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Basu Faculty Folbre Friedman Graduate Kotz Resnick UMass Economics

Faculty and grad students on “Occupy” protests

Anastasia Wilson (Photo by Diane Lederman, The Republican)

Many UMass Amherst Economics Department faculty and graduate students have participated in the “Occupy” protests that started on Wall Street and have spread internationally. Occupy protests have been held locally in Amherst, Boston and Northampton.

On Oct. 19 UMass Amherst economics professors Gerald Friedman, David Kotz, and Stephen Resnick joined colleagues Dean Robinson and Jillian Schwedler (political science), Max Page (art), and Millicent Thayer (sociology) for the first Occupy UMass Teach-In held in the Cape Cod Lounge on the UMass Amherst campus. (The Daily Collegian, 10/20/11)

Deepankar Basu (Photo by Diane Lederman, The Republican)

Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, writes in the Economix blog about the Occupy Wall Street movement and what it may mean for the debate about wealth distribution in the U.S. She says visiting the protestors in New York City showed her that they weren’t proposing class warfare, but were instead expressing class rage. (New York Times, 10/17/11

Graduate student Mark Paul is profiled in a story about local residents who are taking part in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City. (Gazette, 10/11/11)

A group of UMass Amherst students held a rally outside the Student Union on Oct. 12 calling for economic justice as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Speakers at the rally included UMass Amherst economics professors Deepankar Basu and David Kotz. (Republican, 10/13/11)

UMass Amherst graduate students, including Anastasia Wilson (shown in photo), participate in the Occupy Amherst protest on the Town Common. A video of the event highlights their message. (Republican, 10/5/11)

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Friedman

Friedman makes a case for universal health care in Dollars & Sense

Gerald Friedman

In an article for Dollars & Sense, Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst economics professor, argues that universal health care is the only viable solution to soaring health care costs. According to Friedman, the cost of health insurance has been rising more than twice the general rate of inflation for decades and the share of household income spent on health care has more than doubled since 1970 from 7% to 17%. “If current trends continued,” Friedman warns, “the entire economy would be absorbed by health care by the 2050s.”

While many believe that universal coverage is is fiscally impossible, Friedman conservatively estimates that moving to a single-payer system in Massachusetts would actually save approximately 16%, even after providing coverage to everyone in the state who is currently without insurance. He believes that the percentage of savings would be higher nationally. “This could be done largely by reducing the cost of administering the private insurance system, with most of the savings coming within providers’ offices by reducing the costs of billing and processing insurance claims.” (Dollars & Sense, July 2011)

Additional coverage of this article:

Physicians For a National Health Program, 7/1/11
Truthout, 7/5/11
Zcommunications, 7/5/11
CommonDreams.org, 7/7/11

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Friedman

Friedman discusses problems with health care system on Connecting Point

Gerald Friedman

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst economics professor, appeared on WGBY’s Connecting Point to discuss the problems with our current health care system. According to Friedman, 15% of the U.S. population does not have health insurance and approximately one-third of Americans do not have insurance at some point during the year or inadequate coverage. “We have superb health care and wonderful technology, but a growing part of the American population doesn’t have access to it.” 

Massachusetts has done a much better job than other states addressing the problem of access. In fact, 98% of residents are now covered as a result of the health care bill that came into effect in 2006. While Friedman acknowledges that this is a major accomplishment, he is concerned that we have not addressed the issue of cost. He cites accountable care organizations as a possible solution to address the rising costs of health care, but is not convinced they can work within our current insurance system. Friedman believes that ultimately some sort of national health care system, which is the system adopted by many other countries, may be the only solution.

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Folbre Friedman

VT moves toward single-payer health insurance

Nancy Folbre

Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, writes in the Economix blog about how Vermont is bucking the national trend and creating a Canadian-style, single-payer health insurance system for its citizens. She notes that Gerald Friedman, economics, estimates Massachusetts could see savings of 17 percent in its health care costs under a similar system. (New York Times, 6/6/11)

June 6, 2011
Vermont’s Move Toward Single-Payer Health Insurance
By NANCY FOLBRE

My University of Massachusetts Amherst colleague Gerald Friedman, active in efforts to promote a single-payer system in this state, estimates that similar changes in Massachusetts could sharply reduce the cost of billing and processing insurance claims, generating savings of 17 percent. As he puts it, a universal single-payer approach is not just more affordable; in the long run, it may be the only affordable option.

