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The Costs Of Economic Growth

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First published in 1967, The Costs of Economic Growth was based on the central conviction that the official figures for growth in real income were entirely compatable with a decline in human welfare. Twenty-five years later, this work remains the most persuasive and systematic demolition of the religion of growth yet published, its arguments only reinforced by the growing First published in 1967, The Costs of Economic Growth was based on the central conviction that the official figures for growth in real income were entirely compatable with a decline in human welfare. Twenty-five years later, this work remains the most persuasive and systematic demolition of the religion of growth yet published, its arguments only reinforced by the growing social and environmental problems of the late twentieth century. For this new edition, the text has been revised and updated in the light of recent global perils and environmental degradation.


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First published in 1967, The Costs of Economic Growth was based on the central conviction that the official figures for growth in real income were entirely compatable with a decline in human welfare. Twenty-five years later, this work remains the most persuasive and systematic demolition of the religion of growth yet published, its arguments only reinforced by the growing First published in 1967, The Costs of Economic Growth was based on the central conviction that the official figures for growth in real income were entirely compatable with a decline in human welfare. Twenty-five years later, this work remains the most persuasive and systematic demolition of the religion of growth yet published, its arguments only reinforced by the growing social and environmental problems of the late twentieth century. For this new edition, the text has been revised and updated in the light of recent global perils and environmental degradation.

36 review for The Costs Of Economic Growth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    With the ever increasing sings that the continued economic growth and consumer society will have a devastating climax that might result in the end of the economic and social global system or society as we know it, I found myself lacking in theoretical knowledge. After some time in the library I came across this book by E.J. Mishan, the costs of economic growth. The fact that it was written in the 60ties and reprinted in the 90ties was the main reason for me to read it, for I had enjoyed small is With the ever increasing sings that the continued economic growth and consumer society will have a devastating climax that might result in the end of the economic and social global system or society as we know it, I found myself lacking in theoretical knowledge. After some time in the library I came across this book by E.J. Mishan, the costs of economic growth. The fact that it was written in the 60ties and reprinted in the 90ties was the main reason for me to read it, for I had enjoyed small is beautiful that has roughly the same age. Furthermore I think it is always good to go back and read some early material on a subject to better understand the intellectual evolution study of a subject has undertaken.But what I got was not what I had expected, not at all. I did not really like this book for personal political opinion reason and several critiques linked to the reading experience. Let's start with the reading experience. For starters it is not a single book, it's a bundle of two books, one book dedicated to the economic costs of the economic system of unlimited growth in a global consumerists society and the other the social costs in the same society. To me (first remark) the two books did not feel connected in any real sense, it merely felt as if the economic book has to be there to give legitimacy to the claims made in the book on social costs. Second thing to keep in mind when picking up a copy is the public it was written for: it was written for two types of audience, a first already familiar with the economic jargon and economic system but unaware of the social costs and an audience that has little knowledge of the economic jargon but is already deeply concerned about society. It felt like he wanted to show he can talk the talk and walk the walk of economics to make his social claims more convincing and wanted to give economic arguments for the readers already socially concerned so they can use them later on. The tone of the book is not very pleasant. Both parts are full of lines as: as every economics student knows or it is without doubt that, something that really annoyed me for I do not like to be patronized even if trough a text. Even worse, the book lacks in arguments and proof for the many often radical claims made by Mishan, the last 30 pages read as if the author was ranting towards a wall and wrote it down while letting his mind flow wherever he felt like it. Things I did like was the short subchapters dealing with aspects of society he felt like discussing and in general the style of writing is quite accessible. To sum the book up for me: a long rant disguised as a serious academic book, a disguise that fails nearer to the end. To be honest if the only remarks had been the once written above, I might have given it 3 stars but taken into account the content and my personal opinion I had to refrain myself of reducing it to one star.This book is an amazing classic example of neo-conservatism dislike or even revulsion of parts of modern society disguised as a neutral analysis of the changes society underwent the last 50 years. Some of the these awful evolution's destroying our society (the dramatic tone increases steadily), secularization making people more vulnerable to radical politics and fundamentalism, the feminists who are confusing women and talking them out of their natural place in the household, gay right movements who undermine the heterosexual basis of our society, migrants who disrupt the homogenic nations, Young people who act unruly, a loss in politeness, a complete breakdown in ethics, a corruption of tribal people and ancient civilizations in the global south, trivialization of traditions and so on. To me as a historian by trade, this annoys me to a enormous degree, for the entire basis of these critiques is and he repeatedly comes back to this, that there was supposed to be a moral consensus that dominated society but was undermined in the 60ties and increasingly lost in the decades that followed, a so called proud history going back to the middle ages lost. Accoring to Mishan there are two phases in history, the natural one where nearly everything went well ( even if he grudgingly admits medical knowledge was not that great) and the social chaos that is the present society. This is what I like to call 1950 syndrome, a worldview based on the idea that dominant opinions and rigorous enforced social norms of the 1950ties have been historically the norm and need to be defended against all perversions, to preserve or regain the peace this period had. Historical research has for instance shown that the mother staying at home raising children and the man being the sole breadwinner has never been the norm in the west, not until the 1950ties when it was portrayed to be the natural order of the things. One can easily recall Aristotle complaining of the decadence and loss of values among the youth of day that makes Mishan's claim of an unseen decadence and perversion of youth a lot less convincing. For most of these points he makes are nothing but claims and he gives little to no proof of these things, even worse in the intro he admits this himself "I am far from being unaware that many of my arguments will not stand up to so called scientific scrutiny, that many assertions are made without the attempt to present evidence". One has to accept him on his word is basically what he saying. If one takes a look at some of the assumptions it becomes clear that several of them can easily be countered with evidence that undermine his claims. Like his claim that the universities used to be bastions of civility ( he would never mention the bad reputation university students have always had (one of the oldest known drinking songs was a medival student song in latin called In taberna quando sumus). there is his claim that crime has been going trough the roof since the moral decadence (even if studies as Spierenburg A History of Murder have proven a clear drop in murders and assaults from the middle ages to modern day). Finally he shows a distinct nostaligia for a not so long ago time when the world was full of romantic far away places full of pure, unspoiled by the white man, natives who welcomed weary travelers (this idea of unspoiled natives is a literary classic as old as Tacitus but made famous by Rousseau's noble savages and has never been proven by any research (let alone the old false belief of isolated cultures) on the contrary anthropologists such as david Gaeber see commercialization, what Mishan identifies as corruption by the withe man, happening autonomous in many places of the world at different times). Does that mean I did not like anything? No for I do agree with him on several points, share concerns and find myself reflecting on some things he proposed. One of the major points in the first part of the book is the concept of amenity rights, he defends the idea that pollution and the real costs of the economy are not calculated correctly and the costs has to be born by the weakest in society. The amenity rights system he proposes would empower the weakest and prevent this, further more it would encourage more sustainable development and research for it would be cheaper then to pay the breaking of the rights. Even if I am skeptical, it is an interesting idea worth discussing. So also his proposal for recognized free zones where people can choose to live more or less apart from modern society (for a part of society can not cope or need a real timeout from it all) and to accept this as a respectable life choice for those who take it. It is also quite hilarious that several of his claims such as the increasing presence of motorized transport is suffocating town and countryside, there is a suffocating grip on society by technicians, scientists and numbers obsessed economists that has gone too far, the ever increasing horrendous commercialization of all aspects of life the obsession with material goods that blinds us from other parts of being human(friendship, hardship, dreams), a sense of sadness for the cultural loss of the more traditional crafts, a waste of natural beauty due to mass tourism and a loss of appreciation for many of the historical luxuries now available to us on a daily basis, would find acceptance with many on the ecological and radical left but at the same time he shows a distinct disdain for the political left (for supporting the corruption of society portrayed as democratization and equalization). Regardless, it will be among these awful leftists that he will have found the most allies for his case against the BNP statistics as sole indication of welfare in society or his deconstruction of the concept of consumer sovereignty. This book shows that opinions against the current mass consumerist economy and me- society aren't limited to the left. There remains a strong faction on the right that resents the economy and me-society but primarily for the loss of what they defend is the natural order of things and against the social, intellectual and moral chaos that has society in it's grip. To me it feels like the entire ecological agenda and economic part of this book was little more then a coverup for his real agenda, namely the moral decadency that needs to be stopped for civilization to survive. It is interesting to read this book because as said critique of laissez faire economics, consumer societies and the often zelous belief in scientific innovation and economic growth as solvers of all of societies problems is often exclusively linked to the left. It's what you can call frenemies, allies united in a dislike for current conditions and situations, but bitter enemies when discussing the origins, consequences and solutions to said situations and conditions. So read this book with all of this in mind and keep reminding yourself that what seems logic for some does not need to be so for others.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Guillermo Martínez

