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How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life
 
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How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life [Versión Kindle]

Robert Skidelsky , Edward Skidelsky

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A provocative and timely call for a moral approach to economics, drawing on philosophers, political theorists, writers, and economists from Aristotle to Marx to Keynes.

What constitutes the good life? What is the true value of money? Why do we work such long hours merely to acquire greater wealth? These are some of the questions that many asked themselves when the financial system crashed in 2008. This book tackles such questions head-on.
   The authors begin with the great economist John Maynard Keynes. In 1930 Keynes predicted that, within a century, per capita income would steadily rise, people’s basic needs would be met, and no one would have to work more than fifteen hours a week. Clearly, he was wrong: though income has increased as he envisioned, our wants have seemingly gone unsatisfied, and we continue to work long hours.
   The Skidelskys explain why Keynes was mistaken. Then, arguing from the premise that economics is a moral science, they trace the concept of the good life from Aristotle to the present and show how our lives over the last half century have strayed from that ideal. Finally, they issue a call to think anew about what really matters in our lives and how to attain it.
   How Much Is Enough? is that rarity, a work of deep intelligence and ethical commitment accessible to all readers. It will be lauded, debated, cited, and criticized. It will not be ignored.

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  • Formato: Versión Kindle
  • Tamaño del archivo: 1596 KB
  • Longitud de impresión: 257
  • Números de página - ISBN de origen: B009LJUCSG
  • Editor: Other Press (19 de junio de 2012)
  • Idioma: Inglés
  • ASIN: B005O0ZT3E
  • Texto a voz: Activado
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  • Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: n°46.798 Pagados en Tienda Kindle (Ver el Top 100 de pago en Tienda Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 3.8 de un máximo de 5 estrellas  51 opiniones
78 de 84 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
4.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Enough is Enough 1 de julio de 2012
Por Diziet - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
John Maynard Keynes believed that there would come a time when capitalism would be able to provide for all our needs. When that time was reached, there would be no further reason for growth. Capitalism was a necessary but temporary evil - 'a transitional stage, a means to an end, the end being the good life' (P17). Unfortunately, as we have seen, this 'end' has actually been the triumph of an aggressive and consumerist capitalism that has swept all before it, capturing us in a seemingly endless spiral, not of 'needs' but 'wants'. We are caught in an 'insatiability trap' and 'the good life' appears to be receding into dreams and sitcoms.

This book tries to explain just how this all came about. And, after exploring the roots of what more and more people are recognizing as our global dilemma, attempts to put forward some solutions and new ways to define and move towards this 'good life'.

The book starts with Keynes. Keynes believed that the average number of hours that people worked would slowly diminish as technology became more and more efficient. In reality what we have seen is instead of four people being employed for ten hours a week, one person works for forty hours a week, leaving three people unemployed. At the same time, capitalism has increasingly 'monetized' and commodified everything it can, as Michael Sandel, amongst many others, has shown. Monetizing things changes how they are valued - not only do they become comparable in money terms, but their very nature is altered. For example: '[e]ducation...is increasingly seen not as a preparation for the good life but as a mean to increase the value of 'human capital''.

The result of this depressing utilitarianism is all around us. Not just a growing number of people unemployed, but also a growing number of people forced down into what Guy Standing refers to as 'The Precariat', semi- and temporarily employed, while the gulf between the poorest and richest is now wider than it was in the so-called 'gilded age'.

What is it in the nature of capitalism that makes it at the same time so productive and yet so destructive? The authors believe that capitalism was 'founded on a Faustian pact'. (P68) Whereas previously usury and avarice were considered evils (Croesus, Midas), it was agreed that these sins were acceptable for the time being in order to release the productive powers of capitalism, on the understanding that once having 'lifted humanity out of poverty', the evils would be banished. But:

'Experience has taught us that material wants know no natural bounds, that they will expand without end unless we consciously restrain them. Capitalism rests precisely on this endless expansion of wants. That is why, for all its success, it remains so unloved. It has given us wealth beyond measure, but has taken away the chief benefit of wealth: the consciousness of having enough.' (P69) Capitalism has overturned the meaning of greed - it is now 'good'.

It turns out that capitalism has overturned the meaning of the word 'happiness' too. The authors in 'A Very Brief History of Happiness' (P97) show how the old idea of a 'happy life' or a 'happy people' has gradually changed from an external, social concept to a highly individual and internal state. To make people happy then does not necessarily require changes to society but to the individuals. Along with this individualisation comes a sense of paternalist liberalism - not yet perhaps handing out the 'soma' but not very far off.

