Utopia 5: Class Discussion

Other problems include the fact that this system rewards the least scrupulous behavior and penalizes community oriented behavior. It concentrates wealth in the hands of the wealthy and in so doing also concentrates the power at the top, creating a plutocracy in the least case and economic feudalism in the worst case.
The problem in the United States is a kind of willed ignorance. A decision that people make not to know things. I think that is the primary problem in the United States;that people with education and access to information make a choice not to know things. Because to know things if one retains any sort of moral sensibility, if you know about something that's going on that is inconsistent with your own principles, once you know about it there is the moral question about why have you not acted.


In the United States part of this mass mediated, mass marketed mass medicated world is about allowing people to remain willfully ignorant. That is another level that we have to combat. This is where I often find myself again in tension because if you look at things like the movie industry and television and spectacle sports, all of this industry that is designed to keep people out of touch, that has to be resisted and when you resist that, then you are told that you are being elitist and ya know you got to understand that it is good to go to the Cubs game now and then. And I think, “No!” I actually think that's part of the problem. So these tensions work out too, in organizing. How do you reject that part of the society without doing it in a way that seems to be talking down to ordinary people? How do you make that analysis part of a bigger politics that tries to offer an alternative to the mass mediated, mass marketed, mass medicated world? So its both about critique and construction of alternatives.
Robert Jensen – “The Old Future's Gone – Progressive Strategy Amid Cascading Crises” which can be heard in its entirety at Unwelcome Guests #428 and #429.

Class Discussion:

Leading discussion was Jack's absolute favorite activity as an educator. Not a single child in his class could name any general that had led America in war, or the names or dates of any battle fought by the U. S. But they could all discuss the pros and cons of bombing Hiroshima with nuclear weapons, how public dissent impacted the Vietnam War, or the advantages and disadvantages of the now long gone CIA. He had led them through complicated discussions throughout their history. They were now entering one of Jack’s favorite segments of history.

The turbulence of this time period had occurred while Jack's parents were still children. They had had to move from Oklahoma, where they lived, due to the expansion of the Great Desert. There were times during those years when they barely had enough to eat. This time frame had scarred his parents for the remainder of their lives. It defined them, and how they perceived the world. How they thought about themselves, their families and their communities.

Most of all it defined their relationship with their community. They were fond of telling a much younger Jack that if it had not been for the resurgence of a sense of community, all would have been lost. They were continuously vigilant of the power those in high office obtained. Politicians were barely tolerated and never to be trusted. They could harm the American people, the people of their community if not watched vigilantly. Deceit from the top layers of government had led to the most horrific scenes of their childhood. There was no forgiveness in their hearts for those in high office that sought to reap gains for themselves at the expense of others. Murders and thieves were rehabilitatable. Corrupt politicians, in the eyes of his parents, were not. During their lifetimes corruption from government officials went from being common place and ignored, to being an offense that led to a lifetime imprisonment in work camps in the Great Desert. The punishment was indeed shaped by the crime, in the minds of his parents and their contemporaries.

The children turned in their reports to Jack by e-mail. Jack had read through them and had, of course, graded them on content and grammar. The main goal of the report was not to get them to write about the film, but to think about it. In this way Jack got them to consider the possibilities of the film before the class discussion.

Early this morning Jack had checked his e-mail. All but one report was in. Jack had sent a quick reminder to the errant student, with the threat that after class started an extra two pages would need to be written. The report was in his inbox by Jack's arrival at the school.

Jack stood at the board in the front of the room. He tried to collect his thoughts. He had learned that his children were sharp and he had spent these years honing their ability to think critically. He had to be on his best game now that they were older. Sometimes they did actually out maneuver him in discussions.

Jack pulled a small shelf out of a slot in the wall and adjusted it to the height that was comfortable for him to write. He picked up the stylet that was stuck to the shelf magnetically and began to write several notes. The lines appeared typed on the Chalk Screen in front of him. He then opened an icon file and put asterisks in front of each line. Then he hid each line in a black box to be revealed later. He included several blank boxes in case the children came up with something in discussion that he had not foreseen from their homework.

Andrew Clay entered the room as the last of the lines was hidden from view. Jack turned and smiled at Andy and signed “Good morning.” Andy returned the salutation and went to his seat. “Nice work on your paper Andy. I liked what you said about corporations and the depth that they penetrated the people's lives.” Andy smiled and signed “Thank you.”

