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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich and thoughtful argument - didn't agree with all of it
This book has been such a refreshing read. It transcends the jealous whingeing and blaming so prevalent in most books about today's economy, and makes you thing on a much bigger, broader scale about the system we live in, and whether it's truly serving us in the best possible way at the moment.

The book is objective,well reasoned and thoroughly engaging...
Published on 17 Aug. 2012 by Mr. James Haythornthwaite

versus
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excessive use of others' philosophies, poor examples and poor solutions
I persevered through the overly academic vocabulary and endless quotation other others' philosophies in the hope that at the end I would discover some novel and practical approaches individuals and/or governments could use to move closer towards the 'good life', the components of which I largely agree with.

However I was left disappointed and felt the authors...
Published 15 months ago by Reginald Perrin


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich and thoughtful argument - didn't agree with all of it, 17 Aug. 2012
By 
Mr. James Haythornthwaite (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book has been such a refreshing read. It transcends the jealous whingeing and blaming so prevalent in most books about today's economy, and makes you thing on a much bigger, broader scale about the system we live in, and whether it's truly serving us in the best possible way at the moment.

The book is objective,well reasoned and thoroughly engaging throughout. I didn't agree with every suggestion made at the end of the book, but it made me think about the way the world works today and how that system affects me personally in a way that no other book ever has. It's honest and unsensational in its language, which makes it far easier to engage with on a meaningful level.

Since finishing this book I've been thinking long and hard about the true value of money, its role versus its place in society, and how it both enables and frustrates the journey towards the "ideal lifestyle".

If every member of the House of Lords wrote books that were as challenging, carefully considered and genuinely concerned about the state of the modern individual in their nation, this country would be a much brighter and stronger place. Great stuff.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tethered to work, 1 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (Paperback)
One answer to the question of the book's title is given by the epigraph to this excellent book: "Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little". This is the default demanded by consumerism, as driven by the side of capitalism that exalts "some of the most reviled human characteristics, such as greed, envy and avarice." Robert and Edward Skidelsky are not dogmatic anti-capitalists, however. They acknowledge capitalism's success at making "possible vast improvements in material conditions" but they're more interested in how insatiability "leads us away from the good life" and in how the continued pursuit of economic growth may actually damage what we value most. For those of us who want to step off the "nothing is enough" treadmill, the Skidelskys provide a valuable framework with which to resist the clamour of advertising and lifestyle choice and the lure of endless acquisition.

What's wrong with acquisitiveness, or, less pejoratively, with aspiration? The authors dismiss the critiques given by both Marxism ("economic insatiability is a creation of capitalism") and Christianity (it's "the product of original sin"). Their own view is that economic insatiability is rooted in human nature - "in the disposition to compare our fortune with that of our fellows and find it wanting" - but that it "has been greatly intensified by capitalism, which has made it the psychological basis of an entire civilization." (They might have quoted Shakespeare. Nerissa, Portia's gentlewoman-in-waiting in The Merchant of Venice, puts it simply: "they are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing.")

In The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good, Robert Frank provides a fascinating evolutionary perspective on status competition, and he's also cited by the authors as one of the contemporary economists in favour of progressive taxation as a means of achieving greater economic and social equality. However, I'm not sure Frank would approve of the Skidelskys' term "Darwinian capitalism" - an unhelpful phrase that betrays a crude understanding of evolutionary theory. The same evolutionary mechanism that generates nature red in tooth and claw also gives rise to cooperative behaviour and all the goods that flow from that (see, for example, Paul Seabright's The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life (Revised Edition)).

One reason they should educate themselves about Darwin's dangerous idea is that they believe that "the long-term goal of economic policy should henceforth not be growth, but the structuring of our collective existence so as to facilitate the good life." Anyone embarking on such a project at the very least ought to be aware that human psychological traits, which are of significance at both the individual and social levels, have evolved as adaptations in environments that may no longer obtain. Thus, a sweet tooth was adaptive when calories were scarce but is now maladaptive in much of the modern world. Unfortunately, the Skidelskys have a somewhat blinkered view of science, which "is a marvellous instrument for the exploration of external nature" but irrelevant to questions of human flourishing and ethics. Instead, they propose that "it is our own intuition, broadened by reading, travel and conversation, that must be our guide."

