This is Thomas Thagard's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Thomas Thagard's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Thomas Thagard
Recent Activity
It’s hard for me to say that I have direct experience with foreign trade; however, I have seen its impacts in my home state. In the 80’s and 90’s Alabama was fairly dependent upon its textile and steel mills for daily survival. Places such as Birmingham and Alexander City were well known for their ability to produce much needed material for the rest of the country. Yet in the late 80’s and early 90’s all of those jobs dried up and moved over seas. Currently, we produce cars and planes for Airbus. In fact, we have become more productive than ever and industry seems to be returning. But it took 20 years for this to happen and the people of the state suffered greatly. I have seen the towns that once produced textile material and worked in an industrial machine shop that used to produce goods for the entirety of the country. These places have fallen from their former glory. While people have moved to new higher tech plants, most still grasp onto the old. It turns out they simply just can’t let go of the places that they built their lives around. So, these old once great towns slowly dry up and the people inside slowly wither away. It is these places in America that are the least satisfied with our current position in the world. They suffer from the inability to move towards jobs and have to endure the ensuing poverty as consequence. In America, we have placed high importance on the American dream, the ability for someone to rise out of poverty through his or her own skill and hard work. Yet if modern Alabamians admit that they’re in poverty, then they have to admit that they are less skillful and hard working as others. It is in this manner that the impoverished become spiteful at the system and those who they view as outsiders. While globalization may have brought better jobs, it has also brought this attitude throughout much of my home state. I’m not stating that this ideology wasn’t there before hand, but people used to be satisfied with the America. After the great recession, all of these feelings boiled up into cynicism and blatant hate. From my understanding of the news, this is not unique to Alabama. Instead, it appears that this is happening globally throughout first world countries. So, what do we do with globalization? Can we mitigate it or should it even be mitigated? Are these just temporary feelings or will they always linger? Can this be fixed or is it everlasting? I have none of the answers, but I do know that people need jobs to feel satisfied with their daily life. No one truly wants to live in poverty or off the government’s dollar. So how do we allow these people to lead a life that they value?
Toggle Commented Dec 1, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The most important take away from these two readings is the importance of human capital within a country. Both Schultz’s lecture and “the economic and social burden of malaria” harp on the importance of health and education; however, they do so in different ways. Schultz discusses the ways that the poor live their lives and what the government can do to encourage the expansion of human capital. Conversely, Sachs and Malaney focus on the impact of malaria in regard to human capital. Sachs and Malaney discuss the high birth mortality and the neurological effects that malaria can have within a country. In this article, the authors presented a map of where malaria flourishes and where it used to flourish. This included the United States up until 1946, specifically in the Deep South. Having grown up in Alabama, I have a first hand experience of the long-term effects of malaria. Arguably, the human capital in Alabama is one of the worst in the United States, especially in the backwoods areas. I have spent a lot of time in the swamps and cotton fields of Alabama, and I have heard plenty of stories from my grandparents about the malaria pits of old. I know there are many other factors that have affected the human capital of the Deep South; however, I do wonder how much malaria played a part.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2016 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I would like to mention a crass but accurate quote from earlier in the semester in which professor Casey stated that “when children move from assets to liabilities. People have less of them”. This is particularly evident in regard to women in third world countries. The social and cultural norms confine women to the household and to marriage. Consequently, their impending marriages, sometimes arranged result in bride prices, which cost the family money. Thus, girls are viewed as liabilities to the family. However, I believe that this is absolutely ridiculous. Despite cultural and social norms, the idea of belittling women in regards to education and job opportunities statistically limits one’s work force and limits the brainpower of a nation. It is in this manner that countries tend to hinder themselves by perpetuating their norms. It’s angering in a way. Just because something has been done for extended period of time does not mean that it’s right. Thus, the systematic oppression of these women only perpetuates poverty and gender stereotypes. I am all for Duflo’s final conclusion that their must be systematic bias towards women in order to establish equality. While I do believe in total equality for both genders based upon talent and brainpower, I believe that one must provide bias for individuals systematically oppressed. In order to break a vicious and seemingly endless cycle of poverty, one must give their society a push. I have never see society change unless it has been forced to do so.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Rodrick provides us with two exceptionally interesting insights within the realm of development economics. The first is the notion that unorthodox methods tend to be much more effective at jump-starting an economy. Conversely, the countries that have used the cookie cutter economic policy provided by development economists have not fared as well. The best example of this is the comparison between eastern Asian countries and South American countries. Thus, it appears that countries such as China, Taiwan, and South Korea who have used unorthodox and autocratic methods to jumpstart there economies have succeeded while generally ignoring the application of important institutions. Thus, we reach the question: “what do we know?”. Rodrick states that jumpstarting an economy is easier than preserving it. It is in this manner that he makes a bold statement that local knowledge of an economy will best help it expand. Thus, economies are not all the same different countries have different products and different societies have different values upon their institutions. So, what can American development economists actual do to help developing countries? It seems to me that there can be no mold to improving an economy just simple evaluation of current problems in a country. Obviously the end goal is to establish free markets and free trade but it appears as if the immediate application of these institutions is not always the best for a country.
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I agree with many of the individuals who commented before me. The increase in the complexities of the models is quite staggering. However, one typically believes that a more simplistic approach to an economics model would allow it to be more easily understood; yet it appears that the move towards complex models is not quite as helpful, though it is accurate. It is in this manner that the simplistic approaches maybe better due to the fact that they are all encompassing. Consequently, this defines economics as a social science rather than a mathematical equation. This article validates the fact that it is dealing with individuals whose decision cannot always be calculated. Thus it is in this manner that you cannot predict every one or everything’s actions but rather can predict what the massive body will choose to do. Thus, it is the natural assumptions that tend to corrupt the economic models that we use.
Amartya Sen provides us with a new prospective to view and understand economics in relation to general happiness. Instead of limiting our understanding of happiness to income per capita, he forces us to observe the other aspects of life that impact general happiness. The greatest example of this would be his comparison of African Americans with Individuals in more impoverished countries. The fact that African Americans have more money and shorter life expectancy is baffling. So, the real question is what do we value in life, and how can economics help us live a valuable life. It is in this same mannerism that we begin to question our understanding of poverty? Can a wealthier person be consider impoverished if they are more unhappy with their life? Sen highlights specifically the capabilities of being able to live a life that one values but what economics is not the only hindrance. He briefly touches on this in regards to culture and tradition. But I would like to ask the question: (assuming humans are social creatures) does a free market that encourages individualism and independence separate us from our own humanity and thus create an inherent unhappiness? If it does create this unhappiness but continues to extend life, is it a system worth perpetuating?
“The Economic Lives of the Poor” provides its readers with groundbreaking information that destroys the modern assumption of the nutritional poverty cycle in regards to food consumption. Most people’s understanding of third world poverty is the fact that they don’t receive enough calories and thus can’t work hard enough to earn the money for more food. However, Banerjee and Duflo state, “Even the extremely poor do not seem to be as hungry for additional calories as one might expect”. Consequently, this simple analysis that the poor don’t view themselves as extremely hungry explains why they would be more inclined to spend their cash on expendables like tobacco, alcohol, and festivals. Thus, we can begin to establish more effective anti-poverty programs, rather than just throw food at the impoverished. With this information, we begin to understand that the impoverished are simply trying to enjoy their lives due to the uncertainty of tomorrow’s work and food intake. Thus, we can teach the impoverished on ways to utilize both their nutritional and economic resources to their maxim ability.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2016 on ECON 280 Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Thomas Thagard is now following The Typepad Team
Sep 14, 2016