Capitalism as if the World Matters

This is such a juicy title that it’s a shame the book doesn’t completely live up to it. It’s mostly about what’s wrong and not enough about what to do instead. Porritt defines 5 types of capital (natural, human, social, manufactured and financial) and then explores each one. The author provides models and examples for ways to move forward. For me, the strongest part of the book related to social capital. He draws upon many different sources so the best parts of the book tend to be quotations or examples written by others.

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking

Once again, Gladwell has written an important book. His last, The Tipping Point, gets referenced a lot. In this book, Gladwell explores how we make decisions. We have two methods, the conscious analytical process and an almost instantaneous pre-conscious way. This latter one, what we often describe as a gut feeling, can often be more accurate than the other. However, it is also affected by societal prejudices and conditioning. He references a host of different intriguing studies and explains how to improve decision-making based on these emerging insights:

We the People

This book is remarkably effective at getting its points across and the reason is that it’s one long comic book. You might not agree with everything Hartmann has to say but he does an effective job of laying out the issues American is facing (e.g., corporate influence in our political system, civil liberties, terrorism, etc.). Since I must not have paid much attention to history class, I find his historical references particularly insightful. The story of how corporations got the status of personhood is fascinating. The parallels between Mussolini’s fascism and the US today are striking.

High Price of Materialism

This book summarizes the results of many research studies that show that materialism is correlated with low-self esteem, poor relationships, violent behavior, and various mental disorders, to name just a few.
“People who are highly focused on materialistic values have lower personal well-being and psychological health than those who believe that materialistic pursuits are relatively unimportant.” P.10