A green future with Keynes?
Today I post with much delight the first guest-commentary of this young and yet much visited Blog. Carl Högfeld, part of the left-wing in the GRON UNGDOM SVERIGE (Green Youth of Sweden)
In 1930 J.M Keynes published the economic possibilities of our grandchildren, where he claimed that we, his grandchildren would only have to work 3 hours a day to be able to satisfy our needs due to the technological advances we would make. And in someways he was right. We don’t have to work 8 hours a day to take care of our basic needs, however instead of taking out increasing effective in the workingplace in shorter hours we have instead decided to take it out in another flat-screen plasma TV. Of course without any consideration of how this extra consumption affects our planet.
It has become the norm in the political society that the more we consume the happier we are. This is however not quite right when we are faced with the facts of happiness research. They show that an increase in consumption only increases the happiness to a certain degree. We have a diminishing marginal return of happiness from consumption. Instead they show that what is important for a persons happiness are the social factions such as having a stable relationship and friends etc. Things that are hard to quantify for politicians.
But what we need is permanent revolution in what is considered the goal for politics. Constantly inscreasing consumption is impossible by defintion. Partly due to the fact that the planet can’t substain a constans inscrease in consumption and partly due to the time constraint of each indvidual. No matter how rich we get we still only have 24 hours each day and with increased consumptions comes more downtime in form of taking care of said consumption. The summer home needs to be painted and the car needs to be cleaned. The more things you own, the more the things own your time.
What we need now is more green politicans that see that what is meaningfull in peoples lives are not how much they consume but how happy they are! Green politicians that see that leisure time is more important than working time. For if their is going to be a future it has to be green!
I myself find this idea very appealing. Instead of trying to work more to keep the (relative) income stable (note: in Germany, inflation rose in the last years faster than the average income), we should work less for the same amount of money (absolute or relative/inflationrate-inlcuded?). Maybe this is a „Western“ Problem? How is it in your countries? I have heard so many nice stories of the „easy going“-wy of life in Africa or elsewhere. Tell me about it!
Thank you Carl for bringing some new point in the global young green debate! 🙂