Friday 21st October 2016                 Change text size:

Book review: For the Common Good – Herman Daly & John Cobb (1994)


Economist Herman Daly and theologian John Cobb demonstrate how conventional economics, which focuses on industrial growth, is having an impact on the environment and society in For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Towards Community, the Environment & a Sustainable Future.

The authors argue that the current economic model has pushed the world to the brink of environmental disaster. Placing economic growth above everything else is what has led to the challenges we are facing today, such as resource scarcity and wasteful use of energy, they say.

The book is a profound critique of conventional theories and policies and the authors offer an alternative approach that considers a wide variety of consequences and priorities, such as the needs of communities and the environment. One of the key ideas they advocate is creating smaller economies that are built around communities and are scaled to need, rather than a central economy that has far-reaching, and often negative, implications for other regions.

The authors focus strongly on the importance of stewardship and placing other needs before that of growth, giving some policy suggestions that are controversial and can certainly spark debate. These include placing taxes on industrial polluters, businesses creating partnerships with employees and creating an economy that is less reliant on imports.

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