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What's the Economy For, Anyway?: Why…

What's the Economy For, Anyway?: Why It's Time to Stop Chasing… (2011)

by David K. Batker, John De Graff

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The first book on economics that I've encountered that starts with the premise that an economy's most important job is to provide food, shelter and clothing for the people participating in it! The authors clearly understand that an economy is a shared idea about how we can collectively get things done and that the idea we currently share in the United States isn't working very well.

Throughout the book the authors point to other high-functioning economies (mostly in Europe) that have made different collective decisions about what they want their economies to do. It is clear that:
- the economy will not collapse if we provide health insurance for everyone
- employment will go up if we all get more time off (because more people will be needed to get the same amount of work done)
- having less stuff and more time will not only be better for us as individuals (more time means more exercise for one thing). It's also better for the environment

My only complaint about the book is that it gets a tad redundant. I don't know how many times the point about time off is better for your health was repeated. I got it the first time.

However, I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks we can't change things in the US because the economy will collapse. It's not the economy, stupid, it's what we want from the economy that's the problem. ( )
  aulsmith | Jul 20, 2012 |
I found the first few chapters of the book to be the most interesting. After that, the tone changed to one of strident ideology, and too one-sided. Many of the solutions proposed by the authors seemed too impractical with not enough consideration given to things that could go wrong with their suggested approaches (e.g., how many jobs would be lost if three weeks paid vacation were to be mandated?). Overall, the book provoked some thought. ( )
  SymphonySil | Apr 10, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David K. Batkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
De Graff, Johnmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Speth, James GustaveForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Herman E. Daly, whose ideas
provide the foundation for a twenty-first-century economics.

In memory of Jonathan Rowe (1946–2011),
a brilliant advocate of new ways to measure progress.
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"What's The Economy For, Anyway? is a thought-provoking, funny, readable, anti-ideological book based on the cult hit film of the same name. Here, scholars John de Graaf (author of Affluenza) and David Batker tackle thirteen touchstone economic issues and challenge readers to consider just what the point of our economy is. Emphasizing powerful American ideals such as working together, pragmatism, and equality for all, de Graaf and Batker set forth a simple, powerful goal for any economic system: the greatest good for the greatest number, over the longest run. Their vision will appeal to a wide array of readers across traditional silos. Drawing from this nation's rich economic history, the book shows that the good life in America is achieved when people and markets work together with an active government to create a better economy, one that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. Beginning by taking our fetish for GDP and shattering it, the chapters touch on quality of life, health, security, time management, worklife, leisure, social justice, and perhaps most important, sustainability. This sparkling, message-driven book is exactly what we need: a guide to what really matters, and how we can use the resources of our economy to make the world a better place"--… (more)

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