the pursuit

Arthur Brooks (@arthurbrooks) tweeted at 6:42 AM – 7 Aug 2019 :
Very happy to announce that “The Pursuit” starts today @netflix. I hope you enjoy the film and find the find the ideas useful, whether you agree with them or not! (



i’m trying to learn about the best systems for helping people improve their lives..poverty is the thing i care about the most..


from 1970 until today the % of the world’s population living at starvation’s door has decreased by 80%.. 2 b people have been pulled out of starvation level poverty.. what did that..? that was my vision quest.. to figure out what did that

jason hickel on the myth (article on his page came out – free access – same day this arthur’s pursuit came out on netflix) ..specific ie from googling ‘myths about global poverty’ []:

It is no wonder that ardent defenders of neoliberal capitalism, like Brooks, Pinker, and Gates, believe that they are real advocates of the marginalized and leftists are backwards ideologues. Once you accept the DWEIB narrative—that global capitalism has indeed been responsible for lifting billions out of poverty and radically improving the lives of even the most marginalized—then calls for systemic or structural change seem misguided at best and sinister at worst. Defenders of the status quo are framed as agents for progress and social justice while leftists calling for change are portrayed either as blindly ignorant or uninterested in actually helping the marginalized.

i wanted the best answer from mainstream economics

? (at ted)

i don’t claim to have all the answers.. but the answers i have found have truly changed my life

2 min – the point of the american experience is basically a moral consensus that our society should push opportunity to the people who need it the most

public consensus always oppresses someone

ie: who’s defining opportunity ..can’t mean more money (any form of measuring/accounting).. what does pushing mean..?

opp should be about everyone getting a go everyday.. perhaps via a mech to listen to every voice everyday (as it could be).. no pushing involved.. only listening and augmenting our interconnectedness

this is our pursuit.. and it’s predicated on 2 fundamental/moral issues.. human dignity and human potential.. i want to be a warrior for dignity and potential.. that’s what it comes down to

dignity: the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect

potential: having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.. latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness

hmm..i don’t know

what world needs most is the energy of 7bn alive people.. i’m thinking that won’t come from thinking we have to be worthy of respect and/or successful/useful .. those all sound like outward definitions.. which is dangerous/cancerous

let’s focus on fittingness david

4 min – on experience when he was 19 on french horn tour .. force landing in india for several days.. seeing people who have so little.. how do we have so much..?.. ‘when people thought of people who were incredibly poor.. it was probably for many people india’


5 min – i returned to india many times since my first visit – mumbai – met krishna – guy who grew up in poverty in little village outside of bangalore

convos w arzu

7 min – on krishna showing him invisible progress there..  what i didn’t realize is that the country had become a battleground in the 20th cent philosophical war between capitalism and socialism.. and india for decades had chosen the latter

8 min – ‘belief in the all knowing bureaucrat as opposed to people making their own decisions.. ‘

the opposing ideology seemed to lead to chaos.. set people free. let people decide what they’re going to do w their talent/time/treasure.. and then they’ll spontaneously organize in a way that creates the most wealth.. these were at war w each other and most smart people didn’t know which was the right approach.. well we found out

9 min – (89 – next bit is on taking down berlin wall) – w fall of soviet union countries all over the world began to adopt the core elements of capitalism: globalization; free trade; private property rights; the rule of law; and entrepreneurial competition.. the results of all this have been nothing short of miraculous

dang man

property, competition, exchange, import, too much rule of law ness

9 min – jagdish bhagwati (economist columbia uni): we completely reversed our policies in india in 91.. in all areas we permitted more competition.. competition is what helps you to improve outcomes

perhaps we need to focus more on people than outcomes

10 min – ‘today india is celebrating this rising econ.. happened after 25 yrs of econ growing because of liberalization.. because we opened the markets’

?.. farmer suicides et al

11 min – krishna: it’s not a slum.. it’s a hub of industries.. then.. see.. he’s trying to sell us.. saying.. buy something from my shop.. that’s what makes this place amazing

people having to sell themselves?.. panhandle ness

today, even in the poorest parts of the country (india) there’s a sense of progress


‘capitalism allows human beings to choose an action to fulfill their own destiny’

not really.. not even the ones you are calling successful.. we need all of us to be free to our fittingness.. in order for the dance to dance..