So what are the limits (if any) to growth? The authors consider both natural and moral aspects of this question, in particular considering the various 'green' approaches. In 'The Ethical Roots of Environmentalism' (P132) they trace a fascinating path from romanticism through Heidegger and then to Adorno and Horkheimer, Marcuse and the modern day green movements. They suggest that:

'...mainstream environmentalism has continued to frame its case in the utilitarian language of sustainability, though its profounder influences remain ethical, aesthetic or even religious. This has led to a tension in the movement between so-called 'deep' and 'shallow' ecologists, the former valuing nature as an end in itself, the latter valuing it as an instrument of human purposes.' (P134)

The point the authors wish to make is that we really cannot base a critique of capitalism on either 'deep' or 'shallow' environmentalism. 'Nature is neither raw material to use as we please nor a strange god demanding sacrifice...[but]...the mute bearer of the same life that has come to consciousness in us.' (P 144) In that sense, the 'good life' must by definition be bound up with a harmonious relationship with nature as with ourselves.

So what is the 'good life'? The authors try to define it by identifying 'The Basic Goods' (P150), the indispensables. By goods, of course, is not meant necessarily material goods but the aspects of life that go to make a happy state, a state of happiness and a life well lived.

And finally they look to 'Exits from the Rat Race' (P180). It is clear that there really is no existent political party that has 'the good life' (in the sense the authors mean) as their goal. Their proposals are both varied and specific. One is the provision of a 'basic income' (this is a central demand of Guy Standing's too). Another is 'Reducing the Pressure to Consume' (P202), including reducing the impact and all-pervasiveness of advertising. Yes another is a temporary halt to globalisation. They bluntly point out that '[n]o country has become rich under a free-trade regime.' (P214) Underlying all this is a belief that we need to re-examine just what wealth is for. And here they look for inspiration to Catholicism and to the 'religious impulse' more generally. Materialist philosophies have failed, they believe. Politics has failed. And economics has failed. One way or another we need to re-imagine the 'collective good life'.

The authors' views clearly coincide with those of Jeffrey Sachs - searching for an Aristotelian 'middle way' - and of Michael Sandel - there really are things that money shouldn't buy. And maybe that's a weakness - money (commoditisation) really does change everything and it is very difficult to change things back. Neoliberalism is still alive and well, as Colin Crouch has pointed out, and a well entrenched oligarchy continues to dominate the global agenda.

Nice ideas though.
62 de 69 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
3.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Problem Well Identified, Solution...Not So Much 24 de agosto de 2012
Por dfenner - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Versión Kindle|Compra verificada por Amazon
I have devoted a considerable amount of time and thought to this book over the past weeks. I am intrigued by it, and admire it, but I also find I am not satisfied with it. In pondering why this is so, I have come to the conclusion that, like many books of its type, it describes the problem it identifies very well, but falls short when proposing a solution to it. And I have a hunch that the authors realize this, otherwise we wouldn't see so many references for the need for faith and the need for optimism.

First, though, a secondary point. The authors assert that rich countries now have sufficient wealth that everyone living in them could afford to stop the ceaseless quest for more, if this wealth was properly distributed. I would like to see this assertion expanded upon with more facts, and with a hypothetical model to demonstrate it. While no reasonable person expects, say, a neurosurgeon to receive the same wage as someone collecting money in a parking booth, what would the base level of income available be at some reasonable range of compensation, as compared to the vilely unfair pattern we have today?

If indeed this calculation is convincing, the implementation of a guaranteed annual income via the income tax system would be simplicity itself, and in fact the cost savings from elimination of a massive system of benefits administration might go a good distance towards paying for it. Certainly that well known pinko Richard Millhouse Nixon thought so, when he came close to implementing such a scheme, as is described by the late Senator Daniel Moynihan: The Politics of a Guaranteed Income: The Nixon Administration and the Family Assistance Plan (1973) ISBN 0-394-46354-4.

But to get back to my dissatisfaction. I believe this much is well proven in the book: The everlasting and insatiable pursuit of more and more is pointless and senseless, as well as damaging to the world and to human society. The authors also demonstrate conclusively that worshiping this pursuit is peculiar to modern capitalist society: It wasn't that long ago that avarice was universally considered a sin.

