Grades 10-12, College, Adult
Directed by John de Graaf
Produced by John de Graaf and Dave Batker
DVD Purchase $250, Rent $75
US Release Date: 2010
Copyright Date: 2009
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-918-6
Citizenship and Civics
Labor and Work Issues
Awards and Festivals
Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Colorado Environmental Film Festival
Green Film Festival in Seoul
Grey Towers Environmental Film Festival
Oneota Film Festival
What's the Economy for, Anyway?|
Ecological economist Dave Batker questions whether GDP is an adequate measure of society's well-being and suggests workable alternatives.
In this film produced by John de Graaf of AFFLUENZA fame, ecological economist Dave Batker presents a humorous, edgy, factual, timely and highly-visual monologue about the American economy today, challenging the ways we measure economic success--especially the Gross Domestic Product--and offering an answer to the question: What's the Economy for, Anyway?
Using Gifford Pinchot's idea that the economy's purpose is "the greatest good for the greatest number over the longest run," Batker compares the performance of the U.S. economy with that of other industrial countries in terms of providing a high quality of life, fairness and ecological sustainability, concluding that when you do the numbers, 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 "capitalism with a human face," a new economic paradigm that meets the real needs of people and the planet.
Other films by John de Graaf are AFFLUENZA, ESCAPE FROM AFFLUENZA, BUYER BE FAIR, SILENT KILLER: The Unfinished Campaign against Hunger, THE MOTHERHOOD MANIFESTO, BEYOND ORGANIC, ON NATURE'S TERMS, HOT POTATOES, FOR EARTH'S SAKE: The Life and Times of David Brower, and DAVID BROWER: A Conversation with Scott Simon.
"Visionary...Now more than ever, it seems, we need to think about the economy, not as a force of nature but as something made by (and hopefully for) people...[What's the Economy for, Anyway?] does not just critique, it also imagines solutions--solutions that are working for millions of people in other countries...The film gives me the sense that we could control our economic and ecological destinies to a degree we never imagined."
New Labor Forum
"This is the news that everyone needs: you don't have to live in exactly the world you grew up in. What's the Economy for, Anyway? shows that there are other possibilities, and they're well worth considering. It's completely great!"
Bill McKibben, visiting professor at Middlebury College, Author of Deep Economy and The End of Nature
"What's the Economy for, Anyway? is the best documentary I have ever seen. I marvel at how the producers were able to take such a complicated subject and present it in such a compelling and funny way. Watch and be inspired about how best to restore the American Dream."
Monique Tilford, Your Money or Your Life and former Director, Center for a New American Dream
"GDP has long been an inadequate measure of how the American economy fares. While many follow the GDP, few know its origins or the implications of using such a simple measure to try and capture what's important to the quality of our lives. What's the Economy for, Anyway? takes on the critical question: how should we measure the success of the American economy? Readily accessible and immensely informative, this film will transform how many students and teachers alike think about the American economy."
Jody Heymann, MD, PhD, Director of the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy
"What's the Economy for, Anyway? is an extremely accessible analysis of the current economic crisis that is perfect for classroom use. What is unique about the film is that it looks at the causes from a variety of perspectives. It is short enough that it can easily be viewed in one class session, but its segmented format makes the film especially versatile. You can stop at each section break for class discussion and mini lectures to help connect the material to current course content. The segment feature also makes it possible to show only a few of the clips that are most relevant to your class needs. In addition to the economy, the film easily connects to a variety of topics including sustainability, time use, globalization, culture, resource management and more. The presentation style is witty and poignant offering valuable insights for both the novice and expert in these fields."
Melinda Messineo, Associate Professor of Sociology, Ball State University
"An irreverent and engaging film that will show you just [how] gross our measures of Gross Domestic Product really are. It's well designed for classroom use as well as a general audience. Send a copy to your favorite (and unfavorite) economists and to everyone you know who would like to make our economy a better place to live."
