This is Rachel Stone's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Rachel Stone's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Rachel Stone
Recent Activity
We've been talking about ways to implement change all semester long. After reading yet another article about a way to decrease our emissions, I wanted to look into and see if anyone has acted on these proposals. As evidenced by the extensive reading on the matter we've done in this class, there is no shortage of information and statistics arguing in favor of measures to protect the environment. However, such a carbon tax as discussed in this paper has still yet to be implemented. Washington State proposed Initiative 732. It was difficult to sift through the information and determine exactly what is happening, but I believe it has been filed and will go into effect in July 2017. This act will add a tax to carbon emissions of $15 per metric ton, increasing to $25 in July 2018 and 3.5% plus inflation thereafter. While this is great, it seems to be the sole tax of its kind. Possibly, like many of my peers have said, such a tax needs to be presented with a more positive spin on it. Maybe calling it a policy, or like Washington, an initiative. In today's polarized political world, it seems like most people only agree that they don't want to be taxed more, even if it's for a good cause. Hopefully, other states will follow what has been attempted in Washington.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
These articles were interesting because they proposed more possible solutions than articles we've read in the past. While I'm encouraged by all the possible solutions, I feel like we continue to talk in circles. There is ample evidence of climate change and the threat to the environment. There has been undeniable evidence for many years now, yet people still say global warming isn't a concern. One of the lines in Schrag's article says "that any 'solution' will be incomplete." While not necessarily the most comforting thought, I think he is definitely being realistic. Even the Paris climate change talk doesn't do justice to the level of reduction necessary for the state we've put the world in today. In class we spoke about Schrag's findings that the current atmosphere is above 380 ppm of carbon dioxide. Some geological changes that previously happened over many centuries are now happening in people's lifetimes. Something that comes to my mind after having been to many of these cities, the threat of places like Miami, Venice and New York City sinking, is constantly becoming more of a possibility. In discussing possible solutions related to the CO2 problem, Schrag acknowledges that we must act and we must act quickly. I think all three of these articles did a nice job of illustrating the current situation and suggestions as to what would need to be done to fix it. But I question whether anything will actually change in the future or if the fight for global climate change is futile.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Coal is the leading export of Pennsylvania, my home state. More specifically, Pennsylvania generated over $1.3 billion in coal exports last year. So it is something that I have always heard about but of which I never really knew the full impact. Reading through the extensive list of negative externalities that Epstein discusses was shocking. I knew that there were environmental effects and even health effects from the mines, but it's never been made so clear to me how damaging coal mining truly is. Epstein said that accounting for all the externalities over the life cycle of coal that we use for electricity "doubles to triples the price of coal per kWh of electricity generated." We mentioned in class today how inefficiently coal was used--that only about 1/3 actually went to some form of electricity. If we focused not only on including social costs in our price of coal but also looked for more efficient ways to use the coal that has been mined, the environment would play a significantly smaller role than we are currently forcing it to. Something that really stuck out to me was the number of abandoned mine lands throughout the United States. In particular, Epstein said that there are over 1,700 in Pennsylvania alone. Again, I knew that coal had always been a major economic driver in Pennsylvania, but I did not realize the extent to which that was true. This is the shocking reality: "In some—like that in Centralia, PA—fires burn for decades, emitting carbon monoxide, and other fumes. The ground above others can open, and several people die each year falling into them. Still others flood and lead to contaminated ground water." Epstein said that PA officials would need to dedicate $15 billion over six decades to clean up all these abandoned mines. It's crazy to think that these statistics are out there, yet we still aren't doing anything to change our ways. Like we talked about in class today, it just seems that no politician is willing to run on such a platform.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
One of the priorities Rands et al. mentions is managing biodiversity as a public good. I think doing that and educating the world on the value of biodiversity, we might then be able to more easily implement policy changes to help with conservation. Clearly, as indicated by at least one speaker at mock convention earlier this year, not everyone believes that climate change is a real thing. Now we of course know that it is, but the article says that just 12% of Earth’s land surface, 0.5% of oceans and 5.9% of territorial seas have protected-area status. Furthermore, "more than two-thirds of critical sites for biodiversity have incomplete protection or none at all." These are unacceptably low percentages for something that economists and environmentalists argue has so much value. Yet the lack of education on the value of biodiversity is likely a contributing factor to these low percentages. Not only does this hinder conservation efforts, but it also threatens economies in locations that depend on this biodiversity for tourism. It's not enough to just wait for policy implementations to come into effect. That alone does not seem like it will be very successful. I think the combination of policy implementation, more education, moral suasion and even privatization could help to save these critical biodiverse sites.
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2016 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I'd like to review the Gordon model if possible. I think that was important in the fisheries chapter, so I want to make sure I understand it.
