Call For Papers: Energy, Institutions and Society

November 29, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. I’ve been asked to create panels for the upcoming International Conference on Thermodynamics 2.0. The conference aims to bring natural and social sciences closer. It will take place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, USA from June 22-24, 2020. I’m calling the panel(s) Energy, Institutions and Society. I’m … Read More

The Allure of Marxism … And Why It’s a Mistake

November 26, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Karl Marx is probably the most important social scientist in history. But while his influence is beyond compare, Marx’s legacy is, in many ways, disastrous. Few thinkers have inspired so many people to commit crimes against humanity. Think of Stalinist gulags. Think of the Ukrainian famine of … Read More

As it Dies, We Talk About the ‘Free Market’ More

November 18, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market, I argued that economic development involves killing the free market. What was the evidence? As energy use increases, so does the relative number of managers. This growth of managers, I argued, indicates that economic development … Read More

Can A Service Transition Save the Planet?

November 12, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Let’s talk sustainability. Unless you’re an anti-science crank, you probably agree that we’ve got a problem with carbon emissions. We need to drastically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. On this we should all agree. The question that’s open for debate is how to cut emissions. … Read More

Where’s the Barefoot Revolution in Economics?

November 6, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Yesterday I was reminded of what got me interested in economics. I’ll preface this by saying that I make my living as a substitute teacher in Toronto. It’s not glamorous, but it pays the bills. It gives me time to do research from outside academia. When I’m … Read More

The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market

October 29, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Do you believe in free markets? Do you think that unfettered competition is the best way to organize society? If so, this post is intended to shake your faith. No, I’m not going to argue that free markets are bad. Instead, I’m going to show you some … Read More

Energy and the Size Distribution of Firms

October 20, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In this post, I’m going to return to the relation between energy and institution size. When we left off last time (in Groping in the Dark), I had described my struggle to understand how the size of firms and governments changes with energy use. It took me … Read More

Visualizing Power-Law Distributions

October 15, 2019

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In this post we’re going to take a journey into the world of power-law distributions. Power laws pop up again and again in my research. But I’ve never taken the time to discuss what makes them so weird. This post will be a little ‘power-law primer’ that … Read More