A stimulating approach to the economy, which puts people and their needs ahead of money-based indicators of growth and performance.
De Graaf, coordinator of the Seattle Area Happiness Initiative (co-author: Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, 2005) and Batker, a fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, examine new ways to think about economic processes, specifically as they relate to human happiness and well-being. The authors show that the indicators of performance developed during World War II—the “Gross National Product”—have become both obscurantist and counterproductive. They argue that human purposes and needs ought to provide the basis for much more broadly based measures of performance, which would consider what is the greatest good and benefit for the greatest number of people over the longest period of time. The authors have been involved with efforts to establish such approaches through the Seattle project and the Bhutan “Gross National Happiness Indicator,” both of which are based on measuring the satisfaction of human needs, like food, shelter, clothing, health care, education and those related to the quality of individual and community life. De Graaf and Batker compare these approaches with legislative and social initiatives in countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, where such approaches are made priorities. For example, since 1981 in Holland, it has been a requirement that part-time workers be treated exactly the same as full-time workers. The authors counter the insistence of U.S. conservatives that the redistribution of wealth merely shifts money from rich to poor; they demonstrate that society's resources as a whole are increased through added capabilities that enrich everyone’s lives.
An entertaining presentation of important ideas and information about how lives could be improved.