They also explain how the modern theological class, also known as economists, have hugely aided and abetted this development. By making self interest the sole rational motive for human behavior, they have licensed the psychopaths among us to behave just as they wish, and these creatures have taken full advantage of this. For those unfamiliar with psychopathy, I recommend Without Conscience and Snakes in Suits, both by Robert Hare. A psychopath is someone who is utterly selfish, has a strong sense of entitlement, is highly manipulative, has no conscience, lies for fun, and leaves a broad trail of misery behind him wherever he goes. Sounds like a Wall Street banker, doesn't it?

My problem is that their solution, which in essence is to attempt to substitute the greed ethic with a better one, doesn't seem likely to me to work. While wider acceptance of a compassionate moral system would probably help, calls for compassion are not likely to affect your average psychopath. And make no mistake that it is the psychopaths, the evil people, that we have to deal with. They tend to rise to the top of power structures (much easier when you don't have a conscience) and are clearly in control now, as they have been for most of human history. As someone once said, great men are almost always bad men.

The way that this was done in the recent past was to withdraw labour, which the powerful needed the rest of us to provide. This is less and less true as time goes by, diminished by automation and by offshoring.

What we still provide that they need is consumption. If a way could be found to withdraw consumption from psychopathic individuals, companies, and industries, this could be an effective check. And there is a possible way to do this. Already there is an Iphone and Web application called the Good Guide ([...]) which rates products based on their impact on health, the environment, and society. This could be suitably expanded and refined by crowdsourcing. The major problem with it would be to stop it from being "gamed", as so many of the Internet rating services now are by the burgeoning Web Presence industry.
44 de 48 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
4.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Excellent Overview of the Problem 21 de junio de 2012
Por Book Fanatic - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
I really liked this book. It does an outstanding job of laying out the problem and it is a thesis that I thoroughly agree with. In our endless pursuit of money we have lost sight of what that money should be for; it should be to allow us to live the good life. It should not be an end in itself. The vast majority of the book is centered around this project. The weakness comes at the end where the authors lay out their idea for a solution.

Let me quote a paragraph in the introduction that I think describes the book very well:

"The premise of what follows is that the material conditions of the good life already exist, at least in the affluent parts of the world, but that the blind pursuit of growth puts it continually out of reach. Under such circumstances, the aim of policy and other forms of collective actions should be to secure an economic organizations that places the good things of life - health, respect, friendship, leisure and so on - within reach of all. Economic growth should be accepted as a residual, not something to be aimed at."

This is a thoughtful book about an important topic. It is well written and even if you don't agree with the perspective of the authors, you should consider what they have to say. These are the kinds of important long-term ideas our leaders should be focused on rather than telling the public to go out and spend more money they don't have to "stimulate the economy".

The only problem I have with this book is over reliance on government policy the authors serve up as a solution. The history of unintended consequences of "good intentions" should be enough to disabuse anyone of that idea. However, the solution is something that needs to be worked out. The first step is to get people to really accept that a problem exists. This book is a good step in that direction.

Highly recommended.
15 de 16 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas a better way forward / embracing the good life 4 de julio de 2012
Por Greg Smith (aka sowhatfaith) - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura|Compra verificada por Amazon
In a consumer oriented world that always hungers for more, Robert and Edward Skidelsky offer much needed perspective about the good life. They envision a more balanced world in which there is less pressure to consume and less income inequality. And, they recognize that while such a world could come about in many ways it is unlikely to be realized without religion.

John Maynard Keynes envisioned a world in which his grandchildren would work only fifteen hours a week yet earn as much or more than those in his generation thanks to advances in technology and more even distribution of income. In this futuristic world, leisure would be primary. Keynes' forecast of the increased income and productivity were accurate, but the fifteen hour work week hasn't been realized because several of his other assumptions were incorrect. As a result, today "many lower paid workers are working less than they want to, while many of the rich are working more than they need to" (p.23). In the early twenty-first century, income inequality is growing rather than shrinking and rather than focusing on enough most have insatiable appetites for more.