Their desire to exile science in this way leads to some contentious positions. For example, they claim that, in ethics, unlike science, "universal error is not a coherent possibility, since the subject of ethics, the human good, is one on which all humans have something to say." While there is some truth in this, we also don't have to look far to find a cultural practice - e.g. female genital mutilation - that has widespread support within a community but which is nevertheless morally reprehensible. Think also of the universal moral errors of religion, which, unlike science, has no mechanism for self-correction.

They're on safer ground when they focus on the distinction between work and leisure, which is central to their argument. We may think we know what these are, but for the Skidelskys leisure is an activity and not simply time spent not working, to be filled by sitting on a sofa in a stupor. "Work is what is done as a means to an end. Leisure is what is done for its own sake." In economic terms, paid work is undertaken primarily as a means to money, while leisure in their sense is distinguished by absence of external compulsion. (Although it's often hard work, the writing of these reviews is an example of a leisure activity!)

In his 1930 essay "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren", John Maynard Keynes looked a century ahead and wrote: "As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all." Since he wrote those words, we've enjoyed unprecedented technological progress and yet his prediction has not come to pass. Why have hours of work "fallen so much less than the growth of output per hour worked led him to expect"?

Now that we've achieved abundance, it seems that "the habits bred into us by capitalism have left us incapable of enjoying it properly." Capitalism "has given us wealth beyond measure, but has taken away the chief benefit of wealth: the consciousness of having enough." Material wants expand without end unless we consciously restrain them, "unless held in check by moral discipline."

This is where modern economics begins to flounder, although economics was not always devoid of ethics: Adam Smith and his contemporaries did not talk about growth but about "improvement", a term encompassing moral as well as material conditions. In What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Michael Sandel repeatedly finds "that market reasoning is incomplete without moral reasoning." He shares with the Skidelskys a concern over unchecked capitalism, summed up by one of the characters in J. B. Priestley's Summer Day's Dream: "You can't go shopping for a good life."

Where then to begin? A good place might be with the author of the epigraph, Epicurus. He was a pagan philosopher whose denial of providence and the afterlife makes him more in tune with a modern secular audience than with churchgoers. Indeed, he has been vilified and misrepresented by Christians for most of the past two millennia (see The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began), which seems to contradict the Skidelskys' claim that "the Catholic Church has always been open to the best of pagan wisdom."

Don't expect a one-size-fits-all solution or to be handed the good life on a plate: how we put the lessons of this book into practice in our own lives will be up to us. Passive consumption is, after all, part of the problem we're trying to fix. In the end, whatever our metaphysical commitments, the Skidelskys' central message is a timely warning against the continued pursuit of growth, and it's a message we would do well to heed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Project, But Incomplete, 26 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (Paperback)
Father-and-son duo Edward and Robert Skidelsky never answer the question posed by their title (although one footnote provides an estimate that around $66,000 per year should be sufficient to live their version of the good life; roughly the average wage in the USA in 2014). They ask it to highlight the ludicrous assumptions which underlie contemporary economic policy; in particular that an ever-increasing GDP and full employment should be the principal policy tool for improving citizens' wellbeing.

The Skidelskies rightly point out that economics is not an end in itself; a argument that may seem self-evident; but often appears to be overlooked in contemporary political discourse. Instead they portray it as a 'Faustian bargain' with the less admirable qualities in our nature; used to bootstrap society to a developmental stage where we can again focus on quality of life. One of this book's most valuable points is that the continued focus on improving objective economic measures does not do away with the values-based politics which so traumatised the early 20th century. Instead it merely obscures the ideals and beliefs required to justify such an aim. Contemporary politics, in other words, is not the bland managerialism its propenents portray.

