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Matthew Todd
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Environmental racism is a crucial point when considering climate policy. It shows who bears the brunt of costs associated with climate change, which is often disadvantaged minorities as shown in the articles. A quote in the Vice article that I found to be particularly jarring, in response to taking residence in "cancer alley", was “We’re just here dying and waiting to die.” That emphasizes the hopelessness associated with knowing that you and your family are internalizing negative effects but lacking the means to escape them. Dating back to red-lining, we are cognizant of the fact that it is by no coincidence that poor minorities can find themselves facing negative health consequences disproportionately. As Josh mentioned, examples like the Vice article where the emissions are at the behest of industries like oil and chemical industries- it is not merely a lack of governmental oversight that allows people to be harmed. This is an intentional decision caused by the government being impacted by special interest groups and prioritizing those groups (and their deep wallets) over poor American people.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2022 on Last Post for the Semester at Jolly Green General
It is always interesting to look at who is bearing costs associated with emissions. I would have assumed that it would be lower-income individuals who bear the most of the costs, however the article outlines that is actually the middle income individuals who bear the brunt of these costs. I think that it is especially important to insure that the cost is applied fairly across everyone, which would likely spread out the cost of mitigating the harm across society. I was also impressed by the affordable nature of the Waxman-Markey plan. I’d like to see more policy ideas that are more “attainable” just in terms of the costs not being so high to be less politically feasible. I believe that when addressed in its totality, fighting climate change issues can seem extremely daunting due to the large costs associated with them. Also, regressive policies that attack the middle class are exactly the kind of rhetoric that those who have monetary and political incentives to fight to continue harmful climate behavior will capitalize on to shut down common sense climate policy. Ideally, this can be avoided and strong policy can be put into effect.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The paper related to air quality's impact on cognitive function in China was interesting and confirms the impact that exposure to pollutants can have on humans. Living in areas with clean air should not be a "privilege"- instead of an expectation. Similar results have been observed in the United States with children exposed to vehicle pollutants via highway approximation performing worse on cognitive tests. I was interested in the gender gap observed in the China Study, which grows as people age. I'm curious whether that might be due to men being exposed to additional pollutants (possibly in the workplace?) or if that has something to do with cognitive differences between the genders. In order to mitigate this exposure, there should ideally be fewer pollutants which can be accomplished by changing the incentive structure with policy. An alternative could be better zoning to direct the pollutants away from residential areas. Of course, lessening the immediate negative impacts of the pollutants by directing them away from people would not eliminate all the negative environmental impacts of the pollutants.
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
While reading the articles I found myself interested in the idea of breaking up positive environmental change into "wedges"- ways that this could be done in smaller increments as opposed to one catch-all solution. While I hope that many of the solutions offered in the articles could prove to be feasible down the road, there is one that I feel is especially pertinent in the coming years. Cars are among the worst assets to buy, due to the rate at which they depreciate. This, coupled with environmental concerns that come with gas consumption, the negative impact of emissions on the highways on those leaving nearby, and even the high environmental cost of creating new EVs makes cars a large environmental issue to consider. However, robotaxis should fix/mitigate many of these issues. Estimated to operate at consumer costs of around 10-20 cents a mile, the robotaxi is more economical than driving when you factor in both the physical costs associated with driving around a car that depreciates with more mileage and has costs associated with its fuel- but it also saves the passenger time that they can spend on work/leisure while not having to devote attention to operating vehicles. I'm curious to see how technological advancements in the coming years can serve to either intentionally or unintentionally help make positive changes to reduce energy usage. While I tend to believe that change through foreign policy will be extremely difficult, I feel that technology offers a more optimistic view into better energy usage, so long as we can find creative ways to align market efficiency with energy efficiency.
