An economic answer to America’s gun control question

Turn on the news and chances are there will be mention of gun control, gun violence, or something of the like. It’s not too surprising either. Relative to our OECD peers, the U.S. has the highest firearm death rate (10.2 per 100,000 people). These staggering numbers force us to ask the question, why do we still have firearms? Some people will blame government inefficiency, others will blame a strong gun lobby, or the outright failure of democracy. Well, in a way, all three can be blamed. But a more nuanced understanding of the gun control problem can only be explained Continue reading An economic answer to America’s gun control question

What drives healthcare policy: Economics or Cultural values

Skimming through the literature on contemporary healthcare, whether domestic or global, the rhetoric that the authors use reveals quite a bit about their intentions and beliefs on healthcare. For example, a 2003 discussion paper published by the WHO stated one of the main priorities when designing a healthcare system is to, “consider fairness in financial contribution” implying that healthcare is a normal good. On the opposing side, physician-anthropologist Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard University stated that when we solely consider market ideals in healthcare, “non-market values worth caring about are crowded out.” These two views are telling of our own Continue reading What drives healthcare policy: Economics or Cultural values

Influenza: Not just a medical issue

One hundred years ago, the Spanish Flu pandemic brought devastation to the world, killing an estimated 50-100 million worldwide. Though not nearly as severe, this current flu season is proving to be one of the deadliest in recent history, even when compared to the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. Current predictions indicate that the virus is not about to slow down. Indeed, last week’s prevalence was calculated at 51 per 100,000 people while this week saw 60 per 100,000 people. This number is so great that influenza is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Of equal concern Continue reading Influenza: Not just a medical issue

Economic Liberalization and the Global Food Regime

Since the beginning of the decade, the IMF and World Bank have begun to retract on their statement that the solution to solving the world’s poverty is economic liberalization of low and middle income nations. Originally implemented via Structural Adjustment Loans, these programs, beginning in the 1980’s in Sub-Saharan Africa, promoted economic liberalization via social spending cuts, tariff elimination, and subsidy removal in exchange for high-interest loans. This growth-oriented strategy was developed out of the expectations that a) “trade, not aid” was the best way to promote economic growth and b) economic growth would be equitable and all socioeconomic classes Continue reading Economic Liberalization and the Global Food Regime

Economic Food for Thought: Are we about to see the rise of Giffen goods?

Conventional economic theories suggest that as supply and demand act in negative correlation with one another. The Giffen good defies these market forces, whereby an increase in the price of a good correlates with an increase in its consumption. The only problem is that this sort of economic behavior is rarely, if ever recorded however, University of Pennsylvania Economist, Dr. Robert Jensen, pointed out several conditions that would have to exist in order for Giffen behavior to occur in food. The first assumption is that households must be heavily impoverished, to the degree that they face regular concerns about where Continue reading Economic Food for Thought: Are we about to see the rise of Giffen goods?

Is Universal Basic Income the future of welfare?

The recent release of the European Social Survey showed several interesting trends regarding the opinions of younger generations regarding welfare policy. Throughout the continent, the younger generations were in strong support of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), with strongest support coming from Russia. The European Social Survey is not the first indication of support for this simplified welfare system. Finland is in the midst of a 2-year long trial run where the government selected 2,000 unemployed individuals to receive a UBI to see how it impacts their employment status, income, and social well-being. A similar pilot experiment is taking place Continue reading Is Universal Basic Income the future of welfare?

Thoughts on Inequality

About a week ago, a professor sent me a link to an article discussing how free markets do not evenly distribute wealth but instead lead to wealth concentration. The article focused on the work of a Tufts University Mathematician, Dr. Bruce Boghosian, who has created a model that represents a simple free market to show how, as time progresses, wealth becomes more and more concentrated, into the hands of fewer and fewer people. Unlike traditional economic models, which presuppose that markets are built off of supply and demand that eventually equilibrate, this model assumes markets are exist transaction to transaction. Continue reading Thoughts on Inequality

Neoliberalism: What is it anyway?

When I arrived on the Puget Sound campus over two years ago, I experienced a bit of a culture shock. Originally hailing from Southern California, an area typified by strict political conservatives, I always felt out of place as the token democrat. Arriving at Puget Sound, I was astonished by the diversity of ideas, scholarship, and beliefs that have come to characterize this school for me. During my first few weeks at the school, I befriended more then a few Cultural Marxists who introduced me to the canonical literature of the field. My quiver of critical theory terminology quickly expanded, Continue reading Neoliberalism: What is it anyway?

Where capital goes to die: Examining the Greek Anarchy movement

Exarcheia is a small neighborhood in Athens, Greece that is for the most part unknown to foreigners. It’s dilapidated buildings and abundance of graffiti don’t characterize a welcoming environment, especially to those unfamiliar with the area. This area however isn’t an impoverished neighborhood or an abandoned suburb but is an entire space of ideological opposition in the form of an anarcho-communist movement. Home to a thriving community of far-left intellectuals, artists, and counter-cultural leaders, this neighborhood is contains several anarchist “squats” or abandoned government buildings that now house refugees, the poor, and victims of the Greek economic collapse. These set-ups Continue reading Where capital goes to die: Examining the Greek Anarchy movement

Western Colonialism, a Pacific Island, and Property Rights

The Republic of Nauru, formerly known as Pleasant Island, is a remote, 8.1 square mile island nation that is located in the Micronesian archipelago. Approximately 200 miles East of Kiribati, the island was originally settled around 1000 BC by the Micronesian and Polynesian people. They remained isolated on the island for nearly 3000 years until in the late 1700’s a British whaling ship, captained by John Fearn, discovered the island and gave it its original name, Pleasant Island. It wouldn’t be until 1888 that the island would see its next visitors when Germany annexed the island nation, as part of Continue reading Western Colonialism, a Pacific Island, and Property Rights