Economics for Voters: Index of Articles

Economics for Voters is a new feature of the Grassroots  North Shore website, a series of essays by Emeritus Professor and former Chair of Economics at UWM,  Bill Holahan.   These will be about your money, your economy, and your country. The essays will appear about once per week, the newest on top. Scroll down and enjoy.


April 8, 2024, PAYING FOR THE BRIDGE  The decision to borrow to pay for the 3 billion dollar costs of replacing the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge over Baltimore Harbor and the lost business caused by its collapse should depend on the incremental -- i.e., additional --  costs and benefits, not accumulated past debts.   The bridge and port are assets to be enjoyed for years to come, and passed on to future generations, with value  many multiples of the costs to restore them after this accident.   

January 25, 2024, FAIR LEGISLATIVE MAPS: CONTIGUITY AND PARTISAN PRIVILEGE In the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, Rebecca Clarke v. Wisconsin Election Commission,    six remedial maps have been submitted by parties to the lawsuit. This essay examines recent statistical analysis of these maps and the likelihood of choosing the wrong map.

November 21, 2023, NOTES ON FAIR MAPS  Some of the complexities in constructing fair political district maps.  

October 5, 2023, SCOTT WALKER JOINS THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON STUDENT VOTING Are college students being duped by their professors? This essay points out that issues like guns, reproductive rights, and voting rights might be stronger motivators shaping student voting patterns.

August 24, 2023, Which Markets Should Be "Free?" Some basic economic concepts should help determine when government should be involved in the production and distribution of certain goods and services, versus when private markets be relied upon. 

August 12, 2023, BIDENOMICS IS PRO-MARKET  Joe Biden is finally touting his accomplishments;  voters are finally being alerted to how Bidenomics is benefiting them personally.  This essay provides examples. 

August 7, 2023, INVEST IN UW; INVEST IN WISCONSIN'S FUTURE  The gerrymandered legislature has underinvested in the UW System. Two examples stand out: failure to fund the proposed engineering building at UW-Madison, and failure to properly fund UWM. 

June 5, 2023, THE THREAT OF DEFAULT AS POLITICAL STRATEGY: THE POLITICAL BUSINESS CYCLE    The debt ceiling issue has been resolved until January 2025. This article considers the negative impact of the debt ceiling law on rational economic policy. Perhaps a clearer understanding of the law would help us get rid of it.  

January 22, 2023, Fiscal Insurrection (The Freedom Caucus insists that the US must stop borrowing money it doesn't have and that President Biden has increased the federal budget deficit. Both assertions are false.)

November 30, 2022, INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING IN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES: A PATH TO MAJORITY RULE AND INOCULATION AGAINST TRUMP (An essay showing why the current plurality-voting rules used in Presidential primaries can lead to nomination of fringe candidates,  a result cured by Instant-runoff Voting, aka Rank-Choice Voting) 

November 2, 2022, DOES SUCCESS IN BUSINESS PROMISE SUCCESS IN PUBLIC OFFICE?  (This essay uses economic analysis to show why success in business does not connote a transferable skill to manage or even understand the public sector.)

November 1, 2022,  WE NEED A CLOSER LOOK AT  SOCIAL SECURITY.  (This essay explains why the greatest threat to Social Security is misunderstanding how it works.)  

October 11, 2022, GERRYMANDERING, DONOR-DRIVEN ELECTIONS, AND SOCIALISM FOR THE RICH  (An essay explaining why the same economic distortions that Republicans warn will accompany “socialism” will also, and for the same reason, accompany donor-driven non-representative government. Foxconn is a case in point.)

September 28, 2022, ENGLISH AND MATH PREP CAN CUT COLLEGE COSTS  (Required expository writing and word-problem solving appear across the college curriculum. Rigorous preparation in these two disciplines during the high school years enhances success in college and reduces its financial burden.) 

September 2, 2022, Is Joe Biden's Student Loan "Forgiveness" Inflationary? (This essay summarizes Joe Stiglitz' explanation that the annual cost of the loan forgiveness is too small to be inflationary and in any case is offset by the resumption of student loan repayments in January, 2023.)

August 22, 2022, JOE BIDEN ENDORSES LARGE  TUTORING PROGRAM (On the importance of math in closing the occupational income and wealth gap, and the importance of math tutoring in President Biden's plan to support student achievement.)

August 13, 2022, SENATOR JOHNSON STEPS ON THE POLITICAL "THIRD RAIL" (An explanation of the formulas currently used to calculate the Social Security payroll tax and retirement benefits.)

