“Externalities” is a Big Word

Jan 11, 2017 9:00 AM ET

Do we pay for these costs at the grocery store cash register? Not even close. That’s what I mean by the market’s failure to internalize external costs.


I’ve forgotten most of what I learned in college. For example, I took Multivariable Calculus my first semester. All that I remember from the class is that there is something called a “Lagrange multiplier.” Do I have any clue what it is? Nope – but my mother is from LaGrange, Georgia, so the name always stuck with me. The remainder of that class (math pun, for those playing along at home) has been lost to the cobwebs of my mind, and the same goes for many other classes.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I grew as a person during my four years of undergraduate study. Further, I think the value of a university education is better measured by the quality of that which is remembered, not by the quantity of that which is forgotten.

In my case, I am fortunate that a handful of the classes I remember quite well are relevant to my work today. More so than any other class, I rely upon what I learned in Environmental Economics.

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Valerie Bennett
Ray C. Anderson Foundation
+1 (770) 317-5858