For The Real Wealth of Nations book group: do the assigned readings before you come to class on the date listed; enter your reading homework for these three questions here (remember to enter useful comments on your topic page, as well).

Real Wealth of Nations cover

2/28 3/14 3/28 4/11 4/25
Intro, Ch 1 & 2 (to p. 46) Ch 3, 4 & 5 (p. 116) Ch 6 &7 (p. 164) and post responses for Ch1-7 Ch 8 & 9 (p. 212) Ch 10 (p. 236) and post responses for Ch8-10
  1. Explain how one idea in the reading relates to other topics already covered in class or something you learned elsewhere (another class or life experience).
  2. List what you think are the three to five most important points made in the reading.
  3. Write a question to provoke discussion among others who read the same passage.
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81 Responses to “The Real Wealth of Nations

  1. ybeaudoin4 Says:

    “When a sufficient number of us change our beliefs and actions, our culture changes,” Riane Eisler, -The Real Wealth of Nations,
    p. 213. This quote stood out to me because as I listened in class this semester, there was a continued need for change in our culture, the human culture. We often feel overwhelmed when we hear about what needs to be done and the changes often seem so unattainable. However when we think about that we can begin change just by changing our 1. Beliefs – this can be our belief that we can make a difference, even on a small scale. I also see this as learning more about societal injustices which awakens me to what I had previously not known. I can’t begin to make change if I don’t know what needs changing.
    2. Actions – educating ourselves on what changes are taking place and where we can help. We can begin by taking action at home and in our workplace. I am constantly trying to lead by example and if I am showing my children, friends and others compassion and caring, then I am taking action and hopefully my action will foster change and action in those around me.
    3. Culture – the definition of culture is the way of life shared by a group of people. It is what makes people similar to one another and unites them as a group. It is acquired behavior; it is learned. Thus by educating ourselves and those around us about creating a caring economy, we are beginning the process of cultural change.

    My challenge to those that have read this book is to ask what you will be doing to enact change towards a more caring economy?

  2. ybeaudoin4 Says:

    In Chapter 6 of the Real Wealth of Nations, Eisler discusses the “Economics of Domination.” She states that:
    • Women make up 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people in poverty.
    • Women earn 2/3 to ¾ as much as men in developing nations.
    • Women tend to work longer hours and have the hardest work. This doesn’t just apply to women with young children. This also applies to elderly women who are more apt to live in poverty than elderly men.
    • Ms. Eisler makes a strong point that the “economics of household” is not factored into the nations economic factor. While it is both a unit of production and consumption, it is ignored.
    As a mom of four children, I have always thought that having a regular job would be a vacation compared to the long hours and challenging work of motherhood. Now that my children are older, and I have a fulltime job outside of the home, I am confident that mothers work harder than most. Yet continue to not be factored into the economy or even worse, can looked down upon for not having a job outside of the home and bringing in an income. This hits me hard because there is nothing that a developing child needs more than a parent to love, nurture and guide them. This injustice seems to stem from the male superiority complex that plagues us. Yet the injustice affects everyone.
    • What if women were paid to care for their children?
    • Would giving moms economic support for raising their children, create happier, more confident moms that would pass this on to their children?
    • If women made as much or more than a man in the same job, would this create equality amongst the sexes and aid in breaking down the barriers in the workplace for women to advance in their careers?
    • What would the world look like if we looked at moms like we look at a CEO of a company?

  3. zanepgriffin Says:

    1. Eisler’s arguments are largely based around dominator economics. The way we operate our economy is fundamentally based on the top-down mentality. Even in our democracy, power is given to few. In the corporate world, CEOs have great power and everyone below them answers to his or her superior. In economics, we learn that people operate based off of incentives. If a worker in a company has no other incentive to do a good job other than to receive an hourly wage, it is unlikely that that worker will think about the sustainability practices of his or her corporation.
    I work for New Leaf Community Markets and I am seeing first hand how a successful local company falls down the path of corporate demise. New Leaf was founded upon principles of sustainability, community, and respect. It still claims those principles proudly. However, in the short time I have been an employee, the company has cut many employee benefits, which affect the lives of over 100 people and their families. As they have been cutting benefits, they are expanding to San Jose. There isn’t anything local about opening a store in San Jose. I could go on, but if we look at the incentives New Leaf has for growth, it makes perfect sense. In a capitalistic system, corporations are geared for infinite growth and increasing profit. Unfortunately, there is no sustainability built in to the capitalists’ equation.

