Review: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

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C. K. Prahalad

5.0 out of 5 stars Nobel-Level Work Essential to Understanding Our Bright Future, October 29, 2014

Sadly, the author is deceased. I have always considered him a contender for the Nobel Prize.

I am upset with Amazon for not carrying over reviews from past editions — new readers are advised to look up older editions of any books if they wish to take advantage of some of the extraordinary material provided by past reviewers. I will not replicate those other reviews — they are worth finding.

This book review should be read together with my review of Stuart Hart’s Capitalism at the Crossroads: Next Generation Business Strategies for a Post-Crisis World (3rd Edition) which points to several other related books, and Kenichi Ohmae’s book,The Next Global Stage: Challenges and Opportunities in Our Borderless World (paperback). All three are published by Wharton School Publishing, which has impressed me enormously with its gifted offerings.

Here’s the math that I was surprised to not see in the book: the top billion people that business focuses on are worth less than a trillion in potential sales. The bottom four billion, with less than $1000 a year in disposable income, are worth four trillion in potential sales.

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Oct 29

Review: Fusion Economics – How Pragmatism is Changing the World

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Laurence Brahm

5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense Community-Based Economics, October 25, 2014

Laurence Brahm is one of those unsung heroes who was changing the world for the better, and influencing various governments in most positive ways, long before ecological economics and social enterprise became fashionable turns of phrase. I regard him as the anti-thesis to the predatory capitalism mantras and methods of our time. His proven focus on community development and evolutionary blends of state planning and market incentives is precisely what we need now that everyone understands that Western governments have been corrupted and Western economies destroyed by financial interests devoted to extracting value instead of creating value. This is a practical book, a spiritual book, and one that should be required reading among those intent on creating collaborative economies and social enterprises.

His recommended gradualist evolutionary approach is ethical and focused on stable transformation, not rapid looting by foreign bankers.

Quote (41): The fundamental failure of ivory tower cookie-cutter models, for all of their theoretical perfection, is that they ignore local conditions, culture, mindset, and historical burdens.”

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Oct 25

Review (Guest): Pay Any Price – Greed, Power, and Endless War

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James Risen

5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than His Last One – Imagine What He’ll Write From Prison, October 14, 2014

By David Swanson

When New York Times report James Risen published his previous book, State of War, the Times ended its delay of over a year and published his article on warrantless spying rather than be scooped by the book. The Times claimed it hadn’t wanted to influence the 2004 presidential election by informing the public of what the President was doing. But this week a Times editor said on 60 Minutes that the White House had warned him that a terrorist attack on the United States would be blamed on the Times if one followed publication — so it may be that the Times’ claim of contempt for democracy was a cover story for fear and patriotism. The Times never did report various other important stories in Risen’s book.

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Oct 21

Review: Billionaires – Reflections on the Upper Crust

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Darrell M. West

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb overview, illuminates not just the negatives, but the positives as well, October 5, 2014

I bought this book in part because I have noticed a number of billionaires giving away $100 million to $500 million “chunks” to universities and non-profits that in my view are perpetuating what Rusell Ackoff would call “doing the wrong things righter;” in part because I myself am looking for someone to fund a School of Future-Oriented Hybrid Governance and a World Brain Institute; and in part because I have been utterly fascinated to see the 1% breaking ranks in the last three months, with a few of them, notably the Mars Family in the USA (Mutuality Economics), a few black sheep billionaires on the West Coast (Redemptive Economics) and Lady Rothschild in London (Inclusive Economics), all realizing that 100% corrupt governments are not working as they anticipated.

For me, this ia five star work. Certainly more can be done in this area, but in terms of researched detail and a coherent construct for the book over-all, I find nothing lacking.

The central focus of the book is not on the fact that the 1% have achieved their goal of assuring 100% corrupt governments (the USA and the UK being right at the top of that list) but rather on illuminating how the 1% have “pioneered new activist models of political involvement that combine electioneering, issue advocacy, and [directed] philanthropy.” What this means is that the super-rich are controlling not just the media, but state and local government, university departments and secondary school curricula, and most civil society discourse.

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Oct 5

Review: Creating a Learning Society

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Joseph Stiglitz, Bruce Greenwald

4.0 out of 5 stars Glass Half Full — Cannot Be Ignored But Also Off the Rails, September 4, 2014

Among all economists in the English language, I hold Joseph Stiglitz to be among the most enlightened and virtuous. When I formed a “dream” coalition cabinet in 2012, he was on it. His co-author is of less interest to me — finance geeks have been demonstrably impotent these past fifty years — and particularly those who fall prey to mathematical formulas lacking in social integrity — and I believe with book would have been stronger had Stiglitz either gone it alone, or collaborated with an educator such as Derek Bok. The book is also rooted in old lectures, starting in 2008, and it is focused on Kenneth Arrow’s work, which is best appreciated on its own merits. See, for example:

Moral Hazard in Health Insurance (Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series)
The Limits of Organization (Fels Lectures on Public Policy Analysis)
General Competitive Analysis, Volume 12 (Advanced Textbooks in Economics)

The weakest point of this book, which does indeed have much to offer for anyone who cares about the future of academia, commerce, governance, and society, is that is “assumes” integrity on the part of the government, and that industrial policies are somehow going to corrupt deep ethical and intellectual failings across all major forms of organization (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit). This is the same mistake made by Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update and the Club of Rome. The *losing* alternative to the Limits to Growth assumption that top-down government would deal responsibly with climate change and other high level threats focused instead on education from the bottom up — the central point of Will Durant’s 1919 doctoral thesis, now available as Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition.

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Sep 4

Review (Guest): Innovation Economics

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Robert D. Atkinson and Stephen J. Ezell

4.0 out of 5 stars Pragmatism, Not Ideology, Key to Remaining in Pole Position in the Innovation Race, November 4, 2012

Serge J. Van Steenkiste

Robert Atkinson and Stephen Ezell systematically challenge the ideological tenets of the dysfunctional Washington Economic Consensus that the U.S. economic elites cherish (pp. 54-56; 73-74; 78-80; 82-84; 93; 231-232; 250; 360; 363-364). Messrs. Atkinson and Ezell convincingly demonstrate that the U.S. is losing the innovation race by making the same mistakes that the United Kingdom made during its dramatic industrial decline from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s. The outcome of this decline has been trifold: 1) a decline in real manufacturing output as a share of gross domestic product, 2) the emergence of chronic trade deficits, and 3) slower per capita economic growth than most comparable nations over a sustained period of time (pp. 9; 32-56; 57-84; 360).

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Aug 3

Review (Guest): Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis – Parasitic Finance Capital

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Ismael Hossein-azdeh

5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Hossein-zadeh, Ismael. 2014. Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis: Parasitic Finance Capital., May 16, 2014

By Isaac Christiansen

Ismael Hossein-zadeh has done a masterful job in explaining the causes of the 2007-08 financial collapse and in identifying what must be done in response. He sets out in Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis to first demonstrate the origins of the crisis and the subsequent transfer of “tens of trillions” of dollars from the vast majority of society into the coffers of the financial speculators through the imposition of austerity cuts on the many for the benefit of the few; and secondly to examine potential societal responses to avoid the repetition of such crises in the future. To do this, he begins by examining the two most prominent explanations for the crisis: the neoliberal explanation, which claimed it was due to irrational market actors and/or intrusive government policies that interfered with the self-correcting market mechanism; and the Keynesian explanation, which explained the crisis as the result of excessive deregulation, “inappropriate” public policy and supply side strategies. The author skillfully exposes the weaknesses of both and offers a compelling and well grounded alternative explanation, as indicated in the book’s title.

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Jun 16