The rest of the class began to file in.

At the usual start time Jack noted that all of his students were present. He suspected that discussion days were as favored by the students as they were by himself. Jack started his class, as he usually did, with a question. As he spoke the question appeared behind him on the Chalk Screen.

“Lets start with the obvious. What were the problems faced by the people in the late 20th and early 21st centuries?”

There was a moment of silence, as always, while the question was digested and each child considered whether they would look cooler staying silent or saying something brilliant.

Timidly Svana put up her hand. She was a shy student and as far as Jack could remember this was the first time she had initiated a discussion. Jack immediately made up his mind that no matter what she said he would find a way to praise her. She was after all very bright and she was likely to come across with something praise worthy. Jack pointed in her direction.

“Well, there was climate change that was leading to desertification. That in turn reduced their food supply and people started to be hungry and thirty?” Although it was a statement, she ended the sentence with the inflection of a question. Still painfully shy, she dropped her head immediately after answering.

“Very good.” This was the obvious and most pressing problem and Jack had anticipated that it would be first. He tapped the board and Climate Change and under it Food and Water Shortage popped into view.” That starts us off on the right foot with a two fer. Good work Svana. What else?” Out of the corner of his eye Jack saw Svana blush but also give a demur smile.

“Their ability to get reliable information was…limited.” Geraldo suggested.

“OK. That is good and it was one of their problems, but I am going to leave that issue for now.” Jack tapped the screen at the top spot on another list on the board and Media Control popped into view. “Next?”

“They were using oil as their main energy source and it was running out. You know, peak oil, and the use of oil was also contributing to their environmental problems.” Marion added.

“Good.” Peak Oil appeared on the board. Jack looked up again.

Farid raised his hand, “They were creating situations in which species could not live…acidifying the oceans and killing the fish…warming and drying the land and interfering with the wildlife on land. There was a mass extinction occurring and whole ecosystems were collapsing. Apparently they were unaware that fungi, insects and microbes were essential to grow their food and they were destroying the ability of ecosystems to support these. That was further destroying their ability to make food.”

Jack knew this seemed incredible to his students as they were taught the importance of good soil and protecting the environment from the very earliest years at school; if not preschool by their parents and their CSA. They saw themselves as an integral part of their environment and not masters of it. “Good” Mass extinction and Collapse of Ecosystems appeared. “What else?”

There was a long pause and Tanner's hand went up. “Their system of exchange encouraged increased consumption and therefore destruction of the planet. It also devalued the work of the average person and put them in a position of…”

Jack waited a moment to see if Tanner would be able to come up with the word. He had the rudiments of the concept but not the words to define it. “Good work, Tanner.” he finally said to relieve Tanner of the struggle to find words that were not there. “The problem was capitalism. The system of exchange that was present at the time. The concept you are talking about is inflation. Do you remember when we talked about Lords and Ladies and feudal society? Does any of this remind you about that time?”

“Yes. The Lords had a position over the serfs because they owned the land. It was similar to the Capitalists…the banks…had a position over the workers because they own the factories and the restaurants. They owned the places and the equipment to make things. They both used ownership and debt to control the actions of others.”

“Right. Good work.” He touched the final slot on the board and Capitalism appeared on the board. “Capitalism is a complicated system and we will be looking at that more in depth this year, so don't expect to get it all at once. Anything else?”

“Well it wasn't really stressed but they were using chemicals that they had no idea were poisoning them. The build up of those chemicals was causing an increase in infertility, cancer, birth defects, other chronic illness…It was also harming their environment and increasing the effects of the food shortages.” Rupa put in.

Jack clapped his hands together in his excitement. He loved it when his students showed unexpected initiative. “Great! You've been reading ahead. Good work.” He tapped the board and Toxification came into view.

Not to be outdone Tinashe raised her hand. She and Rupa had a competitive but friendly relationship with each other. “The soil was also eroding due to overfarming with destructive farming methods. This was adding to their food shortage.”

“True. Reading ahead looks like a trend this year.” Jack smiled at Tinashe. He had not anticipated this one and so he had to write in Soil Degradation quickly and add it to the list.

Jack decided it was time to lead the discussion in another direction. “So what was so hard about all this? Why couldn't the government address these problems? These are tough problems but our government is handling them now, and the solutions were not out of the reach of the people who lived then. The people in charge knew about the problems for 30 to 50 years before these problems started to be looked at seriously. How does that happen to a country? We've already listed one problem–Media Control. Lets hear some more ideas.”

