Dave Lefevre's Reviews > Betterness: Economics for Humans

Betterness by Umair Haque
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's review
Jan 21, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: political, economics
Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

Around 2006 or so, while idiot pundits were on CNBC and CNN declaring how great the economy was while my personal economics and economics of my community were on a steady decline, I started to believe that if our economic indicators show we are doing well then certainly those indicators have to be broken. Now as we enter a period of history where 50% of the U.S. population are low income or in poverty while our national prognosticators say the economy is not in a recession we are at that point once again.

In this short "Kindle Single" piece author Umair Haque takes that idea well beyond this simple idea I happened to have while watching talking heads. Today we value our economy purely in terms of money (profit and stock price). What if we valued our national economy and corporations not only in terms of financial capital, but also in terms of *other* types of important capital? There are other types of capitol that are important to our world, like how educated our society is, how well we are employing our human abilities as a country (jobs), health, national resources. You can make your own list of this "higher order" capitol. Today's economists, politicians, and high-order businessmen only think in terms of GDP and profit.

This seems to be right at the crux of why so many of us are angry about the status quo of our corporate systems (especially groups like OWS). Wall Street companies might be making money hand over fist and their books might look great, but if you evaluated them in terms of these types of higher order capitol what would you see? Despite the constant drumbeat that they are the "productive ones," you'd see how all they rapidly deplete these other types of capitol that are important to humans. They may be making money, but they are depleting our society and world. Even as they make money they can be seen as a net drain to our overall human economy.

This little work is amazing and it is certain to be seen by many as blasphemy, but as we sit here it's becoming obvious that our economic structure where the dollar made is the only economic evaluation we have is not working for even a majority of the American population. We've greatly suffered over the last 20-30 years because we have not invested in other types of capitol, like our education as a people, basic infrastructure, etc. The ideas in this book make sense and I hope we can follow some of these ideas and start to move away from the idea that profit should be the only important motivator in our country's businesses.
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