Functional Inefficiency: The Unexpected Benefits of Wasting Time and Money

Peter S. Wenz. Prometheus Books, $26 (415p) ISBN 978-1-63388-040-5
The solution to reducing unemployment? Inefficiency, according to philosophy professor Wenz’s (Take Back the Center) bold manifesto, which poses seemingly paradoxical solutions to America’s economic ills. While labor inefficiency would appear to doom the U.S. economy by making American workers even more expensive than they already are, Wenz points out that European countries have strong labor unions and reduced work weeks, and they still enjoy favorable trade balances. True, the European approach requires more socialistic practices than American voters would likely support: government-provided daycare, medical care, and leisure, paid for by significantly higher taxes. But Wenz contends that we already tolerate rampant inefficiency. Americans pay significantly more for health care than people in other countries do, with inferior outcomes. Americans drive private automobiles rather than developing efficient systems of public transportation. And Americans promulgate a consumerist culture that, if fully embraced by the developing world, threatens the whole planet. Wenz throws out ideas almost faster than the reader can absorb them—a paragraph seldom passes without at least one footnote—yet some sensible notions arise from this bustling compendium. Wenz wisely suggests expanding employment in education, energy production, and infrastructure improvement—all areas, he says, that are ripe for infinite expansion and can improve both GNP and quality of life. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/27/2015
Release date: 06/09/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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