“Because the nation-states of the world were not unified and therefore could not address the global issues that were appearing with the level of response that was necessary to fix the problems?” Renae asked.

Again the inflection of a question. Jack would have to work on that this year before they went on to secondary education. “Very good Renae. That is one of the key principles of the problem. Although they had an international government it was toothless. The 5 permanent members of the Security Counsel would veto anything they felt would interfere with the money making of their own nation even if the law was for the betterment of everyone in the world.” This statement was met by looks of confusion from the class. For their entire school life the children had been taught that putting the general well being of everyone in front of any single person was the highest duty of any government. That doing so always increased the happiness of everyone in the community, including the most privileged few. This year was going to be about how America learned that lesson the hard way.

“Additionally treaties between countries were routinely violated without any ill effects to the country violating the treaty. The most powerful of the nations were usually the ones who violated the treaties. The powerful nations held their own armies and therefore could do great damage to other nations if they complained. In truth, it was a lawless world even if they had the pretense of laws.” Jack touched the Chalk Board and No International Cooperation appeared.

Andy raised his hand. Jack nodded in his direction. “But many countries did not seem to respond to their problems even within the boundaries of their own country.” he stated in his flat and slightly slurred voice while he signed the words. Andy was working on bettering his speech and so Jack had insisted that Andy speak his answers as well as use his hands.

Andrew was of course correct. But Jack was not willing to yield Renae’s point completely. “Failure of international law was one reason there was an inadequate response. But you are correct. The internal national response was also poor. Andy, can you name one reason that the national response was poor?” Andy was smart enough and was not hampered by the shyness Svana exhibited.

There was respectful quiet in the class while Andy thought. Andy of course did not need the quiet, but they gave him the same courtesy they gave any other student because a failure to do so would result in Jack turning the question on the student that had forgotten to give respect to a fellow student. Finally Andy signed, “The People did not have any real control of their own government.”

Jack was struck by this. It was a secondary level leap in logic. He decided to push Andy a little. “That’s and interesting thought. But Andy they had elections and a free press. How can what you say be true?”

Andy blushed. The class had not anticipated the discussion going in this direction. They sat very still hoping that Andy would be able to answer the question and that they would not be called upon.

Andy spoke in a soft voice as he signed rather hesitantly. He clearly wished he had not opened this can of worms, “The press was controlled by capitalists, the rich. They had a reason to keep everything as it was because that is how they got to be rich in the first place. The people were never given accurate information to make choices. They were led and manipulated by the people who owned the media. Without good information and open discussion of the issues, free elections are worthless. They are too easily manipulated.”

Jack smiled at Andy unable to keep his pride internal. “That’s right Andy. Good answer. We are back to the media control that Geraldo mentioned earlier. The large media sources were controlled by exactly 5 caucasian, wealthy men who all had investments in the open market. They were capitalists.

“There were other sources that were not as controlled in this way of course, as you saw in the movie. But the other news sources were a budding industry. They were small and hard to find. Most people relied on what was called the mass media. This media was very controlled and most people were unaware of how it was controlled. The media did not discuss peak oil, or soil degradation. They did not discuss the economic crisis until it was upon them. Climate catastrophe was not discussed until very late, and then for some time the press emphasized the few people who thought that it was erroneous data. Even when it was discussed, trivial issues like the loss of shorelines, were posed as the most pressing problems. Even after it was known that the worst problems would be food shortages brought on by drought and dust storms the press still ignored this fact for some time. In fact ignoring it until riots broke out.”

Will, Andy’s best friend, came to his rescue by asking a question. “Couldn’t the capitalist have switched their manufacturing to something that would have helped? Say wind turbines? Then it would have been OK to discuss the problems and they could still be rich.”

The answer to this was probably above their level of learning so Jack did not continue his Socrtic Method with this question. He simply answered the question. “The capitalist had made money in one way for a long time. And don’t forget that one of the most profitable sectors of their economy was the petroleum industry. Starting down a different road would take time and effort. They were making money with little effort. Also there was risk to going down a new path. They might actually lose money if they took a risk. They did not wish to take risks individually, but in the end they took a very big risk collectively. None of them survived with their fortunes intact and the system in which they thrived collapsed entirely. Other people did take those risks, though, and they were the ones who survived this catastrophe in a better state than the original capitalists.

“But what about the elected officials. They were representing the people. How did a representative government fail?”

