Category Archives: Economics

One Lesson NOT to Take from France’s “Yellow Vest” Protests

One narrative about the Yellow Vest protests in France is that politicians should not adopt energy taxes to change behaviors that lead to climate change.  In this telling, the political costs of wise energy policy are too high.  This is an overly simple reading of the French experience and is a convenient excuse for those […]

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 […]