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Betterness: Economics for Humans

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Betterness: Economics for Humans is a powerful call to arms for a post-capitalist economy. Umair Haque argues that just as positive psychology revolutionized our understanding of mental health by recasting the field as more than just treating mental illness, we need to rethink our economic paradigm. Why? Because business as we know it has reached a state of diminishing ret
ebook, 64 pages
Published (first published December 15th 2011)
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Dave Lefevre
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political, economics
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 o ...more
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This ebook was a fascinating read, full of hope for a new paradigm of human transaction beyond that of soul-sucking, cut-throat, competitive profit making (otherwise known as "business.") Haque asks tough questions of the status quo, such as, "Why is the generally accepted definition of prosperity the growth of industrial output, not the emotional, social, intellectual, physical, or ethical growth of humans?" He goes on to argue that "profit itself is an industrial-era conception of performance" ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Haque's strength is an associative one. He draws connections between things we know and understand (and don't like) to economic things we're not quite sure about. His pictures clarify the blurry arguments of economic problems into ethical issues, which I love.

Some great quotes:

On our inability to demand a better economic system than what we currently have:
"Just like a patient on a nineteenth century couch, our regimen rests on a foundational belief: that, at its best, an economy is one that's no
Lee Broderick
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: columns-essays
It's increasingly clear that our current economic models are unfit for purpose. The reasons for this have probably been best articulated (in my own reading history) by Bob Brown in One Person, One Value: Penguin Specials . Essentially, it boils down to the fact that our current economic models (and, therefore also the measure by which we judge politicians) are based on exponential growth - growth in profit, which means growth in production and in demand to meet that production - which means g ...more
Nathanael Coyne
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nathanael by: Stephen Collins
Shelves: favourite
What an inspiring read! A vision for a post-capitalist future (as we know it) that doesn't shy away from the need for people and entities to earn money and profit. A new way of looking at economics and the world that we need to seriously look at. Changed my view, and in some ways pushed me over the edge of my wavering opinion on the ethics of business as we do it today. We need to step back from the edge of burning out our environment and our people and realise that we can both earn money and be ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a "Kindle Single" and it read more like a rough draft than a polished manuscript. At times it was quite rambling! There are lots of interesting and exciting ideas here, but they are covered at a high level and needed to be fleshed out with more examples. The second to last chapter was better in this regard. I am a big fan of Haque, though, and look forward to reading his other book, "The New Capitalist Manifesto." ...more
Erika RS
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This is an inspiring manifesto[1] on how to move from "business" to "betterness". The core point is that business as usually seems to be stagnating. Capitalism as it's been practiced up to now can be seen as a system whose strength is in solving the ills of previous systems -- such as guilds with monopolies over production and employment. However, it doesn't go beyond that in providing the best set of tools to help people live satisfying lives.

For that, Haque argues, we need to move from busines
Andrea James
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked the book because I agreed with its central premise of striving for (and delivering) better, doing what we can to add real value to the world rather than mindlessly pursuing more money, more goods and just more of everything.

It's unfortunately more of an unedited ramble than the concise book (it's very short) that I was hoping to read. Though that it is not to say that it was by any means bad writing. The author has a fluid style and his words just soak into one's mind. He is opinionated
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am a regular consumer of Umair's writings and interviews. This book, or what might aptly be called a treatise, shows his emergence as a leading 21st Century thinker and communicator. Summing it up in three words I'd call this work pithy, empowering, and advancing. Linking his description of a new paradigm in economic and business practice theory to the late 20th Century expansion of psychology into the realm of positive psychology is nothing short of brilliant.
On a broader note, I couldn't he
Stephen Collins
For such a short read, Umair Haque's second book offers up more of this profound thinker's forward-looking ideas on reimagining the way we do business. Not an anti-business screed, Haque is perfectly happy for us all t make money. But what else is there? Where is the real, tangible, actual good for humanity in the way we do things.

Haque's vision of changed business will make me sit down and articulate how my business behaves in a world where we conduct "betterness" instead. So too, to evaluate w
Nic Brisbourne
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love a paradigm shift and Umair delivers in spades here.

He starts with an analogy between economics and psychology. Up until the turn of the last century psychology had been entirely concerned with curing mental illness, but the work of Havard professor William James turned the discipline on its head by adding the dimension of positive psychology. He shifted the question from ‘how do we fix people with problems?’ to ‘how do we help people realise their full potential?’. Perhaps economic and bu
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
I rate this book highly because it will make the reader think, not because I agree with the author.

A good book to get a group of younger people to stop and think about the relationship between companies and the rest of society. Also, would get them to stop and think about the purpose of a company in the first place.

My take: "betterness" as a substitute for business seems like a nice vision BUT human nature, not corporations is what needs to change to permit it to happen. I believe corporations
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business-culture
Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)

One LGA to ORD flight later I am still percolating on what this truly means. There is so much 'humanness' built into 6 short chapters I find myself more than a bit in awe. To discuss in such a tight set of concepts what may be 'not right' about our current pursuit of often purely financial metrics for business when in fact a notion of Common Wealth is a far more rational thing to consider is quite a feat.

