Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Enough is Enough

Last month I attended the launch of Enough is Enough by Dietz and O'Neill, founding members of CASSE, the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady-State Economy. 

Everyone should read this book. The authors quote Kenneth Boulding, “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever is either a madman or an economist,” and go on to explain in detail why this is true. Of course this story has been told many times before, in An Inconvenient Truth and The Age of Stupid among many others. An Inconvenient Truth tucked its recommendations for action away among the closing credits while The Age of Stupid was a festival of hand-wringing over what went wrong. Where Enough is Enough scores is that after describing the present situation it constantly asks “What could we do differently?” and “Where do we go from here?” Most of the answers are very sensible, although I do take issue with their idea of lowering productivity to provide more jobs. Why not increase productivity and provide more leisure? But that’s a debate for another time.

The key issue, of course, is to get enough people to realise that we need fundamental change and to support that change. Maybe we’ll get to that tipping point, but the problem is that too many people have too much to lose if they step away from the present system.

The book is full of cartoons and many of them cheapen its image. They give the impression that the cause of all the world’s problems is cynical and corrupt capitalists. It isn’t nearly as simple as that. There are signs that some business leaders are beginning to get the message, and pitting one section of the community against another is not only no solution, it’s a waste of the very limited time we have to get things under control. 

There’s much to be done. Enough is Enough is a useful route map.