Seven Things We Waste in Huge Amounts

Water California, among many other places, is now in the grips of scarily intense drought. Yet, California still uses an awful lot of water. Golf courses and car-washes are obvious wasters, but agriculture is the thing that really sucks California dry. California as a whole diverts or pumps 43 million acre-feet of water each year… Continue reading Seven Things We Waste in Huge Amounts

Affordable Housing

It has been generally assumed, for many years, that “the free market isn’t good at providing affordable housing.” If the free market can’t satisfy that basic, universal human need, then we can’t afford to trust the free market, can we? Oddly, the free market doesn’t seem to have a problem with providing other things we… Continue reading Affordable Housing

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The Top Ten Reasons Why Land is More Important than Ever

The Georgist economic proposal insists on the primary importance of land as a factor in the economy. Many dismiss that as a quaint, agrarian notion. “Perhaps,” they scoff, “land was that significant back when most people had to work the soil for a living, but nowadays we deal with modern issues of technology, global markets,… Continue reading The Top Ten Reasons Why Land is More Important than Ever

A Condo in the Sky

A society’s values and preoccupations for a particular place and time tend to be depicted in its architecture (Levittown? the Golden Arches?). It would pretty much have to be that way — because while individual interests build buildings, they cannot break ground without the surrounding community’s say-so. But, of course, the way the community confers… Continue reading A Condo in the Sky

Corn to Burn

Now and then I am forced to step back and realize that there are things in our modern economy, things we pass by every day and barely give a second thought, which are actually mind-bogglingly absurd. I’m serious; Caligula’s horse in the Roman Senate seems tame compared to some of this stuff. I happened across… Continue reading Corn to Burn

Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

Easter Island is the Earth’s most remote inhabited island, 1,400 miles from its nearest island neighbor. At one time, though, a complex civilization existed there, as evidenced by the mysterious monuments they left behind — some of them weighing more than twenty tons. Yet when European explorers first arrived at the island in the 19th… Continue reading Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

Sovereignty

The most recent chapter of Israel/Palestine violence got me thinking about the question of sovereignty. It’s all around the discussion, of course: about Israel having a sovereign right to defend itself against attack, and about the various levels of sovereignty a Palestinian state might enjoy. What is it about, anyway, this crazy little thing called… Continue reading Sovereignty

The Labor Market: 2. Permanent Unemployment

In the last post I showed that the market for unskilled, unregulated labor is perfectly competitive. The econ-speak definition of that is “a market in which profit is maximized when price equals marginal cost.” And in the case of laborers: Profit Maximization = working at all, instead of starving Marginal Cost = subsistence We also said that… Continue reading The Labor Market: 2. Permanent Unemployment

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Unemployment Business Cycle, The Labor Market: 1. Basics

It is often said that “perfect competition” doesn’t actually happen in the real world, that it is merely a theoretical ideal used to illustrate points in Econ texts. The goods commonly cited as examples of perfect competition — agricultural goods such as wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. — are often provided with public support in the… Continue reading Unemployment Business Cycle, The Labor Market: 1. Basics

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Earthsharing

We have all been inspired, from time to time, by the moving statements of Native Americans, and other aboriginal speakers, about their deep and abiding relationship with the land. Here’s one: What is this you call property? It cannot be the earth, for the land is our mother, nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish… Continue reading Earthsharing