book cover for Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth

Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth5 min read

Economy Environment Globalization Modern Monetary Theory Politics Resource Based Economy
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Introduction

I came upon mention of this book while I was randomly reading the article Amsterdam Is Embracing a Radical New Economic Theory to Help Save the Environment. Could It Also Replace Capitalism? (Time, Jan 2021) on my Twitch stream where I talk leftist politics a few times a week. I was stunned at what I read. This was so very much like how I think about economics and where we need to go, but no one else in world seems to understand this which is a lonely place to be. Now, I do not feel so alone. Thanks Kate! <3

About the Book

Table of Contents

  • Who wants to be an economist?
  • 1. Change the goal : from endless growth to thriving in balance
  • 2. See the big picture : from self-contained market to embedded economy
  • 3. Nurture human nature : from rational economic man to social adaptable humans
  • 4. Get savvy with systems : from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity
  • 5. Design to distribute : from “growth will even it up” to distributive by design
  • 6. Create to regenerate : from “growth will clean it up” to regenerative by design
  • 7. Be agnostic about growth : from growth as a must to growth as a maybe not
  • We are all economists now
  • Acknowledgements
  • Appendix : The Doughnut and its data
  • Notes
  • Bibliography

My Thoughts

As I gleefully plowed through Kate Raworth‘s book, Doughnut Economics (2017, ~241 pgs), in 2 days I found myself editing my policies and adjusting them based on her amazing thoughts, and my policies are all the better for the changes.

She takes us on a journey through the history of economics and why things are the way they are, and then asks us to really question contemporary economics as she points out the issues with its foundations and practice, while granting us a new perspective through her analysis as an economist herself. She asks the apocryphal question “If a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth policy is really what we should be doing?”.

She goes over some foundational changes that we need to make in order to help Humanity to live sustainably within planetary limits as well as raising people up from poverty and suffering while smartly approaching her process through systems theory.

The diagram below, which is empty and for demonstration purposes so you can see what we are talking about, shows you this infamous Doughnut diagram. You see the inner most white area which will show whether or not we have short falls in basic human needs. The center green part is the safe space where human needs are met and we are living sustainably. The outside is will show if we are living beyond planetary limits. The version of this graph that is most often seen is one listing the state of the world.

The Doughnut - Inner Ring Twelve essentials of life that no one in society should be deprived of; Outer Ring Nine ecological limits of earth’s life-­supporting systems that humanity must not collectively overshoot; Middle Ring The sweet spot which is both environmentally safe and socially just where humanity can thrive
The Doughnut
Inner Ring – The twelve essentials of life that no one in society should be deprived of;
Middle Ring – The sweet spot which is both environmentally safe and socially just where humanity can thrive;
Outer Ring – The nine ecological limits of earth’s life-supporting systems that humanity must not collectively overshoot;

This book has reaffirmed for me that my stance on economics is the right path to walk and she gave me even more tools to work with in my work towards trying to make the world a better place. This book should be on everybody’s reading list. It is important enough that I am adding this to my policy site’s required reading section. Seriously, spend the time to read this book. It will really change the way you think about economics.

Quotes from the Book

But, Mariana Mazzucato, and expert in the economics of government-led innovation, points out that the basic research behind every innovation that makes a smart phone ‘smart’ – GPS, microchips, touchscreen and the Internet itself – was funded by the US government. The sate, not thee market, turns out to have been the innovating, risk-taking partner; not ‘crowding out’ but ‘dynamising in’ private enterprise – and this trend holds across other high-tech industries too, such as pharmaceuticals and biotech.

~ pg 73, Doughnut Economics

Ten children’s day-nurseries all introduced a small fine for parents who were more than 10 minutes late collecting their children at the end of the day. The parental response? Rather than arriving promptly, twice as many parents started arriving late. Introducing a monetary fine effectively wiped out any feelings of guilt and was interpreted as a market price for overtime care. Three months later when the experiment ended and the fine was removed, the number of late pick-ups rose higher still: the price had gone, but the guilt hadn’t come back. The temporary marketplace had, in essence, erased the social contract.

~ pg 103, Doughnut Economics

Contrary to the founding theories of development economics, inequality does not make economies grow faster: if anything, it slows them down. And it does so by wasting the potential of much of the population: people who could be schoolteachers or market traders, nurses or micro-entrepreneurs—actively contributing to the wealth and well-being of their community—instead have to spend their time desperately trying to meet their families’ most basic daily needs. When the poorest families in society have no money to pay for their essential needs, the poorest workers in society can get no work in supplying them, and so among those who need its dynamism most, the market stagnates.

~ pg 147, Doughnut Economics

One such city is Oberlin, Ohio, located in America’s “rust belt” of post-industrial decline. In 2009 the city administration teamed up with Oberlin College and the municipal light and power utilities with the goal of becoming one of America’s first “climate positive” cities by sequestering bore carbon dioxide than it produces. The initiative also aims to grow 70 percent of the city food locally, conserve 20,000 acres of urban green space, and revive local culture and community, creating much-needed enterprises and jobs to make it all possible.

~ pg 203, Doughnut Economics

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