Posts Tagged ‘economics of enough’

Sunday Review: The economics of enough: How to run the economy as if the future mattered by Diane Coyle

17/07/2011, 01:58:43 PM

by Anthony Painter

The Israeli management guru, Eli Goldratt, once asserted: “Tell me how you will measure me and I will tell you how I will behave.” What we measure defines what we value. As a society we measure many of the wrong things so we value the wrong things.

As Diane Coyle argues in The Economics of Enough:

“Profit-oriented capitalism has always drawn on support from other institutional values. The policies of the past thirty years have lost their anchor in values outside the market.”

It should be stated out the outset that this is not a book that is solely about measurement. Its scope is staggeringly broad. It is iconoclastic, counter-faddist, intricate, readable yet grounded. That is some achievement given the book’s ambition: to redefine how we look at our economic institutions in the light of how they contribute to shared social values.

The easy thing to do when writing a book like this is to shoot off into the distance and say what we value is valueless; instead of material things, we should value happiness, the environment, each other and so on. Instead, Coyle articulates a pluralism of values and given that then argues for a balanced economy that allows us to achieve a mixture of fairness, efficiency and freedom while being honest about the contradictions between them. The easiest trick to pull is to say that fairness equals efficiency equals freedom and that’s the trilemma resolved. Generally when things are too good to be true they are and there are choices to be made. Coyle is brutally honest about that.

Of all the conversations that are intelligently engaged with in The economics of enough it is the one about measurement that has the potential to be the most radical. (more…)

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