    2.
    Dominator Economics
    Caring Economics – statistical proof
    We need a system that takes into account unpaid work done in households.
    Our lack of caring is ultimately rooted in the fact that we devalue women.

    3. What needs to be reformed about our culture that can lead people to want a more caring economics? That is, I believe there is a fundamental problem with our competitive consumer culture that is causing much of our lack of caring for human happiness.

  4. rwetheyoung Says:

    (Updated response)

    Surviving the Future: The (Re)Emergence of Sustainable Cultures:

    Professor Merrill: Cabrillo College

    First Reading Assignment

    1. I find it heavily ironic that I am just beginning to read The real Wealth of Nations, considering that for the last four weeks I have been acting as a primary caregiver to my girlfriend, who broke her foot. Eisling devotes a great deal of focus in chapter 1 to the implicit costs of care-giving that are not calculated or compensated for by modern economics and economic thought. It has been tremendously time consuming to not only take up all the chores in our apartment that my girlfriend can no longer do, but to drive her to work and back as much as possible (she can take the bus, but walking to the nearest bus stop on crutches takes almost an hour one way). My girlfriend is lucky enough to have very good health insurance that covered more of her treatment, and a in which she is able to still perform while injured, but I am shocked at the revelation of how much more effort my daily life inolves, doing all of the shopping and cleaning and transportation where before I only did half. It certainly lends credence to Eisler’s argument about the value of domestic duties. What if we had a child that needed taking care of, how could I expect to accomplish that, work full time and take care of my girlfriend? As a young couple, we have little to no savings and almost no social safety net in this state. We might have to move back to one of our parent’s homes, losing whatever time and effort we’ve spent establishing ourselves here in addition to the cost of moving. Then we would only be moving our needs to someone else, for them to be burdened with. Yet this type of issue is something that the government does not offer aid with, nor would our work since we would no longer be benefiting them. The self interest that rules capitalism would demand we be the only responsible parties, or even just my girlfriend since it is not in my direct financial self interest to help her out.

    In some ways these types of “externalities” of care-giving seem to have changed drastically in the last decade or two. In their paper Total Work, Gender and Social Norms, Michael Burda, Daniel S. Hamermesh and Philippe Weil found that while still including housework and care-giving, women and men do equal amounts of work. Men are still paid better, but after the latest recession, women are more likely to be employed than men. These recent developments have evened the playing field more, but women’s entrance to the job market causes another problem; the housework they did before must either be taken up by men or paid for. In some ways may result in further quantification of care-work, but among low income families it may result in less childcare and housework.

    2. A) The current national and international economies do not adequately value resources that are not easily calculated through financial means such as compassion, quality care for children and the elderly and environmental resources. Throughout history societies have variated between cultures of dominance and cultures of partnership. Societies of dominance rely on hierarchical that use fear, greed, pain and violence to motivate the dominated members, where as societies of partnership rely on hierarchies of actualization which rely on mutual respect and care between members. Where as domination cultures devalue caring, economic resources and human values, partnership cultures place great value on these resources.

    B) Dominance systems have succeeded largely in part to the exploitation of others. They exploited women by taking away what rights they had, and essentially relegating them to second class citizens. The work traditionally associated with women such as child care, housekeeping and caring for others were portrayed as feminine, soft, and therefor less important. Dominance systems would exploit environmental resources of others, often by direct force or threat of force. Dominance systems such as imperialism, colonialism or neo-conservationism (my addition) compete by exploiting weaker societies or the weaker members of their own.

