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How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,233 ratings  ·  162 reviews
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
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Other Press (first published 2012)
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3.59  · 
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 ·  1,233 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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The Skidelsky brothers have written a succinct book arguing that neoliberal economic ideology is failing the developed world. They suggest replacing the imperatives of economic growth and productive efficiency with an ethic of the ‘good life’, cobbled together from the democratic socialism of the mid-20th century, older philosophical works, and Catholic teachings. Although I’ve read other books with very similar central themes (notably Growth Fetish and I Spend Therefore I Am: How Economics Has ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall, I found Skidelsky & Skidelsky's "How Much is Enough" to be an intellectually stimulating, engaging, and well-reasoned book. I think their call for a more moral understanding of economics is sorely needed, especially in an age when liberals and progressives all too often justify their recommended redistributive policies only on technocratic grounds like "increased productivity." My main gripe with the book, however, lies with the chapter on "Limits to Growth." I agree with them on th ...more
Ross Emmett
I've written a short review for CHOICE. Here I'll make some more specific comments.

I expected, from comments I've read, a very poor argument for a wishy-washy romantic argument about the end of scarcity. Robert Skidelsky is the biographer of J. Maynard Keynes, who famously thought that the prospects for his grandchildren would be a world without scarcity. (Just this morning I realized that Frank Knight made a quite similar argument in the final chapter of The Economic Organization.) While there
Dave Main
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Pretty uneven, and not particularly useful.

It offered an interesting history of the evolution of thought behind the accumulation of wealth, or, why we collectively decided to continue to pursue more and more money and stuff instead of choosing leisure as an alternative.

But what was missing (for me, anyway) was any semblance of explanation of how to get to the life they propose. If we decide to collectively exchange wealth for more leisure, what would the economy look like? Would it still be ca

This is a remarkable work of economics, history, and philosophy in one, easy to understand yet offering a refreshing and complex polemic against our money-grubbing-and-hoarding nature. The book came at the opportune moment for me, actually, when I have been thinking long and hard about wealth, greed, the good life, and leisure. It's refreshing and enlightening to follow Skidelskys' attempt at reviving the ancient notion of eudaimonia (which, they argue quite convincingly, is more obj
Keith Akers
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a quirky, uneven book, but with enough good ideas to make it worth reading. What I liked was their exploration of why Keynes and everyone else who thought that abundance would bring a decline of work, have failed. I also liked their discussion of the basic income, which they recommend. Also good was the discussion of how we can really assess economies, if GDP is bankrupt and so is “happiness economics.” Their suggestion is by looking at basic goods such as health, respect, personality, h ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One-Minute Review

Written by Robert and Edward Skidelsky, How Much is Enough? is my favourite book of the year, and my only five-star rating on Goodreads in 2012. The authors have crafted a philosophical discussion about our insatiable appetites for economic growth, which so far have ignored a key question: "To what end?" As students of John Maynard Keynes, the Skidelskys are all for economic growth through capitalism, but as a means not an end and certainly not at any social and environmental co
Matthew Jones
I didn’t find this book particularly useful. There seemed to be an awful lot of generalised truisms thrown about without much in the way of evidence or examination.

It characterised the affluent West as one homogenised wealthy mass enslaved by its constant consumption and that the path to freedom opens up if we could only stop buying rubbish. Which is presumably true of many but for the vast swathes of “JAMs” (Just About Managing) it’s a little fanciful a thesis. The focus was on consumption wit
Nick Klagge
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
This book would seem right up my alley, and in most ways, it was. It is written by two philosophers, so it didn't suffer from the usual problems I find with popular-consumption econ books (though perhaps a philosopher reading it would find an analogous set of problems!).

