At a Hard Time: The Metrics of Well-Being.

Paris, 7 January 2015

What is happiness? What is well-being?  What should we be targeting for our societies? It is important for active citizens in a participatory democracy (there is no other) that we come to a broadly shared vision of where we want to go, a straight-forward, consistent strategy for how to get there, and some kind of measure so that we can see how we are doing.  Sad to say all three are lacking on the political landscape today and  we all are paying a high price for it. And if anything especially today.

je suis charlieListening ot the radio a few hours after the murderous attack  at Charlie Hebdo, I turned on my computer to find a short essay just in Sandra Waddock, Professor of Management at Boston College, responding to an on-going discussion of “The Degrowth Alternative”, currently underway under the aegis of a program of the Tellus Institute, The Great Transition Initiative –   (Prof. Waddock can be contacted at waddock(at)  She reminds us at a time in which there is considerable though not always well informed discussions about the concept of “growth”, and  just behind that the not-so-easy concept of “well-being”.

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What is Exernomics?

Exernomics is a concatenation of two words, economics and exergy. Economics is a discipline, with scientific aspirations, concerned with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services in human society. It is also concerned with markets, trade and prices. It has been called “the dismal science” (by Thomas Carlyle), because of the Malthusian argument (c. 1799) that human population will always grow faster than food supply, whence the future of mankind was destined to be constrained by poverty and starvation. That didn’t happen during the following two centuries. So, in recent years Malthus has become an object of derision by mainstream economists, who have adopted a contrary doctrine of perpetual growth driven by unending innovation and substitution.

But the mainstream has ignored the fact that one resource has no substitute. It is “useful energy” or – in techno-speak – exergy.

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Why are americans driving less? (Guess!)

Jarrett Walker, the transport planning consultant behind the Human Transit  US PIRG group cover photoblog has done all of us a favor by providing a short review on an excellent report freely available from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund Frontier Group under the title  A NEW WAY TO GO: The Transportation Apps and Vehicle-Sharing Tools that Are Giving More Americans the Freedom to Drive Less.. The PIRG report announces its colors, opening with the words . . .

Most Americans want to drive less. For some, it’s a matter of economics. Transportation is the second-largest household expenditure, after only housing, and ahead of food, clothing, education and health care. Owning, maintaining and fueling a car is a significant drain on household budgets, especially when times are tight. For others . . .

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Rent Seeking and Transportation Service Innovations

impossible - Steve Blank on Rent seekersThis double blog reposting on this important topic is worthy of our readers’ attention on several grounds. Here at World Streets we are, after all, in a very real way in the transportation service innovations business, that being a key underpinning of the transition and the “politics of transport in cities”.  We recommend you consult it in two passes: the first being to read below the full text of Dave King’s concise commentary that appeared yesterday, 26 June, in “Getting from here to there”. And from there you may wish to move on to the full piece of Steve Blank in the Berkeley blog – click here.

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SDES Master Class: June 6-8, Paris

eb-smart-7This is the third Master Class in the Sustainable Development, Economy and Society series  being given for last-year MBA students at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris from 6-8 June. This year’s Master Class is led by Eric Britton as Distinguished Visiting Professor and is supported by an extensive e-seminar website which you can freely access at

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Speeding to a standstill

This is an interesting and useful article. The topic is timely and important. The speeding car  mando2802.edublogs.orgapproach and methodology are interesting.  And in it  you will find a certain number of points  which I regard as timely, important and very much worth saying again and again. In a couple of instances I find their conclusions and interpretations a bit puzzling, but let me keep them to myself for now and avoid getting between you and the authors. It’s time to step aside and let them speak for themselves.

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China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society

WORLD BANK BEIJING February 27, 2012 – China should complete its transition to a market economy — through enterprise, land, labor, and financial sector reforms — strengthen its private sector, open its markets to greater competition and innovation, and ensure equality of opportunity to help achieve its goal of a new structure for economic growth.

These are some of the key findings of a joint research report by a team from the World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, which lays out the case for a new development strategy for China to rebalance the role of government and market, private sector and society, to reach the goal of a high income country by 2030.

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