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How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life…

How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life

by Robert Skidelsky, Edward Skidelsky

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How Much is Enough?
Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky
Sunday, November 3, 2013

The authors start with an essay by John Maynard Keynes, written in 1930, that predicted that within a century, per capita income would rise enough that everyone's basic needs would be met, and no one would have to work more than 15 hours per week. This is evidently not true, and the authors set out to explore the reasons, talking about capitalism, conspicuous consumption, and competitive consumption as reasons. The last chapter includes some prescriptions for reversing the trend to harder work, including sumptuary laws and taxes on expenditures. The key to regain control over work is to define the "good life". ( )
  neurodrew | Nov 10, 2013 |
Hey there! I think I've found the cure for jet-lag ... reading economics. This guy sure likes big words ... but why would someone use 'dialectic' instead of the word 'logic'?

I'm still waiting for the part where they tell me how to want less...

Well at the end they came up with some pie-in-the sky/castles in the air Ivory Towered tenured academic ideas as solutions. Not.Very.Useful.

And I was highly offended by their first choice of a way out of this greedy/capitalistic mess as being the ideology of the ... Catholic Church!

They seemed to never have even heard of secular humanism...sheesh! ( )
  Clueless | Jul 8, 2013 |
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. ( )
  xander_paul | Jan 15, 2013 |
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. ( )
  dazzyj | Dec 29, 2012 |
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This book is an argument against insatiability, against that psychological disposition that prevents us, as individuals and as societies, from saying "enough is enough."
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Analyzes questions that arose from the 2008 financial crisis while assessing the predictions of John Maynard Keynes, sharing the authors' views of a positive life and how recent generations have traded morality for wealth.

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