Friday, January 3, 2014

How much is enough?

Maggie has just posted this:-

Maggie January 3, 2014 at 4:07 PM
I have just finished ‘How much is Enough?’ by Robert and Edward Skidelsky which I found a very thought provoking read. It begins by considering how we got to the current state of ever increasing growth and consumption via a look at economic history, in particular the classic economic theory of Keynes and the philosophy of Aristotle. Keynes thought that increasing production and national wealth would lead to lower work hours and more leisure for citizens. This has not happened in the rush for increasing growth, and so the Sidelskys wonder why, where is all this increasing wealth going and what is it all for.
They consider happiness is too fleeting and subjective a concept to aim for, but the meeting of certain basic goods would lead to a ‘good life’ which all citizens could enjoy. They identify the 7 basic goods to be Health, Security, Respect, Personality, Harmony with Nature, Friendship and Leisure. Once these basic goods are met the suggestion is that most citizens would experience a happy and fulfilled life, a good life, without endlessly being encouraged to want more.
As the Sidelskys unpick the elements of each basic good, I found that this made a lot of sense, and although they have some challenging things to say about environmentalism and the provision of a basic income for all, it did make me think. It is also an optimistic glimpse of how things could be, if we citizens wanted it enough to ignore the calls of the advertisers, big companies, and the politicians in thrall to continuing national growth at all costs. So I would certainly recommend this book, it should be on the Green Readers list to read, and some of our group have certainly read it.