The current Massachusetts health-insurance system, like that emerging on the national level, requires residents to buy health insurance and provides subsidies only to low-income families. As a result, it leaves many people vulnerable to increases in the cost of insurance and may also create political resentments among those with incomes just above the subsidy eligibility level, who are forced to buy insurance they can ill afford.

The system is not “wildly unpopular,” as some conservatives assert, but it’s not wildly popular either.

As Vermont moves forward with its plan, a fascinating standard of comparison should emerge. The Canadian single-payer system grew out of successful innovations in the province of Saskatchewan, which led other provinces to follow suit. Here in Massachusetts, many of us are looking hopefully over our shoulder at the Green Mountain State.

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Friedman UMass Economics

Friedman on NHPR’s “Working It Out Live”

Gerald Friedman

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst economics professor, and Grant Bosse, Lead Investigator for the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, joined host, Jon Greenberg on NHPR’s “Working it Out Live.”  With the election just weeks away, voters are concerned with how changes in government may affect the one agenda item with which they are most concerned– the economy.  Listeners called in with questions and  Friedman answered from a democratic policy perspective and Bosse, republican.  Listen to the show.

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Friedman

Friedman on 22News inFocus: Decision 2010

Gerald Friedman

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst economics professor, and Jens Christiansen, Mount Holyoke economics professor, appeared on 22News inFocus: Decision 2010.   Friedman and Christiansen discuss the current political climate, voter motivation and upcoming mid-term elections. 

Friedman notes that most people act out of hope, not out of fear.  He believes that a democratic government can work effectively, but is concerned that voters are discouraged and will give up.  This, says Friedman, may ultimately lead them to turn toward an extremist group.  

Friedman and Christiansen also discuss the likelihood that Republicans will gain control of the House and the Senate in November and provide commentary on the gaining popularity of  the Tea Party.  (22News, 9/20/10)

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Friedman UMass Economics

Friedman receives Student Choice Award

Gerald Friedman

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst economics professor, has been selected as a recipient of the Residential First Year Experience Student Choice Award.  This student-nominated award is given to a member of the UMass community for making a significant impact on the lives of first-year students.

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Friedman

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)

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Friedman

Friedman: 4% economic increase needed for more jobs

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst Economics Prof.

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst economics professor, was quoted in a story by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  According to Friedman, the nation will need a four percent economic increase to support a significant addition of jobs.

Daily Hampshire Gazette
Experts say ‘vicious cycles’ near end, on the way
By Kristin Palpini

Estimates for how much the economy may grow in 2010 range from about 2 percent to 3 percent, which signifies a slight improvement in gross domestic product over last year.

It isn’t quite enough to prompt a large wave of hiring. Gerald C. Friedman, a UMass economics professor, said the nation needs about a 4 percent economic increase to support a significant addition of jobs.

“There will be acceleration in 2011, but you need to bring down unemployment and you need about 2 million jobs to do that,” he said.

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Friedman UMass Economics

Friedman: VT’s state employee’s pension plan is “in good shape”

Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst Economics Professor
Gerald Friedman, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

Gerald Friedman, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, has been consulting with the Vermont State Employees Association as to whether or not the Vermont Legislature should enact changes to the employees’ pension system.  These changes, recommended by a special commission headed by Treasurer Jeb Spaulding, would, according to Spaulding, save the state as much as $29 million next year.

Last week, Friedman made a presentation to the the House Government Operations Committee.  He argued that he didn’t see a crisis necessitating the changes Spaulding and the commission had recommended.  “I see a pension plan in good shape,” he said.  “My suggestion to you would be to punt for a while. You don’t have to do anything.”
 (BurlingtonFreePress.com, 1/16/2010)