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17: NOV 3


  • McMahon, C6, “Lib and discontent” (343-362)
  • Gallbraith, “Dependency Effect” (6)
  • Harvard Business Review, "The Economics of Well-Being" [1]
  • Bruni, "Why GDP is not enough"


  • Start SW3: Short Writing Assignment #2: Assessing Liberalism and the Money/Happiness connection
  • Background on Civil Economy (Bruni C1)

Galbraith, Dependency Effect

  • Problem of intertemporal comparison: Who's to say that status pleasures aren't as important to us now as basic satisfactions were to our poor predecessors? It is repugnant to think that desires never lose their urgence, but maybe that's the case.
  • Flaw in the view of someone who accepts this case: If our desires and wants are "contrived by the process of production", they are not original with us and therefore can't be "urgent" for us. The whole case for accommodating business production (through infrastructure, tax breaks, etc.) falls apart if the production system is creating the needs.
  • Develops his view in Section 2: Not against consumer wants, but little doubt that many are contrived. Cites Keynes on insatiability of status needs. "the desire to get superior goods takes on a life of its own" "The urge to consume is fathered by the value system which emphaasizes the abilityt of the society to produce." (GDP)
  • Section 3: advertising and salesmanship (no social media yet). It's a problem if the producer makes the goods and the desire for the goods. Note that is calling into question the idea that the consumer is really autonomous. "independently determined wants"
  • Read Section 4.

Bruni & Zamagni, Chapter 6: Why GDP is not enough?

  • Thesis: We need additional measures of well-being to add to or replace our reliance on GDP. Analogy of multi-stage cycling races: There are many things to compete for in addition winning the overall race. GDP is just the sprinter's jersey. Promoting SWB is the overall goal.
  • Historical discussion: Smith's Wealth of Nations not just about individual production and riches, but well-being. Examples of texts from Neopolitan School Genovesi: "Work for your own interest, of course, but don't make others miserable by your gain, work also for public happiness. ....p. 88. Adds "public happiness" to "liberty, fraternity, and equality"
  • Critique of GDP: lumps good and bad economic activity together, some stats keepers even consider illegal economic activity. job creation predicts economic activity, but doesn't tell you about the quality of the jobs. "There are awful jobs." (smelt, smelt). GDP relatively new concept (1930s, against background of mercantilist approach which includes wealth of land, resources, labour, capital and stocks. (A stock is any supply of goods of any kind. Stock Market.)
  • More critique of GDP: Arguably, "stocks" matter more than "flows" (GDP). Concern about environment is concern about stocks, migration is about human resources, a "stock", security is a stock. (In food studies, egronomists argue about soil and aquifer quality as a neglected stock.)

SW3: Short Writing Assignment #3: Assessing Liberalism and the Money/Happiness connection

  • Stage 1: Please write an 600 word maximum answer to the following question by November 8, 2020 11:59pm.
  • Topic: Assessing Liberalism: In this unit, we have been assessing both the historical models of happiness in the "American Experiment," as well as contemporary economic theory and thought about the relationship between income and happiness, the adequacy of making GDP the primary policy goal, and the possibility that something about our contemporary commercial culture is working against improvements in happiness. In your essay, make a selection from the resources in the unit to address these issues. Is there a "happiness problem" in American culture?
  • Advice about collaboration: I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes. Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. It's a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file. Put a word count in the file.
  2. In Word, check "File-->Info-->Inspect Document-->Inspect. You will see an option to delete author information.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "AssessingLiberalism".
  5. Log in to Upload your file to the Points dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow, Content, and Logic areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by November 12, 11:59pm.
  • Use [2] to evaluate four peer papers.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key with saint names in alphabetically order, along with animal names. You will find your saint name and review the next four (4) animals' work.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit. (You will also have an opportunity to challenge a back evaluation score of your reviewing that is out of line with the others.)
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, my scores will be close to the peer scores. Up to 14 points.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [3]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Points.
  • Back evaluations are due November 17th, 2021.