I Spend Therefore I Am

How We All Became Economic

A powerful exploration of how economic thinking has infiltrated every aspect of modern life, even our understanding of who we are and what it means to be a person.
     Economics is the academic success story of the 20th century, a potent force not just in markets and government, but in our everyday lives. It affects our decisions as consumers, of course, but also our education, our health, our social lives and our family relationships. In his trenchant book, Philip Roscoe argues that the justifications of economics allow us to set aside social or moral obligations and to act instead within a limited, short-term definition of self-interest. This attitude, and these justifications, are responsible for the gravest problems we face, from global financial meltdown to environmental threat. I Spend Therefore I Am shows how our daily activities, our values, and even our understanding of what it is to be a person have been changed for the worse by economics, a discipline, he writes, “at war with the goods of life.”

Reviews

In a world where people talk about ‘The Market’ as if it were an immutable entity separate from us—the great big calculator in the sky—rather than a human creation carefully and consistently manipulated by individuals, Philip Roscoe’s new book is sweet, rational relief. Full of fascinating stories and detailed research, it argues compellingly that an economic model based on self interest impoverishes us all. Not only has such efficiency economics left out a huge segment of the population and devastated the planet, those who have achieved wealth and status aren’t even happy. Roscoe makes a powerful case for a new, hopeful, grassroots economics that puts human flourishing ahead of efficiency, personal relationships ahead of personal gain.”
—Nick Saul & Andrea Curtis, authors of The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement 
 
“Philip Roscoe shows us the latest stage in our evolution: behold Homo Oeconomicus, Economic Man.  I Spend Therefore I Am is a chilling dissection of our current state as consumers, a frightening, perceptive, and ultimately hopeful book that should be required reading for mankind.”
—Don Gillmor, author of Mount Pleasant
 
“Deploying an impressive range of philosophical reflections, economic theories, and detailed empirical studies, this important book reveals how dominant economic theory casts people as calculating individuals focused only on material gains and consumption, rather than members of communities with diverse roles and values. Through this, the book forces us to confront the big question: what kind of world do we want to live in? Very thoughtful and thought-provoking.”
—Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism