Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Recommended Reading

Sorry for erratic blogging of late, family responsibilities have intervened. Anyway . . .

Your Intertubes have somewhat degraded the world of print magazines, obviously, and made it harder for good writers and thinkers to get paid for all that verbiage production. But it also means there's a lot of good free stuff out there and I commend your attention to Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.

There's a lot that's worth your attention this month but I'm going to assign Hanauer and Beinhocker with a critical look at capitalist ideology. (Oh nooo! Are they commies?) This is not actually at all original, it's an accessible review of your basic social democratic thinking. However, it is sad that this very compelling and human-centered view of the economic world is pushed to the furthest margins in our mass discourse.

The essential critique of GDP as a measure of economic health is one I've made here. I should probably get over the fetish of not repeating myself because that's buried somewhere in the archives and forgotten. But here's a money quote from H&B:

How can it be that great wealth is created on Wall Street with products like credit-default swaps that destroyed the wealth of ordinary Americans—and yet we count this activity as growth? Likewise, fortunes are made manufacturing food products that make Americans fatter, sicker, and shorter-lived. And yet we count this as growth too—including the massive extra costs of health care. Global warming creates more frequent hurricanes, which destroy cities and lives. Yet the economic activity to repair the damage ends up getting counted as growth as well.

Yep. More and more money flowing through the pipes is not what makes for a better human condition. We need to radically wrench the discourse away from this deeply evil idea. Or we are doomed.

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