Category Archives: Economics

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 […]

312 & 2,600,000,000

I am inspired by students from Dalhousie University in Halifax who have been getting tattoos.  These are simple tattoos, just three digits, placed somewhere conspicuous.  The number is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere in their birth year.  Were I inclined to get a tattoo, mine would be 319. Since my birth […]

What Gets Measured, Counts

A few years ago I was visiting the museum of a local Maine historical society.  When the docent discovered I worked as an economist, he immediately wanted to show me their collection of early currency that had circulated in the community.  His assumption was that an economist would, of course, be interested in money.  I […]

Political Courage and Cowardice on Taxes

The trouble with taxes is that no one likes to pay them.  We want the services of government (good roads, public schools, national defense, a functioning court system, etc.) but would rather that someone else pay for these things.  Yet taxation is necessary in modern society.  Taxes are needed to fund what economists call public […]

Call Me a Luddite

Back in January I wondered out loud, Was the Internet a Good Idea?  To my way of thinking the information technology (IT) revolution of the past 25 years has been a mixed blessing.  It both created amazing tools for doing everyday tasks and introduced whole new means of mindless addiction and criminal opportunities. This IT […]

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 […]