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2022 on Papers for Thursday at Jolly Green General
This article paints an optimistic picture about ways we can adapt to mitigate environmental damage. The evidence shows that conservation efforts over the past 20 years have had great success, and show us that fisheries can be managed effectively with adequate regulations in place. I found the concept of RBFM to be especially interesting. By providing economic incentives for sustainability, we are able to preserve institutions that will feed generations going forward for a relatively low-cost today. We want fishermen to be incentivized to be long-term fishers, and economic incentives seem like an effective way to accomplish this goal.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2022 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
It is interesting to me to conceptualize the idea of "outsourcing negative externalities". China is able to engage in this relationship with Brazil. Yes, the entire world bears the cost to some extent, but it's easier to accept environmental harm half a world away than it is in your backyard. I also found the trend associated with amnesties and deforestation, which strengthens the incentives to choose deforestation as a mains of short-term economic gains. I question whether people will ever choose environmentalism over their immediate needs and interests without being made to by governmental bodies, that hold individuals and companies accountable for their actions.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2022 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Reading these studies reminded me about the important trade-off countries, especially those that're lower income have to make. Can they afford to take a hit in terms of tourism in order to lessen environmental damage? Yes, this will likely save some costs in the long run, but that doesn't mean that short-term tradeoffs are not difficult to make. With 80% of tourists willing to pay the higher fees, there would be a loss in overall revenue. I would have predicted a higher WTP given the high income/education levels of the tourists. This suggests either pervasive greediness in the tourists or that we need to do a better job at educating students about the importance of these environmental measures, as we too might be taking trips out to the Caribbean in the not-so-distant future. The research was helpful in showing that if the price was being raised it could be raised more- given the fact that the average increase in WTP with the conservation was 10 dollars.
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
In reading the Solow piece I found myself agreeing with the point that "sustainability" needs to be considered in terms of what is feasible. Solow encourages, in lieu of an emphasis on preservation, mindfulness as to the trade-offs made between current consumption and providing for the future. Solow also notes that we only need to preserve goods (ie animals, natural resources, etc.) that have no good substitutes. I find this argument interesting, as it is difficult to determine what is a "good substitute" as we face uncertainty surrounding scarcity and effectiveness of alternatives to certain resources. This encourages consumption of finite resources only after there is a solid "backup" plan already in place.
Toggle Commented Jan 19, 2022 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
This article was really interesting to me, as I think a lot about efficiency when it comes to poverty. When I see the conclusions drawn here, particularly that a “1% increase in the average amount of aid received is associated with a 0.61% reduction in the MPI.” I think of what is causing such a large gap? How could we get more bang for our buck when it comes to fighting against poverty. The paper mentions the value of using a range of indicators to measure just how effective the aid is. I'm curious whether the solution is to divert the attention to investments in the economy that could lead to the development and lower poverty in a more impactful manner. Of course, the answer would vary depending on the situation, but I'm curious about both when and how putting money in people's hands might not be the best solution to the issue. I definitely would've assumed that the aid would be more impactful, and I'm also curious how the number of aid ties in. The stats given could be used to form an argument that this is an ineffective allocation of funds for the U.S. I'm interested in how we can get this number up over time, and have a greater positive impact on struggling countries.
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2020 on Last Post of the Year at Jolly Green General
I found this to be a very interesting read. Interest rates are something that I'd admittedly put very little thought into in the past and the idea that they could have a significant impact on developing countries. The global credit conditions can be manipulated in order to aid these countries, and I'm curious about the extent to which this can be done to maximize global utility. I was also interested by the idea of other's failures to identify an interest-rate effect. I'm curious as to whether this will become common knowledge, and whether it will result in any kind of concerted global efforts to aid developing nations. This really makes me think about economics as a whole, how what I think would be the causal factors for something could be completely unrelated, while some connection I'd never have made, like interest rates and development, could have a substantial impact on one another.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
I found this to be a very interesting read. Conditional cash transfers can be very effective incentives in encouraging certain behaviors, especially amongst those most strapped for cash. I enjoyed reading about the Progresa program, as I'd only really read about the Bolsa Familia program in Brazil prior to this article. It was interesting to see similarities and differences in how the two Latin American countries constructed these programs. I enjoyed how, like the class example about the grandmother receiving the money, the mother's of the households did here. I'm curious about the extent to which this impacted the women labor participation numbers cited in the article, would that number be lower if it went to men? It is always something that I find to be interesting, a decision that's unconventional but has strong support from research. The results of the Progressa program also showed how investments in human capital lead to different outcomes across generations, continuing to pay dividends beyond just the initial investment. I'm also curious to see the cons of doing these conditional programs over unconditional ones. I personally gravitate towards the former due to the incentives it provides, but it does exclude people from aid who are in environments where it is more difficult for them to meet the standards set. I'm curious as to factors that could prevent people from earning conditional aid. I'm also curious about the expenses associated with ensuring people meet the conditions. Sometimes these can not be economical, ie drug testing as a condition for welfare aid in the US.
