Category Archives: Economics

The Most Important Economist You Probably Have Never Heard About

Economists become famous by winning the Nobel Prize (technically the Swedish National Bank’s Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) or becoming public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith or Paul Krugman.  But economists do not have to be famous to be important.  Significant contributions come in many guises. The most important economist you […]

Two Facts and One Big Question About American Health Care

For several years, Republicans in Congress routinely made a show of voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which they pejoratively labeled Obamacare.  Having refused to participate in the crafting of health care reform, they offered no alternative to the ACA.  Nor did they suggest ways to improve the system despite the President’s call […]

Be Happy You Didn’t Live in 1870

Robert Gordon’s 2016 book The Rise and Fall of American Growth is a comprehensive history of “the U.S. standard of living since the civil war.”  Gordon, a Northwestern University economist, details changes in consumption of food, clothing, shelter, and transport during a period when Americans experienced unprecedented improvement in quality of life.  From brutally difficult, […]

Was the Internet a Good Idea?

I remember clearly my first inkling of something new called the world wide web.  I had recently started using email and two colleagues brought me a U.S. Department of Agriculture publication describing a new information system.   One would be able to use a computer and software that would “crawl” about looking for information stored on […]

The Wilderness Ethic

In many faith communities it is common for adherents to sacrifice.  The Shakers embraced celibacy, though some might find that a flawed “business plan” for the endurance of the sect.  Catholics for years avoided eating meat on Fridays, a practice good for fish mongers. Likewise, many Jews and Muslims forsake pork in their diets.  Dietary […]

When Dollars Meet the Grizzly Bear Spirit

When most people hear the word economics they think of money.  I remember visiting a local Maine historical society and the excitement the caretaker felt when he learned that I was an economist.  He immediately assumed that I would want to see their collection of 19th Century currency in circulation in Maine.  I did not. […]

Actually, A National Energy Tax Would Be Good for Maine

In this season of interminable political ads, one Bruce Poliquin TV ad berates his opponent Emily Cain for supporting a “national energy tax.”  The ad says such a tax would be bad for Maine.  I do not know whether Emily Cain supports a national energy tax or not, but I do.  Contrary to the Poliquin […]

Must Economic Growth Continue?

I recently suggested that one solution to the crisis of our age is a shift in economic paradigms to one called Sustainable De-growth.  To understand fully the implications of de-growth, we need to see where the phenomenon of growth comes from.  A new book by Swiss economic historian Matthias Schmelzer provides deep insights into the […]