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For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future [Paperback]

Herman E. Daly , John B. Cobb Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1, 1994 0807047058 978-0807047057 2nd,Updated
Winner of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order 1992, Named New Options Best Political Book

Economist Herman Daly and theologian John Cobb, Jr., demonstrate how conventional economics and a growth-oriented industrial economy have led us to the brink of environmental disaster, and show the possibility of a different future.

Named as one of the Top 50 Sustainability Books by University of Cambridges Programme for Sustainability Leadership and Greenleaf Publishing.

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For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future + Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pushing for economic growth above all else, industrial nations ignore the damage done to the biosphere by the profligate use of energy and scarce resources. Daly, a World Bank economist, and Cobb, a philosopher-theologian, set forth a detailed, far-reaching blueprint for a highly decentralized economy built around small communities, scaled to human needs and stewardship of the planet. Their important, radical critique of contemporary economic thinking in the book's dry first half leads to specific proposals in the second. These include a tax on industrial polluters, worker participation in management and ownership, reduced military expenditures and a self-sufficient national economy that relies less on imports. In place of gross national product, they put forth an "index of sustainable economic welfare" as a yardstick of true growth.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book is a profound critique of conventional economic theories and policies. Daly (economics, Louisiana State Univ.), an economist at the World Bank, and Cobb (theology and philosophy, Claremont Graduate Sch., Cal.) provide an alternative approach to economics, one that is more humanistic and less scientific. Their criticisms are rooted in a religious/philosophical framework of stewardship and community. The idealistic policies that flow from this new approach will be controversial. This book is highly recommended, especially for college libraries. Few other volumes address these issues with such insight.
- Richard C. Schiming, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 534 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 2nd,Updated edition (April 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807047058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807047057
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-Provoking in Every Way August 6, 1999
By A Customer
To dismiss this book as leftist ranting or environmental hysteria is simply wrong -- and I would bet that the reviewers offering these opinions did not read the whole book. This book offers a stunning combination of ecological economics and philospohical critique. It is this dual focus that helps it avoid the dryness of most economics books and the abstractness of most environmental treatises. At bottom, Daly and Cobb are pushing for more human and manageable SCALE: meaningful work in more localized economies. Only by creating these smaller units, where entire processes can be grasped and influenced, can people change the way they think and live. The book crescendos with a discussion of the human prospect itself -- whether or not our species is on an inherently self-destructive trajectory, thanks to our very powers of ingenuity and adaptabilty. This is a book that should produce a profound change in the reader; but only if it is read slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humane and incisive August 24, 2000
Because of the large number of issues and sometimes conflicting solutions proposed, this is a difficult book to classify. Key, however, is the authors' profound refusal to subordinate the common good of the community to the god of the free market. This does not mean the elimination of markets where they have proven effective and non-destructive. It does mean keeping their operation within strict limits, so that people can regain a sense of community and a sustainable environment. Much of the book is taken up with showing the limits of market theory and practice, and in that sense should be studied by all with an interest in America's secular religion. Proposed solutions are decidedly non-ideological and largely eclectic. Both the left and the right should find points of agreement. All in all, this is an invaluable guide to many of the planet's most pressing problems and should be required reading for college undergraduates.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethical, Humanitarian, Communitarian, Sustainable January 1, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add links

Dr. Herman E. Daly may well be a future Nobel Prize winner ...he is especially well-regarded in Norway and Sweden, where he has received prizes one step short of the Nobel. He is the author, co-author, or primary contributing editor of many books that fully integrate the disciplines of economics and ecology. I bought the three most recent for the purpose of selecting one to give out at my annual Global Information Forum. I ended up choosing this book to give away to hundreds, in part because it is available in paperback and is not a more expensive "trade" publication; and in part because it is strong in laying out specific ecological policy areas in the context of a strong theological or ethical perspective.

Of the three books I reviewed, (the newest Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications, the oldest, updated, Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics) the first, the text-book, is assuredly the most up-to-date and the most detailed. If you are buying only one book for yourself, that is the one that I recommend, because these are important issues and a detailed understanding is required with the level of detail that this book provided. It should, ideally, be read with "Valuing the Earth" first (see my separate review of that book, from the 1970's updated with 1990's material and new contributions), then this book ("For the Common Good"), and finally the text book as a capstone. But if you buy only one, buy the text book.

This is a second-edition work, updated from the 1984 first edition.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas, will they work? May 29, 2001
By A Customer
The opening criticisms of how economics is taught in today's university structure along with the inappropriate credence given this largely theoretical topic's conclusions are well-presented and well-received. Similarly, the general theme of the recommendations is presented very nicely. Basically, we must focus on more local goods, more self-sufficiency in communities. The authors take the time and care to address such technicalities as what exactly they mean by communities. In general their care is a strength of the book, though perhaps more of the details could have been put in appendices or footnotes rather than disturbing the flow of the text. My main complaint is that no EXAMPLES are given--real-life attempts, either successful or failed, at some of their recommendations. Without examples, all their suggestions seem unsubstantiated. A lengthy but decent read, with a nice underlying philosophy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let's hear it for the common good! July 4, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Professor Daly's for some time. This book has some excellent analysis and some truly great commentary. The writing is a bit dry; if you're new to Professor Daly's work, you might want to try one of his other books first, like "Beyond Growth." "For the Common Good" does have some wonderfully thought-provoking lines. Just to give you a taste: "Economics cannot do without simplifying assumptions, but the trick is to use the right assumptions at the right time." Or, with regards to relying on technological fixes for environmental problems: "It is one thing to say that knowledge will grow (no one rejects that), but it is something else to presuppose that the content of new knowledge will abolish old limits faster than it discovers new ones." Another on the same subject: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it; if you must tinker, save all the pieces; and if you don't know where you're going, slow down." On population control: "Nature's way is not always best, but in this instance it seems more responsible than our current practice of allowing new human beings to be unintended by-products of the sexual fumblings of teenagers whose natural urges have been stimulated by drugs, alcohol, TV, and ill-constructed welfare incentives." Daly's Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare deserves to be far better known than it is. The analysis of misplaced concreteness, especially as it relates to the nature of debt, is very good.

The authors sometimes come across as a little naive in this book. For example, they propose making the government the employer of last resort. I think they do not realize just how hard it is to make such programs work; they inevitably decline into a morass of dependency and corruption.
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