While reading George Monbiot's column (published in today's Guardian), I followed his footnote to this great site that I hadn't seen before: The Story of Stuff Project. I watched their first 20 minute video of the same name -- thought provoking stuff! Perfect to show to my introductory economic class next term just after they've read the chapter on 'resource maintenance' and are doing the one on consumption and consumerism (in Microeconomics in Context, by Goodwin, Nelson, Ackerman, & Weisskopf).
There's a series of other videos, all with annotated transcripts freely available, where sources and more background information is given. A great resource!
A great talk by Joseph Stiglitz (@Google) about his new book The Price of Inequality. He points out the useless nature of marginal productivity theory in determining the huge rewards enjoyed by some, how there is no correspondence between 'contribution to society' and the large fortunes at the top, which, he contends, also have a good deal to do with plundering those lower down on the food chain. (OK, he phrases it more diplomatically, calling it 'rent seeking'.)
Compared to the wealth of information like this that is available to today's undergraduate economics students, I feel like I was living in the stone age when I was a student in the 1970s. I hope their instructors are helping them to find such gems. Perhaps it's one of the best contributions we can make to their education.
I read with interest Mariana Mazzucato's fine piece in today's Guardian. The title -- "Public money spent on 'digging ditches' won't stimulate the economy" -- initially put me off (after all, Keynes showed that was not true), but the subtitle -- "State spending to boost growth needs to go beyond mere investment – it must transform the economy" -- gets at the real subject of the article. (Nicholas Stern makes a similar argument regarding public investments in dealing with climate change, in particular in part 2 of this interview.)
Being lazy and also preparing for the start of classes this week, I wasn't going to write anything about Mazzucato's article, and my laziness paid off as Yanis Varoufakis wrote a much better piece about it than I would ever be able to, and it prompted me to add a link to his excellent blog in the list of blogs on this page.
By the way, I wrote earlier about Varoufakis's remarkable book Foundations of Economics: A Beginner's Companion. Check it out!
A new book by Chris Hedges and journalist/graphic artist Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, prompted this interview of Hedges by Bill Moyers. (The video appears at the bottom of the page in the link.)
Hedges is remarkably articulate and is very good at giving a clear glimpse into the ugly, violent and destructive underbelly of the system. I'll have to find some way to get students to see parts of this.
Recently, a colleague from Finland wrote to us that he was trying to interest publishers in Finland in a translation of The Economics Anti-Textbook. To get someone interested in doing that, some information about the book's use in universities would be useful. The publishers provide us nothing along these lines and I have searched the web as best I can and found half a dozen (quite varied) courses that have used it in one way or another, but I'm sure there are many more I don't know about.
If you have used it yourself, as an instructor or a student, or if you know someone who has, we would very much appreciate getting a note with some details. (Our gmail.com address is on the main blog page.)
We (Rod Hill and Tony Myatt) are professors of economics at the University of New Brunswick and the authors of "The Economics Anti-Textbook: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Microeconomics" (Zed Books, London & New York; Fernwood Books, Halifax & Winnipeg, 2010). The 2011 Indian edition is published by Books for Change (Bangalore). A Chinese-language edition has been published by Shiwenbooks, Beijing. We'll use this blog as a place to post discussion with readers of our book. We'll also use it to write further about economics textbooks and their content, as well as about new books coming out that critique textbook economics.
Feel free to write to us at rodntony [AT] gmail.com.