    Mishan, harto del vecino que gusta de taladrar orificios los domingos, propone concentrarlo en un lugar remoto junto con el resto de s*bnormales de su ralea. En un arrebato de alcoholismo, además, denuncia el avance de la pornografía por sus efectos homosexualizantes e incestuosos. Lo más valioso quizá se encuentre en los apéndices. En el fondo no dice nada que no dijera Galbraith, detalle que se nota hasta en el estilo -esto es, en que saben escribir un ensayo de economía (los liberales tienden Mishan, harto del vecino que gusta de taladrar orificios los domingos, propone concentrarlo en un lugar remoto junto con el resto de s*bnormales de su ralea. En un arrebato de alcoholismo, además, denuncia el avance de la pornografía por sus efectos homosexualizantes e incestuosos. Lo más valioso quizá se encuentre en los apéndices. En el fondo no dice nada que no dijera Galbraith, detalle que se nota hasta en el estilo -esto es, en que saben escribir un ensayo de economía (los liberales tienden a entenderlo como paper largo) .

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    some good ideas.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Srk

  5. 4 out of 5

    Aditya Kulashri

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ferhat

  7. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Malavé

  8. 5 out of 5

    J.H. Nathan

  9. 5 out of 5

    Minik Kaja

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Williams

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ruchi

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bartosz Bartkowski

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ina Cawl

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bea Rouffet

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandra

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kenzo Kashino

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adel

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leo H

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Prof.ashit Saha

  22. 5 out of 5

    Faith Njovu

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rockinsurgmail.com

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ruchi

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zoonanism

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Sampson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Arbraxan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Áron Zsigmond

  29. 5 out of 5

    Imran Hussain

  30. 5 out of 5

    Simoneti Stefania

  31. 4 out of 5

    Anthony James

  32. 4 out of 5

    Nazlı Şakar

  33. 4 out of 5

    Omar

  34. 4 out of 5

    Tom Sherman

  35. 5 out of 5

    Travelin

  36. 5 out of 5

    Soumya Chatterjee

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