ISBN 978-1-846-14448-6. “How Much is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life” by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky was published by Allen Lane (Penguin Group) in 2012. Robert and Edward are a father & son team; Robert is Professor of Political Economy whilst Edward is a lecturer in Philosophy. This work combines their interests and starts with Robert’s three volume biography of John Maynard Keynes. Their argument follows a torturous alternative path to a conclusion that we can all agree with: the pursuit of money, as an end in itself, is destructive. The Skidelskys propose a more paternalistic (less utilitarian) approach to economic management that helps us all focus on our quality of living. In their words “the good life”.
ISBN 978 1 84694 671 4. “No Local – Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change the World” by Greg Sharzer as published by Zero Books in 2012. This is a small book by a relatively unknown author. Its cover and title attempts to ape Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” but there is no comparison. At first glance the concept was very attractive to us: a critique of re-localisation. Yes, it is a critique but one by a devout Marxist. As such it is tortuous reading. It is like studying the work of an 18th Century Catholic theologian who argued that Buddhism was the work of the devil because Buddhists didn’t care how many angels could be stood on the head of a pin. The critique only makes sense if you are a Marxist.
ISBN 978 1 84813 992 3. “Debunking Economics – The Naked Emperor Dethroned?” (Revised and Expanded Edition) by Steve Keen was published by Zed Books in 2011 (from an original 2001 edition). Reading this book is continuation of a journey we started with Ha-Joon Chang’s “Bad Samaritans” and continued up until “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett. In this journey we asked one simple question: what if everything that was wrong about this world boiled down to economics? One of the best answers we have found was in “How Markets Fail” by John Cassidy. In essence Steve Keen has expanded Cassidy’s work into an entire Economics textbook. Sounds boring? You bet! Continue reading
ISBN 978-0-141-04571-9. “Whoops – Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay” by John Lanchester was published by Penguin Books in 2010 (this paperback edition has new material - the original was published in 2010 by Allen Lane). You can almost fall in love with this book from its great subtitle. However when you read it you will note a strong resemblance to “How Markets Fail – The Logic of Economic Calamities” by John Cassidy (2009 Penguin ISBN 978-0-141-03651-9) which we reviewed on Oct 16th 2012. Whereas Cassidy provides a long history of the origins of modern neo-liberal economics; Lanchester chooses to cut straight to how the crash happened and who was to blame. Beyond that, he asks the questions we should all be asking: when is enough, enough?