    C) The two great modern economic systems Capitalism and Socialism were efforts to move further away from domination systems, but we only partially successful because of their failure to take the value of care-giving, healthy eco-systems, or human capital into account.
    D) By building institutions that value caring and care-giving, inventing new economic systems that support compassion and setting rules for the economy that foster these values, we can bring about a partnerism between capitalism and communism to better utilize and reward human resources. The current instability brought on by globalization offers a unprecedented change to build a caring economy. Caring policies will in turn support both monetary and personal success, reinforcing itself and leading to a society that values its human capital as the most valuable national asset.

    3. Consider the implications of Eisling’s Caring Economics, especially how she proposes to change modern discussion and analysis of economics to include modes of caring. Say we take for granted that everyone within the community wants to change the way economics calculate worth and value. How would they go about merging those different perspectives? How do we current do so in California, and in the greater country? What prevents us from easily changing our country to adhere to a Caring Economy? One of the main fundamentals of libertarian ideology, which is influential in modern politics, is that the government should stay out of the personal lives of citizens, both in financial and social respects. Libertarian thought still holds that the “rational self-actor” is the most responsible and efficient denominator in a market economy. In examing this idea that “though selfish in the market, man is an altruist when it comes to his family…” Eisler concludes that “…the studies we looked at show that many men don’t use their economic resources for their families’ welfare.” (Eisler 153)

    Is this disagreement between Eisler’s caring economics and modern Libertarian principle irreconcilable? Is government interdiction inherently inefficient? What alternatives could a community work to institute to support a caring economy? Or are there ways to utilize the forces of a market economy to create a caring economy?

    Bibliography

    Burda, Michael, Daniel S. Hamermesh, and Philippe Weil. “Total Work, Gender and Social Norms.” The National Bureau of Economic Research. Mar. 2007. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

    Raymond, Ken. “Female Workers Make Gains but Still Earn Less than Men.” NewsOK. The Oklahoman. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. .

    Eisler, Riane. Real Wealth of Nations : Creating a Caring Economics.Williston, VT, USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2007. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucsc/Doc?id=10205959&ppg=168Copyright © 2007. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. All rights reserved.

  5. rwetheyoung Says:

    1. I find it heavily ironic that I am just beginning to read The real Wealth of Nations, considering that for the last four weeks I have been acting as a primary caregiver to my girlfriend, who broke her foot. Eisling devotes a great deal of focus in chapter 1 to the implicit costs of care-giving that are not calculated or compensated for by modern economics and economic thought. It has been tremendously time consuming to not only take up all the chores in our apartment that my girlfriend can no longer do, but to drive her to work and back as much as possible (she can take the bus, but walking to the nearest bus stop on crutches takes almost an hour one way). My girlfriend is lucky enough to have very good health insurance that covered more of her treatment, and a in which she is able to still perform while injured, but I am shocked at the revelation of how much more effort my daily life inolves, doing all of the shopping and cleaning and transportation where before I only did half. It certainly lends credence to Eisler’s argument about the value of domestic duties. What if we had a child that needed taking care of, how could I expect to accomplish that, work full time and take care of my girlfriend? As a young couple, we have little to no savings and almost no social safety net in this state. We might have to move back to one of our parent’s homes, losing whatever time and effort we’ve spent establishing ourselves here in addition to the cost of moving. Then we would only be moving our needs to someone else, for them to be burdened with. Yet this type of issue is something that the government does not offer aid with, nor would our work since we would no longer be benefiting them. The self interest that rules capitalism would demand we be the only responsible parties, or even just my girlfriend since it is not in my direct financial self interest to help her out.

    In some ways these types of “externalities” of care-giving seem to have changed drastically in the last decade or two. In their paper Total Work, Gender and Social Norms, Michael Burda, Daniel S. Hamermesh and Philippe Weil found that while still including housework and care-giving, women and men do equal amounts of work. Men are still paid better, but after the latest recession, women are more likely to be employed than men. These recent developments have evened the playing field more, but women’s entrance to the job market causes another problem; the housework they did before must either be taken up by men or paid for. In some ways may result in further quantification of care-work, but among low income families it may result in less childcare and housework.