August 5, 2022, CHIPS ARE DOWN FOR ROJO  (With a bi-partisan vote of 64-33, the "Chips and Science" bill passed the Senate to support domestic research and production of semi-conductors.  This essay discusses Senator Johnson's NO vote.)  

July 25, 2022, If You Have a Business, Who Built What?  (An essay describing President Obama's full statement when he said, during a speech on infrastructure,  "If You Have a Business, You Didn't Build That.")  

July 22, 2022,  THE FREE MARKET MODEL, "A SYSTEM OF NATURAL LIBERTY" (Contemporary conservatives espouse  "free markets." This essay presents the elementary logic of the free market concept.)  

July 3, 2022, Will Social Security "Go Broke" in 2035? No. (The Social Security Administration trustees estimate that the system trust fund will run out of bonds in 2035. This essay shows that scheduled retirement benefits can continue with no increase in rates of taxes or borrowing.)

May 23, 2022, URGENT: MAKE A CARBON TAX PART OF CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY NOW (An brief explanation of how a carbon tax could be part of a broader policy to limit climate change.)

May 20, 2022, Roe v. Wade Repeal: Predicted  Economic Impact on Women and Families (A short review of an Amicus Brief by 154 prominent economists who summarized for the Supreme Court numerous peer-reviewed forecasts of the economic impact of overturning Roe v. Wade.)

May 14, 2022, A FIRST LOOK AT MARKETS AND POLICY  (This is the first of several essays on how markets work, and the role markets play in public policy.)

May 11, 2022,  THE ROLE OF STUDENT BORROWING IN COLLEGE FINANCE   (An essay that points out that education is a lifelong valuable asset and suggests ways to enhance the value of that asset net of  borrowing to pay for it.)

May 10, 2022, EASING THE BURDEN OF STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT (An essay showing that the burden of student loan repayment could be reduced by extending the term of the loan to 30 or 40 years and capping the annual repayment to a small  percentage of annual earnings.)

April 19, 2022, HITTING BACK WHEN CHARGED  WITH “SOCIALISM”  (This essay suggests ways to use economic reasoning to strike back when public investments are labeled "socialist.")

April 18, 2022, ESSENTIAL WORKER PARADOX  (An essay showing why some workers -- caregivers, sanitation workers, food delivery workers -- produce great value but receive low pay, and suggests a few remedies.)

April 6, 2022: CAPITALISM REQUIRES A WELL-FUNCTIONING PUBLIC SECTOR (An essay showing that infrastructure enhances productivity and reduces cost in the market system, but is a public responsibility.  Therefore, to label such investment "socialism"  reveals acute ignorance of economics.)

March 30, 2022: EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT IS OFTEN COUNTER-INTUITIVE  (An essay introducing the counter-intuitive role of government in modern economics, with a special look at the often-heard claim that the government should be run like a business.)

March 22, 2022: NO SENATOR JOHNSON: SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOT A PONZI SCHEME. (An essay in response to Senator Johnson's  false notions that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and that Social Security bonds are worthless.)

March 20, 2022: PLEA TO THE JOURNALISTS, PUNDITS, AND POLITICOS:  DO THE MATH.  (An essay showing how essential, and easy, it is to express economic data in a rational form, and a plea to the journalists, pundits, politicians, and politicos to perform the simple math when they discuss the economy.)

March 18, 2022: SENATOR JOHNSON STILL WANTS TO REPEAL THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT   (An essay responding to Senator Johnson's remark that Republicans should repeal the Affordable Care Act if they retake Congress in 2022 or 2024)

March 6, 2022: BRING BACK DROP BOXES  (An essay in response to the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that the use of ballot drop boxes is contrary to a clearly written statute. Because recent elections show that drop boxes add significantly to voter participation and do not detract from ballot integrity, change the law.)

February 28, 2022: INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING: A PATH TO MAJORITY RULE  (An essay that explains why current rules nullify majority rule in a primary season with a large number of candidates, and why Instant Run-off Voting (aka Ranked Choice Voting) cures the problem.)

February 22, 2022: FEDERAL CONTRACTS BRING HIGHER-PAYING JOBS (An essay in response to Senator Johnson's public acceptance of sending truck production jobs to South Carolina because Wisconsin has a shortage of workers.)

February 17, 2022: CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND THE SUBURBAN VOTE ( An essay which addresses the chief concern of parents: kids are slipping behind and  need  organized tutoring, especially in math and English.)

February 10, 2022: INFLATION AS A REPUBLICAN GOLD MINE  (An essay in response to Senator Scott (R-FL) who claims that inflation will provide the basis for a Republican landslide in 2022.)

February 10, 2022: IT TAKES PARENTS AND A VILLAGE  (An essay in response to Senator Johnson's comment about taking care of "other people's children."







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