Toggle Commented Feb 17, 2016 on ECON 255 and 102 at Jolly Green General
Before even reading this paper, you can predict that scuba divers are going to value protecting the environment. Although the divers value it significantly, as indicated by the statistics presented, this does not translate to any type of protection policy. Like Maddi indicated, asking people to pay now for conservation isn't all that empowering. She had mentioned a hypothetical study looking at the people who receive the paychecks. I think we can agree they likely wouldn't be in favor of sacrificing their own paychecks for conservation. However, I am curious to see how others view the coral reefs and natural beauty that surrounds them. What are the opinions of the people who live in Barbados but maybe don't go scuba diving. Do these people even recognize the economic impact it's having on the country's economy (and thus on them)? It's clear that people who consistently get utility from diving would want to preserve the dive locations. It's getting the people who don't do it to care. I found it interesting that the sea turtles were such a big draw for these scuba divers. As indicated both by this article and by discussions we've already had in class, it's difficult to set price on something that has no monetary value. But this article does a good job attempting to illustrate exactly what that value is. By asking questions about certain attributes, the researchers were able to focus on what the divers' valued most. This information could be used to make more specific conservation policy that focuses on the highest-valued attributes. The article was written in 2012, so I'd be interested in seeing if it affected anything. Unfortunately, most people in power today don't take action to preserve the environment. Especially in areas like Barbados that rely significantly on tourism (and thus, the preservation of what draws tourists), more value needs to be placed on the threat of environmental degradation, something that could potentially damage the country's future economic stability.
Toggle Commented Feb 2, 2016 on ECON 255 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Like Cara, reading the Tragedy of the Commons made me think of China's one-child policy, a policy which, according to a PBS article, "created a demographic wave that is beginning to crash on the economy." While I do not disagree with Hardin that depletion of the commons is a real threat with our ever-growing global population, I think there are other factors to consider before arguing solely in favor of population restrictions. The three primary sources of growth in an economy are labor, capital and productivity. In development economics last term, we spent a lot of time discussing how increasing productivity might help develop nations. Using China as an example, a country whose productivity skyrocketed in recent decades, this population restriction might seriously threaten the economic success to which they have grown accustomed. Because of the one-child policy, which was enacted in 1980, labor will not be an area of growth for an entire generation. In fact, the working-age population in China is expected to decline in the coming years due to the policy. While this might be good for the world's population problem, it is likely not good for China's economy. The question now is whether or not the increasingly smaller working-age population will be able to support not only China's large economy, but also their aging parents. All that being said, China ended its one-child policy last fall in favor of a two-child policy. However, the world will have to grapple with the change significantly increasing the global population in the coming years. According to the PBS article, the UN and the Population Reference Bureau are estimating the two-child policy will add 23.4 million extra people to the population by 2050. And Chinese officials are saying the number will be closer to 30 million. Although Hardin argued "the necessity of abandoning the freedom to breed," we should learn from China's example. We need to study the potential implications of different population policies on the global economy before enacting restrictions like the one-child policy.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2016 on ECON 255 for Friday at Jolly Green General
This article lays out the problem in the debate that the role of interest rates in industrialized nations has on the economies of developing countries. These authors concluded that international bond rates do in fact have an effect on the the market for developing countries. This conclusion is reached by analyzing both supply and demand effects and the balance between the two, something the authors say wasn't done in prior research that concluded there was no effect. Countries must have certain features to attract foreign direct investment to begin with, generally some type of institutional base. If I'm understanding Rachana's comment, she said that building this institutional base is a long-term solution rather than a short-term fix, I would argue that that's what we ultimately are searching for. As we saw in prior papers, countries frequently have short-term economic bursts. The struggle is maintaining this economic development long-term. If FDI by way of institutions seems like a long-term solution, that's potentially where we would want to focus our efforts. However, like Jacqueline said, this is what makes the study of economic development so frustrating. There is no one answer or guaranteed solution. This paper expands prior research and gives insight regarding a potential effect on developing nations, but it also cannot present a single answer to the development problem.
Toggle Commented Nov 18, 2015 on ECON 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Too many people still don't believe global warming is a major concern in the United States. This article, though it does say that poorer countries will be more widely affected, presents some information about how the U.S. will be affected. With regards to crop yield reductions, it listed the U.S. as one location with large negative effects. The increased heat would also increase flooding of the Mississippi River and the wildfires of California. These are all very real concerns that the average person doesn't seem to take into account. Furthermore, though the article mentions higher sea levels, it doesn't touch upon the very real threat of losing actual cities. When I traveled to Venice last year, I had to walk across a raised platform to even get into the Basilica because there was over two feet of standing water surrounding it. Venice has always been in the conversation, but there are many cities within the United States that are at risk. There are reports that beloved U.S. cities including Miami, Boston, New York City, Atlantic City, San Diego and more are in danger of sinking within the century. As the article clearly indicates, climate change is a major concern. With all the potential damage detailed in this article, development seems almost futile without simultaneously trying to slow or completely stop global warming. According to an MIT study cited in the article, "higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries and have wide-ranging effects, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and political stability." Now, developing countries are much less likely to focus on the affects of the future, especially if people cannot even provide for their families right now. So it is of even greater importance for developed countries to try and prevent this from occurring.