Toggle Commented Oct 30, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
Epplin's paper taught me very much about land grant institutions, and I found the author's view to be interesting. It's refreshing to read about effective government intervention, how they came in to introduce an improvement, like the land grant institutions, which provided a mutually beneficial service for the students and for the country in the effective workers it produced. It would be interesting to think of the modern day equivalency of this, 'free college' has been a hot political topic for years now. I have always been a fan of programs like one my home state of Maine had, they had one in place for teachers, where the state had a shortage, where they would pay for a significant portion of your education if you committed to teaching in Maine for a few years after college. This is the same sort of mutual benefit, state gets a need fulfilled, and so does the student who has their burden eased. This is a way to kind of utilize the student debt crisis to nudge people towards areas of need in their economy.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
I'm writing about the Ed Bank piece because I found it particularly interesting. I find the trade-off between prosperity and conservation to be a very interesting question that has a very complex answer. This article proposes societal shifts, such as a promotion of leisure in lieu of consumption resulting in less travel, and less meat production. There are many ways to mitigate these effects, such as the eventual more effecient in vitro meats, carbon neutral vehicles as California recently committed too, and much more. I'm interested in exploring how, when people are better off, they treat the environment better, such as as the Indonesia example I referenced in class the other days. It might be that the solution is to fight the poverty, and reap the environmental benefits that come hand in hand. I was also interested in the stat the article referenced about the average American's perception of global aid versus what we actually provide. It's interesting to think of what "doing our part", could and should look like. We have the power to help make a significant change in both the lives of the people currently struggling and future generations around the world. This can be done both by governments like the United States stepping more up to the plate, and more private citizens reaching into their pockets to help enact positive change.
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2020 on Readings for Friday at Jolly Green General
This paper was very interesting to me. I enjoyed being able to take a close look at South Korea and its development. An aspect I found particularly interesting was the chaebŏls, which were prominent after 1961. This involved the cooperation between the state and big business, but was not done in a particularly corrupt manner, the intent was to limit monopolies and facilitate competition while supporting the businesses. From here the country continued making changes to improve their economy, but did so in the face of political turmoil, making growth all the more impressive. The role of government assistance to businesses and their success was a theme throughout the paper, while presented as relatively fair in the 1960s, later it seemed to devolve into crony capitalism. It's a strong lesson here, heavy government roles in business and their success does seem to lend itself to the potential of corruption if there aren't significant checks in place to ensure fairness.
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2020 on Miracle on the Han for Friday at Jolly Green General
This paper was very interesting to me, I enjoyed being able to take a close look at South Korea and the different obstacles they faced throughout their development. I was particularly interested by the chaebŏls mentioned that were prominent after 1961.Thi
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2020 on Miracle on the Han for Friday at Jolly Green General
The aspect of this essay that I found the most interesting was how the fact that economics is a social science complicates the way the models are perceived. This is due to assumptions made within the models, which draw the ire of observers. He drew attention to the success of Murphy, which he credits to him "daring to be silly". Silly, being a deviation from the field's standard. It was interesting to think about the adverse impacts a discipline can have by leaders in the field having tunnel vision, and going against anything that doesn't conform to their view on what economics should be. By providing a simplification with his model, Murphy was able to advance the field. It's interesting to think of the potential of developmental economics, both if the lag discussed in the paper didn't occur and the future of the field. Now that the ball is rolling, we might see significant advancements and research that might improve policy all over the world. Despite what the paper noted, that strong economic and good policy are far less related than we want, the potential exists of positive change as a result of work in the field.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2020 on Krugman for Friday at Jolly Green General
I found the article to be very interesting as I hadn't given much thought to this previously. I enjoyed being able to see the differences between the fast-growing economies and those that were more stagnant. Many of the fast growers were in the same areas of the world, in pockets. It was interesting to see the connection between most of the fast-growing Asia economies focusing on exports, particularly in manufacturing. The ones lagging have a lack of both diversity in their exports and in a lack of product sophistication, leading to them being outcompeted. It's interesting to think whether there is a concrete formula for efficiently growing an economy, or if it is linked to other regional, social, and political factors in a way that policy alone can't fix.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2020 on Reading for next Friday at Jolly Green General
