Changing Ideas of Wealth --- and the Idea of "Plenitude"

Tulsa, Oklahoma – Happiness is what you make of it. Success is all about how you perceive it. These are maxims that we live with, live by, accept, and agree on. But --- especially in this age of ecological and financial crisis --- is "wealth" a likewise flexible (or even relative) term? On our show today, we hear from the bestselling author, scholar, and economist Juliet B. Schor. Her new book, "Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth," makes a case for the relativity, so to speak, of being rich. As one critic, writing for Publishers Weekly, has noted of this book: "Schor introduces her concept of plenitude as a way forward after the recent shattering of global capitalism and continued rise in CO2 emissions. Plentitude is a commitment to enjoying --- not exploiting --- nature's richness, to envisioning environmental, economic, and psychological health as braided and capable of growing symbiotically and more securely than the business as usual practices that imploded in 2008. Schor pleads for avoiding planetary ecocide: even though the polar ice caps are shrinking and 38% of the 45,000 species studied by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are under threat of extinction, the West --- particularly Americans --- continue to create waste and gobble up resources at unsustainable rates (in 2006, the U.S. emission of CO2 was 19.7 metric tons per capita, compared to 1.3 in India). Fortunately, the interest in alternative energy, recycling, and clean nanotechnologies is increasing, and Schor encourages readers to match it by breaking out of a work hard/spend hard cycle, thereby improving both the environment and quality of life. It might be utopian, but it's also fresh, persuasive, and passionately argued, speaking to the individual and the collective."