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Paul Callahan
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Duflo brings up a very important and interesting topic in this article about women. The gap between women and men in equality has vastly improved over the last few decades but not to the extent that it should have. Sen's argument of "missing women" is key to this. Missing women shows to us the unequal treatment of women particularly in developing countries. Generally in every single statistic in relation to education, labor and politics women suffer at an awful rate that shouldn't exist for a group that makes up 50% of the world's population. Later in the article, what stands out to me is when Duflo talks about the "implicit bias" that women face in the work force. There is a stigma that men work in careers and sciences and women are stuck in the home and study liberal arts. There is a great need to dissolve these biases in order to create a more balanced and likely more profitable economy and work force. What I liked additionally was the argument that giving additional resources to women in order to further their rights and grow their equality doesn't limit those resources just to women, but rather it helps everybody. Giving resources to women and growing their rights will benefit everybody, especially when you look at the situation economically. The empowerment of women would benefit the families, which in the long run improves the economy as a whole. Politically, women would have more bargaining power allowing their families to benefit even further. Whether attacking development to increase women's empowerment or empowering women first to bring about changes to develop the economy is an interesting argument and I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong answer as long as women's rights and power is being grown.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
Krugman's commentary was very interesting and his discussion on a wide range of topics shined a light on some important problems economics has and continues to face. His comparison of map making from the 15th to 20th centuries to economics between the 1940s and 1970s was particularly fascinating. There was a period in time where oversight and even ignorance led to a empty gap in knowledge. Krugman's continuing commentary on the problems of high development theory and its shortcomings was interesting. From the article we can see that economic modeling has been a problem for decades and that it is necessary to make key assumptions in order to generate any meaningful work. The formality with which many economists seem to operate limits them in their ability to visualize markets and problems. With the science example about meteorological theorist David Fultz we see it's clear that simplifications are necessary in order to wrap our heads around what we are seeing the only problem is that it seems harder for people to want to apply this to the social sciences. What seems evident is that over time we have been able to better understand the power of economic modeling and its restrictions but we have learned how to handle them in order to produce more meaningful work. It is clear that fast developing social standards have been an impetus of change for economic theory.
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
The article started off with a very significant table showing the per capital income ratio between top and bottom 10% countries. The evidence was clear that over time the wealthy gained wealth and the poor stayed relatively the same. It was a great introduction to the article as it set our minds straight about the huge disparity that exists not only between countries but within countries. It is clear that some countries have lagged behind and have never been able to regain economic growth momentum or never achieved it period. It was interesting looking at Figure 1 and seeing that over the course of 40 or so years, the countries in each group followed very similar trends, and similar peaks and troughs showing not only the linkage to their growth and the global economy but also to each other. In the lag behind countries, it was evident that other than institutional barriers they face problems of corruption, war and etc... The other day I saw in the news that the UK had halted their foreign aid program to Zambia because of millions of dollars disappearing. This is similar to how in the article they mentioned the lag behind countries like Côte d'Ivoire is one of the most corrupt countries in the world yet is dependent on foreign aid. This creates a difficult problem when FDI and foreign aid stops because of the corruption. Furthermore, many lag-behind country's economies are reliant on the performance of a few goods only and many times just one. Therefore if that good falters the economy is devastated. The need for government investment in economic diversification is crucial yet problematic because there is a lack of specialization.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
After reading Sach's paper it was clear that the expansion and improvement of the MDGs were realized in the new SDGs. The expansion of more goals allow the world to focus better on the exact problems the world faces and the more direct routes we can take to solve them. It also seemed clear that there was more participation from outside groups which led to the diversified set of goals. What I didn't like about the MDGs is that they set targets that once completed, didn't allow room to keep on growing. Once the "half-way" goals were completed there wasn't more push to keep on improving world health. We also learned that hunger and poverty are very different things and solving one doesn't necessarily mean solving the other. In the "Economic Lives of the Poor" article we read for Wednesday we saw that poverty and hunger weren't directly linked. But now with further understanding of nutrition and hunger the SDGs make two separate goals, one for poverty and one for hunger. Overall, sustainable development and the goal to reach 0 hunger and poverty is very hard to achieve and with the problems that foreign aid face such as corruption and Trumps' desire to limit it, it will be a slow and arduous process. Luckily, it seems as if the world is more committed then ever to solve the worst problems.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
This article presents the problem of global warming very boldly. It is effective in making the reader very concerned and even scared if change does not happen. Rising temperatures pose one of the greatest problems for our generations and future survival. As the article says, if the trend continues in the direction it is right now, crops yields will decline, rain will increase in wet areas, and dry areas will become even more dry. What I found very interesting was the analysis on how the rising temperatures are hurting and putting an even greater burden on the poor and third world populace. It seems as if we have all the proof and science showing that change needs to happen, but it still isn't. What has to happen to make people believe climate change is a reality? Even if the rising temperatures do not effect our generation heavily today, down the road our children, and our children's children will potentially be living in a much more dangerous and hard world. Do we want to put that burden on them?
