Monday, May 17, 2010

SWEET Summer Book Club

I'm pleased to announce the first ever SWEET Summer Book Club is finally off the ground.  We plan on reading one book a month for three months until next semester begins and meeting to discuss it when we've finished. We're going to start off by reading SuperFreakonomics, the new popular economics book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.
It's a nice piece of fun, accessible, modern economics that covers several interesting and topical subjects ranging from the economics of prostitution, terrorism, and global warming. It's a quick, easy read and a great way to wind down after a stressful semester. We should have several hundred dollars left over from our Koch grant to help cover some of the book expenses so save your receipts if you want a chance to be reimbursed. The book is available on Amazon or alternatively you can simply email me (rlraines@alaska.edu) and I will work my internet magic and get a copy to you immediately. If there are no objections we'll meet Thursday, June 17th at 5pm in the College Coffee House to discuss the book and any other econ-related tangents you feel like sharing. See you there.

Friday, May 7, 2010

That's A Wrap

And with today's excellent discussion, this semester's SWEET Scholars session comes to an end. Thanks to everyone who participated, this term has been interesting, informative, and lots of fun. If you think you'd be interested in continuing with the group next semester drop Sherri an email and let her know. In the meantime please feel free to continue to use the blog to share articles, links, and your thoughts on economics over the summer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Something as Simple as Fear

Bastiat:

"They will come to learn in the end, at their own expense, that it is better to endure competition for rich customers than to be invested with monopoly over impoverished customers."

He is very clear in his rhetoric that he avidly was supportive of the neoliberal ideology of competitive and free markets. In particular I like his writing on protectionism.

PROTECTIONISM we all know very well how it works and if anyone does not grab a few chairs and Sherri and Daniel can show you ;-)

I think though no matter how agreed on it is that protectionism is foul logic it will always have its place in society. Protectionism is simple as it is based off of the notion of fear. It is still rapid in the economies of the world however, often touted with a new name "security" (food, energy, etc.)Even though history is filled with its Bastiats and currently we have our Wenzels, Powells, and Cowens telling us "yo this is obviously no good" it persists. It's like a junior higher who picks on the girl that they like, each of protectionists know that there not being productive but they don't care they don't want to be the weakest link and will aviod having others believe this by taking down the strong. If they were to take down the competition justly via higher quality or lower price it would be fine but the barriers these groups build are those that are very damaging.

Fear seems to be a simple emotion, but it drives actions that are far more scary than that of what would be expected. The thing which I think is ironic about the whole protectionist argument is that the real dangers which are faced when barriers are applied. As Bastiat puts it, "When goods do not cross borders, soldiers will." Nations that do not trade have a greater potential to be threatened by war a situations far more scary than an influx of imports or what have you. It goes back to the short run vs long run time preference that we were speaking of: short term fears are easy to see but the long run consequences that are not, that occur due to acting on these fears can be deadly.