The current state of 'busin
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
Short and sweet.

The way business should be thought of; one can only hope that it is the start of next phase, however, as Umair states this "new thinking" represents a paradigm shift from the way we currently view markets.

When one considers the historical perspectives, though, it is more likely a return to a pre-industrialized / pre-stockmarketized time. What I was struck with when reading the book is how self-centered/focused we have become as a society. When we were involved in building our na
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics, business
It started a little bit "slow", but by the end it had definitely caught my attention.

Although I really liked the overall idea, I started the book a bit skeptical. The (maybe unnecessary) use of uncommon or plainly made up words also added to my initial discomfort. Perhaps this is another good idea that just won't work because it isn't practical, I thought. Now, I think I was wrong!

As the book develops, things start to add up and make sense. The author argues that some of the changes are already
Chris Johnson
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: q1-2014, econ
Another simple- maybe simplistic - econ book.

The gist is this: we don't benefit from making MORE hot pockets, cheap consumer electronics, etc. That doesn't create a yield.

We benefit by having what umair calls what arete. A greek virtue, a behavior that seeds eudamonia. We seek "why am I here" rather than succumbing to the TV-industrial complex.

This is a great book to recommend to someone that doesn't read a ton, knows something is off with the economy/life and is a (to a degree) simpler version
Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it
This book contains some interesting thoughts about the fact that measuring cash profit is probably not the best metric that should guide business and governmental decisions. One can easily find oneself in a "zero sum game" in which for profits to go somewhere, they have to get out of somewhere else, so you end up having just winners and losers, but not actual growth in the society.

While I think there is a lot of truth to it, I probably was hoping for a more structured treatise on the subject. Th
Xavier Shay
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really strong rhetoric, likening business as we know it to traditional psychology (curing sick people), and suggesting the term "Betterness" to be the parallel to positive psychology. Further, that business has stagnated (ref: first decade of 2000s) and companies that are winning now are already embracing Betterness (Whole Foods, Walmart, Pixar, etc...).

I always find Haque inspiring. It's a short book, but probably could have been condensed into a long blog post. He does provide some good langua
Peter Lougee
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
At times repetitive with its metaphors, Haque's thesis is no less salient: that we need to reject business-as-usual if our society is ever going to produce actual Common Wealth. Reading more like philosophy than economic theory, Haque's view of how businesses should adapt for the 21st century likely remains prescient. The challenge remains how to convince business to adapt itself to what Haque calls Betterness, given the entrenchment of bottom-line profit seeking in corporate culture. Although t ...more
Ana  Ulin
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
The main message of the book is quite simple: we need to re-focus our businesses on improving wellbeing of all their constituents, instead of focusing on monetary profits. Unfortunately, Haque does not seem to have much in the way of practical advice as to how to make the change of focus happen.

What I did enjoy were the practical suggestions for re-framing the classical corporate vision/mission/values as ambition, intention, constraints and imperatives. He includes practical questions to ask you
Roy Kenagy
Dec 21, 2011 marked it as to-read
e-book single from @umairh, "Betterness: Economics for Humans" released Monday ~My first Kindle download

""Betterness: Economics for Humans" is a powerful call to arms for a post-capitalist economy. Umair Haque argues that just as positive psychology revolutionized our understanding of mental health by recasting the field as more than just treating mental illness, we need to rethink our economic paradigm."
Chris Davis
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
No more dry business as usual. Hague points out the profound lack of vision that our out-dated, industrial aged economic paradigm has and how we do a whole lot of work without much creation of the kinds of capital that can do humanity any real good. In the future, business success will be measured by the real good the business can do and have little to do with returns for the shareholders. Sound like heresy? It is, the good kind.
Jack Vinson
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very interesting ideas represented here, and as I read this book, I kept hearing repeated themes elsewhere. Essentially: businesses must deliver more than just money. They have to add to the common-wealth - to make the world better. Thus the name of the book.

Blogged with several other books:
Emily Leathers
(Disclaimer: this rating is based on reading only the kindle sample.)

The concept seems interesting but the execution is boring. I probably won't bother to read the rest unless I stumble upon a lot of extra time (which is unlikely).
Jennifer Phillips
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The concept of betternes isn't brand new, but it is radical. And, even if I quibble here and there with Haque's case analysis, I genuinely appreciate this attempt to translate betterness for practicioners, complete with concrete recommendations and examples. ...more
Daniel Temme
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not a perfect book but full of important ideas. Hopefully we'll come to see some of those becoming a reality. ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read this. It will change you.
Kristian Norling
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read! Brilliant. Enough said.
Kevin Miller
Apr 21, 2013 marked it as to-read
Umair wrote a post on "Reason" that was by far one of the best things I've ever read. Resonated with me to the nth degree.

Satinder Hawkins
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
A clearly articulated vision of how to shift economic paradigms to reflect the needs of the modern world.
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Umair Haque is Director of the Havas Media Lab and author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business. He also founded Bubblegeneration, an agenda-setting advisory boutique that shaped strategies across media and consumer industries.

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