Farhid chimed in, “They had to…campaign. They had to convince people to vote them into office. They had to buy time on the media sources to do that and that was expensive. To pay for it they had to get money from the capitalists. They are the only ones who had significant amounts of money. The media sources could also just refuse to give you air time, even if paid for it, if they did not like you.”

“Correct. The capitalists pulled all of the strings. They were in control of the media so that they controlled what the public heard and saw and they were ultimately in control of every representative in the government. The representatives failed because they did not represent the People. They represented the capitalists and their faltering system.” Governmental Control–Democracy vs. Plutocracy appeared on the board under Media Control.

Jack again changed the direction of the conversation, “What do you think would have happened if the monetary system had not collapsed?”

“People still would have gone hungry and there would have been unrest eventually.” Geraldo answered quickly.

“Yes. But do you think that they could have solved the problem and kept the capitalist system?”

There was a long pause while the class considered this. Finally Renae raised her hand. “No. The system was only good as long as there were resources to exploit. The capitalist used the resources to make things that they then sold at a profit. If all the resources are being used up or if the buyer can't afford anything but the necessities of life, food and water, then capitalism stops working. If there are no resources then they can't make things to sell and if there is no one with enough money left after they have used it to eat then there is no one to sell things to.”

“Your right. Capitalism was hitting something of a wall. So what do you think would have happened if we had not reorganized our government and economy? If things just got progressively worse what would have happened?”

She considered this for a moment. Then, “If things had been allowed to get worse the system would have gone back to a type of feudalism where the resources were controlled by the few rich capitalists that were left at the end of capitalism and these people would dole out the resources to the rest for their labor. People would belong to the capitalists even more than they had. They would rely on them more for their day to day survival.”

“I think your right, Renae. Of course we will never know for sure.” Jack paced for a second at the front of the class. Were they ready for his final question? He felt he had gotten everything out of them on the factual level that he had wanted. Yes they were ready. It was time to push them to a deeper level, “Before the Great Catastrophe, people had many material things. If they wanted to go somewhere they had their own shuttle, they had food from all over the globe brought to them, they had multiple forms of entertainment, they visited places that were far away on a regular basis. Do you think that people were more happy when they had so many things and food was not a problem or now when the government is more responsive to the public but we have fewer possessions and have to be careful with our food so everyone can eat?”

“I would like to have lived then. It sounds exciting and I like to travel.” Marion said immediately.

“Yeah, but when you went to Europe, it had been cut off from America for some time. The customs and food and everything had had a chance to revert to their native culture. That is why it was fun to see. If you had traveled at the beginning of the century it probably would not have been as good, because globalization was leading all the places to look the same. The same customs, clothes and food were available everywhere.” Will reminded her. She gave him an unpleasant look.

“I read that the average person moved around a lot for their job. They were afraid to develop friendships. They frequently did not even know the people who lived in their neighborhoods. They got together for religious reasons once a week, but even that started to disintegrate at the end. I think that would be lonely.” Svana opined.

“Yeah. And dangerous.” Tanner put in.

“Dangerous? What do you mean by dangerous Tanner?” Jack was guenuinly suprised by his statement.

“If something happened to you, you were on your own except for your immediate family.” Tanner started. “And sometimes even they would not help you. If you were sick or injured or lost your job. When you were too old to work. You did not have the government, or the neighborhood or anything to rely on. Some people even died due to lack of attention. Lack of community. I think it would have been scary.”

This was one of the things that unnerved Jack about this time as well. The feeling that the individual was the most important unit of society left them to fend for themselves in situations where groups were the only logical solution to some problems. It is almost as if problems that required a group solution simply could not be solved by the people of that time.

“Yeah. Its like there really was no one. They did not know their neighbors or coworkers well. Family would be far away. And even the partner of last resort, the government, turned their back on people who got into trouble.” Svana agreed.

“It would have been good to be the rich, though. They got to go any where and do anything. They didn't have to work. They didn't have to help the CSA grow food or spend time in community projects.” Marion insisted.

“I don't think it was great for them either. They were isolated too. After a certain amount of money you can't spend anymore, no matter how much you have. Their children sometimes also lost everything and went hungry too. Sometimes I think that would have been harder than being poor and knowing how to get by than all of the sudden you are poor and you don't know what to expect or how to get by and no one will help you.” Tinashe said.

