A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker John de Graaf on his film, "What's the Economy For, Anyway?" | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker John de Graaf on his film, "What's the Economy For, Anyway?"

April 5, 2010 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm
John de Graaf

School of Social Work & Women's Studies Program


A Tragic Comedy in 13 Acts --a film by John de Graaf and Dave Batker

Running time: 39 minutes

You could call it Al Gore meets Stephen Colbert.  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.



John de Graaf has been producing documentaries, primarily for public television, for 25 years. More than 15 of his programs have been broadcast nationally in primetime on PBS, including the one-hour documentary, Affluenza. As the film points out, since the 1950s, Americans have used more resources than everyone who ever lived before them, and Affluenza and Escape from Affluenza explore the steep social and environmental costs of our over-consumption. As a filmmaker, de Graaf is the recipient of more than 100 regional, national and international awards. He is the founder and president of the board of directors of the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival. He is also the national coordinator of Take Back Your Time, an organization challenging time poverty and overwork in the U.S. and Canada (see www.timeday.org) and a frequent speaker on issues of overwork and over-consumption in America. He is often a guest lecturer on college campuses. John is the co-author of the best-selling Affluenza: The All-consuming Epidemic (Berrett-Koehler, 2001/2005—now published in eight other languages as well.). His articles have been published in dozens of magazines and he has blogged on The Huffington Post.


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