Skidelsky pere is the author of the preeminent biography of Keynes, and the motivation for the book is a well-known essay by Keynes in which he speculated on the economic future. Based on his projections of the growth of income,
Ali Sirri
Ekonomi üzerine yazılmış bir felsefe kitabı. Bazı bölümlerde rakamsal destekler olsa da ağırlık felsefe tarafında. Akademik alıntıları bol, bu alıntılara atıfta bulunarak yorumlamalar üzerine kurgulanmış bir kitap. Bu açıdan bakıldığında sıkıcı bölümleri fazla.
Okumaya başlamadan önce arka sayfadaki 3 yorumu dikkatlice okuyun. Ve o yorumlara 2 dakikanızı ayırın. Kitabın içinde ne bulacağınızı veya bulamayacağınızı çok güzel özetlemişler.
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-ficton
This fine, short book asks an excellent question. The father-son authors are, respectively, professors of economics and a philosophy. The book grew out of a discussion of a little known 1928 essay by economics heavyweight John Maynard Keynes, who predicted that if then current trends in technological progress and economic growth held steady, in 100 years we all would have everything we need and we would be working three hours a week. The two trends have exceeded his expectations, so what has hap ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
In Keynes’ infrequently quoted prediction that the population of developed countries would work just 15 to 20 hours by 2030, the Skidelskys have found an incredible premise to explore why we continue to slave for endless hours long after our material conditions are met. And in the book’s opening chapters they eruditely lay out their idol’s idea – and convincingly extol where humanity went wrong. Hint: It's around the 1980s.

Next the brothers apply the same seriousness to examining ancient concept
David Msomba
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The beginning was a bit dull but things turned around toward the middle of book and from then,it got real interested.

I real enjoyed chapters on the philosophy of good life and money,relationship between good life and GDP(Happy Economic),how to differentiate the search for happiness,pleasure and joy in life,basic elements of a good life and so many other things.

But I was also appalled by his biased view on climate change on The chapter "limit to growth",since this book came out on 2012 I'm sure w
Geert Hofman
Vier sterren is wellicht iets overdreven voor dit boek. Het bevat heel veel interessante insteken over hoe we alternatieve economische modellen zouden kunnen uitrollen en doet ook zijn best om de onderliggende redenen waarom economische verandering noodzakelijk is fundamenteel te onderbouwen, maar het blijft al bij al vooral op dat laatste vlak vrij onevenwichtig. Sommige delen zijn goed uitgewerkt, andere daarentegen gaan heel kort door de bocht.

Omdat het toch een heel belangrijk thema aanraakt
Matthew Maclean
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics, academic
I’m sympathetic to the main argument of the Skidelskys’ book: that the pursuit of money (and economic growth) for its own sake is not only socially and environmentally destructive but also absurd. Without any social consensus on what money is for, we settle for perpetually chasing more of it, assuming this will enable us to achieve our individual (and widely varying) notions of fulfillment. The means has become the end, and there is no longer a place for the concept of “enough”. The Skidelskys c ...more
Laurent Franckx
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it

Over the last 4 decades, we have seen a long list of books questioning or even attacking the pursuit of economic growth. From Mishan's "The Costs of Economic Growth", over the “Reports to the Club of Rome” to Tim Jackson's "Prosperity Without Growth", the list is long - and so is the list of rebuttals.
A few years ago, the celebrated biographer of Keynes, Robert Skidelsky, and his son Edward have joined forces to write " How Much is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life". The
Justin Douglas
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly a breezy read—a bit of a slog, to be honest—but well worth the effort. My recent interest in combining economics and philosophy led me to this book, which is an argument for restoring a moral basis to the 'dismal science,' and rescuing it from the dark corridors of utilitarianism. The premise of the book is: What is the good life, and how can we, as a society, attain it?

I just finished it a couple minutes ago, so rather than a profound review or critique of the book, here's a quick o
An interesting combination of philosophy, economics and social history, this book was an interesting, but very conceptually dense read. I read fast and it took me over 2 weeks to get through this one a few morsels at a time. The central question is that of what is needed for “good life”. In exploring this, the authors examine the Keynesian conceit that technology and advances would eventually reduce the working hours needed to no more than 10 or 15 hours a week. Clearly this has not happened, bu ...more
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Hmm. I started off liking this book and thinking it was going to propose an interesting solution to our current economic dilemma. Unfortunately, I got more and more frustrated by the fact that the writers spent most of the book stating what (to me) seemed the bleeding obvious and then failed to come up with any viable solution.

If you are one of the people who already knows that they have enough, then this book will not have much to say to you. If, on the other hand, you are one of the people who
Richard Wilson
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a challenging book, not because the idea of a "good life" in a post-capitalist world is not attractive, it is, but because it is so difficult to define and the means to achieve this end are difficult to grasp. It is a book of ideas and explains them in their historical context. We have lost the morality of the pre-Adam Smith world but not yet reestablished a new morality. It would be unthinkable in Pre-Modern times to desire wealth and to consume the way we do. It no longer has a purpose ...more
Paul Tracey
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I went on holiday and somehow lost the book I took, a book about the environment and economics, very probable I left it on the airplane. So with only minutes to spare in the Spanish airport I managed to find this book. On picking it up I thought the question wasn’t really that relative to me, “How much is enough?”, because I clearly don’t have enough, and it’s unlikely I will have enough in the near future. Damn it. However I do have a deep admiration of Aristotle and the question of how to live ...more
What would you do with a 5-day weekend, every week? Do we actually know how to engage in leisure (not merely 'free time') meaningfully? Do we still understand what money is for, having an outlook of what the good life entails?

