Economics @ ITT

Pakistan factory fires kill at least 261

Posted in economics, employment, externalities, Policy Issues by ittecon on September 12, 2012

The only reason this does not happen in the United States very often is that the price of labour is too high. If Conservatives had their way, there would be no minimum wage;  they would drive wages down to pennies an hour, there would be no right to healthcare, unemployment, collective bargaining, file a grievance, and a laundry list of other societal ills.

“You have strikes, load shedding [power outages], local mafias charging you turf protection money — you name it,” Ahmad said. “Plus you have ruthless buyers sitting in the U.S. who dont care what you do, as long as you do it on time … we take a hit every time were late. That means lost margins. That means we do what we need to do to make our orders, fast. This factory owner may have been working extra shifts just for that purpose.” 

This is what unregulated free markets do.

via We were trapped inside: Pakistan factory fires kill at least 261 – World News.

The Cause of Riots and the Price of Food

Posted in economics, externalities by ittecon on September 12, 2012

If we dont reverse the current trend in food prices, weve got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, say complexity theorists

via The Cause Of Riots And The Price of Food – Technology Review.

Black Lung Surges Back in Coal Country

Posted in economics, environment by ittecon on July 10, 2012

A Center analysis of databases maintained by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration found that miners have been breathing too much dust for years, but MSHA has issued relatively few violations and routinely allowed companies extra time to fix problems.

via Black lung surges back in coal country | iWatch News by The Center for Public Integrity.

A Big Enough Soda Tax Could Have Legs

Posted in economics, microeconomics, Regulation by ittecon on June 18, 2012

When the USDA crunched the numbers PDF on a 20 percent increase in cost of sugared beverages in 2010 study, it found that more expensive drinks could spur an average loss of 3.8 pounds a year for adults and 4.5 pounds a year for kids.

via A Big Enough Soda Tax Could Have Legs | Mother Jones.

Monopoly power in action

Posted in antitrust, economics, environment, externalities, Policy Issues by ittecon on May 16, 2012

90 Percent of Corn Seeds Are Coated With Bayer’s Bee-Decimating Pesticide

90 Percent of Corn Seeds Are Coated With Bayers Bee-Decimating Pesticide | Mother Jones.

Bats Are Worth at Least $3 Billion Per Year

Posted in economics, environment, externalities by ittecon on April 1, 2011

Insect-eating bats are worth at least $3 billion — perhaps as much as $54 billion — per year to U.S. agriculture alone, say biologists who evaluated their ecological contributions.

Bats Are Worth at Least $3 Billion Per Year | Wired Science | Wired.com.

The Story of Bottled Water (2010)

Posted in economics, environment, externalities, Policy Issues by ittecon on January 25, 2011

Soda Tax: Good or Bad?

Posted in economics, externalities, microeconomics, Policy Issues by ittecon on December 14, 2010

An MSNBC article on the effects of a soda tax demonstrates how little journalists and the general public understand about public policy and addressing externalities, a form of market failure. It is interesting that this health writer sees the benefits of how the additional revenue is spent as a “secondary effect.” Presumably, the effects on obesity are the primary goal. The larger issue here is not that soda contains empty calories, but it is responsible for myriad otther heath and dental problems. That low income people consume a larger part of their budget on soda is a red herring. In fact, drinking tap water is a far more economical way to hydrate. Soda contains mostly water. If drinking water instead of soda people  could use the savings to support a more healthly diet, the benefits would be magnified that much more. Of course, how the saved money is spent is another issue all together.

Texas High Court Hears Strip Club “Pole Tax” Case

Posted in economics, microeconomics, Policy Issues, Regulation by ittecon on March 26, 2010

Texas high court hears strip club ‘pole tax’ case.

Is it proper or not for the state to have the position that live nude dancing should be discouraged?

Government uses its power to promote and discourage all sorts of behaviour through taxation and subsidisation. Is this a different application of that power, or is it somehow different? Are the social effects of strip clubs a negative externality that lead to sexual abuse, or is this an abuse of power to promote a moral agenda and restrict freedom of expression?

Externalities: Tax Soda to Cut Obesity

Posted in economics, externalities, Policy Issues by ittecon on March 9, 2010

Should the US tax soda to offset the health risks, or should one be able to exercise risky behaviours as a matter of individual freedom? It takes no more than a glance to see the relationship between adult onset diabetes (obesity being a key factor) and soda consumption, but is this a matter of public policy?

Diabetes Map

Soda Map