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Austin Gilbert
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I found it interesting how a rise in the global temperature could affect different countries and regions so differently. Before I read this article I assumed for the most part that every country would experience an increase in temperature, a rise in sea level, and maybe more droughts. However, this scientific literature proved the otherwise. For example, global warming would cause the tropics to experience a 20% increase in sea level while higher latitudes would be below average. Also, some regions like Africa (except in the northeast), parts of South America and North America, and southern Europe are projected to experience drier conditions, while higher latitudes like northern Europe and northern North America are projected to experience wetter conditions. The article made it sound like the regions adversely affected were areas with developing countries. This I found this especially troubling, as these areas are least responsible for the global damage, yet, they are suffer most because they don’t have the resources to adapt.
Toggle Commented Nov 12, 2015 on ECON 280 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found Schultz’ discussion on human capital and technology’s ability to increase resources interesting in his Nobel Prize lecture. This topic interested me, as I have grown up believing that the Earth had a fixed carrying capacity, and when we reached that population all hell would break loose. I enjoyed the example he provided that illustrated the effect technological development can have on production, as he states that in the US between 1932 and 1970, there was 33 million less acres of land, but the US produced 7.59 billion more bushels (3 times more). Also, I found it reassuring that increasing human capital might assist population reduction, as he points out that quality and quantity are substitutes. Therefore, by increasing technology, more resources can be produced, and by increasing human capital, there will be more resources per capita. Lastly, I thought Schultz’ nicely summarized man’s ability to manipulate the world he lives by using Alfred Marshall’s quote: “Knowledge is the most powerful engine of production; it enables us to subdue Nature and satisfy our wants."
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2015 on econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Rodrik’s discussion of the lack of a standard economic development model that fits all economies reminded me of discussions we had in my comparative government class in high school. While analyzing the governments of Great Britain, Russia, China, Mexico, Iran, and Nigeria we recognized that the differences in their political institutions arose from their uniquely different history and culture, and although these governments may have a different framework or are more or less democratic than each other, their governments fit their situation and are customized to their needs for the most part. Moreover, similar to John Williamson’s “Washington Consensus” and Rodrik’s “higher-order principles of sound economic governance,” there are certain governmental qualities and political structures that are viewed as legitimate and positively impact countries, however, countries don’t employ the exact same economic strategies or create identical governments because of countries’ dissimilar backgrounds and current circumstances. Therefore, economic policies and political institutions are selectively implemented in a way that appropriately addresses the specific conditions of the country.
When I envision an impoverished person, I imagine someone in need of food or other basic necessities and only seeking to satisfy these essential needs. I was surprised to read that extremely poor people that can not feed themselves sufficiently still fall victim to the temptation of goods like tobacco, alcohol, or radios and put their malnourishment aside for the satisfaction of these goods. I enjoyed the paper’s explanation for this phenomenon of poor individuals addressing their desires before their needs, as it stated, “Thinking about the economic problems of life must make it harder to avoid confronting the sheer inadequacy of the standard of living faced by the extremely poor.” I observed something similar to this growing up, as I had a friend whose family was low income, and although they could not afford a nice house or pay for the soccer team he played on, he and his parents owned iPhones. It could have been that they did not want to fully acknowledge their financial situation, so they decided to enjoy the moment. Also, I recognized some similar ideas pointed out in Krugman’s paper about the issues of developing nations economies, referencing the constraints of small-scale industries. This paper similarly points out “the problem of small scale,” stating that the businesses being operated lack assets, capital, and are not benefiting from economies of scale and therefore cannot reduce costs to increase profit. This ties in with the High Development Theory, as investment into these minor businesses could help move them into the “virtuous circle” that is modernization and development.
While reading about Hirschman’s development theory and his experience publishing and explaining his ideas, I was shocked to see how easily and quickly other economists bypassed his work because he failed to condense his claim into a formal model. Also, it was interesting to see how intensely economists sought perfection between the 1940s and 1970s, as Krugman points out, “areas of inquiry that had been filled in, however imperfectly, became blanks.” This stood out to me later when Krugman described the degree of difficulty in creating models, as their restrictive qualities often prevented the construction of a truly perfect model. Though presenting a clear, simple model creates a more attractive product, the process of simplifying can risk excluding significant details. Therefore, I support Hirschman’s verbal style of presentation and agree with his decision to take a stand against mainstream pressures. Additionally, I appreciated the author’s concluding remarks addressing intellectual progress, as he recommends remaining open minded when faced with ideas conveyed without the formal structure that one prefers.
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Sep 16, 2015