So far, I found the Skidelskies' thesis compelling. But problems begin to creep in. Robert Skidelsky is the author of a biography of Keynes - whose short essay 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren' is used to introduce the book - and Edward a professor of philosophy with a preference for value ethics. One gets the feeling early on that the Skidelskies tend to frame the debate in light of their preferred fields. There is a heavy over-reliance on the wisdom of Keynes and ancient philosophers, especially in the book's first half, which feel out-of-place in an analysis of the 21st century's ills. At the risk of being accused a Philistine; I do not believe Aristotle's thoughts on a perfect society can be translated into policies for today's society, beyond concepts so broad-brush as to be meaningless.

The Skidelskies also have an unfortunate habit of theorising in a vacuum. Much and more has been written on the topics they address here, but very little contemporary thought is well-represented. They are quite happy to dismiss the entirety of economics as misguided, and spend a few short paragraphs explaining why they have no interest in 'happiness economics' and environmentalism; two mainstream schools of thought opposed to a narrow focus on economic growth. This dismissal of other thinkers, including a reluctance to engage with their critics, weakens the Skidelskies' case, and leaves them open to the charge of intellectual arrogance.

Having nevertheless well-described the problem, How Much is Enough? is less satisfying when it comes to offering solutions. The Skidelskies' development of the seven 'basic goods' which underpin 'the good life' is blatantly subjective, somewhat elitist and occasionally open to ridicule (their weird fixation on farmers' markets, for instance). I suspect the Skidelskies are correct when they assert that human wellbeing relies on a host of factors, rather than a single objective measure (whether GDP per capita or 'happiness'). Attempting to catalogue these goods, however, let alone develop policies to promote them, may be a hopeless task. Furthermore, with the ongoing existence of appalling poverty in much of the developing world; the Skidelskies do not address - much less make the case - that our global society is ready to jettison the booster-rocket of liberal capitalism just yet. They do not discuss the ramifications of their thesis for the emerging economies of, say, China and India, where capitalism has proven the greatest poverty-reduction tool in history. Finally, the few policy ideas directly promoted by the book are in no way commensurate with the scale of the problem outlined, and have a whiff of armchair theorising about them. Again, greater engagement with economists, political theorists and think-tank policy blueprints would greatly have benefitted How Much is Enough? here.

Readers sympathetic to the Skidelskies' thesis will nonetheless find this a refreshing and thought-provoking work. Those who start skeptical may not be won over by the end. Despite the book's problems, the Skidelskies ask profound questions here, the answers to which may help to formulate solutions to the developed world's ills. The project is left far from complete, however. How Much is Enough? is a valuable contribution to the debate, but at its conclusion one is still left waiting for a coherent alternative to liberal capitalism to emerge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to think and learn about what a good life might look like? Read this book!, 20 Oct. 2013
This book will certainly provoke thinking and learning if you set aside time to read it. Some of its proposals in the conclusion may come across as radical. But its greatest contribution is to remind us of the need to form a common vision, and of the dangers of a vacuum in this area. For me, the most enlightening aspect of the book (and there are many) is the changes it traces in the discourse of economics over the last century or so. In so far as this reminds us of how we should question all presumed or received wisdoms (including those of this book!), it provides a singular service in facilitating the conscientious reader in reflecting on what a common vision of the good life might look and feel like. Definitely worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - can anyone tell me what a 'flooded market' means?, 30 Sept. 2013
This review is from: How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (Paperback)
This is a really good book and well worth reading. However, distinguishing or failing to distinguish between wants and needs is so extruciatingly painful that I am beginning to wonder whether anyone amongst the powers that be ever thought it necessary - I am not for the first time becoming suspicious that the credit crunch may have been orchestrated by those in the know in order to rescussitate a 'back to basics' style campaign in order that the market may then be freed up to move once more beyond basic needs back to luxuries - before sometime in the future it's in danger of 'flooding' once more? I am still hoping to find a book that deals with our 'debt' and who we are (which individuals/organisations/countries?~) indebted to - and whether they then therefore have any interest in increasing our indebtedness...? Banks often do and often used to try to do this...how can we be sure that Arabian individuals or China may not try to do this, and why wouldn't it if there is not some kind of political consensus in these/this area - and what is preventing it from doing this if a prevention strategy can be relied upon and is at work?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great analysis of the problems, not so great when it comes to solutions, 25 Jun. 2012
This is a very readable account of how, despite getting much richer since Keynes wrote his essay 'Economic possibilities for our grandchildren', we haven't had the concomitant drop in working hours Keynes forecast. The authors mine a rich stream of thought which considers capitalism a 'Faustian pact' with unseemly motives for the production of wealth. How this pact has got out of hand, with GDP growth changing from a means to bringing about the good life to the end pursued by government policy is the first argument of the book.

