47 pages 1 hour read

John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas Naylor


Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2001

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Part 3, Chapters 21-25

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “Cures”

Part 3, Chapter 21 Summary: “Back to Work”

This chapter examines innovative economic strategies and systems designed to counteract affluenza. The authors begin by juxtaposing two books published in 1776 that have had an enormous impact on our society: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (185). Paine’s call to democracy was a key catalyst for the American Revolution, while Smith’s work is probably the most important and influential defense of capitalism and the free market in the history of economics. According to the authors, the radically democratic vision of Paine’s text has been eclipsed by Smith’s emphasis on the pursuit of profit and accumulation. New economic relationships are required to avoid environmental catastrophe and democratize the fruits of human ingenuity and development.

Examples of such economic breaks with affluenza are provided by Marjorie Kelly’s book Owning the Future. Kelly argues that economic systems produce results consistent with their designs. Local banks and credit unions that prioritize the financial stability and growth of their customers achieve these results, while large, multinational banks focused on maximizing profits produce the kind of reckless, short-sighted behavior that annihilated entities like Lehman Brothers during the 2008 financial crisis. To create economic systems that contribute to human flourishing therefore requires new models of production and consumption.