Hinckley Institute of Politics, Recent Forums

My American National Government class professor, Tim Chambless, has been encouraging all of his students (with extra credit points) to attend many of the forums as the Hinckley Institute of Politics on campus.

As an aspiring politician and lawyer, I’ve been trying to attend as many as possible.  On Monday this week, I attended one on the current national (and global) economic situation.  The official title was “Views on the Current Financial Crisis: Depression, Panic or Bump in the Road?”

The discussion panel included Hans Ehrbar, an associate professor of economics at the U who holds a Ph.D. in both math and economics, Lance Girton, another professor and former staff economist at the Board of Governors for the Fedreal Reserve, and Tishun Deng, the chief China strategist at Goldman Sachs.

Overall, the debate was lively and incredibly informative.  Up until this point, I had been convinced that the $700 billion government bailout was necessary in order to prevent another Great Depression.

However, Hans offered a great perspective.  He urged us to look at this crisis in conjuncture with another looming crisis, the mother of all crises, climate change.  He thinks we should be engaged in a crash program switching to mass transportation and energy consumption.  It’s not being done because in our economy, such a switch is too painful.  But we cannot continue on a path of high fossil fuel usage.  We need to respond to climate change.  We are heading to other environmental breaking points: overfishing, food insecurity, natural disasters, diseases.  The financial crisis is only one of a series we are facing in the next decades.  We need to embrace this partial breakdown instead of resisting it and use taxpayer money to jumpstart the economy in the right direction with renewable energy.  If the Wall Street assets are so complicated that they can’t be regulated, they must be wiped out.  The debt overhang is depressing our economic activity.  We must reform politics to include: single payer health care, bankruptcy reform, green job initiates, public funding for renewable energy research, nationalized reform for businesses that are to big to fail, and electrification of our railroads.  This is what we should do we the $700 billion dollars instead of throwing good money down the drain.  This partial breakdown is our only change to remove barriers for the next generation.

For me, I really enjoyed getting a fresh perspective on this and was surprised to hear this from an economist.  Stay tuned for more updates from these lively debates and discussions.