Betterness: Review

Umair Haque’s Betterness: Economics for Humans is a quick read and a very cheap book at $2.69 for a Kindle version. It’s worth much more than that. Haque starts with an invitation:

If you’re delighted with the status quo, splendidly contented with the present, firmly convinced that the way live, work, and play is the best and last way we can, put this volume back on the digital shelf.

He defines the problem …

Today, business is held fast to this paradox: the more “business” we do and the more we think solely in terms of “business,” the more we structure human exchange according to the precepts of yesterday’s paradigm; the less wealth we create, and often, the more wealth we destroy.

… and shows the signs:

Our institutions are failing. They’re failing us, failing the challenge of igniting real, lasting human prosperity. If institutions are just instruments to fulfill social contracts, then ours are shattering because the social contracts at their heart have fractured.

Haque takes on existing organizational structures and especially skewers vision and mission statements, proposing that businesses should be asking “Why are we here?”, much as Simon Sinek does.

Betterness is a wake-up call to our business leadership and perhaps the best thing you can do is buy a copy for your managers, their bosses, and all the way up the industrial ladder.

I believe we are on the cusp of such a turning point – here and now. Consider what Kuhn famously argues: that a paradigm shift happens when we encounter anomalies that can’t be explained by the paradigm responsible for progress thereto. So here’s our anomaly: that industrial-age wealth hasn’t neatly powered lives lived meaningfully well; that near-term profit, gross product, and hyperconsumption haven’t produced a fuller human prosperity; that the frenzied pursuit of opulence hasn’t been sufficient for the attainment of a good life – of eudaimonia.

2 Responses to “Betterness: Review”

  1. Michele Martin

    Harold, read this book over the holidays and it has profoundly impacted my thinking. I wholeheartedly agree that it should be required reading everywhere. Would love to have some kind of book club on it–lots of meaty ideas with interesting implications!


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