Book review

Enough is Enough

Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neil, Earthscan, 2013

This book opens with 4 pages of praise for it from a selection of well-qualified reviewers. I can only add my name to these!

Part I has 4 chapters questioning aspects of ‘enough’, with Part II consisting of 11 chapters discussing ‘Enough …” – Throughput, People, Inequality, Debt, etc.

I found that I could wholeheartedly agree with them on all counts, with just two minor reservations. The first is that under ‘Enough Debt’, though they discuss the ‘three functions’ of money: medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value, and go on to advocate debt-free money creation by the State, alongside local currencies and a neutral international currency, they do not discuss the 4th function of money, currently the most damaging one: as the source of power of the ‘1%’ – or rather, the 0.01% - over the media, politicians, economics teaching, etc., and how this underlies the promotion of perpetual ‘ecconomic growth’ to avoid recession or worse, because of the debt-based, debt escalating system of money creation they profit from.

The other reservation is that when they discuss ‘Enough Unemployment’, though they suggest that ‘full employment’ could be kept up in an economy limited to ‘enough’ by rreducing hours, they do not question the aim of the continuation of wage-slavery, or the possibility of separating the need for basic income, enough to get by on, from any demand for ‘employment’, so freeing people to choose how they spend their time – earning more, raising children, researching, craftwork - paid or purely for its own sake, caring for old/disabled relatives/friends, studying, starting/joining a cooperative, doing what is now termed ‘voluntary work’, … or enjoying leisure until some need for other occupation is recognised. The whole concept of ‘full-/un-employment’ needs to be challenged. Since the start of the ‘industrial revolution’, machines have been progressively reducing the need for human labour to meet humanity’s real needs; and the ‘freeconomy’ can provide much of what humans need, without using money, if people are freed from wage-slavery. The demands for ‘economic growth’ and ‘full employment’ are linked, and cynically promoted by the power elite to divert attention from the realities so well listed and described in this book. Instead of ‘Enough Unemployment’, there should have been a chapter on ‘Enough Wage-slavery’! – and/or ‘Enough Capitalism’.

The authors’ final chapter, ‘Enough Waiting’, argues the need for a cultural shift to ‘enough’. This is certainly needed, and must be encouraged, but the overriding need is an overwhelming popular demand to end the private banks’ privilege of money-creation along with interest-bearing debt, and in place of it, a government duty to create-and-spend as much money into circulation as society needs, then to adjust the total up or down as the needs change. Break the Money Masters’ power!

In sum: after reading this book, no-one should doubt that, at least in the ‘advanced’ economies, ‘enough’ is a far better aim than ‘more’. We are gaining more stress, illness and unhappiness along with more, poor quality, short-lived goods! We badly need ‘degrowth’, but this must be accompanied with fair shares; more equality.

Brian Leslie