Blending philosophy and economics, the Skidelskys construct a way forward that challenges many capitalistic assumptions. This new framework requires a different understanding of wealth, happiness, and economic progress. This new perspective assumes that the basic goods are the good life rather than simply a means to achieve it. Using the criteria that basic goods are those things that can be viewed as universal, final, sui generis, and indispensable, the Skidelskys propose seven such goods: health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure. The items comprising the good life cannot be bought or sold. The future is not one focusing on unending economic growth, but of re-balancing society to enable the pursuit of the good life by an increasing number of people.
11 de 12 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
3.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Conservative (though not libertarian) argument against growth (3.25 stars) 22 de agosto de 2012
Por A. J. Sutter - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
Maybe it's too early to call it a trend, but it's nice to see that some "establishment" figures in the US and UK have begun speaking out against economic growth as a policy for wealthy countries. Former Harvard president Derek Bok did so in 2010 with his book "The Politics of Happiness," and now so has British historian, politician and life peer Baron Robert Skidelsky, in this book written with his son, an academic philosopher.

Like Bok, the authors (S&S) make "happiness" a prominent theme in their argument. Their perspective on it, though, is rather different from his. Bok focused on social science research, in which people in various countries responded to surveys about their subjective happiness. S&S are (rightly, I believe) skeptical about a lot of this research, and focus instead on the ancient philosophical question of "What is a good life?" This sort of happiness, especially as conceived by Aristotle and other Athenian thinkers, refers not to a state of mind but to a "state of being," a matter of "public appraisal, not private awareness" (@98). They turn this into a public policy issue with their declaration, "[T]he first duty of the state is to realize, insofar as lies within its power, the good life for all its citizens" (@168).

S&S also don't shy away from declaring what they think the good life consists in. While some reviews have lampooned their suggestions, e.g., claiming they approve of upper-class pleasures like Valpolicella wine and disapprove of crack cocaine, by and large their list (Chap. 6) seems reasonable: health, security, respect, harmony with nature, friendship, "personality" (access to private space to be oneself), and "leisure" (activity not undertaken primarily for money, but for its own sake). This recalls another and longer Aristotle-inspired list of the elements of "objective happiness," compiled by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. But while Sen and Nussbaum expect the state to provide people just with the "capabilities," i.e., the means, to enjoy a good life, S&S want the state to promote the items in their list directly. (It wasn't clear to me, though, how the state could provide some goods like friendship or personality -- capabilities for friendship and self-expression might indeed be the closest the state could achieve.)

The final chapter includes some more concrete recommendations, including: a guaranteed basic income; reducing advertising by eliminating tax deductions for ad expense; reducing working hours and increasing work-sharing; and less enthusiasm for free-trade agreements.

S&S make a couple of welcome departures from the usual tendencies of Anglophone writers who criticize growth. First, they don't base their opposition to growth on global warming or "peak oil" -- the foundation of their case is philosophical ethics. Second, they aren't entirely oblivious to the huge "de-growth" literature in Europe: they several times mention the late French social thinker André Gorz, one of the earliest and smartest "décroissancistes" or "objecteurs de croissance," objectors to growth. (Oddly, though, they refer to him as a "Marxist sociologist" (@33; also 216), even though he was a journalist by profession, and had broken with Marxism by 1980, long before writing the works S&S cite.)

I've written about this general topic myself (including working paper uploaded to SSRN in 2010 and a book published in Japan in March 2012), and I found a lot of individual points to agree with in this one. That includes a few of S&S's policy recommendations, such as about working hours and trade, and the relevance of Aristotle's Politics as a jumping-off point. Despite some agreements at the "tree" level, though, I really saw a different "forest" from S&S -- particularly when it came articulating arguments about ethics and the environment. There are also a few topics that I felt deserved more consideration in the book, and some factual matters that could have been handled better. These issues are the subject of the rest of this long review.

1. First, some under-represented topics:

(a) The ideology of innovation is closely tied to the ideology of growth, such as in the "New Growth Theory" whose rhetoric fueled the 1990s dot-com boom. S&S don't examine the links between the two. Despite criticizing growth, they seem to have unlimited faith in technology, e.g. to cure all environmental problems (Chap. 5).

(b) S&S set up a dichotomy between work (unpleasant stuff) and leisure (stuff you like doing, even if you get paid for it). As French sociologist Dominique Méda has pointed out, this dichotomy is common in academic writing -- but the biggest conflict for real people is between work and *family.* S&S ignore this issue, and indeed family altogether, except to argue why family is a type of "friendship" (@163).

(c) The role of business enterprises in economic growth, and in any future departure from it, isn't mentioned. Financial services are discussed only in the context of greed, though S&S also suggest that bankers are hard-working chaps who'd admit they are overpaid (@217; see also @23). You wouldn't know from this book that the speculative financial economy of capital gains is now *much bigger* than the economy of goods and services reflected in GDP -- a point that drives many decisions by managers, stockholders, and politicians, as well as driving the growth of inequality.