“The rich were sometimes immune to hunger but they were living on the same planet as the rest of us. As food got short they too had less. And some lost their homes when the sea levels did rise or the Great Desert was born. There were also the riots at their homes or where they worked. There was a lot of anger directed at them and their families. Sometimes they were killed too.” Will put in.

“Plus people were sick all the time. They had all those chemicals in their air and water. In their food. It was slowly eating away at them and they did not even know it. I read about chronic pain syndromes and mental disorders that were common then. There were some scientist who felt that the chemicals were increasing the incidence of violence and making it difficult for people to think properly.” Rupa said.

“There were more people who were not rich. Some were very poor. Some could not get enough to eat…even to live. And the wealthy governments did not help them reduce their populations or end their famines. At least not enough to solve the problem.” Geraldo said.

“Yeah and there were wars! The people who did not have enough would riot or attack another country or people within their country. Violence was happening all the time. Every day! Now there is some where for the poorer nations to turn rather than to violence. I agree with Tanner it was a scary time.” Tinashe had been one of the students who had gasped at the sight of the body by the side of the road in the film.

“How many of you think that people are happier now than in this time frame.” Most hands went up immediately. A few paused briefly but in the end even Marion raised her hand; whether due to reconsidering the points made by her fellow students or due to peer pressure, Jack was uncertain.©


1.) Jack's Chalk Screen:

I. Current Problems   

A. Climate Change   

B. Food and Water Shortages   

C. Peak Oil   

D. Mass Extinction   

E. Collapse of Ecosystems   

F. Toxification   

G. Soil Degradation   

H. Capitalism   

I. Inflation

(Not discussed by Jack's class but you could also add Inadequate Education and Lack of Health Care)

II. Road Blocks to Solving Our Problems   

A. Media Control   

B. No Binding International Governance   

C. Governmental Control: Democracy v. Plutocracy

When I started this project I wanted to start a conversation between several dissimilar blog sites about the nature of our problems and the future we want to create. There is much discussion on the web about what we do not want, and very little about what we do want. So I am keeping my comments to a minimum this chapter and giving the readers on various sites room to comment on their own solutions. Besides there is a plethora of information to look at in the media control section.

Now that I have been on these sites for several weeks, this may turn out to be a more difficult experiment than I had anticipated. The sites I am working on not only have different agendas but they have very different time frames. DKOS seems to move at the speed of light compared to ZNet. But I will do my best to bring ideas from one site to another.

Don't be shy. If I can put my ravings out there for the first time then so can you.


2. Media Control:


“We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine, and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination [read as 'democracy'] practiced in past centuries.”


June 5, 1991, Bilderberger meeting in Baden Baden, Germany (a meeting also attended by then-Governor Bill Clinton). [Main source: Dr. Dennis Cuddy,A Chronological History of the New World Order]

You might recall that in another episode I quoted at some length a rather disturbing document known as the Crisis of Democracy. This document was written for the Trilateral Commission in the 70's, due to the 1968 political upheaval. The Commission was distressed that there had been so many people demanding a stake in their own government and it longed for the day when people would compliantly follow their leadership without question. The report was an outline of why such a dramatic increase in democracy had occurred and how to over turn this increase.


The report has a very lengthy section devoted to the media. This is their version of media reform. Remember, this is the 1970's and is a report for the most powerful people in the world at that time:

Trilateral Commission Crisis in Dem:


4. Restoring a Balance between Government and Media

For well over 200 years in Western societies, a struggle has been underway to defend the freedom of the press to investigate, to criticize, to report, and to publish its findings and opinions against the efforts by government officials to curb that freedom. Freedom of the press is absolutely essential to the effective working of democratic government. Like any freedom, however, it is a freedom which can be abused. Recent years have seen an immense growth in the scope and power of the media. In many countries, in addition, either as a result of editorial direction or as a result of the increasing influence of the journalists vis-a-vis owners and editors, the press has taken an increasingly critical role towards government and public officials. In some countries, traditional norms of “objectivity” and “impartiality” have been brushed aside in favor of “advocatory journalism.” The responsibility of the press should now be increased to be commensurate with its power; significant measures are required to restore an appropriate balance between the press, the government, and other institutions in society.

These recent changes in the press-government relationship are perhaps most clearly marked in the United States. The increase in media power is not unlike the rise of the industrial corporations to national power at the end of the nineteenth century. Just as the corporations enveloped themselves in the constitutional protection of the due process clause, the media now defend themselves in terms of the First Amendment. In both cases, there obviously are important rights to be protected, but broader interests of society and government The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States declares that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The due process clause is from the Fourteenth Amendment — “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty,or property, without due process of law.” are also at stake. In due course, beginning with the Interstate Commerce Act and the Sherman Antitrust Act, measures had to be taken to regulate the new industrial centers of power and to define their relations to the rest of society. Something comparable appears to be now needed with respect to the media.

As in education, did the Trilateral Commission get its way? Did they tame the media and bring it into line by consolidating it under 5 CEO's all of whom have ties to big business and Counsel on Foreign Relations?

But we still have the internet–Right? For now, the answer is yes. That does not mean that there is not an assault on this form of communication as well. Net neutrality continues to balance on the blade of a knife and only continued vigilance keeps it from toppling as well.

Understanding the Corporate Media Model

Control of the Media

Many to Many Internet

Opening Access

Denver Open Media

Big Media

Stop Big Media

Save the Internet

FCC and Media Consolidation

The National Conference for Media Reform



Free Press

Project Censored

The Real News


Free Speech TV

The Raw Story

Pacifica Radio

Inter Press Service

The Blacklisted News



Media Control: A History

Plutocracy in Action

Manufacturing Consent

Manufacturing Consent 2

Bill Moyers (I would vote for this man for President if only he ran.)

New World Order

Paris Hilton v. the News

3.) Do You Have Affluenza?

“Never before have our emerging environmental crises been laid out so clearly before us. Rather than shouting from the fringes, respected economists, scientists, and politicians are sounding the warnings in high-profile journals and the halls of government — warnings that our oceans are dying, that the ice shelves are melting, and that we are setting ourselves up for the most massive and devastating market failure humanity has ever seen.

So we recycle our garbage. We vote greener. We buy sleek, new hybrid cars and fill our houses with energy-efficient light bulbs. And we put our money and faith in the brave and ingenious technologies that will rescue us from the whirlwind.

But it won't be enough. Because this is not, fundamentally, a technological problem. Nor is it, fundamentally, a political problem. This is a problem of appetites, and of narcissism, and of self-deceit. The planet is breaking, and it is breaking under the weight of our hunger for more.

To reform the world, we must first reform ourselves.Affluenza.org



Affluenza 1


Affluenza 2

Affluenza 3

Affluenza 4

Affluenza 5

Affluenza 6


PBS Affluenza Website

Simple Living


4.) Gross Domestic Happiness

If a couple gets a divorce what happens to the economy? Well the two adults must run separate households. They must own 2 of everything where they could own one of some things before. They must hire a lawyer and one of them is likely to hire child care. In short, divorce is good for the Gross Domestic Product. It is good for the economy. Yet very few would say that divorce is something we want to cultivate in our culture. There are many things like divorce that the GDP measures and may even encourage that simply will not make us happier.

So shouldn't we base our government and our economy on something that will make us happy? There are actually studies on international happiness. Something I found out by watching 20/20 of all things. What we now know is that money will indeed not make you happier. (No, really, there are actually studies.) Being connected with others and involved in decisions that effect you make you happy. Being isolated and powerless makes you unhappy regardless of your financial status.

Turns out the happiest place on Earth is Denmark. A country that takes its social connections in its society seriously. Other semisocialist countries are not far behind. The US, for all its wealth, is somewhere in the middle.

So maybe we need to have a measure other than the GDP to help us decide if we are moving in the right direction. That is what the small and very spiritually oriented country of Bhutan has decided. They created the GNH, The Gross National Happiness.


Bhutan, the king said, needed to ensure that prosperity was shared across society and that it was balanced against preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government. NYT


Perhaps they have the right idea. We should not make all our decisions based on what will make our country the richest. Particularly in a situation where the wealth is shared so unevenly and so many are made unhappy and unhealthy in the process. We need a new model of decision making. We need Gross National Happiness.

World Database of Happiness

New Economics Foundation

Bhutan and Canada

Further Reading:

Affluenza by John de Graaf

Simple Prosperity by David Wann

The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser

Affluenza by Oliver James

The Overspent American by Juliet Schor

The Overworked American by Juliet Schor

Take Back your Time by John de Graaf

The Selfish Capitalist by Oliver James


Audio/Visual Selections:

The Overspent American by Juliet Schor

Affluenza Bullfrog Films


Science Fiction Selection:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card