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Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth Hardcover – May 13, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schor (Born to Buy) introduces her concept of plenitude as a way forward after the recent shattering of global capitalism and continued rise in CO2 emissions. Plentitude is a commitment to enjoying—not exploiting—nature's richness, to envisioning environmental, economic, and psychological health as braided and capable of growing symbiotically and more securely than the business as usual practices that imploded in 2008. Schor pleads for avoiding planetary ecocide: even though the polar ice caps are shrinking and 38% of the 45,000 species studied by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are under threat of extinction, the West—particularly Americans—continue to create waste and gobble up resources at unsustainable rates (in 2006, the U.S. emission of CO2 was 19.7 metric tons per capita, compared to 1.3 in India). Fortunately, the interest in alternative energy, recycling, and clean nanotechnologies is increasing, and Schor encourages readers to match it by breaking out of a work hard/spend hard cycle, thereby improving both the environment and quality of life. It might be utopian, but it's also fresh, persuasive, and passionately argued, speaking to the individual and the collective. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Plenitude is a meticulously researched dissection of the roots of our economic crisis." ---Paul Hawken, author of the New York Times bestseller Blessed Unrest --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (May 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202540
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202544
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Juliet B. Schor's research has focused on the economics of work, spending, environment, and the consumer culture. She is the author of Born to Buy, The Overworked American, and The Overspent American. Schor is a professor of sociology at Boston College, a former member of the Harvard economics department, and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. She is also a cofounder of the Center for a New American Dream, an organization devoted to ecologically and socially sustainable lifestyles.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sutter on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is another in a welcome string of recent American books questioning whether economic growth is as beneficial as it's claimed to be. It makes many good points, so my 4 stars are intended to convey its value to a reader who's new to this theme. But it suffers from the usual American myopia of ignoring anything not written in English -- even though, in this case, the author (JS) turns out to have been familiar with many of those sources. As a result, the book's arguments are shallower than they could have been. In this review, I'm going to focus most on what you're missing when you read this book, so you can supplement it with other ones, some of which have recently been translated.

1. First, some of the good points: JS questions the "growth imperative" at both the economy-wide and corporate levels. You'll also find a good overview of some of the problems with the discipline of environmental economics, and especially of the DICE climate models of Yale's William Nordhaus (which have been very influential on US dialogue and policy). JS critiques technological optimism, and also points out that patents and other intellectual property (IP) are more likely to delay a fix for environmental problems than to hasten it. And she continues her advocacy of shorter working hours, begun in her previous books. Here, there's a highlight on environmental benefits of reduced hours, resulting from consumption shifts due to (i) reduced income, since JS implictily assumes less pay for fewer hours worked, and (ii) increased time at home, which means time to make and grow more of your own stuff. (A little jarringly, JS refers to these activities as "self-provisioning," an image that brings to mind survivalism or heading off on the Oregon Trail.)

2.
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55 of 66 people found the following review helpful By R. Strasser on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the Beginning, the bang was so big that Economics (production, distribution and consumption) created a universe in space and time.

Economics became a product of nature and sunlight (E = ns2) 13.7 eons later.

Plenitude - The New Economics of True Wealth by economist, Juliet B. Schor, said, "The next economic era needs to be devoted to restoring the capacity of the earth to support humans and other life forms."

Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines Plenitude as completeness and abundance. So how does the definition of Plenitude square with restoring the earth?

If you're confused, don't despair, so are Wall Street, Congress and most economists.

Even for those who are talking about taxes and tea in Boston Harbor, Professor Schor of Boston College writes a plan for humanity to weather the eco and econ storms that bedevil E = ns2. She also rewrites some basic economic rules.

The Professor said global capitalism shattered in 2008 and $50 trillion of wealth was erased. Though the global economy has been rescued, it hasn't been fixed, according to the author. Rather than focus on what cannot be done, Juliet Schor points a laser at what we can do:

* Less, Less, More, More - Work Less, Buy Less, Create More, and Connect More - the 4 principles of Plenitude.

* Principle 1. Work Less (shorter hours). A new allocation of time outside the market (your job) - Now you have time for Principle 2.

* Principle 2. Buy Less. Make, Grow - do things for oneself. And sell what you don't use, i.e. food, energy - anything.

* Principle 3. Create More. Take a slow boat to China rather than a fast tanker of goods in the opposite direction - conserve land, air, water and their resources.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Betsy Platkin Teutsch on August 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amidst the landslide of greening and sustainability books constantly being marketed and touted (get the irony?), two jumped out at me. Reading them as a pair made it clear that Plenitude, by economist Juliet B. Schor, and The Cheapskate Next Door by journalist Jeff Yeager are describing the same contemporary trends using very different language. People can earn fewer dollars without their quality of life being diminished, IF they also experience an increase in free time. This free time can be invested in social capital, healthy lifestyle, creative self-provisioning, and ingenious thrift, aided by everything from social networking to asking grandma to teach canning techniques. Schor's book is analytic; Yeager's is a how-to-do-it manual.
Reading over and over again how we aren't "over" this Great Recession because none of us are buying enough, hence the jobs producing all of it are lagging, has often made me wonder how that squares with the carrying load of the planet. The fact that personal savings have actually increased seems like good news, not bad. The fact that demand for fossil fuels has decreased - isn't that the goal here? Schor, an economist with an emphasis on ecological concerns and the author of two other terrific books, The Overworked American and The Overspent American, reviews the basic theoretical underpinnings of modern economics and concludes that they don't square. As developing world incomes rise, driving massive additional consumption, the world's growth limits will be tested. We can't just keep on extracting finite resources on the cheap and expect it will all end well. Likewise, she predicts there will never again be enough conventional jobs for all who seek work.
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