Friday, December 13, 2013

What the Hell is Greg Mankiw Teaching in His Harvard Intro Economics Class?

Harvard University students have voted to banish plastic water bottles from their campus on the grounds that they represent an environmental hazard, reports Outside online.

Sixty-four percent of students who voted in the referendum last moth were in favor of “ending the sale and distribution of plastic non-reusable water bottles on campus (including at Harvard cafes and Crimson Catering events) and making drinking water more accessible through the installation of additional water fountains and reusable water bottle filling stations.”

The final decision on the ban now rests with school administrators, who will be lobbied by the student government to comply with the vote.

How clueless can Harvard students be? Trash, which is what a plastic water bottle is, does not require any special central planning or other type of intervention. There is a cost to the disposal of plastic bottles on land fill, if somehow the land becomes so valuable that it becomes extremely expensive to fill such land up with plastic bottles and other trash, those paying for the disposal will move quickly to ban water bottles. In other words, Harvard students should just chill, the cost of removing and dumping plastic water bottles isn't that expensive. If for some reason land becomes so scarce (and expensive) that it would cost, say, $10.00 to dispose of a plastic water ball, plastic bottles, and much other trash, would be banned in almost a reflex motion. (Admittedly, things are a bit more complex when trash removal is a government service versus a private service---but the solution here is to make it a private service everywhere.)

The absurdity of Harvard kids thinking there is something special about plastic water bottles and the environment, suggests a great failure on the part of the Harvard economics department. It is basic economics that teaches us the cost-benefit analysis of trash removal and the silliness of going out of the way to make central planning interventionist regulations, LOL, for plastic water bottles.

If kids don't understand this, and they clearly don't (Even the kid who defended plastic water bottles, in a note at the Harvard Crimson to Harvard students, doesn't seem to get it), then Greg Mankiw, who heads Harvard's economics department and teaches Harvard's introductory economics course (ec 10) should be fired. If Harvard's students don't even get the basics of trash, Mankiw course must be nothing but trash.


  1. I'm embarassed to be in the same state as these people. For more about some of the economics of recycling check out this interview Tom Woods did with Floy Lilley

    1. Forgot to link it

  2. Harvard needs a professor like Carlin:

  3. theyre not opposed to water bottles because they think it will eventually cost more to dispose of them, its an aesthetic ideal to not put plastic in the earth --- i dont think theyre considering cost at all -- and I don't see how its a problem from a free market viewpoint -- its not a government ban -- consumers are simply choosing another product -- trading the convenience and utility of the plastic water bottle -- but for them that utility is outweighed by the happiness they receive by not creating non-degradable trash --- im not sure how this isnt a good example of how economics works

  4. They don't believe plastic is simply trash that can be dumped into a landfill. Read up on negative externalizes. Funny that the same people who supposedly care so much about burdening future generations with sovereign debt don't care about burdening future generations with a toxic environment.

    How Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood

  5. What does Jeffrey Miron teach over there?

  6. Robert Wenzel is an absolute moron. As a registered republican, I am going to state he is again an absolute moron