How Crop Circles Saved the Great Plains

In the 1940s, Farmer Frank Zybach Invented Center Pivot Irrigation and Brought the Dust Bowl Back to Life

If you live in the Great Plains, sooner or later you’ll get a question about those “crop circles” that can be observed from airplane windows during flights over the region. The answer is contained in the question: Put simply, they are circles of cropland.

The circular pattern, however, is different from the regular patchwork many people imagine traditional farm fields to be. The shape is the result of the center pivot irrigation, a development of the post-World War II era that profoundly changed the course of American food production. In …

More In: Capitalism

Helping the Environment Is Nice. Helping Yourself Is OK, Too.

A UCLA Economist Argues That More People Will Embrace 'Green' Consumption If They Get a Personal Benefit

Homo sapiens are hardwired to consume, a habit that’s taking a heavy—and potentially catastrophic—environmental toll. But pleading with people to stop driving gas-guzzling SUVs or eating red meat may not …

Why Americans Insist on Putting a Price Tag on Life

From Ben Franklin to Slavery to Reaganomics, Our Habit of Measuring Everything in Dollars and Cents

Everything, as they say in America, has its price. It has been found that a lack of sleep costs the American economy $411 billion a year and stress another $300 …

Why Suckering Americans Is a Booming Business

Business Fraud Is Thriving Amid Loose Regulation and Short-Term Gain Fixation

American capitalism has always provided openings for hucksters and outright swindlers.

For centuries, this society has been especially receptive to economic innovation and the strategies of wealth-seeking that so often …

The Anti-Capitalist Woman Who Created Monopoly—Before Others Cashed In

The Beloved Board Game’s Long-Hidden Origin Story Debunks the Myth of Male Lone Genius

For decades, the story of Monopoly’s invention was a warm, inspiring, Horatio Alger narrative. A version of it, tucked into countless game boxes, told the tale of an unemployed …