‘choosing an action’ is part of the cancer

12 min – ‘forget per capita gdp.. the markets have given us per capita hope’

‘all i want to do is educate my sons’

ugh.. we think that’s a sign of goodness/success.. but this schooling the world ness.. these supposed to’s.. of school/work are a big part of the poison

14 min – things are not getting worse.. they’re getting better.. and india is not alone.. since 1970.. then chart with down curve.. on people living in extreme poverty $1 a day or less.. has declined by 80%.. 2 b people around the world have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty.. infant mortality .. literacy increased.. and people benefitted most from this.. not the rich.. it’s hose at the very bottom of the econ ladder

why is there even a ladder.. for people..?

15 min – lesson from (poverty in) ny 19th century.. they are us..  my parents.. worked hard then no longer poor after starting from scratch

and how are we doing now?.. ie: infant mortality rate.. incarceration.. ice.. eviction..

16 min – backbone of us is people who believe progress is possible.. (then guy in texas talking about wanting to buy a bigger truck.. only thing i had was to motivate myself and work work.. when you don’t want to.. however hard.. to get the american dream honestly.. that’s what we’re going to do)

18 min – the american free enterprise system is our gift to the world and is the secret for all of us to pull up the least fortunate.. most marginalized members in our own societies.. and to share those values w people all around the world

19 min – moved to barcelona.. chasing a girl and play french horn.. at 25.. then on in law’s

wife: i didn’t like americans.. thought they were imperialistic/capitalistic.. i hated it like everyone around me.. then i traveled with him (arthur) and i changed.. he showed me that americans were ok

22 min – when i came here .. 27 yrs ago.. compared to now.. so much better now.. more shops..

shops = success..?

24 min – in spain.. capitalism gets a bad rap.. because good ordinary people look around and see exploitation/discrimination/environ-degradation.. which exists.. they see fat cats getting all the stuff.. and i say.. no no .. that’s not capitalism.. that’s cronyism.. that’s the antithesis of what a free society is all about .. i have to remember that people have diff experiences than i do.. which gives them diff pov

25 min – people aren’t anti capitalist.. they are anti some idea of capitalism that exists in the ether..  i understand that ideology and i understand that it dies hard.. because it’s very difficult for people to get their minds around the idea that the best way for you to help poor people is the very system that you thought was rigged against the poor

holy cow

if you worry about ineq and say that capitalism doesn’t wipe it out you’re simply going to say ‘i am just as happy bringing the top down as i am bringing the bottom up’


if you want to be a social justice warrior to bring people to their highest levels of dignity and potential..

problem is.. people keep defining what that potential should look like for others..

what we need rather.. is all of us to deepest fittingness

if you believe we’re all created equal,  you should be a warrior for opportunity

you mean.. financial opportunity..  huge diff when you leave that word out

26 min – i presented (in spain) capitalism as the face of people who want to help the world.. and that’s something most people haven’t heard before


27 min – here’s the biggest irony of our time.. people across the world are increasingly turning against the very system that’s lifted us out of poverty

who’s us..?


28 min – increasing numbers of young people are leaning toward something called democratic socialism.. (gloomy music)

funny how you really notice music.. as perpetuating an idea

31 min – (on scandanavia being the best ie) .. my parents are from there.. they left for better opp.. did they do the wrong thing..? ..

35 min – ed/dr is free for danes.. pay highest taxes.. 75% of income

36 min – denmark not a socialist but a market econ.. more similar to us than we know

individualism not allowed.. even though they (danes) see them selves as most free.. a social norm that tells you opp of america.. don’t stand out

? sounds same.. ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work tell us not to stand out

41 min – what’s attractive about denmark to a lot of americans is just not an accurate picture of the country

likewise .. other way around.. schooling the world  et al

there’s not a sense of american ethnicity (denmark has that because smaller)

white male..?

