Category Archives: Economics

Lessons From Seaweed

Most Mainers know something about seaweed, some of what they know might even be true.  My mother sang the praises of dulse in her diet, though I recall that she rarely ate it.  My father used what we called rockweed from the shores of Penobscot Bay to enrich his vegetable garden.  R.P.T. Coffin describes the […]

Time for the State of Maine to Get Out of the Alcohol Business

Not that long ago the purchase of many types of alcoholic beverages in Maine required a visit to a State-run liquor store.  This was rooted in the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which ended the Prohibition era in 1933 and allowed states to regulate importation of liquor.  But no longer, Maine got out of […]

Lessons from Japan for Imagining Sustainable De-growth

Cornell University ecologist David Pimentel and colleagues estimated that the earth might be able to sustain only 2 billion people by the end of the fossil fuel era.  There are about 7.5 billion humans on the planet right now.  It seems counterintuitive that there is nearly 4 times the sustainable population now living on the […]

Disdain for the Future

I first encountered the idea that the future was something one could study in 1971 from historian Roger Howell Jr.  In one way or another, thinking about the future informed much that I have written about since, including here in Stirring the Pot. In my way of thinking about the future, I believe there should […]

Question 1: Rent Seeking Run Amok

Mailboxes are flooded with direct mail fliers.  The roadsides are littered with plastic signs.  We are admonished to Vote Yes On Question 1 on November 7.  This is one of the clearest examples of rent seeking behavior I have ever seen.  It is text book quality. Rent seeking occurs when an economic actor, in this […]

Is the U.S. Economy One Big Ponzi Scheme?

When I was teaching, I used to joke with students that my classes were particularly demanding because I wanted to be sure they would succeed in the real world so that they could pay for my Social Security checks.  Economists are supposed to believe that self interest is the dominant human motivator. I was only […]

The Lesson for Maine From Hurricane Harvey

The pain and suffering of the residents of coastal Texas and Louisiana fill us all with feelings of empathy and concern for their future.  Most of us can only imagine losing all of our physical possessions and having to start over again. Hurricane Harvey brought an unprecedented rainfall event in U.S. weather history.  So the […]

A Health Care System Rent Apart

Republicans in Congress failed to fulfill their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), called by them “Obamacare.”  The fight over the fate of the ACA reflected a narrow ideological battle over health insurance in the United States.   At issue were different world views on who should provide health insurance (private firms, public programs, […]

Pennies for Puffins

In the last two decades of the 20th Century, environmental economists made tremendous strides in developing techniques to measure economic values when there are no markets (they call these “non-market valuation”).  These efforts grew out of the criticism of the environmental statutes adopted in the 1970s like the Clean Air Act or the Endangered Species […]