Better World Shopping Guide, by Ellis Jones
It is easy to figure out how this book could have been a lot better. For one, the author seems to adopt shopping with particular and irritating biases that make this book unreliable and impossible to trust. Moreover, for a book that praises companies on their transparency, the book itself distinctly lacks transparency, in that it includes letter grades with qualitative but not quantitative information, and while the author says that the grades included are the result of a rigorous data analysis, the reader (including this reader) appear to have very different standards by which to judge companies that would drastically affect the ratings. For example, while I think it is safe to say that most readers will seek to avoid companies that are involved in child slave labor, the author’s partisan interpretation of political spending (with leftist activism praised while lobbying is denigrated) creates a slant here that noticeably leads to leftist companies getting high ratings while companies with a more conservative approach get rated poorly in consequence. Any rating system that biased deserves to be junked, and this book would be better served by being replaced with an online marker that, given updated data, would allow readers to judge companies by their own principles rather than the leftist perspective of this author.
This particular little book is about 175 pages long and it consists of letter grades assigned to companies/brands in 74 commercial segments alphabetically organized from airlines (1) to wine (74). The book begins with about twenty pages or so of introductory material, which includes appreciation, notes to the third edition, the website, the problem, the solution, the issues, the sources, and the rankings involved in this book. There is a discussion of the profile of what the author sees as the best and the worst company, the list of 20 best and worst companies, ten small but beautiful companies, top ten things to change, the top ten list of bailout companies and lists of lobbyist-hiring companies, as well as what the grades mean, extra stuff, what happens if one cannot find a brand or company and how to use the guide. After that comes the bulk of the book, which on the left side shows a list of grades from A to F, with some companies appearing on the bottom over and over and over again while others appear towards the top consistently because of the political bias of the author, while on the right side the author lists the segment, what the author needs to know, buying tips, as well as “green heroes” and “corporate villains,” with much of the information for both repeated often as they appear. After all of this comes a product category index, data sources, and information about the author.
As a result, while this book might be a good idea in seeking to grade companies based on their behavior, unfortunately the author’s perspective is simply not trustworthy, transparent, or particularly worthwhile. And this is a great shame. The book is the product of many hours of data analysis, but because of the biased and lamentable perspective of the author, this book is likely to only be thought of as authoritative by the left-wing intended audience of this book which considers receiving bailout money to be a bad thing but leftist activism to be a good thing. Any reader who does not share the biases of the author is simply not going to find this book or its grading compelling, and it is a great shame that the product of such labor is not valuable because it does not allow the reader to properly gauge things for oneself, which would make this a more worthwhile endeavor. For example, it would be greatly worthwhile to negatively judge a brand for leftist activism or support of evil aims (like pro-abortion or population control or identity politics or environmental extremism) so as to calculate which companies manage to avoid any number of evils. This book does not do that, nor does it allow for the reader to do that.