What’s the Economy for, Anyway?: Why It’s Time to Stop Chasing Growth and Start Pursuing Happiness

John De Graaf and David K. Batker. Bloomsbury, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60819-510-7
Following their documentary of the same name, De Graaf (coauthor of Affluenza) and Batker, director of Earth Economics, a firm that provides ecological economic analysis, pose a provocative question: what is the economy for if not to maximize the well-being of the citizenry? Seen in this light, GDP becomes a woefully inadequate tool for assessing economic health. Using the claim of Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the Forest Service, that we should strive for “the greatest good for the greatest number over the longest run,” the authors argue that not only are we not on the right track, we’re hardly in the race. De Graaf and Batker draw upon various indices for measuring individual and collective satisfaction and security including Maslow’s Pyramid and the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef’s taxonomy of human needs. They make a strong case for looking toward Europe and pockets of economic sustainability within America, to take “bold action” to reorient our markets to serve human needs, to build a “solidarity economy... capitalism with a human face.” De Graaf and Batker’s criticisms—of big business, taxation, American universities, Obama’s response to the financial meltdown—are lucid; what comes as a pleasant surprise is that their solutions are no less clear and actionable. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/12/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-1-60819-515-2
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