Monthly Archives: March 2010

Saving State U: a book party and benefit for PHENOM

Saving State U is the just-released book by Nancy Folbre, author and UMass Amherst economics professor.  On Wednesday, April 14, 2010 a book party and benefit will be held at Gordon Hall.  There will be a presentation and discussion from 4:00-5:00 p.m. and a reception follows from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.  The event benefits the Public Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) and is sponsored by PERI and the Department of Economics.

About PHENOM:  The Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts is the leading organization advocating for affordable, well-funded public higher education in Massachusetts.  PHENOM unites students, faculty, alumni, staff, parents and community organizations to do grassroots organizing, policy analysis, and legislative advocacy.

PHENOM’s For a Great State of Mind:  Invest in Public Educationcampaign seeks to dramatically increase state investment in public higher education.  The goal is to reduce the cost of attending public college to the national average, and increase state support for public colleges and universities up to the national average.  Currently, Massachusetts ranks 46th among the 50 states in its investment in public higher education.  To learn more, click here.

Too much to qualify, too little to get by: Folbre blogs about the “Resentment Zone”

Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

Nancy Folbre, UMass economics professor and contributor the NY Times Blog, Economix, describes what she calls the “resentment zone” in a recent Economix entry.  Low-income workers who get married, work more hours or pick up a second job, may lose means-tested benefits that they once qualified for.  According to Folbre, this has the same effect on households as paying more taxes.  In fact, when you account for both taxes paid and benefits lost, the marginal tax rate for low-income households often exceeds 35 percent.  This is the same rate applied to taxable income over $372,950 of married couples filing jointly for 2009.

March 22, 2010
The Resentment Zone:  Losing Means-Tested Benefits
By:  NANY FOLBRE

The rate at which benefits are phased out depends on which benefits people are taking advantage of. Participation rates for many programs, like food stamps, fall far short of 100 percent of those eligible.

Most government surveys don’t collect data on program participation. One that does, the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is widely considered inaccurate.

But an innovative study of Wisconsin households that merges data from tax returns and state administrative data shows that some low-income families faced a combined state and federal marginal tax rate of 44 percent in 2000. Some fell off a cliff when they earned just enough income to disqualify them from the state’s public health insurance program.

Pollin’s research on green jobs referenced in The Huffington Post

Green JobsThe research of professor Robert Pollin, economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, was referenced in an article which appeared recently in The Huffington Post.  Pollin’s work on green economies is considered substantial and thorough with respect to quantifying how many green jobs could be created from a clean energy transformation.  This is important research because, as the author points out, “green jobs may be the key to economic recovery and environmental sustainability.”

Heintz and Pollin comment on tracking stimulus spending

James Heintz ’01G, assistant research professor at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and Robert Pollin, UMass Amherst economics professor and co-director of PERI, commented in a story about the progress of the economic stimulus package.  Although you can track the spending through government websites, interpreting the data is “not the easiest thing,” admits Pollin.  Heintz points out that one problem stems from the fact that there are many branches of the state and federal governments administering the funds. (Masslive.com, 3/14/2010)

Folbre blogs, “The World’s Best Countries for Women”

Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

In a recent NY Times Economix blog entry, Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, discusses some of the different measures that are used to compare the status of women amongst the world’s countries.  Rankings vary depending on which index you look at,  however none of them rank the United States in the top 10.  “Despite these differences, a clear pattern emerges. Scandinavian countries that have made gender equality an explicit goal and implemented policies such as universal child care and paid family leaves almost always land on the top of the list.  The United States lags far behind.”  (Economix, 3/8/2010)

Boyce: Graham-Kerry’s sector-specific approach to carbon limits is less efficient

James K. Boyce, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

James K. Boyce, UMass Amherst economics professor, is quoted in an article that analyzes the climate bill being drafted by U.S. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).  According to Boyce, this bill, which would apply different types of carbon limits to different sectors of the industry, is not as efficient.  “You want to treat all carbon molecules the same, not distinguish between, say, carbon coming from a coal plant and carbon coming from gasoline,” says Boyce. “If you favor one, you’re doing that to please your lobbyists, but there’s an efficiency cost in doing so. And that efficiency cost gets passed along to the American public.” (Solve Climate, 3/15/2010)

Garrett-Peltier in Dollars & Sense, “Is Military Keynesianism the Solution?”

Heidi Garrett-Peltier, Research Fellow at PERI

A column by Heidi Garrett-Peltier ’06G, research fellow at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), looks at the idea that increased defense spending to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan may help the damaged economy the same way any government spending is used when the economy falters. She says this “military Keynesianism” may work to some degree, but is an inefficient way to spend public money. Instead, she argues, spending on non-military projects creates more jobs and more positive economic impact. (Dollars & Sense, 3/8/10)

Pollin discusses higher wages and inflation in an interview on The Real News Network

In a recent interview on The Real News Network, Robert Pollin, UMass Amherst economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, discuss whether or not higher wages would lead to inflation.  He claims that theonly way higher wages would cause inflation is if the wages are rise faster than companies’ ability to produce things.  Furthermore, he argues that if prices do increase because workers are making more money, are happy and willing to buy things, this would be a sign of a healthy economy. (The Real News Network, 3/7/2010)

Friedman comments in story about price-cutting in the art market

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst economics professor, commented in a story about price-cutting in the art market.  According to the article, the art market has been effected by the current world-wide economic slump and, in response, galleries are offering more significant discounts and asking artists to lower their prices.  Friedman comments on how this price-cutting may be perceived.  “Price is a signal of quality and your commitment that this is good art,” said Friedman. “If you cut the price, it sends a signal that this is not a desirable product. If you are an investor, cutting the price is a sign that no one is going to buy it in the future.” If someone wants to buy work by a particular artist, he stated, they will pay the going rate, rather than switch to other artists.  (Huffington Post, 2/26/10)