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Economic Currents

Keep up to date with the latest UHERO news.

Keeping the money at home!

Part of the justification for the pursuit of food and energy self-sufficiency in Hawaii is that it allegedly serves to “keep the money at home.”  It just sounds so good as an economic objective, as it has for over 200 years.

But consider that the idea of keeping the money at home is crude, modern day mercantilism (exports are good; imports are bad), an economic policy that was discredited over two centuries ago by Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations) in favor of international specialization and voluntary exchange.

Consider that Hawaii just served most successfully as U.S. host to the 2011 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, a 21-member organization dedicated to advancing international trade and exchange in the Asia-Pacific region.

Consider that taken to its logical conclusion, “keeping the money at home,” if so desirable, should apply, not just to the State of Hawaii, but to individual islands (no cable from Lanai and Molokai to Oahu).  But why stop there? Why not individual communities (no shopping at Ala Moana for Kailua)?

Consider that we’ll all be poorer; the money we keep at home will have much less purchasing power because of higher prices of import substitutes.

Consider that state coffers will be diminished because of subsidies to local producers using energy technology not yet economically competitive without government support.

Consider that with severely constrained state budgets, subsidies to local producers come at significant cost to other Hawaii environmental priorities, like reduced funding for protection of Hawaii’s vulnerable watersheds from invasive species.

And consider that as pure transfers from taxpayers to producers, subsidies distort markets (as do taxes) and generate substantial loss of economic well-being to society, known appropriately as deadweight loss.  Every dollar paid out as a subsidy generates about 25 cents of additional loss that just whirlpools down the state drain. 

There are good reasons to patronize local food and energy markets: the freshness and uniqueness of local produce that can’t be matched by imports; the commercial viability of alternative energy technologies now ready for prime time without subsidy, e.g., geothermal. But as good as it may sound, “keeping the money at home” is not among those reasons, and is not economically sound as a policy objective for Hawaii.

--Lee H. Endress (Ronin Economist)


UHERO EGGS Team Presents On Capitol Hill

March 27 - 29, 2011: Members of the UHERO EGGS team went to Washington DC to present at a symposium and Capitol Hill poster session hosted by the National Science Foundation supported program, SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities). The 2011 Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session theme was “Students as Agents of Change.” Supported by the UH Manoa Assistant Vice Chancellor’s Office of Facilities and Grounds, the team and University were recognized as national leaders in benchmarking, monitoring, and reducing energy and greenhouse gas emissions, as demonstrated by our leadership in The Climate Registry (TCR), American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), and Energy Star reporting.

 EGGS Team With Senator Inouye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


UHERO Researchers contribute to Sustainability Science

UHERO is proud to announce the forthcoming Sustainability Science for Watershed Landscapes edited by UHERO's own Dr. Jim Roumasset, Dr. Kimberly Burnett, and Dr. Arsenio Balisacan of the University of the Philippines Diliman. Sustainability science integrates traditional interdisciplinary environmental studies with policy science. In this volume authors go beyond the application of scientific knowledge to specific problems and develop new methods for dealing with dynamic, spatial, behavioral, and interactive complications of resource systems under pressure. The newly published volume is scheduled to be released in conjunction with the upcoming international workshop, "Sustainability Science for Food, Forests, and Floods: Integrating Climate Adaptation and Pro-Poor Resource Management" being held at the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawai'i May 27-28, 2010.


UHM participate in The Climate Registry

 Craig Coleman, UHERO GHG Research Analyst for the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Solutions Program, contributed to an article in The Implementor, a monthly newsletter published by the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment. The article, The Case For Reporting And Verifying Your Emissions, highlights the work done by Dr. Denise Konan's group to account, report and verify the University of Hawaii at Manoa's GHG emissions. Mr. Coleman will be presenting these experiences in an upcoming webinar May 20, 2010 hosted by ACUPCC.


Hawaii Energy Efficiency Program

 UHERO's Energy and Greenhouse Gas Solutions (EGGS) Program is hosting a presentation by Derrick Sonada, Director of Operations for the Hawaii Energy Efficiency Program. Please join us to learn more about this energy program. 

Time: 10AM 
Date: Friday, February 12 
Location: Saunders Hall 515 (Miller Room) 
             2424 Maile Way


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