The authors also argue - following Aristotle, and echoing Michael Sandel in his book Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? - that the draining of a moral and ethical discourse from public discussion of policy has merely obscured, rather than removed, the ethical stance behind political decisions. This is a welcome point, and along with their discussion of the 'Faustian pact' forms the most successful passage of the book.

So far, so good - but unfortunately the rest of the book is on shakier ground. The authors outline their own vision for 'the good life', which I felt was too subjective to be a programme with a real chance of being adopted by any mainstream political party. They make some valid criticisms of it, but nevertheless I feel the capabilities approach (developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum) remains a much better guide for policy than their assertion that the good life be promoted by government.

Two chapters deal in turn with the new happiness economics promoted by Richard Layard and the green/sustainable movement. They convincingly argue that neither happiness or sustainability should become the ultimate policy goal to replace GDP. The questionable alternative they propose, though, detracts from the chapters' impact.

Overall, definitely a recommended read, but I'd suggest some discussions of the capability approach as a guide to better solutions: like Nussbaum's Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small-c conservative argument against growth, 25 Aug. 2012
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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 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 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.)

Having recently published a book urging that Japan abandon growth-based policies (in Japanese, March 2012), I found a lot to agree with in this one. That includes a few of S&S's policy recommendations, such as about working hours and trade. We also have in common that we both use Aristotle's Politics as a jumping-off point. Aristotle distinguished between exchange (commerce) whose goal was to obtain things useful to the life of a household or community, and exchange for the purpose of accumulating money. His insight was that the first type has a "natural" limit -- there's only so much stuff anyone can use -- while the second type, which he called "unnatural," doesn't have any limit. I drew somewhat different conclusions about growth from this than did S&S, but they're complementary rather than in conflict. (A first-draft English version of my own take, from November 2010, is available for free on Social Science Research Network.)

There are a few topics, though, that I felt deserved more consideration in the book, some factual matters that could have been handled better, and some doubts I had about the way S&S articulate their arguments about ethics and the environment. They're 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 in the US).

(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 well worth reading. If you're new to the topic of de-growth, or if you liked Tim Jackson's "Prosperity without growth?," or if, especially, you've only read environmentalist arguments like Bill McKibbin's or "The Limits to Growth," this book will give you a valuable additional perspective.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good book, 8 July 2014
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This review is from: How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (Paperback)
present for my girlfriend, she really enjoyed it, and she bought another copy for her dad

this is the 2nd edition I believe, after the first edition there were a few people questioning the validity of what the book said, this is the second edition that actually counter argues these points raised
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply awesome!, 15 April 2014
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This review is from: How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (Paperback)
Initially, I consulted the book for my essay at school and then I found it was no longer about the essay, it was about moral decadence and loud applause for same. The Skidelskys walk us through the logic behind the idea of why money would never be enough. Highly recommended to all and sundry!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opener, 25 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (Paperback)
This book is an eye opener, as life is not all about work, work, work. Leisure time spent wisely is more satisfying than the income realise from work. I am striving to live the good life and I would recommend this book to everyone as it will enrich their lives.
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How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life
How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life by Edward Skidelsky (Paperback - 5 Sept. 2013)
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