The Skidelsky's draw on JM Keynes' early writings, to show that in the 1930s, the vision of the future entailed growing richer and working much less. While we, as a country or as 'the Western World', have indeed become extraordinarily rich through productivity increases, w
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Main argument is that there is a point when we should just accept that we have enough amd stop pursuing more wealth, more consumption, just more in general. It is difficult to fault in principle, very hard to see how it is going to be made to work in practice and as with many books I don't see that the Skidelsky's solutions are as powerful as their critique. Also at several points they claim that arguments about sustainability aren't that convincing because we aren't into nature that much. They ...more
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really didn't like this book.
I enjoyed the concept--is there a universal standard we could have for what makes a comfortable and enjoyable life? And enjoyed some of the musings why the universality aspect had disappeared-- e.g. religion used to set a maximum standard.
But I found it incredibly slow going, arrogant at times, and they spent so little time actually describing their idea of what the universal standard should include.
There are far better books on economics, standards of living, and
Avrei preferito non un compendio delle teorie, ma un brillante saggio a cavallo tra economia e filosofia. Le domande lungo il testo sono stimolanti e in alcuni punti si trovano risposte - sulle quali si puo' concordare o dissentire, ma ad ogni modo è lodevole il fatto di averle proposte.
ercavo qualcosa d'altro, qui soltanto sfiorato. Forse dovrei rileggere Bauman - forse cercavo Bauman a cavallo dell'economia.
Forse dovrei smettere di cercare bottoni dove non li ho persi, solo perche' li' c'e'
Julie Adelkvist-Knudsen
Overall a very interesting book with ideas and views that I haven't considered before. It often strays and doesn't always succeed in connecting economy, philosophy and the history of literature.
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot to like, a lot to be excited by and a lot to enjoy (Faust as an allegory was fun) but also a lot to be frustrated by.

In their own words, 'The thesis of our book is that the pursuit of money as an end in itself is bad not just because it is detrimental to happiness or the environment...but because it is absurd. It rests on a misunderstanding of the nature and function of money. Money is essentially a means to the good; to treat its accumulation as an ultimate goal is to fall victim to a del
Kristopher Powell
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is dense, and is not necessarily a fast read, though it did significantly change my views on the world. As I described it, I didn't always want to pick it up, but every time I did, I read something that was really compelling. At some point, I will re-read it, and I have enjoyed discussing it with people I have recommended it to.

It does force us to ask some tough questions about our lifestyles, how we use our resources, and what the "good life" actually means. I was left with an unsettl
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The issues and arguments addressed in this book were thought provoking. We take it for granted that economy should grow in order to make our life better. But Robert and Edward Skidelsky remind us that it is merely because we have been so deeply dragged ourselves into capitalism system and being insatiable became quite normal state of our economic life. They reject both value-neutralism and value-relativism in their argument about good life, and place the good life itself as our goal based on a p ...more
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Lord Skidelsky is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick. His three volume biography of the economist John Maynard Keynes (1983, 1992, 2000) received numerous prizes, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations Prize for International Relations. He is the author of the The World After Communism (1995) (American ed ...more
“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.” 10 likes
“The UK office for National Statistics has identified the things that matter most for happiness as "health, relationships, work, and the environment" - a list that tallies closely with our basic goods. Given that our lives have not noticeably improved in these respects since 1974 it is hardly surprising that we do not feel any happier.
Are we then suggesting a return to living standards of 1974? Not necessarily, for the luxuries acquired since then may, even if they have added nothing to our real well-being, be painful to forgo. This is an instance of the general truth that damaging social changes cannot always be rectified simply by being reversed, any more than a man flattened by a steamroller can be restored to life by being run over backwards. What we are saying is that the long-term goal of economic policy should henceforth not be growth, but the restructuring of our collective existence so as to facilitate the good life.”
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