Nancy Folbre, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Author, The Invisible Heart
"What's the Economy for, Anyway? asks a deep question that we all should be asking. This film provides us with insight and extensive data about how our economy got to where it is today. Why is the gap between rich and poor higher than ever? How is it that citizens in other countries have better healthcare than we do and pay less? What happened to our social safety net? Be prepared to want to watch the film a second time and take notes. You may look at our economy in a whole new way from here on."
Joan Blades, co-Founder, MOVEON.org and MomsRising.org and co-Author, The Motherhood Manifesto
"Will resonate with anyone who recognizes that a new day is dawning in America. The fundamental message of valuing human capital, social capital and natural capital in addition to traditional capital both on our corporate balance sheets and in our personal lives is incredibly important and even more timely.
Every US leader in government, the private sector, organized labor, the professions, and academia would benefit from viewing, showing and further distributing this remarkable film. For that matter, this easily understood film should be seen by all American citizens who care about the future and quality of their lives and the lives of generations of Americans to come."
Richard A. Lippin, MD, Former Corporate Medical Director of the ARCO Chemical Company and Founder of the International Arts-Medicine Association (IAMA)
"What's the Economy for, Anyway? was made with compassion for its audience. It's a terrific length that invites discussion, rather than wearing viewers down. There are dozens of films out about the current economic and ecological crisis that operate on the assumption that if we pile on more bad news, people will become engaged. They are wrong. But WTEFA? presents facts, entertains, explains and engages us rather than sinks us. Somehow in 40 delightful minutes it offers a holistic and timely critique of our market worshipping model of economic growth and its supreme cost to our planet and the quality of our lives. It's a must-view tool for teach-ins, classrooms and community screenings. WTEFA? reminds us that the purpose of our economy is to serve people, not for people to serve the economy. The economy is subordinate to our human aspirations to celebrate life, be together with one another, and care for our families, neighbors and all of creation."
Chuck Collins, Senior Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies, co-Founder, United for a Fair Economy and Author, The Moral Measure of the Economy
"An entertaining and humorous account of the ways in which the U.S. economy doesn't necessarily work to make our lives better. This film should cause people to think about the economy in a very different way."
Dean Baker, economist and co-Director of The Center for Economic and Policy Research, Author, Plunder and Blunder
"Smart and funny, right up the alley of today's students. I recommend it as an introduction to any discussion of the use of time and a balanced life."
Cathy O'Keefe, Professor of Leisure and Therapeutic Recreation, University of South Alabama
"Gripping...Watching Batker's film, I learned a lot. Is the US really the only Western country that doesn't have a law guaranteeing paid vacation time? Yes. Is the US really one of four nations in the world that has no federally mandated paid maternity leave? Yes. Are Americans more likely to be depressed and/or suicidal than Europeans? Yes."
Kathy Newman, Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon University, Working-Class Perspectives
"Important, complex economic and social realities demystified! What's the Economy for, Anyway? presents them in clear, simple language with plenty of humor. After a screening at my church, everyone stayed to talk for over an hour, well longer than either my expectation, or the film's running time! The evening precipitated just the kind of community conversation I had hoped for."
Reverend Carla Pryne, Episcopal priest, Church of the Ascension, Seattle
"Nothing about the economy seems to make sense these days, and it's time for all of us to pay more attention. What's the Economy for, Anyway? tells us to think twice about the myths that take on the aura of fact just because they get repeated over and over again. Our economy isn't just numbers and charts and complicated formulas. It's how we create and spend money and it shapes our quality of life. The choices we personally make with our money - and the choices our government officials make with our money - reflect the values and priorities we have. What's the Economy for, Anyway? takes 40 minutes of your time. It might change the way you live for the next 40 years."
Gael Tarleton, research scientist, University of Washington and Seattle Port Commissioner
"The Whidbey Institute at Chinook just recently showed the film, What's the Economy for, Anyway? as the capstone for our six week Lyceum series, 'What's it Worth?: Environmental Economics and Puget Sound.' ...I would recommend this film as a discussion centerpiece to a wide range of groups--environmental, academic, community, activist, spiritual--for its ease of explanation and facility to instruct and grow questions."
Ruth Pittard, Director, The Whidbey Institute