(d) Finally, S&S say too little about democracy. They seem to regard it as a Good Thing (@159), but the "good life" apparently is to be provided by "the state" without people contending over their visions of it. And S&S see "leisure" as time for playing football, making furniture or strumming guitars (@166) -- but not, as Gorz and others have suggested, for collective political activity.

2. Regarding factual matters, more often my concern was that some statements or examples created a misimpression, rather than being clearly wrong.

((a) S&S mention Adam Smith's idea in The Wealth of Nations, that societies will eventually reach a "stationary state" at various levels of affluence (@53). While this is accurate, it's also a bit equivocal. The reader isn't told that in the same passage Smith states his explicit preference for the "progressive" (growing) state -- a passage cited hundreds of times after WWII to justify economic growth.

(b) Later, S&S discuss Carl Menger as a representative of neoclassical utility theory (@90-91). But actually, Menger criticized the utility theory of W. Jevons and L. Walras (see M.'s Principles of Economics, Chap. 3, Sec. 2.), who are far more representative of today's mainstream economics. Menger also rejected the use of mathematics in economic reasoning, which puts his ideas even further outside the post-WWII mainstream (with all due respect to Ron Paul and the Tea Party).

(c) S&S attribute "the dissolution of the [sic] distinction between use value and exchange values" to the neoclassical economists (@91), but to do so is doubly blurry. First, the early neoclassicals did maintain a distinction. Both Jevons and, more clearly, F.Y. Edgeworth identified exchange value with marginal utility, and use value with total utility (see my 2010 article for cites). Second, what S&S probably mean is that *a* distinction was dissolved: use value came to be treated as a quantity, like exchange value, instead of as a quality, as Aristotle had held it. But this shift, which Menger et al. did rely on, had already been accomplished by the time of Adam Smith, if not earlier; it also was picked up by Marx, via Smith.

I admit that examples (a)-(c) above, along with S&S's puzzling opposition between "ethics" and "utilitarianism" (@95, 134), are small, and bugged me more in the aggregate than singly.

(d) More problematic, though, because it's more central to S&S's main argument, is their narrative of the history of economic growth as a policy (@180-183). They seem to ascribe growth's prominence before 1980 to (i) the achievement of full employment after WWII, leading to "there [being] no other objects of economic policy left," and (ii) "left-wing politicians and economists" who were the "apostles of growth in the 1960s."

This ignores the role of US defense hawks in getting the US to adopt growth after the Soviet A-bomb explosion of 1949. The 1950s were the heyday of politically-motivated economic growth, of mathematical growth theories (including Robert Solow's, which won a Nobel Prize), and the origin of the international "league table" comparisons for GNP and GDP that continue to fascinate us today. (See, e.g., H.W. Arndt's excellent 1978 history, "The Rise and Fall of Economic Growth".) As Philip Mirowski has shown ("Machine Dreams" (2006)), many of the most influential Democrat economists, such as at MIT and the Cowles Foundation (with members variously at Chicago, Yale and the West Coast), were receiving funding from the Defense Department and its affiliated think-tanks, like RAND, from the 1950s into the 1970s.

The emphasis on the 1960s and "left-wingers" fits in with S&S's ethical theme, which rests on the corrupting power of the sexual revolution and of the ideas of Marxist counter-culture icon Herbert Marcuse: hedonism leading to consumerism (@63-70, esp. 68). But they're being, at best, overly selective when it comes to the historical record. To say nothing of it being a stretch to call Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, De Gaulle, Pompidou and Giscard "left-wing politicians."

3. Some other aspects of the ethical argument against economic growth weren't entirely convincing, either. The crux of it is that consumers, not governments, are most responsible for the obsession with growth. Why else rail against Marcuse, "who proclaimed the new doctrine of erotic liberation with heavy Germanic learning"? Marcuse might have inspired some college-educated hippies, but the time I was in college in early '70s, literary critic György Lukács had already replaced him as Most Fashionable Marxist Intellectual. And most people, including me, didn't read either of them back then. The linkage between Marcuse's ideas and government policy in the wealthiest countries is never explained in the book. (As if!)

