Sarah Adams / Associate Editor
Dr. Yoram Bauman, the nation’s first “stand-up economist” implementing challenging economic concepts through the medium of comedy, came to DMC October 23 and 24 to perform his stand-up seminar “Can Economics be Entertaining?”
“Comedy can open the doors of interest for people who do not have much previous knowledge of economics,” said Bauman, whose educational background includes a BA in Mathematics from Reed College and an MA and PhD in Economics from the University of Washington.
In 2011, Bauman spent five months in Beijing at the University of International Business and Economics as a visiting research scholar where he conducted research on climate change economics and carbon taxes at the Global Institute of Low Carbon Economy.
Bauman’s studies helped to promote a “carbon tax” in British Columbia, which is essentially a tax on pollution based on the concept of negative externalities.
The economic concept of negative externalities involves how one person’s actions have an unwanted effect on another person without being fully acknowledged.
On the subject of the beneficial factors of taxing carbon, Stewart Elgie, a professor of law and economics at the University of Ottawa in an interview with The Economist, said, “The carbon tax has been good for the environment, good for taxpayers and it hasn’t hurt the economy.”
According to economist.com, since 2008, fuel consumption in the province has dropped 4.5 percent. British Columbians use less fuel than any other Canadians and pay lower income taxes as well.
Bauman said he is proud of his efforts in helping with this accomplishment and hopes to spread this tax to Washington State.
Implementing carbon pricing through shifting revenue-tax from income and investments to carbon emissions is a plan to increase the cost of fossil fuels. According to Bauman, the way to reduce pollution is to make pollution more expensive.
“What I work on as an environmental economist is using the power of capitalism and the tools of economics to protect the environment,” Bauman said.
According to Bauman, people may be more reluctant to start their own business because they are probably more affected by their own economic situation than negative national economic ideals.
He believes that if it were possible to introduce economic education earlier than one semester in high school, it would influence more interest at a younger age. However, the problem is finding teachers who would be willing to teach the subject in public high schools.
According to Bauman, the challenge with earlier education is not only with teachers but also with student motivation.
His goal is to “spread joy to the world through economics comedy and to reform the education of it. Part of what I do is try to make things more interesting,” Bauman said.
Audrey Benavidez, a member of the DMC Cultural Programs Committee and economics instructor is the one who brought Bauman to the college.
“I enjoy the idea of learning and having a good time,” Benavidez said. “I believe these things can be done simultaneously. Dr. Bauman’s approach is unique and I wanted to capitalize on the opportunity to bring him here.”
Benavidez said she took some of her classes to Bauman’s seminar and has received positive feedback from her students who said they admired Bauman and his ability to explain concepts that are generally challenging as well as entertain.
For more information on Bauman, visit his website at http://www.standupeconomist.com