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Economics Unmasked: From Power and Greed to Compassion and the Common Good Paperback – February 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1900322706 ISBN-10: 1900322706 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: UIT Cambridge Ltd.; 1 edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1900322706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900322706
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“An inspiring statement that there is an alternative to the hollow dreams of globalisation.”  —Molly Scott Cato, economics spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales

About the Author

Philip B. Smith was an American-Dutch experimental physicist. He taught for eight years in Brazil as a McCarthy-era exile, and later joined the University of Groningen as a professor of physics. Manfred Max-Neef is a Chilean-German economist in the field of international development. His key works are From the Outside Looking In: Experiences in 'Barefoot Economics' and Human Scale Development, the latter declared by the University of Cambridge as one of the 50 most important books on sustainability. He taught at the University of California–Berkeley and is currently director of the Economics Institute of the Universidad Austral de Chile.


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Customer Reviews

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This is a truly well written book.
Adrian S
Little problems like climate change and depressions are things the uber-wealthy can deal with, and they have been doing very well, thanks to their economic system.
Dr. B. Rasnow
A must-read if you want to understand today's world.
Oscar Sierra

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dr. B. Rasnow on June 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wondered why the world is so messed up, in spite of so many brilliant economists prognosticating away? This book argues that the economics currently practiced across most of the world is a theory designed to protect the wealth of the rich and the power of the powerful. It persists because it works so well at achieving precisely those goals. Little problems like climate change and depressions are things the uber-wealthy can deal with, and they have been doing very well, thanks to their economic system. If we aspire to a different outcome, with goals like ecological sustainability, social justice, freedom as described by Amartya Sen, then we must choose a different economic theory to get us there. The book is scholarly, detailed, and uses selected data and historical quotes to bolster its thesis. It makes a powerful argument for why the world is the way it is, and where we will end up unless we make profound and fundamental changes.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Matt Hannah on February 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I recently saw Manfred Max-Neef on Democracy Now and was soon on the phone with my local book store ordering his book before the 30 minute interview was over.

In this book Max-Neef makes the crucial point of our time: "economics should serve people, not people serve the economy."

This book took me back to my first weeks in Micro-economics 101, a class that never made sense to me. I kept wondering: "where are they getting these numbers? Can you quantify something like that? How can you assume that's what everyone wants?" In addition my libertarian teacher assured me NAFTA had made everyone's life better, and that wages had risen. When I asked how in a deindustrialized place like Michigan you could ever suggest such a thing, he replied: "well, it hasn't happened yet, but it will."

Thus my introduction to one of our country's most esoteric of religions: economics. "It's not that our models are faulty--they're just not accurate enough yet." Maybe Jesus didn't make it on our last prediction of his return, but it turns out we miscalculated.

Max-Neef makes the startling point that eventually rising GDP leads to falling quality of life for the average citizen after a certain point. He contrasts "development" and "growth," and finds the US to be an underdeveloped nation. Max-Neef charts the basic needs of human beings in an all-encompassing and complex way, rather than assuming if we're not starving to death and have plenty of cheap, child labor-produced clothes at Target to buy, we are by default developing.

I found myself, just as I did during the interview on Democracy Now!, saying "YES! YES!" out loud. This book dares you to imagine what could be, rather than just assume the exploitation of human beings and the environment is just a fact of life.

With climate change and oil shocks on the way, it's time for a new model, not a more accurate version of the old one.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Adrian S on July 26, 2011
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This is a truly well written book. The authors do a great job of setting up their critique of neo-liberal economic policy, as well as main stream economic theory. It is a very soundly based argument that also offers solutions and examples of success at the micro level. To me, the most powerful part was the analysis of what the study of economics is, isn't, and maybe should be, as well as the information regarding neo-liberal economics and where it has brought us thus far. Highly recommended for all!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Neil Raner on May 23, 2011
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"Economics Unmasked" first reviews the writings of major economists. After pointing out that the tenor of such works is generally descriptive, this book becomes prescriptive, showing how economic thinking can promote not merely whatever the status quo happens to be, but good lives for all people in a country.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lan D on October 8, 2011
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This book will both enlighten you and depress you if you've paid any attention at all to what is happening in American politics. Read it and weep! Then get involved and take your world back from the predatory capitalists who are destroying it for their own pecuniary benefit!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dominic on September 20, 2013
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A dense but very well informed look at the economic situation of not just the US but the world. A glimmer of hope in a world of darkness which I would call just about right in these days of wealth and monopolies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Emmett Brady on August 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
The authors present a great deal of critical commentary on how "capitalism" is currently applied in the real world. The great negative impacts that they point to are real However, the type of capitalism that currently exists and has been dominant since 1977 is Jeremy Bentham's Benthamite Utilitarian version of capitalism. This is the type of capitalism taught at ,for instance, the University of Chicago's economics department and Booth School of Business. It emphasizes the claim made by Bentham that all decision makers are rational .All decision makers can accurately calculate the odds and figure out the probabilities and consequences of the different options that they are considering .Decision makers who incorrectly estimate the probabilities ,consequences,and risks will lose and become poor. On the other hand ,those decision makers who correctly reckon the odds ,risks,and the consequences will prosper. There is no role for government in attempting to provide any relief for poor decision makers because they are life's failures who must be eliminated .

The other version of capitalism is that of Adam Smith. Smith's version of capitalism is based on Virtue ethics. A great abyss exists between Virtue ethics and Utilitarian ethics. The title of their book indirectly refers to both types of ethical systems. The Good Samaritan represents Smith's version of a successful capitalist and leads to compassion and the common good.

The authors need to make this distinction more clearly and forcefully in another, future edition of their book.
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