthus got wrong.
  4. Tropical deforestation. How transnational alliances can change balances of power.
  5. Building natural assets. How poverty reduction and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand.
  6. Agriculture & the environment. The costs of industrial agriculture and benefits of ecological agriculture.
  7. Cultivated biodiversity. Small farmers sustain some of the world’s most valuable biodiversity.

Part Four: Climate policy

  1. Climate change. The defining environmental challenge of the 21st century.
  2. Carbon pricing: 1. Why & how? Why we need to put price on fossil carbon, and how we can do it.
  3. Carbon pricing: 2. The social cost of carbon. What should be the price on carbon dioxide emissions?
  4. Carbon pricing: 3. Revenue allocation. The trillion dollar question: who will get the money?
  5. International climate negotiations. No-regrets policies can help overcome myopia and the free rider problem.

 

May 8, 2018

Econ4 Video Remix Contest

The contest’s theme was Greed.

Here’s what we wanted:

  1. Fun. Economics is stuffy enough as is, so make sure your video isn’t!

  2. Short. 3 minutes max.

  3. On Point. Videos should address the theme (“Greed”) but they should also contribute to a broader understanding of economics. Have a look at our mission statement and you’ll see what we mean.

Here’s what we got.

Contest Grand Prize Winner!

“The Greatest Economics Lesson” created by Taylor Erickson, a nonprofit intern in Cleveland, Ohio.

Runner Up

“Charlie Chaplin on Greed.”

3rd Place

“Greed: It’s What You Need!” by Evan Moore, an independent filmmaker based in Seattle.

Honorable Mentions:

Video by Evan Warner, a senior at Northfield High School in Northfield, Vermont.

Featuring Jameson King and Haylie Bettes with video production by Brett Lucas from the Macon Area Career Center in Macon, Missouri.

“Greed in America” by Aidan Connolly, a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Econ4 Greed Music Video” by Andrew Erickson of the Digital Film Academy in New York.

Sep 14, 2017

Losing it all

Peter Barnes comments on Hillary’s swing-and-miss on funding universal basis income from common wealth:

IN HER LATEST book What Happened, former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reveals that she was “fascinated” by the idea of using our national patrimony to pay every American “a modest basic income,” much as Alaska pays every resident yearly dividends from its oil wealth. Clinton spent weeks working with her policy team to see if this idea was “viable enough” to include in her campaign. Ultimately she decided that the numbers didn’t work, so she left the idea on the shelf.

Too bad. Whether or not embracing the idea would have swung the election her way, it would surely have sparked a lively discussion of our national patrimony — what’s in it, how much it’s worth, and who benefits most from it. Such a discussion would have shed surprising light on solutions to middle class decline, climate change, financial instability and economic stagnation. And it would have established that the numbers can work.

Read more here.

Dec 4, 2016

No comment

Here are the 50 states, ranked from “most shortchanged” to “least shortchanged” by the U.S. government. The ranking is based on an index combining: (i) votes in the Electoral College per state resident and (ii) benefits received per tax dollars paid to the federal government.

States ranked

Source: New York Times.

Jul 13, 2016

Wasted: The high cost of laissez-screw finance

What has the flawed financial system cost the U.S. economy? Here’s your receipt:

Overcharged-Promo-Graphic-1

Read the accounting by Econ4’s Jerry Epstein together with Juan Montecino here. Excerpt follows:

A healthy financial system is one that channels finance to productive investment, helps families save for and finance big expenses such as higher education and retirement, provides products such as insurance to help reduce risk, creates sufficient amounts of useful liquidity, runs an efficient payments mechanism, and generates financial innovations to do all these useful things more cheaply and effectively. All of these functions are crucial to a stable and productive market economy. But after decades of deregulation, the current U.S. financial system has evolved into a highly speculative system that has failed rather spectacularly at performing these critical tasks.

What has this flawed financial system cost the U.S. economy? How much have American families, taxpayers, and businesses been “overcharged” as a result of these questionable financial activities? In this report, we estimate these costs by analyzing three components: (1) rents, or excess profits; (2) misallocation costs, or the price of diverting resources away from non-financial activities; and (3) crisis costs, meaning the cost of the 2008 financial crisis.

 

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