The Birth of the Modern Shark Tank Economy

imagePaula and I are both readers. Except in the case of a movie night or some other exceptions the TV doesn’t get a lot of play time in the Golbabai house. One of those exceptions however is our favorite Friday night tradition: putting the kids to bed and watching Shark Tank over a bowl of ice cream. As an economics blogger, I find the show fascinating because in just a few short minutes it is a perfect microcosm of how our modern economy thinks and rewards. Continue reading

Local Land Ownership and the American Dream

imageThree years ago Paula and I became first time homeowners and landlords when we purchased our central Austin duplex. Despite all the paperwork (I never knew I could sign my name so many times), it was all pretty thrilling. But looking back at it now, I can see more clearly than ever that this process, more than anything else we have done so far, helped us better secure our financial footing by giving us the ability to make payments as if we were renting, but build equity in the process. And of course, it gave us a sense of ownership and control over our own little piece of the American Dream. Continue reading

Our Repair Economy: Are Low Prices the Enemy of Sustainability?

imageI was preparing for work one morning when disaster struck; my trusty beard trimmer wasn’t trimming. There was plenty of strange whirring but absolutely no movement of the blades. I spent a few minutes tinkering with it but to no avail. At this point, what are my options? It seemed to me that the problem was fixable. I have a two-year-old son who is fascinated with shaving; maybe he got a hold of it and dropped it, knocking something loose. If I couldn’t fix it myself, could a repair shop handle it? What would they charge me? How would that compare with the cost of a brand new beard trimmer? But maybe the biggest question was this: do repair shops for small electronics even exist any more? Continue reading

Redefining Success in Our Economy

imageBy all accounts the famed basketball coach John Wooden is one of the most successful in the history of the game. He boasts an all-time winning percentage of over .800 (620-147), and won an incredible 10 national championships over a twelve year period (from 1963-1975), which included four perfect seasons (1964, 1967, 1972, and 1973) and an 88 game winning streak. Despite all his victories however, a deeper look into Coach Wooden’s philosophy reveals that winning was something he actually never talked about, as he did not believe that success should be judged by comparison with anyone else. Continue reading

Economic Participation

Hats off to Chana Joffe-Walt for this amazing piece of investigative journalism on economic participation and our current disability safety net. So how do we build an economy that works for all our brothers and sisters so that “happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers”?  For this, our blog journeys on…

 

What Economics Can Learn From The World of Sports

imageTwo economic indicators are broadly used to measure the health of our economy: GDP to measure wealth and performance, and the unemployment rate to measure participation. Unfortunately, with these two metrics guiding our economic policy, an economy of alarming wealth concentration has been the unintended consequence. The President has called income inequality and upward mobility the “defining challenge of our times”. The political right seems to be in agreement, but is nervous as to how it can be addressed without increased political centralization and the stifling of personal freedom. To this political debate I offer the following thought; that the economic model we seek balancing performance, competition, freedom, participation, local and global forces is already modeled for us by the world of sports. Continue reading

What Makes a Community?

imageMy most intense experience of community was college dorm life. At the University of Notre Dame, all dorms are single-sex and students have the opportunity to spend their entire undergraduate careers in the same building. Reflecting back on those years, I recognize six elements that I propose are foundational to community: Continue reading

What is the Purpose of Our Economy?

imagePerhaps a good starting point for our discussion of “In what economy do we flourish?” is to ask the question, what is the purpose of our economy? While admittedly over-simplistic, I propose that there are four primary economic motivations:

  • To Make Money (Financially Driven): Let’s be honest, we all need to eat and for most of us money is the way we make that happen. As a former budget analyst who’s married to a CPA, I am not willing to understate the importance of money (especially as many people have fought and continue to fight valiantly for fair wag Continue reading

The Farmers’ Market: Hipster Loitering or Legitimate Shopping Experience?

imageThis morning the Golbabai family visited a farmers’ market in an Austin mall parking lot. Similar to my mother-in-law’s recent discovery of the usefulness of Google, I find myself a tentative and extremely late discoverer of this Saturday morning phenomenon. As someone who is more comfortable at the supermarket, the farmer’s market provided an excellent on-the-ground opportunity to compare the localist values I aspire to and the globalist world I’m used to.

Some observations comparing the supermarket and the farmers’ market from the perspective of a consumer: Continue reading