My apologies for getting this in late. I thought that Sachs' article was very interesting in terms of the describing both the MPG and the SDG. I had experience studying the latter in my high school Geography classes, but the former was new to me. Sachs explains that there is a widespread view that the MPGs did achieve notable progress in terms of fighting poverty, hunger, and disease. However, he mentions that with the SDGs we see many new actors under the scope of the goals, which no longer just target those experiencing the most poverty, hunger and disease. Sachs proposes that with the SDGS, that they group them by what he describes as the "triple bottom line", which is comprised of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion. Sachs mentions that the private sector participating in the efforts is paramount to meeting the SDGs, which is something that I find to be a bit optimistic unless certain incentives or disincentives are introduced in terms of policy. For instance, I don't see a company limiting emissions out of the goodness of their hearts, a carbon tax, as Sachs mentioned would be much more effective as it steers private companies in the right direction. Or a government providing tax breaks for companies that do x for the SDGs. Without the presence of incentives I see widespread private sector action to be a pipedream. An idea that Sachs had was to up the "real time data" that we see in terms of efforts to achieve SDGs, which I feel would be very effective in terms of allowing more concentration in our efforts, and perhaps in inspiring more private charity, people seem to love the GofundMe esque targets to hit, and more importantly allow us to see which countries are living up to their commitments and pulling their weight. I think that if the people around the world could have a better view of the SDGs and what we needed to reach them we might see a lot more interest and engagement that could begin to influence both nations and private companies. Lastly, I find this especially interesting to consider as it seems likely that COVID has upped the ante, acting as a considerable stressor all over the world and making the SDGs even harder to hit. I hope that Sachs' optimism is well founded, and a concerted global effort is possible and we will see unprecedented levels of cooperation to achieve what would be a huge win for humanity in meeting the SDGs as well as possible. I wonder about the possibility of continued virus or environment related issues that might be linked to the climate leading to more nations placing the SDGs higher in their priorities.
I feel that the most important thing I learned this semester was how much discrimination persists in our country. While I was aware of its presence, I was not aware of the extent to which women and minority groups are placed at a disadvantage. In terms of the impact of race, the interactive New York Times article that showed who is "staying wealthy" particularily resonated with me. I wouldn’t have expected such a stark contrast between white and black Americans staying in wealth across generations. This interests me in that I wonder what to do about addressing this. While of course Affirmative Action programs can aid some minorities, the issue with “staying wealthy” idicates bias, which often occurs on the unconcious level. There also is the issue of those who view programs designed to help minorities as an affront to them. As they perceive these advantages as ill gotten gains, and fall into an “us against them mentality”. I’m interested in seeing how this is continuously approached from an economic standpoint. As someone who grew up in a largely homogenous area, being cognizant of my own privelages and mindful of the disadvantages of others can allow me to be more mindful as a voter, and as a future member of the workforce.
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2020 on ECON 100 Final Exam at Jolly Green General
I find myself a bit confused about the debt article. I don't understand why debt has been such a point of contention politically if the solution is just to sit back and let it melt. I'm curious of what will happen as we, along with the rest of the world, need money for stimulus due to the virus. Where will the money come from, when everyone needs the money for their own domestic purposes, and won't our GDP growth falter significantly as our need for money rises? In regards to the other article, I found it interesting to see the author's thoughts, as I'd been hearing a lot about the Hispanic and African American vulnerability to COVID. It's something for us to be mindful of, our past, and should hopefully inspire sympathy and generosity when dealing with those who're in bad situations that are exasperbated by COVID.
Toggle Commented Apr 20, 2020 on Econ 100: Last readings at Jolly Green General
I am confused on how interest rates become negative. I understand that this is a positive that will give our federal gov a much-needed source of money, but I don't understand the conditions that lead to this and its full impact on the economy.
Toggle Commented Apr 3, 2020 on ECON 100: The Corona Coma at Jolly Green General
The aspect of this article that I found to be the most interesting was the one that mentioned the pooling of international medical personnel. I actually had a conversation with my dad a few days ago that sort of related to this, he brought up a company in the U.S. that contracted out medical personnel to hospitals. It will be interesting to see what happens with medical workers who're effectively "free agents" and whose labor is in very high demand. The possibility posed in this article would be very interesting, to see the workers efficiently allocated in order to best combat the global pandemic, with the benefit for the countries that haven't been hit being experience for for their workers in case their luck turns around.
Toggle Commented Apr 2, 2020 on ECON 100 at Jolly Green General
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Apr 2, 2020