Monday, January 19, 2015

Reflections on "The Value Crsis"

The original publication of "The Value Crisis" has proved to be quite popular with book clubs.  As a result, I prepared a number of questions, organized by chapter, that might serve as a good inspiration for self-reflection or group discussion.  I share them here, both for other readers to make use of, and in the hope that some answers might be posted in the comments section below.  Please add your thoughts!

Book questions

Do you ever think about any of the questions on page 10 (listed below)?
  • Why do we have to consume and throw out so much stuff?
  • Why do certain individuals get paid so much money for doing so little?
  • Why do we seem to have less time than previous generations, not more?
  • Why does it cost more to repair things than to replace them?
  • Why are labour disruptions, disliked on all sides, still common?
  • Why do we in democracies disagree so much with our elected leaders and governments?
  • Why do we consciously choose to poison our own natural environment?
  • Why are so many of us not even sure what makes us happy anymore?
How would you answer them now?

Chapter 1 – The Rise of Numbers
How would you answer the three questions on page 30/31 (listed below)?
  • What happens if our natural value systems are pushed aside in favour of numerical ones?
  • Are number-based value systems really objective?  Can they be trusted?
  • What happens when we try to combine qualitative and quantitative value scales?
What qualitative values are important to you?  Are there number-based values that threaten their influence?

Chapter 2 – Decision-Making and Numbers
Can you think of any decisions you made where you consciously decided to ignore or downplay the relevant numbers?  What happened?

Chapter 3 – Money: The Number Culture
What practices would you follow when buying goods in a developing country?

How does country of origin affect your shopping choices?  Why?

Chapter 4 – What’s Your Motivation?
In what ways is money a motivator for you?  How might that affect your emotional well-being?

Chapter 5 – The Value of Time
The author proposes that we should pay more for materials and less for labour.  What do you think of this concept?

If you could, how would you alter the amount of time you have and how would you spend it?  What prevents you from doing this?

Chapter 6 – Banking on Numbers
The author proposes that value creation based on math alone should be dispensed with, including interest charges.  Do you agree or disagree?

Chapter 7 – Numbers Incorporated
The author treats corporations as a separate species, whereas the legal trend is to give them the same rights as humans.  What are the implications of either option for our society in the future?  How might we change the system we’ve created for corporations?

Have you ever been in a situation with a corporation in which you feel your human values have been compromised?  Do you fault the corporation or the people within it?

Do you think a hierarchy of needs can be generally applied to corporations?  Would you agree with the author’s choices for the levels?

Chapter 8 – Numbering Our Days
The concept of polarities is a powerful one.  Can you think of other pairs of conflicting forces in your life that might be a polarity, to be managed instead of solved?

Chapter 9 – Numbers Rule
It’s quite radical to question the democratic principle of majority rule – the concept that a choice is superior just because it got more votes.  What was your reaction to this critique?

If your municipality used ‘wikiocratic’ principles, would you get more involved in decisions?

Chapter 10 – Value Systems in Conflict
Can you think of examples where your personal value personae are in conflict?  How do you resolve that conflict?

If the author is right that our ‘citizen’ values are not properly championed in modern society, how might we try to collectively bring all three value types back into balance?

The author envisions the inevitable collapse our current state of affairs, one way or another.  Do you agree?  How would you prepare for such a collapse?

Has the book changed your perspective on any of the world around you?  Is there anything you might now consider doing differently?

(You can download a print-ready PDF version of these questions.)

The author would greatly value feedback of any kind on this book.  Please consider adding a comment below or to or via direct email.