Rock Valley College

PAIC Committee Book Group Chapter 1

Chapter One:  Change the Goal

  1.  What is the moral of the “cuckoo” story Kate Raworth tells at the beginning of the chapter? 
  2. Kate Raworth presents two definitions of “political economy” from classical economists James Steuart (1767) and Adam Smith (1776) which goes against their reputations as complete believers in the “free market”.  Describe these definitions, and what do you think? 
  3. Fill in the blank:  “[John Stuart] Mill began a trend that others would further:  turning attention away from naming the economy’s goals and towards discovering its apparent __________.”   How is this seen in 20th century definitions of economics?  Why did rightwing economists like Milton Friedman think this was a positive development? 
  4. According to Kate Raworth, how does the concept of utility play into the idea that continual economic growth is necessary?
  5. What economic promise did John F. Kennedy make during his 1960 presidential campaign?  Why does this matter today?  (…and what is “Okun’s Law”?) 
  6. Why is the dominant developmental metaphor of “moving up” or “growing up” so powerful in economics (and elsewhere)? 
  7. Why did Simon Kuznets, the “inventor” GNP/GDP become an ardent critic of his own concept? 
  8. Why has the ubiquity of economic growth become like ordering the fillings in a deli sandwich?  What question are you asked? 
  9. What are some of the ways that we can conceive of an economy that doesn’t over-value growth?  In Kate Raworth’s words, “What enables human beings to thrive?” 
  10. If you were to explain the model of the “Doughnut” to people who were not aware of this book, what would you say? 
  11. Are there any categories that you think should be added or subtracted to either the inner or outer ring of the doughnut? And how can we decide the inner and outer ceilings and limits? 
  12. Discuss individual areas where there is either a shortfall or an overshoot?  Do you agree with the diagram?  For example, do you agree we currently lack “political voice” much more than we lack “food”?   
  13. What do Kate Raworth (and many other thinkers) mean we they say that “The Great Acceleration” has caused us to move from the Holocene to the Anthropocene? 
  14. What do you think of the way that Kate Raworth includes environmental issues in the overall view of the economy? 
  15. How can the imagery of traditional cultures (Daoist, Maori, Andean, Celtic, Buddhist) help other parts of the world to re-imagine what an economy should be? 
  16. What do you think of the metaphors that we are on a “spaceship” (Earth) and that this spaceship is not just a “household”, but a “planetary household”? 
  17. What are the five factors that need to be addressed in order to live within the space of the doughnut? (Hint:  first letters of each factor are:  p, d, a, t, g.)  Do you agree?