A Discussion of “Ecosystem Impacts and Productive Capacity of a Multi-Species Pastured Livestock System”

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

I try to limit my exposure to the cesspool of viral “news” stories as they are happening. Looking back after the morass of half-truths and lies when things have settled and the truth can be seen is much more psychologically healthy. This is not a left/right thing because both sides do it.

A recent example hits on the topic I have been researching lately — exploring issues around our food production and consumption.

The Daily Mail got the ball rolling with a story that actually reported…


A Discussion of “The Historical Production (and Consumption) of Unsustainability”

an old picture of a steam engine train on a rickety old bridge
an old picture of a steam engine train on a rickety old bridge
Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

My last couple of stories have examined the unsustainability of our diet,

…and an escape from the unsustainability of our agricultural practices.

Today, I want to examine unsustainability itself. I turn to an article published in The Hedgehog Review, an interdisciplinary academic journal focused on contemporary culture.

I must confess it is strange as an economist to read an article with no equations or statistics!

But the idea of sustainability is key, not only in the issues around diet and agriculture as covered above but also in many of my…


A discussion of “Why Regenerative Agriculture?”

bucolic picture of pastures with cows
bucolic picture of pastures with cows
Photo by Illiya Vjestica on Unsplash

Writing previously about the un-sustainability of our Western Dietary Pattern has inspired me to look more into how we got here today. We saw the WDP as the cheapest way to eat, but also the least healthy and the most damaging to the environment.

Has the market led us astray? Is this the natural outcome of our capitalist system?

In short, I would say no. The first thing in economics, when trying to understand an outcome is, to follow the incentives.

With agriculture, the market is far from free. Layers upon layers of government programs pushing the market towards producing…


A discussion of: “Global Sustainability (health, environment and monetary costs) of Three Dietary Patterns: Results from a Spanish Cohort (the SUN project)”

a sea of cookies and donuts with icing and sprinkles and candy
a sea of cookies and donuts with icing and sprinkles and candy
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

The CDC reports that over 40% of American adults are obese, which means a BMI of 30 or higher.

Now, we can argue about the BMI as a metric, but it does show that the number was 30% in 2000 and 40% in 2018. It is definitely capturing a trend, and a bad trend at that.

The CDC also points out the harm obesity causes.

Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of…


A discussion of “A Skeptic’s Guide to Modern Monetary Theory”

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

A sexy new economic theory appeared in the last few years promising us that government debt really is nothing to worry about.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) says a nation that spends, taxes and borrows in a fiat currency they control can spend as much as they need without worrying about becoming insolvent. Whatever amount of money is needed can be printed.

I dismissed it when I first heard of it because that sounded ludicrous — debt does not matter? The size of the money supply does not matter?

While it…


A Discussion of “Bridging the Teacher-Student Divide: A Multimedia Approach to Reach Digital Native Learners”

Photo by Bianca Castillo on Unsplash

I like to think of ways to teach that will make the experience more engaging for both the students and myself.

The crux of the problem is the gap between teaching and learning. Me standing there saying things to you does not necessarily translate into you learning.

Holbrook and Lean (2020) are addressing this issue but also focusing on what they call a teacher-student divide due to technology.

Essentially, the college students of today have been called digital natives because the online world has been an extensive part of their lives growing up. …


A Discussion “The Social Responsibility of Business: Milton Friedman Reconsidered”

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

As an economics professor, I know I have some misconceptions to overcome every semester a new crop of students appear in my intro microeconomics course.

Economics is about greed. It is immoral. Capitalism is bad.

Elrick and Thies (2018) offer an example of these bad ideas being proliferated due to a bad headline incorrectly summing up Milton Friedman’s free market ideas. And over the years, that incorrect view has been tagged to anyone professing free market views in the vein of Friedman.

Adam Smith’s view of the Invisible Hand first…


A discussion

Photo by heylagostechie on Unsplash

Do women earn less than men because of discrimination? Or are they making choices that lead to lower pay?

Why on earth would someone choose lower pay? Because the lower pay may come with other benefits such as scheduling flexibility, less overtime hours or other quality of life options.

Sorkin (2017) says that men earn more than women because they are more likely to work in higher wage industries, and within those industries, they are more likely to work at the higher wage firms.

He examines two theories to explain the observed pay gap between men and women.

  1. Discrimination Explanation…

A Discussion “Initial Impacts of the Pandemic on Consumer Behavior”

A hand-written sign in a store front saying we are now closed
A hand-written sign in a store front saying we are now closed
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Here is an early look at the impact on consumers’ income, spending and savings behavior from the dreadful economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown.

As an economist, I never would have said it was possible to shut down the economy, so I watched in horrified awe as it happened.

Economics is classified as a social science, and we are criticized for how much we get wrong. Part of it is due to the interdependence of the economy that is more complicated than our mathematical models can capture.

But…


A discussion of “Revisiting the Purpose of Business”

2 businessmen shaking hands making a mutually beneficial deal
2 businessmen shaking hands making a mutually beneficial deal
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

I am an economist and a lot of what drew me to the field early on is the Adam Smith story of the Invisible Hand.

Briefly, it is the idea that our self-interested nature is channeled, as if by an all-knowing Invisible Hand, to an allocation of our resources that is optimal, even better than what a planner could have come up with.

Taking something that is of questionable value, our self-interested nature, and creating something that benefits all, — it seemed so beautiful and compelled me to study economics in the…

Ellen Clardy, PhD

Professor of Economics at Houston Baptist University since 2010 — Want help with econ basics? Search Dr. Clardy on YouTube.

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