How Much Is Enough?: The Love Of Money, And The Case For The Good Life
- Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 28 June 2012
- Central Government
Showing 1-3 out of 3 reviews.
A bracing exploration, in simple and powerful terms, of whether economic growth should be the main measure of a society's success (answer: no); if not, what should societies strive for (answer: universal basic goods for every individual, such as health, security, respect, 'personality' - something akin to privacy and autonomy - harmony with nature, friendship and leisure); and how economic policy might be adapted to those ends. A sane plea for Western societies to step off the consumerist treadmill.
How much money do you need to lead a good life? What is the good life anyway? In their book How Much Is Enough? Robert and Edward Skidelsky try to get to the bottom of these and related questions.In 1930 the great economist Keynes said that by 2030 most people would work only 15 hours a week, devoting the rest of their time to leisure. Obviously he was mistaken in his assumption, and the authors show why and how he went wrong with his idea.There are many books dealing with economy and money, our desires and needs. Some grant a rather cursory glance at our needs and wants while others present an intricate picture of the mechanisms involved. This book is most definitely one of the latter, so don't expect a light and entertaining read on how we spend too much on stuff we don't really need. This one's deep, needs to sink in, get thoroughly digested!This concise study literally has it all - from economic history to philosophy the reader can indulge in a many-layered work which ultimately makes one rethink our own perceptions of work, time and money. Might Keynes be proven right after all one day? Are the structural solutions offered feasible? Could society establish a basis for the good life we strive for? There are no ultimate answers to be found here, yet plenty of food for thought.In short: A thought-provoking analysis showcasing the economic insatiability of our society!
The central point that this book makes is a good one. How much wealth or income do we need? Surely our focus should be on purposeful leisure rather than working ever longer hours to simply afford more toys? I have sympathy with this view. I also think that the Aristotelian approach to ethics that the authors pursue (in common with Michael Sandel who has received a lot of air time in recent years) is a highly fruitful line one. In recent decades debating the 'good life' has been marginalised in favour of those liberal conceptions of justice- Rawls, Nozick and economics- which declare that the state must remain an neutral arbiter in the face of incommensurable ethical visions of how to live life. The authors pack a lot into a fairly short book. This is a book packed with references to empirical and theoretical work and it ranges across several fields. While perfectly readable and enjoyable, I do think it would have benefited from a slightly tighter focus. Of the 7 chapters, 2 are devoted to the environment and the approach to economics which prioritises personal happiness. While interesting and undeniably connected to their central thesis, it means that the book meanders slightly more than a short book of the sort should. Their suggestions for how society could be improved are interesting but warrant a slightly more extensive discussion. Nonetheless, it is well worth reading and thinking about the central contention of this book further.
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