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Hank Hill
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Although I'm not seeing a lot of evidence presented in this article, I do appreciate the optimism. On a non-developmental-economics-note, I believe that our media is too heavily bogged down with an onslaught of negativity--to the point that it even distracts us from reality, from what's actually happening in the world. Media rant aside, I'm not convinced we can permanently and wholly end poverty around the world. It will exist in some form or another. Maybe the poverty line will increase as the third world countries continue to develop. That being said, I am encouraged to see Professor Sach's examples of improvement (infant mortality rates declining, growth rates increasing, proportion of households under the poverty line decreasing, etc.). I also strongly agree with his stance concerning the heart of improvement. No single notion, no single plan will eradicate poverty completely. It will take a combination of the public and private sector. Free markets can't fully solve the problems of poverty, but neither can intense government intervention. Everything must work together.
Surveys have become a viable and effective way for scientists, including econometricians, to formulate realistic and understandable assumptions of any country's culture. These recent surveys and polls concerning climate change perhaps hint at a sort of reversal in the American psyche. It's no secret that we're typically regarded as a consumption-centric culture that devours resources without a single thought to its repercussions. I remember my professor in England always joked about how we eat massive meals, drive massive cars, and pump massive fumes into the environment. This viewpoint is commonly held throughout Europe, and I'd assume most of the rest of the world. These polls suggest that, maybe it's changing. There is a definite benefit to this potential cultural change. Though I'm not a proponent of moral suasion as a viable means to reducing pollution, I do believe that a change in the mindset of the American people will definitely help, regardless. If the American people fear global warming, or at least regard it as a negative, then we will hopefully consume less and/or demand that the firm pollute less. If the politicians actually serve the American people, then a change in the American mindset will result in the American people demanding political action. This demand for political action could lead to a tax on firms, such as the ones we've talked about in class. However, I would like to see surveys above 1,002. Though it's above the threshold for credibility, I believe the global warming issue warrants a survey of thousands and thousands of Americans. Ideally, the American people will become more attune to the environmental problems we're facing, and that mindset change will start the domino effect, leading to political action against the firms incessant pollution.
At times, I believe we can rant on and on about the problems plaguing our world, and our words are often not backed by any sort of resolution, practical or farfetched. I appreciated the straightforwardness of this article as it efficiently explained the two problems we're facing: one with Mother Nature and one with the market. The two problems are not necessarily intertwined; however, they bring a sort of impending doom. On the one hand, we see that the carbon level has raised 120 ppm in 200 years, while our "debt-to-G.D.P. ratio from 36.2 percent in 2007 to 72.8 percent today". Though neither problem bodes well for our future, we cannot possibly solve either one of the problems overnight. That being said, we must start now in order to have any chance of alleviating the problems. Friedman suggests and supports a carbon tax of $20 per ton, which "could cut the projected 10-year deficit by roughly 50 percent (from $2.3 trillion down to $1.1 trillion)". There is a spillover effect as well. As the deficit steadily shrinks, the environment begins to improve as well, allowing us to hit two birds with one stone. For instance, here's one benefit among many: an improvement in air quality and the environment will allow for children to play outside longer and more often. This sort of benefit will lead to less obesity and a healthier population overall. Overall, as economists, we are seeking to maximize our social well-being while still paying close attention to the well-being of our environment. We must work inside the confines and capabilities of our environment. Without a doubt, extended abuse of the environment will negatively impact our social well-being. The carbon tax is a step in the right direction: a feasible and practical solution for us to start solving our problems over a long time.
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Jan 11, 2013