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By David Brodwin
Posted on: May 5, 2015
One of the most basic ideas in economics is that when you charge more for something, people generally use less of it. So when we find ourselves short of something essential – say, water – it makes sense to let prices rise enough to encourage conservation.Many communities in dry parts of the country use a system called tiered pricing to encourage residents and businesses to save water. Under tiered pricing, the first few gallons of water are relatively cheap; the next few gallons cost more and so on. Homeowners who use water responsibly can keep themselves within the lowest, cheapest tier on... read more
By David Brodwin
Posted on: April 28, 2015
The phrase “sharing economy” sounds warm and friendly. Open. Compassionate. It promises a welcome break from the all-too-familiar economy of exploitation.But lofty sentiments aside, the sharing economy is much more mundane. It offers is a new set of business practices (and cloud-based software) that lets you wring out extra value from an under-utilized asset. The sharing is a euphemism. Airbnb lets you share (i.e. rent out) your apartment. Uber lets you share (i.e. rent out) your services as a driver for hire. And so on.It sounds egalitarian and empowering when the asset in question is a car... read more
By Richard Eidlin David Levine
Posted on: April 27, 2015
It’s gospel among American politicians and business leaders: innovation is key to the success of individual companies and entire industries. And yet, many of these same people contend that to optimize innovation, government needs to stay out of the way.  We disagree and believe there are many opportunities for business and government to work together. Government has played a pivotal role in spurring innovation throughout American history. Think of the national train system in the 1880s, in which federal authorities mediated among a small group of monopolies to establish a standard gauge for... read more
By David Brodwin
Posted on: April 22, 2015
Today is tax day, and like many Americans, I wonder what the government really does with all that money.Critics have long argued that taxes are high because the system coddles those who are too lazy to work. But a new report from U.C. Berkeley Labor Center shows that a large chunk of our taxes goes to coddle the bottom line of employers that don’t pay their workers enough to live on.Over the past decade, as wages for most workers have stagnated and benefits have been trimmed, many corporations have been able to post record profits. The winners include companies that employ mostly low-wage... read more
By Michael Green
Posted on: April 16, 2015
March 31, 2015 marked an important deadline on the road to the Paris climate talks this coming December. Nations present at last year’s climate negotiations agreed to release their intended nationally determined commitment (INDC) by this deadline. These INDC's or pledges are to create transparent landscapes and provide more time for countries to continue developing the framework for a comprehensive global climate treaty by the end of 2015. Thanks to the Obama administration, the United States was one of the few countries that met this deadline.The administration’s announcement followed the... read more
By David Brodwin
Posted on: April 13, 2015
America’s entrepreneurs have long applied chemistry to make new products that enrich our lives. But sadly, many chemical innovations have turned out to be dangerous, even deadly. Asbestos and formaldehyde cause cancer and have been largely banned from consumer products. Bisphenol A, an additive to plastics, makes plastics clear and tough but is believed to disrupt human hormones.A few consumer companies, such as Seventh Generation, Method and Naturepedic, have devoted themselves to making products that are safer to use while still getting the job done. Behind these familiar names stand other... read more
By Jake Kornack
Posted on: April 8, 2015
Given the seemingly stagnant nature of American politics, the bickering between the left and the right in Congress, and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, it is easy to lose faith in our political system and use pessimism as our guiding light. Some six months ago, I found myself disenchanted by a political system that seemed incapable of producing high-paying, meaningful jobs; an economy that incessantly demanded higher levels of pollution and mindless consumption; and the growing economic and social pressures on the average American family.Then, on November 12th, 2014 I... read more
By David Brodwin
Posted on: April 6, 2015
American consumers have begun to care more about sustainability and to express their concerns as they shop. Increasingly, consumers want to know how the stuff they buy affects the planet and how it affects the people who produce it and sell it.This emerging change in consumer behavior prompts retailers to give consumers better information. The giant retailer Target rolled out a “Sustainable Product Index” in 2013. A few weeks ago, Wal-Mart rolled out a major new program, called “Sustainability Leaders,” designed to shine a favorable (green) light on suppliers who design and market more... read more
By Kristen Wolf
Posted on: April 1, 2015
Raising animals can be a dirty job, in more ways than one.Windhaven Farms is a local meat distribution company. We sell beef, pork chicken and rabbits to restaurants in the Kansas City area, and each animal is sourced from a specific farm. We focus on the animals as much as possible and are always trying to improve our farming practices - that includes raising chickens and hogs out on the pasture, using locally-produced feed.There’s one other thing that we keep worrying about, and that’s water. Obviously, the animals we raise need clean water to survive, and it helps when we process the meat... read more
By David Brodwin
Posted on: March 30, 2015
Consumer preference is shaping up as a powerful force to promote environmental sustainability. Many consumers have shown themselves willing to choose sustainably produced and environmentally friendly products, particularly when these products also save money (like fuel-efficient cars) or promise health and other benefits (like locally produced organic food).However, it’s not clear whether consumers’ preference for sustainability is strong enough to power the change we need. Experts are particularly worried about the large, developing economies of China and India. If the burgeoning middle... read more