Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Economics and the environment

I've been a good blogger, I think, staying away from conversations around the stimulus package, the omnibus bill coming through right now, and the general economic condition of our country. I do think that some of it has environmental impact, of course, and soon I may break my silence. My silence, by the way, is only here on this blog. I've been commenting on a number of economics blogs, and have even written members of Congress, outlining some proposals I think they should get to work on.

I have kept my blog out of economics talk for a couple of reasons, not the least of which being that there are implications beyond economics to environmental and conservation issues, and its times like these when we need to consider them. Also, everybody and their dog is trying to shoehorn an economics argument into every idea they come up with, and frankly, I'm sick of it. However, there are some very intelligent people blogging about economics and the environment, and I just posted a new blog list here on my website with a few of them.

Many people are fearful of economics talk. It's a pseudo-science (I, with the oxymoronic-on-a-number-of-levels "social sciences" degree, said it), and much of its jargon seems only to overly-complicate matters, but it uses serious logic to drive right at the fundamental fears and hopes of people, namely scarcity (or money; you could easily say money). It also uses numbers and graphs, a real turn-off for many people.

Take, for example, this lovely visual aid, a simple history of home values:Many people don't think they can understand this graph because they don't know the meanings of the numbers on the edges (the x and y axes). However, this will not stop an economist. In fact, many economists don't even realize that this is not a natural way of looking at relationships for most folks. If you are not an economist, let me clue you in on this graph, and a tidbit for graphs, in general: You are almost always supposed to be impressed by the dips and spikes as they relate to the title of the graph. You may not be, but you are supposed to be, and not gasping at the sight of a line shooting straight up and then falling just as quickly, to be replaced by a dashed line, is a serious faux pas when with an economist.

I'm joking; I love economics, and I greatly enjoy conversations with economists. I taught econ. for four years, and feel comfortable listening and speaking about it, but I also know that it is really tough for people to relate to, especially because it is complex at times and deals with realities that people face, but in a very academic, and occasionally condescending fashion.

If you are not inclined toward economics conversations, I still suggest you click on a few links on the left. It is important stuff, and your voice could help. If you are inclined towards economics, definitely click on the links, and give 'em heck!

1 comment:

Bob said...

Josh - What's your take on cap-and-trade?