Environmental Emissions

A letter in “The Mail” section of a recent New Yorker tells us about a funny error on the cover of the May 17, 2010 issue. Mainly portraying emissions from vehicles, factories, and cows, the cover focuses on our environmental…

BP and the Financial Crisis

I suspect that there is an inverse relationship between government’s ability to get regulation right and the length of the legislation. Glass-Steagall was 34 pages long. Recently proposed financial legislation is 3000 pages long. The need for appropriate regulation is…

More Water Dilemmas

Bottled water has been around for a long time. Bottled Perrier was introduced in 1863 while people first drank a bottled Poland Spring product 13 years later. With bottled water consumption having increased until the recent economic contraction, environmentalists are…

Environmental Externalities

There is oil under Murchison Falls National Park. Home to rare birds, lions, elephants, and giraffes, this Ugandan nature park is a tourist mecca. The Ugandan government, though, prefers oil to tourists as a revenue stream.  Thinking as economists, we…

Deficits and the Tragedy of the Commons

Pondering Greece, I wondered about the individual and the state.  Sometimes what is good for one person is bad for all.  That took me to a graphic of the federal budget in 2020 in which entitlements, which are good for…

Another Unregulated Market

Carbon offset markets are about thinking at the margin. Hoping to become the first carbon neutral state in the world, the Vatican bought carbon offsets. The U.S. House of Representatives funded an $89,000 purchase of carbon offsets. Before boarding, you can…

A $5,000.00 Taxi Ride

Hearing that actor John Cleese took a Mercedes taxi from Oslo to Brussels for about $5,000 because the Icelandic volcano eruption prevented him from flying, an economist would say, “That is a positive externality.” Economists see positive externalities wherever a…

Costly Behavior

Do you approve of Pigovian taxes?  These are taxes levied on seemingly undesirable behavior in order to compensate for their negative impact on society. soda tax: Among other municipalities, New York State and Philadelphia are proposing soda taxes. bag tax:…