What’s the Economy for, Anyway? is narrated by ecological economist Dave Batker. He offers a humorous, edgy, factual and highly visual analysis of today’s American economy. Challenging the ways we measure economic success, the film questions whether Gross Domestic Product is an adequate measure of society’s well-being and suggests workable alternatives. It has won praise as an engaging and funny treatment of a serious, complicated subject. This month’s discussion leader will be Dr. Brian Czech, President of CASSE, the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, a group engaged in both academic study and citizen action.
Produced by John de Graaf, well known for Affluenza, the 40-minute documentary compares the U.S. economy with that of other industrial countries in terms of quality of life, fairness and ecological sustainability. Conclusion: we come out near the bottom in nearly every category. Batker shines a humorous light on such economic buzzwords as “productivity,” and “consumer sovereignty,” while offering ideas for a new economic paradigm that meets the real needs of people and the planet. What’s the Economy for, Anyway? leads to a follow-up question: What can citizens do to help put our economy on a better new track?
Brian Czech will briefly outline the work of Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) and facilitate a Q&A period about the issues raised in the film and the ways we may all work for a sustainable economic alternative. Its website sums up the CASSE position thus: “We stand up for rational macroeconomic policies. Continuous economic growth on a finite planet is wishful thinking. We confront the truth that there are limits to growth, and we examine other possibilities … The mission of CASSE is to advance the steady state economy, with stabilized population and consumption, as a policy goal.”
Brian Czech is the founder and President of CASSE, a Visiting Professor at Virginia Tech, and a Conservation Biologist in the national office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, an M.S. from the University of Washington, and a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin. A prolific author in a variety of print and electronic venues, his scientific articles have appeared in dozens of peer-reviewed journals, reflecting the breadth of his work in ecological and economic sustainability. His books include Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, which calls for an end to uneconomic growth, and The Endangered Species Act: History, Conservation Biology, and Public Policy. He is a regular contributor to the Daly News, a blog devoted to advancing the steady state economy as a goal with widespread public support.