    2. A) The current national and international economies do not adequately value resources that are not easily calculated through financial means such as compassion, quality care for children and the elderly and environmental resources.
    B) Only by understanding the value of these things can we appropriately prioritize our needs, and build an economy that replenishes the world instead of depleting it.
    C) By building institutions that value caring and care-giving, inventing new economic systems that support compassion and setting rules for the economy that foster these values, we can bring about a partnerism between capitalism and communism to better utilize and reward human resources all the while taking advantage of the instability of globalization to build a Caring Economy. Caring policies will in turn support both monetary and personal success, reinforcing itself and leading to a society that values it human capital more.

    3. Consider the implications of Eisling’s Caring Economics, especially how she proposes to change modern discussion and analysis of economics to include modes of caring. Say we take for granted that everyone within the community wants to change the way economics calculate worth and value. How would they go about merging those different perspectives? How do we current do so in California, and in the greater country? What prevents us from easily changing our country to adhere to a Caring Economy? One of the main fundamentals of libertarian ideology, which is very influential in modern politics, is that the government should stay out of the personal lives of citizens, both in financial and social respects. Libertarian thought still holds that the “rational self-actor” is the most responsible and efficient denominator in a market economy. Eisler views this fiction as “that, though selfish in the market, man is an altruist when it comes to his family— even though the studies we looked at show that many men don’t use their economic resources for their families’ welfare.

    Burda, Michael; Daniel Hamermesh and Philippe WeilTotal Work, Gender and Social Norms

    Eisler, Riane. Real Wealth of Nations : Creating a Caring Economics.Williston, VT, USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2007. p 153.http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucsc/Doc?id=10205959&ppg=168Copyright © 2007. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. All rights reserved.

    1. rwetheyoung Says:

      This was a draft I posted here by accident. An updates version is on my blog under this handle. (rwetheyoung)


  6. […]  Like Riane Eisler in The Real Wealth of Nations, Cahn is focused on how to support the care work that is so essential to everyone’s […]


  7. […] civilizations, the cultural variety of their structure and social impacts.  I’ve read The Real Wealth of Nations, The Soul of Money, and parts of Common Wealth and In the Company of Strangers (the last two are […]

  8. laakeasmith Says:

    1)One of my favorite themes in this book which is emphasized on almost every page is the idea that however we structure our society and/or economic system, if we approach this Earth and it’s inhabitants as things to be owned, conquered, dominated and taken advantage of, then we’re really only choosing between different flavors of self destruction. I learned a lot about American Indian cultures in a class I took last semester, and their system of attributing high social status to those who give to the community is a great illustration of a more partnership oriented belief system

    2) Key points of the book include:
    a. Using common sense and caring principles in the fields of science, business and politics.
    b. Addressing the myth that uncaring, inhuman, “objectivity” is more “efficient” than actually thinking about the consequences of our actions. The plain reality is that we are dealing with life on this planet, and life requires caring.
    c. Reworking the standards of national productivity to count investments in our human capital and the health of our environment as positives, and recognizing that destructive operations are actually harmful to our economy in the long run even if they do appear to create movement in the monetary cesspool. Ex. cleaning up after an oil spill, creating nuclear weapons etc.
    d. Community programs like “timedollars” offer an effective way to stimulate unity, productivity, and well being within a community.

    3. While we appear to be aware of our situation collectively as a species, and there is an assumption that we can transcend Darwinian evolution by mobilizing to avoid catastrophe I can’t help but wonder: Do we really have the power to change our destiny as a species, or do we simply follow the path of least resistance? In other words, can we consciously evolve or will Earth naturally eliminate those who cannot harmonize?

