Friday, September 18, 2009

Sun and stars

Further to my blog about better ways of measuring a
society’s health and wealth than simply by gdp
, I see
Robert Skidelsky, in an essay in the British magazine
Prospect, saying that, in the light of the global financial
crisis, and with the gloss coming off globalization,

national politicians are likely to reach for ideas and
influences that until recently would have seemed
exotic. The idea, for example, that economic growth
does not, beyond a certain point, make people
happier. David Cameron, a market-friendly
Conservative, has talked about the importance of
general wellbeing as an alternative to the mania for
economic growth.

Southernrata, commenting on my blog, points us to a
set of useful comments here on the French plan, with
a pointer to the original report by Joseph Stiglitz and
Amartya Sen. To their voices can be added that of J M
Keynes, whom Skidelsky quotes as saying that

we destroy the beauty of the countryside because the
unappropriated splendours of nature have no
economic value. We are capable of shutting off the
sun and the stars because they do not pay a dividend.

Keynes must have written that at least 75 years ago. No
wonder Skidelsky says it's time to take a lead from him
again. Skidelsky's whole essay, well worth reading, is here.

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