Is Keynesianism a double-edged sword

More free time, more love, more spontaneity

The economist Robert Skidelsky and the philosopher Edward Skidelsky call for the good life with their new book.

First of all, the positive news: the good life is possible. Now comes the bad: It doesn't come by itself. As early as 1930, the great economist John Maynard Keynes dreamed of the “economic opportunities for our grandchildren” that would allow them to work less and find happiness in extensive leisure time by 2030 at the latest. It turned out differently: while prosperity in Europe rose rapidly during the second half of the 20th century, the subjective well-being of most people has not increased.

“Capitalism is a double-edged sword,” show Robert and Edward Skidelsky in their book “How Much Is Enough”. On the one hand it has led to enormous wealth, on the other hand it has cultivated people's insatiability. Since the desire for more consumption, more expensive status symbols, or the sheer possession and increase of money has been unleashed, it no longer knows "enough" or satisfaction. Today economic growth is the undisputed goal of politics. Between infinite greed and finite means, only “organized dissatisfaction” remains, they state.

The authors discuss reasons why limiting the workload has become a long way off. First of all, there are those people who simply cannot afford to work less. Today, however, we are also observing high-income workaholics with astonishment. For them, payment is no longer a compensation for the burden of their work. No, the real pay of work today seems to be in the work itself. This goes hand in hand with a devaluation of free time, which many people no longer know what to do with because of boredom.

Robert and Edward Skidelsky outline solutions. Your argumentation is easy to read and does not require complicated philosophical models. In an intuitive way, they identify basic physical and social needs, the satisfaction of which is sufficient for a good, fulfilling life. How do we get to such a society? On the one hand, the book by the two Skidelskys is a call to rethink one's own way of life. On the other hand, they demand a progressive policy that no longer turns a blind eye to the deformations of modern life.

Robert and Edward Skidelsky (2013): How Much is Enough? From growth mania to an economy of the good life, Verlag Antje Kunstmann, € 19.95.