Archive for May, 2009

Guess what, kids? More of the same!

Events have been changing so quickly that we teachers are having trouble keeping up. Syllabuses are often planned months in advance, and textbooks are revised only every few years.

But there is another, more fundamental reason: Despite the enormity of recent events, the principles of economics are largely unchanged. Students still need to learn about the gains from trade, supply and demand, the efficiency properties of market outcomes, and so on. These topics will remain the bread-and-butter of introductory courses.

Nonetheless, the teaching of basic economics will need to change in some subtle ways in response to recent events.

The four ways are, indeed, quite subtle. I appreciate that change number four is a recognition of the limits of forecasting. I also appreciate that number one involves the word “institutions,” although I think an appreciation of a broader set than financial institutions is called for. For some deeper solutions, check out Toxic Textbooks (and Mankiw’s is one of the primary culprits).

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John Bellamy Foster:

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From NYT

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Co-op Wrap-up

Naomi Klein details the various worker takeovers occurring around the world.


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In case you haven’t heard, a new campaign is starting, led by Ed Fullbrook: Toxic Textbooks. You can read more about it on the website or join the facebook group. More to say later when I am fully decompressed from having graduated college.

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Although another issue took center stage, President Obama did, in fact, talk a bit about economics in yesterday’s ND commencement speech:

This generation, your generation is the one that must find a path back to prosperity and decide how we respond to a global economy that left millions behind even before the most recent crisis hit — an economy where greed and short-term thinking were too often rewarded at the expense of fairness, and diligence, and an honest day’s work.


Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game. The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice. And so, for all our technology and scientific advances, we see here in this country and around the globe violence and want and strife that would seem sadly familiar to those in ancient times.

You can read the entire trascript here

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In light of the White House’s new organic garden, The Daily Show had a great segment on organic gardening last night that presented a good balance of perspectives. Critics often charge that, because it is expensive, organic gardening is elitist and will lead to starvation if everyone were to make the switch. They guy in the video clip says that instead of planting an organic garden, the Obama family should be teaching children how to use pesticides in order to be more efficient.

In South Bend, a group called the Community Gardens of Michiana has been planting seeds throughout the city and the movement has been growing. The Unity gardens tend to be located in grocery-starved areas and aim to bring free, healthy food to people who need it while bringing people in the neighborhood together. This movement is anything but elitist. Or capitalist. The gardens are run on volunteering and donations. It will certainly be interesting to see how they fare.

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Barbara Ehrenreich on unemployment and the “job” of job-seeking.

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Stephen Colbert offers the best economic analysis of the soda tax that I have seen

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