The Frank G. Zarb School of Business welcomed guest speaker, Yoram Bauman, who calls himself the world’s first stand-up economist, as part of Hofstra’s Debate 2016 speaker series. He began his talk, “What Is (and Isn’t) Funny about Economics” opoking fun at the current political climate and the role of swing voters in the election.
He explained that his interest in the combination of both economics and stand-up comedy was a result of his curiosity in Mankiw’s Principle of Economics. Greg Mankiw, a Harvard professor, created a list of 10 principles that Bauman says “require a PhD in economics to understand.” The principles describe several philosophies, including the trade-offs individuals face on a daily basis, rationalization, and response to incentives.
He outlined three issues he believes are critically important to the 2016 election. They are: iInequality, free trade and technology.
Bauman said that economists rarely spend time examining inequality.
“Economists focus most of their time on efficiency, and less time on how to divide the pie (assets),” he said “This topic is befitting of the discussion because of the need economists have to divide economic resources fairly among the American people. Economists do not have the power to always guarantee good outcomes, but they do their best to stay away from results that are inefficient.”
Bauman also emphasized the importance of remembering that technological progress creates “losers as well as winners.”
“There is a great deal of job loss that results from technological progress,” Bauman said. “For example, travel agent positions are no longer in demand because all arrangements can be done online by the individual.”
On the other hand, production can increase in multiple facets, ultimately making society wealthier through technological progress. Technological progression and trade advancement are often interchangeable. “Think of them as identical twins,” he said. “Essentially they come in pairs, and have unsurmountable amounts of comparison.”
As founder and co-chair of Initiative 732, a carbon tax policy and climate change campaign that will be on the ballot this November, Bauman’s goal is to encourage families and firms to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. His commitment to revenue-neutral carbon taxes aims to bring a fiscally responsible voice to the debate about climate change.. “I am hoping I can add an economist’s voice, and to a great extent, the voice of all economists, to the discussion of a major policy issue,” he said.
Dr. Bauman has co-authored several books including The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change, which was named one of the “seven best business books about science to give for the holidays” by the Wall Street Journal.