  9. erinmarie2828 Says:

    It is nice to come to the end of this book and be inspired by the magnitude of options available to change the problems our world is currently faced with. After reading the last chapter, I am reminded of the activity we did in class the other day regarding the web of life. Eisler explains how the movement of one’s mindset and habits can be a crutial part in the push toward a better world because of the monumental change it can inflict upon your surroundings. In class, whenever someone would move so would the whole class. “What you pay attention to, you become conscious of… What you become conscious of, you begin to transcend.” -Krishnamurti. With this, I realize the responsibility I hold to shift this mindset from a dominator system to a partnership system.

    2. a. The power pyramid needs to be shifted down to the people where a form of economics can be formed in which human capital is viewed as the top form of capital.

    b. Technology can aide the movement by embracing our unique human capacities to embody a more humane and prosperous world.

    c. We are continually taught that humans are mostly selfish creatures but in fact we are much more prone to caring which nuerologically produces symptoms of pleasure.

    d. Not only do we have to change the laws that govern our dominator system but we have to change our everyday routine to express and empower the people of the world.

  10. erinmarie2828 Says:

    1. During a course last semester, we critically examined the inner-workings of the international trade development, specifically the IMF and WB policies. Most of the developing world’s economy relies heavily upon the informal, uncounted sectors of what we call the economy. Often, these countries assume unimaginable debts from failed investments attempting to modernize. Then stringent policies are imposed upon these countries requiring them to privitize, cut social spending, opening up the market to foriegn competitors, which inevitably governs the country’s budget. These are all enforced so the countries can repay these immense loans. Instead of pulling these countries out of debt they usually dive deeper. Because of the magnitude of the informal sector these countries have little to show for “economic” growth. Consequently, these countries never increase there standard of living and remain poor. This shows how the irrevelancy of caring and caregiving in the standard economic situation is a major downfall to mankind which is an essential part of this book.

    2. Most important concepts:
    a. We need a new economic plan that values the aspects of caring and caregiving because without these aspects our civilization will expire.

    b. The new economic plan needs to include not only the current sectors but also the natural, household, and unpaid sectors.

    c. It has been recorded that caring and caregiving increases overall production, quality, and competence in many sectors of the economy.

    d. We do not see the different genders as equal which has resulted in this ill proportioned value of caring.

    3. Where should I play my role in this american economy in that I help place value upon the natural/caring sector?

  11. laakeasmith Says:

    1) “We delude ourselves if we think that we can solve our environmental problems by just trying to introduce less polluting technologies or changing consumption patterns.” pg 20
    We’ve talked about addressing the root of our cultural psychosis rather than applying bandages to the various injuries that arise from such a destructive state of being. This idea of fundamental cultural change through the avenue of economics is very insightful.
    I’m reminded of the age old admonition “separate friends and business.” This really demonstrates how unhealthy our relationship to economic transactions has become. Our collective intentions and ideals have to change in order to change the direction we are going!

    2)Important points of the reading include:
    a. expanding our economic analysis to include all six sectors of the economy: Market, Government, Illegal, Natural, Household, and Unpaid Community

    b. Examining deep seated cultural assumptions about gender roles and the value of “feminine” activities

    c. shifting from a dominator system to a partnership system

    d. Recognizing care giving activities for the viable economic investment in human capital that they represent and rewarding them appropriately

    3) What role might spirituality play in our evolution toward a more sane and caring economy?

  12. janeweed Says:

    Assignment 5
    1. relate one idea in the reading to … something learned elsewhere or through life experience.
    “The urgent need for economic restructuring” (p. 215) reflects my belief that, while activism that people do is really important, things won’t ever substantively change until some of the fundamentals, like structure of the economy, change.

    2. Most important concepts:
    a. Chapt. 10 The Caring Revolution
    In order for society to truly change, we need to restructure the economy to value caring and caretaking activities.
    b. Specific changes to make include taxing stock market speculation, providing tax credits to companies that are environmentally and socially responsible, develop policies that encourage local food production, do not privatize water.

    3. Question: What role does biological evolution play in the social evolution that must occur for humans to save the planet from themselves?

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