Some readers, especially outside Europe, might also be alienated by S&S's strong promotion of Christianity, and put off by their emphasis on supposed links between sexual license and consumerist "insatiability" (mostly in Chap. 2). There are gentler and less sectarian ways to argue for a turn from consumerism to more spiritual pursuits, such as along the lines of Erich Fromm's "To Have Or To Be?" (1976). S&S, though, are of course entitled to their convictions. Their narrative in which consumers shoulder most of the blame for growth, and in which a return to Christian mores is part of the cure, has counterparts in Continental de-growth literature, especially from Alain de Benoist (a 2008 book) and Meinhard Miegel (2010). Fortunately, S&S aren't at all as politically reactionary as those authors.

4. Finally, S&S's discussion of the environment (Chap. 5) is the weakest part of the book: it's too dismissive of the connection between global warming and economic growth.

S&S are correct that environmental arguments aren't a *sufficient* argument against growth, as a scientific matter. However, this has nothing to do with the specious argument they advance, that economic growth could be necessary to finance technological fixes (@124). It has more to do with the laws of thermodynamics, and the huge amount of energy available to us from the sun. E.g., if we were willing to turn the earth into a disco ball of space-borne solar panels, we could harness sufficient energy to serve our demand, remove C02 from the atmosphere, recycle most pollutants with great thoroughness, etc. for many millennia. I do agree, though, that environmental arguments aren't a good *rhetorical strategy* for a critique of growth (@7), because it's so easy to get distracted by arguments about estimates and forecasts. (Like S&S, my paper and book put forth an argument that's independent of environmental impacts.)

However, S&S make the leap that all environmental arguments against growth are driven by "sentiment, not science" (@136). They welcome this, since they think that a desire for harmony with nature is a component of a reasonable *ethical* argument against economic growth; their problem is that "modern Greens" don't acknowledge their own emotionalism (id.). Aside from being unjustified, as I'll show in the next paragraph, their argument here becomes something like a rant. Although they think that harmony with nature is important for humans, they suggest that "environmentalism" is at root an invention of "an anti-Semite and ... an unrepentant Nazi" (Ludwig Klages and Martin Heidegger, @133), "exported to America" by the book's Mephistopheles, Herbert Marcuse (earlier called out for his "Jewish messianism" shared with Marx, @67). Come on. What's next: Rachel Carson, Donella Meadows, Barry Commoner and Paul Ehrlich were all either Nazis or Marxist Jewish free-love advocates? Here's another silly generalization: "climate radicals" are both "strongly opposed to discounting future welfare" (citing the Stern Review on global warming prepared for Tony Blair's government) and "passionate haters of greed and luxury, people who in previous ages might have been Cromwells or Savanarolas" (@130-131). This includes Baron Stern himself, I suppose? To compound matters, so to speak: S&S claim the support of "most environmental economists" for their position on discounts (@130), without ever reflecting that those economists are using the same flawed neoclassical approach S&S criticize elsewhere in the book.

While science might not prove that economic growth will inevitably destroy human life, S&S overlook the point that growth may very well do so *as a practical matter*. Not only is there no guarantee we'll come up with the political will to build that disco ball I mentioned earlier -- there's no guarantee we'll be able to discover and deploy *any* technological fix *when we need to.* So before we put our faith in unknown innovations to save us, as S&S seem to suggest, we've got to ask ourselves one question: Do we feel lucky? No sentiment necessary, other than a desire that humans stick around. S&S make the comforting claim that "the idea of a catastrophic 'tipping point'... is rejected by most serious scientists" (@129), but they're simply mistaken. They should check the pages of leading scientific journals like Science, Nature, Nature Climate Change, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, all of which regularly publish research papers accepting this notion. As long as environmental arguments avoid exaggerating about the laws of physics, they can be important complements to other arguments against growth -- and some of the most persuasive arguments for changing policy quickly.

By the way, neither the American edition's subtitle, "Money and the Good Life," nor the British edition's, "The Love of Money and the Good Life," is really apt, though the British one is closer to the mark. The real objects of S&S's polemic are "insatiability" generally, consumption, and sexual license, far more than the accumulation of money per se. I assume the subtitles were chosen by the publisher, who has served readers no better with the index, which omits entries for "Menger," "Easterlin," "use value," and "sex," among other topics significant for the book. All of my reservations notwithstanding, the book is worth reading if you're new to the topic of de-growth, or if you've only read environmentalist arguments about it. But the very un-Aristotelian excessiveness of some of S&S's critiques makes me temper my endorsement of this book.
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