It's a good question, isn't it - how much money does any of us really need? Anger towards 'greedy' bankers and their 'obscene' bonuses has recently given way to a deeper dissatisfaction towards an economic system geared overwhelmingly to the accumulation of greater and greater wealth. Huge income disparities and an ever-growing gap between the richest and the rest has brought us to one of those rare moments when the underlying assumptions of society may be changing. Robert and Edward Skidelsky go beyond the current debate about growing inequality to ask what we need money for. They argue that wealth is not - or should not be - an end in itself, but a means to 'the good life'.
They begin with the great economist John Maynard Keynes. In 1930 Keynes predicted that, over the next century, per capita income would rise steadily, people's basic needs would be met, and no one would have to work more than fifteen hours a week. Clearly, he was wrong- though income has risen as he foresaw, our wants have expanded just as fast, and we continue to work long hours.
The Skidelskys explain why Keynes was mistaken. Then, presenting economics as a moral undertaking rather than an exact science, they trace the concept of the good life from Aristotle to the present and show how far modern life has strayed from that ideal. They reject the idea that there is any single measure of human progress, whether GDP or 'happiness', and instead describe the seven elements which, they argue, together make up the good life. Finally, they propose some radical economic policies to help us meet the true human needs they have identified.