Monday, May 20, 2013

How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life

Bazaar, in Nairobi, Kenya

I'm reading How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life, by British economic historian Robert Skidelsky and his philosopher-sociologisty son Edward Skidelsky.

"This book," they write, "is an argument against insatiability... It is directed at economic insatiability, the desire for more and more money. It is chiefly directed at the rich parts of the world, which may be reasonably thought to have enough wealth for a decent collective life. For the poor parts of the world, where the mass of the people still live in great poverty, insatiability is a problem for the future. But in rich and poor societies alike, insatiability can be seen wherever the opulence of the very rich runs wildly ahead of the means of existence of the many." (p. 3)

The Skidelsky's view is that the insatiable desire for "more" is rooted in human nature - "in the disposition to compare our fortune with that of our fellows and find it wanting." (Ib.)

What constitutes the "good life?" It can't be the acquisition of money. They write:

"Making money cannot be an end in itself— at least for anyone not suffering from acute mental disorder. To say that my purpose in life is to make more and more money is like saying that my aim in eating is to get fatter and fatter. And what is true of individuals is also true of societies. Making money cannot be the permanent business of humanity, for the simple reason that there is nothing to do with money except spend it." (p. 5)

Have you ever been on the death bed of a person who made and spent tons of money? I have. And it's pathetic to see if the rich materialist was banking on money and material things as the way to the good life.

Enter the Real Jesus, his warnings about making money and things one's god, and the promise of a satiated life, in him, irregardless of circumstances, because the goal becomes to give one's life away for the sake of God and others.