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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  152 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In this funny, readable, and thought-provoking book, activists John de Graaf (coauthor of the bestselling Affluenza) and David Batker tackle thirteen economic issues, challenging the reader to consider the goal of our economy. Emphasizing powerful American ideals, including teamwork, pragmatism, and equality, de Graaf and Batker set forth a simple goal for any economic sys ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Bloomsbury Press (first published October 11th 2011)
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Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy crap. This book isn't just a throw down about how crummy our live's are in America when considering economics, it also a verifiable lesson in politics and how federal legislation and legal decisions have impacted our lives since 1900. I'm stunned, angered, and ashamed at what the last 30ish year have wrought. It nearly makes me want to move out of the country. But before you blather or make a sign, read and be educated. You might be surprised at what you discover and how you feel about what ...more
Kylie Sparks
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a book that is full of good ideas, so I'm rating it higher than perhaps the writing merits. It raises questions that should be asked and it doesn't just point out problems it suggests solutions. It's not a scholarly book--the evidence is often anecdotal and the authors skim over the history of the US in a very broad-strokes kind of way--this isn't a book that will likely convince those on the other side of the political fence. Nonetheless they make a lot of good points and blaze a trail ...more
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important book.

Mix and match from the following terms: GDP, rising tide, deficit reduction, productivity gains, efficiency, division of labour. Great! You have just explained what the economy is and what it does!

This is at least what certain people might say about the economy. But what is the economy "for"? And what purpose should it serve? Regardless of our own opinions about economics, sometimes it is important to hear out alternative perspectives by giving them some brain space. Ideally,
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
This was a great follow-up to Freeland's Plutocrats. It's just nice to know that there are some humans who don't feel that unfettered capitalism is the only way to run a civilized society.
The authors are experienced in the subject both in the classroom and out, so there is a good blend of theory and "real world" examples.
Not comprehensive, but not meant to be. This is for an audience not already well-educated in the dismal science.
I've been reading a lot about the economy lately. This book raises some interesting, valid points but the authors are both very liberal. I don't disagree with most of their thoughts but couldn't help thinking, as I was reading, that what I really would like to read is a book written by a non-partisan journalist, who is able to address conservative and liberal concerns and let me form my own conclusions about which "side" is right.
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly interesting book. Yes, it has more than its fair share of statistics, but the book is chockful of good ideas for getting the world out of its economic mess, and provides many interesting revelations, real eye-openers on how crazy we Americans are to try to grow the GDP at the expense of so many other more important things in life.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
TL;DR: Good book. Would recommend. Take things with a grain of salt. I personally think it's a better read for ideas about your personal life, preferences, and paradigms than to its recommended changes in the political sphere.

It's a very interesting book. As an economist, I was initially very skeptical of the premise, however the authors' arguments are interesting and to some extent persuasive. In particular, they argue against "King GDP" and the societal expectation of growth, which I personall
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an informative book about the U.S. economy that compares it to economies in Europe, including a review of the history of our economy since the 1920s. In fact, I recommend starting the book at ch. 10, "Ancient History," through ch. 12, then go back to the beginning of the book, reading ch. 13 last (it summarizes all the solutions that should be implemented to help America's declining quality of life).
Yes, the authors are "liberals" but their review is very even-handed, addressing many of
Jeff Kissel
Overview covering many topics that need to be evaluated with more depth, but raises a number of serious questions that are worth thinking about.
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Batker & De Graaf make the case that we should not put our efforts to expanding the GDP, but instead, make happiness our goal in life. Happiness, here, being the greatest good for the greatest number, for the longest time.

I agree with their argument, for the most part, but I'd substitute GDP with the current buzzwords "progress" and "growth". Ask local politicians and businessmen what they mean by "progress" and "growth" (alt, "growing the economy", "development", etc.) and they respond with
The greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time - sustainable well-being as the purpose of economies. This should have been an encouraging book, but it isn't, because we in the U.S. lack the vision and will to make our country - and the world - a better place for everyone. The sad thing is that we don't lack the know-how. Some wealthy person or right-thinking organization should buy 535 copies of this book and send one to every member of Congress.

Oh, and if I were twenty-something,
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A boiled-down, nuts and bolts interpretation of our political economy. Rather depressing considering the times, albeit informative. Yet don't be fooled into thinking this is simply a declension narrative. Both authors offer tangible reforms that could transform the American economy, and, in the end, the average American's happiness. I did leave the book wondering what they'd have to say about the present Euro-zone crisis, considering their tendency to idolize many aspects of Nordic and European ...more
Sean Goh
Health as a preventive measure is a lot cheaper, and more effective, than healthcare as a corrective measure.
Health (four walls of a house) VS healthcare (roof)

A sense of security is the foundation for freedom and risk taking.
Government provided healthcare/insurance is the equivalent of buying in bulk.
Free to choose, free to lose. (Privatised loss)
Tax as an investment instead of a burden (Taxes are the price of civilisation)

Solving the sustainability issue requires
Nov 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 80 pages are interesting. The middle 80 pages are boringly idealistic at times. The last 75 pages of this book are fantastic. I agree with much of the actual policy prescriptions in this book, and find their reasoning behind them to be solid. Loses a couple of stars based on the amount of fluff and anecdotes, though some of them are well done.
Deirdre Gabbay
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so worth reading! Thank you, to the authors, for actually trying to promote the idea that the economy is "for" anything! Imagine if we sought to harness "the economy" to produce more of what we value in life, and less harm? This book makes you think about what that would look like and how it differs from the economy we seem to have now.
Joe Sherman
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a refreshing splash of cold water in the face. Wake up and stop chasing the illusion of economic growth. The revelation you will experience in this book will render both mainstream political parties in the U.S. irrelevant.
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jana by: Bookclub
Good reading for those of us who are not economists and feel that the pie should be shared more fairly.
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