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2017 on ECON 255 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The carbon tax continues to be a very debated idea as we can see in the paper on the BC Carbon Tax. Public fear seems to be the greatest reason for disapproval of a carbon tax although economists have showed that there are no great effects on local economies. An answer to that could be reducing income tax which leads to a double divided effect. This seems simple enough but has never been put into place. Regardless, British Columbia has been a proving ground of the effects of a carbon tax to reduce GHG emissions. A proven reduction in emissions resulted from the tax. The general concerns around the carbon tax seemed mostly covered such as the effect on low-income households being solved by tax credits. Although the carbon tax seems like it could be successful, the main problem that sticks with it is its split support. Many people do not like the sound of a carbon tax and others do not support it based on conservative ideology. This is where the main difficulty in policy implementation arises.
Toggle Commented Mar 22, 2017 on Econ 255 readings - update at Jolly Green General
The article in Harvard Magazine called Fueling our Future brings to light some important facts regarding nuclear energy. It does sound like a very safe and efficient alternative to coal but there are some factors that prove otherwise. In order to use nuclear energy on a large enough scale that would help the environment, we would need to build thousands more plants. Thousands of more plants creates waste problems, the potential for another disaster like Chernobyl, and lastly adds thousands more nuclear reactors to the world which gives terrorists easier access to nuclear material. These problems makes the publics receptiveness to nuclear energy less positive. In sum, nuclear energy may be a great alternative to coal but the public and world may not be ready to accept it. The global climate change issue can be slowed but it is up to the people to accept the consequences necessary to enact the change.
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2017 on Econ 255 for next week at Jolly Green General
The paper clearly shows the damages that coal has on the environment and even shows the costs associated with coal which seem very high. Such high costs and damages associated with coal would lead us to believe that coal is a very inefficient form of energy, and if true why are we still using it? The costs surely seem to outweigh the benefits. This paper really shows our dependency on coal and how it doesn't look as if it will stop anytime soon. The main problem with cutting coal seems to be that there is too high a dependency on coal by many states as it is a vital import and also an export to their local economies. Their dependency creates a barrier to switching to more renewable and less damaging energy sources.
The battle between tourisms economic growth yet impact on the environment is a double-edged sword. Increased tourism benefits local and national economy in a place like Tobago but it has a significant impact on the environment with construction of new sites and buildings. I was very surprised by the fact that hotel/guest house owners were the only ones who believed the reef to be necessary for their livelihood. This can be rationalized likely by the fact that healthy and beautiful reefs spur more tourism and in turn book more rooms for their proper hotels. It was even more surprising that their was no fee to enter the national park like you see across the United States. The lack of structure by the government and Tobagoan national park services in relation to the environment is astonishing. It could be due to the lack of incentive to pursue environmental protection goals by the increased importance of economic development. There needs to be a safe trade-off between economic development and the protection of the environment. Implementation of fees or taxes to safeguard and help fund environmental protection seem key to the survival of the reef.
The paper brings up a key point that it is hard to directly value something such as a coral reef but using many factors it is possible. The results of the study are not totally reliable due to such a small sample size of 165 divers. Regardless, the conclusion that divers are willing to a premium for less visited dive spots with better quality coral reefs is accurate. It seems as if most people here agree that we would all pay slightly extra in order to have a better experience and in turn help the environment more, but overall there is a less resounding agreement to help the environment. This is more of a problem for smaller less popular recreational activities where there is not enough funding or tourism to pay for environmental recovery. Places like Barbados need to increase funding for tourism in order to spur the economy and create funding for environmental protection.
The Tragedy of the Commons addresses a topic many wish to avoid, the fact that increasing population growth is having a negative impact on the world. Hardin shows how the self-interest and greed of humans are what is mainly corrupting society and in turn the environment. For example, the Volkswagen emissions scandal proves how corrupt and self-interested people can be, and how it has an impact on the environment. In order to survive an ever growing population the world cannot be so self-interested but rather unite in order to preserve natural resources and the environment and move towards a goal of indefinite sustainability. The problem with society today though is that people have difficulty not valuing their own interests first and therefore there must be incentives or punishments in order to preserve the environment and increase sustainability.
I thought the articles to be very insightful into the mindset of economists in regard to the environment. Krugman's article proved to be the most shocking to me as it showed the general agreement on the need for environmental action among economists which I was previously unaware of. A question that developed in my mind while reading the articles is how do we quantify/measure/price clean air or water in order to create a tax against pollution? Essentially, how can you reliably price water or air in order to properly create a fair pollution tax? This seems to be the main problem for the government in addition to the "Three Is" that Krugman touched on and the fear that a tax would decrease GDP.