42 min – the us is an idea.. that’s what makes it so strong..  there’s a rising tide of nationalism.. and that’s a real threat.. on people wanted to close the borders et al.. populism comes when people are struggling to feel needed.. then next ie is in kentucky.. and the guy is just talking about well paid jobs.. a lot of people have accepted the fact that coal is gone and never coming back (somber music)

funny way to be needed

graeber job less law et al

43 min – lyndon johnson – welfare state built to take care of this… signs at talks – ‘we need jobs’ arthur: and i agree with every word of it..lbj’s goals were noble

45 min – (calm music) robert doar: we have done well in america at providing material well being for people who are struggling


‘aint nobody gonna hire me’.. a lot of self worth directly tied to job

47 min – we have to admit welfare state is not doing right .. but not for lack of trying.. spent 20 trillion dollars and failed


kathryn edin – fdr called welfare a narcotic.. no one says i want more handouts.. they say i want more work.. they want to be citizens.. contributors..


people don’t want to be given things for nothing.. ‘real poverty is growing up w no dream’

50 min – one thing left and right agree on.. poor people’s work is punishment.. that’s wrong.. all work is sanctified.. all work creates value.. when we forget this .. we quit needing people

wow.. do you ever live in a bubble..

bs jobs et al

what are the greatness inside each person.. the root of the pursuit of happiness is that each individual has the dignity to earn their success and the potential to make it so

wow.. yeah.. so dignity and potential as poison.. earning ness is inhumane .. you’ll never see the person inside

the buble of some grand sea world man (whales in sea world et al).. you’re going places that people aren’t getting a go.. talk about people who seem/are oppressed.. and then find people to help you rationalize that the people are ok/good

gray research law

54 min – people homeless working hard cleaning streets.. and he has them prompted to saying.. my life is going well.. (yeah.. look at you .. you’re smiling).. my life matters.. talking to people off drugs/alcohol

not knocking these people.. but we can do so much better.. but we’re not because the ones with the voices being heard are pushing the whole earn it .. work hard.. ness..

earning success is one of the great secrets of pursuit of happiness

nah.. just fittingness man

‘if you want a better life you gotta work’


‘many guys transformed their lives.. ‘

has to be everyone.. and has to be something they pick

‘feels good.. instead of out there running the streets.. i don’t have to be fearful’

so better for some.. but not what we’re – all 7b – capable of

‘i just kept thinking.. i’m a working man.. and i’m not going back to prison’

1:00 – what we have to find is the way people can earn their success..

no.. find fittingness  (and why am i still taking notes.. talking like you would hear)

capitalism is fundamentally not a greed based system.. rather an aspirational one.. anyone who tells you (it is) is lying to you or doesn’t understand capitalism.. people bring selfishness and greed.. morals have to come first .. that comes from love

all good and well.. except it has to be all of us.. if it’s not.. then it’s not love

1:01 – visits dalai lama – a warrior for human welfare.. believer in potential/dignity for every single person

1:02 – i had this theory when i was a kid.. you get to invent your own life.. if not willing to practice what you believe never going to do/find anything

1:04 – misquote in scripture ‘money is root of all evil’.. rather ‘for the love of money is root of all evil’..

any money (any form of measuring/accounting) is cancerous to us

1:05 – we have to ask.. what does lead each of us to lead the best life


via dalai.. 4 secrets to happy life – 1\ enlightenment  2\ spirtuality  3\ world satisfaction  4\ wealth

how convenient.. how wrong

1:07 – krishna saying he’s wealthy because he’s been able to do 3 things: 1\ build something  2\ earn my living  3\ serve other people.. make yourself

dalai: you should make yourself useful..among 7 b human beings.. that’s the real source of self dignity/respect.. you remain isolated form society and jobless.. then actually you’re wasting life

holy crap

graeber job less law et al

1:07 – this place is filled w people looking for truth/happiness.. (walking streets in india) and that’s what i’m looking for.. that’s what everybody’s looking for

so.. you’re admitting you don’t have it

let’s go deeper man.. deep enough to get back/to an undisturbed ecosystem: ‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’

1:08 – (back in barcelona where he played in orchestra – looking at brilliant ceiling) i don’t remember looking at it when i worked here.. i don’t remember thinking.. man.. this is the most amazing thing.. all i remember thinking was.. i hope i don’t screw up this concert

dang man.. listen to yourself.. yet you’re saying success must be earned for happiness.. dang..

‘pursuit of happiness’ – came from dictation from the american heart

true that we need to listen to hearts.. as it could be.. but declaration of independence wasn’t from human hearts.. was from whales in sea world