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2015 on ECON 280 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
I think it's important that the Sachs and Malaney article noted the need for funding. The article made it abundantly clear how detrimental malaria is for a nation's economy and for the health and well-being of those in that area. The topic of disease prevention made me think of Banerjee and Duflo's article about the economic lives of the poor and how the poor would react in this situation. While then I said that education is arguably the most important factor in development, I now would change that response. In some instances, that may still be the case. However, when an area is so crippled by a disease like malaria, health definitely trumps education. In class we were discussing how we were all surprised that these poor people were spending money on things like festivals when they didn't even have enough food to eat. Well, the developed countries need to take this into consideration when thinking about funding. With the evidence presented by Banerjee and Duflo, it seems unlikely that these poor people would devote any significant amount to disease prevention, not that they'd probably have a substantiative amount even if they tried. But like Professor Casey said in class the other day related to education, disease prevention would cost them now for only the potential of future gain. There are definitely private as well as social benefits to it, but that's not how these poor people are going to choose to allocate their funds when they don't even have enough to feed themselves. So it's important that the developing world find the funding to help these countries, as their outlook is bleak if we do not.
Toggle Commented Nov 4, 2015 on econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Rodrick states in his article, "One of the most encouraging aspects of the comparative evidence on economic growth is that it often takes very little to get growth started." Table 9 details 64 cases of significant growth transitions since the 1950s. It is clear that these spurts of growth are not necessarily difficult to produce. But rather, the larger issue is determining how to maintain continued growth. Though Rodrick says later that "countries do not need an extensive set of institutional reforms in order to start growing," it is arguably the lack of those institutional reforms that is preventing sustained growth. This relates back to what we discussed in class last week with Professor Silwal. The data from the slave trade article guided steps to help improve trust of developing nations. One of these steps was to make institutions better, that is more transparent with less corruption. This seems to be at the base of many ideas regarding developing nations. Nonetheless, like many of the other students have illustrated in their posts, implementing a single strategy in every economy is just not plausible.
This article clearly presents the decisions the poor must make that many readers, including myself, hadn't thought about before. This is important information when thinking about the next step: what to do to help the poor. What action should be taken first? What issue is deemed the most important one to address? Why choose one over another? The poor have a lack of insurance and often no reliable and safe way to save their money. More likely than not, they do not have proper health or education. One statistic from the article said of the extremely poor in Udaipur, "only 57 percent report that the members of their household had enough to eat throughout the year." Many poor people hold more than one job, but have little to no specialized skill. They are often self-employed but fail to be efficient on such a small scale. The combination of all these factors keeps the poor in an endless cycle of poverty. The solution? That's where the conversation needs to move next. I would argue that education is one of the most important factors. However, according to the article, "one concern [with investing in education] comes from the mounting evidence ... that public schools are often dysfunctional." Providing good and reliable public education is crucial. If young adults are able to learn specialized skills, it would enable them to secure a better job in the future. Through the school, meals could be provided for the poor and extremely poor children. This would allow the parents to eat full meals without having to worry if their children have been fed. As young adults, they would be better informed to make decisions regarding money and advocating for policy reform. But in order for kids to be in school, they have to be healthy. Thus, health and nutrition could also easily be argued as the most important factor. There are strong reasons to focusing on any of these issues first. The simple fact is that they are connected. It is clear that the poor need help alleviating some of the stress placed upon them every day. What developed countries need to do now is determine the best plan of action to help the greatest number of people living in poverty try to escape it.
Although Krugman illustrates the Big Push model, he notes that high development theory temporarily disappeared due to the lack of a strong economic model. He makes the argument in his conclusion that good ideas shouldn't be bypassed because they haven't been formatted in the most frequently understood way. "Look for the folk wisdom on clouds," he says. In understanding development economics, one ultimately wants to aid nations that are trying to develop and advance. This notion brings to mind an article that I read by Jared Diamond called 'What Makes Countries Rich or Poor?'. In it he brings up many possible ideas to try to explain why some nations fail while others succeed. These include concepts such as good institutions (with regards to public policy, the market, etc.), the reversal of fortunes, and simply the luck of natural resources. While geography isn't something that can be changed, the idea behind "the reversal of fortunes" is something that economists could capitalize upon. Diamond describes the reversal of fortunes as such: "Among non-European countries colonized by Europeans during the last five hundred years, those that were initially richer and more advanced tend paradoxically to be poorer today." History shows that incentives to encourage people to do the work themselves and rewarding them for doing so enables them to prosper in the future. Again, this example cannot necessarily be explained through an economic model. However, as the study of the high development theory starts to gain traction, pulling from those who have already fleshed out potential reasons for the disparity between countries can provide good evidence in support of the economist's conclusions.
Rachel Stone is now following The Typepad Team
Sep 16, 2015