Review of ENOUGH IS ENOUGH by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, Berrett Koehler, 2013

Review By Rosalinda Sanquiche, Executive Director, Ethical Markets Media

January 22, 2013

With enthusiastic support from Herman Daly who wrote the foreword, Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill give readers a lesson on consumption, economics, global limits and a guide to a different way to manage the Earth’s quickly depleting resources.

Enough Is Enough details the folly and impossibility of unlimited growth.  It shows how growth is perceived as the only solution even by those whose task it is to improve the welfare of the many.  Dietz and O’Neill quote Anne Krueger of the International Monetary Fund: “Poverty reduction is best achieved through making the cake bigger, not by trying to cut it up in a different way.”  What Krueger fails to understand and Dietz and O’Neill miss the opportunity to show is Hazel Henderson’s depiction of the total productive system as a many layered cake, with the private and public sectors on top of the love economy and all three resting on nature – quickly becoming inhospitable, needing humans to stop at enough.

The authors advocate for a Steady State Economy and take the time to explain what that is.  Section one begins with “Questions of Enough” and describes “What Sort of Economy Provides Enough.”   They provide “Strategies for Enough,” taking on controversial issues such as population and distribution of wealth.

The definition of wealth is explored, as the authors unequivocally state that individuals and more egregiously governments use the wrong measures of wealth.  Our mutual friend and colleague John Fullerton serves as a case of study of an individual coming to full realization of mis-measures of wealth, notable in that John was a Wall Street insider.

At the country level, the authors dismiss GDP and offer a host of other measures, naming organizations and countries around the world willing to consider health, education, security and many other indicators of quality of life.  They support the global desire for better measures by quoting the 2007 Ethical Markets survey with GlobeScan for the Beyond GDP conference held by the European Commission. Updated in 2011, with the next update coming out later in 2013, the survey shows large majorities worldwide believe health, social and environmental statistics should be used for measuring national progress.

Other “strategies of enough” address debt, unemployment and commerce, always taking their point to the global level.  The authors walk readers through options to change consumer behavior and engage politicians and media to begin changing national goals.  Their tone and style, readability, graphics and cartoons imply a positive outlook which is not substantiated by the text.  The cartoons are dark, and the authors admit that many pieces of the steady state are faint and won’t manifest until crises lead to a cascade effect.

I prefer the positive tone, the weight of authority as they cite alternative economists and enlightened thinkers.  The reader feels there is heft to their conclusions.  Whether you agree with a steady state economy or not, this is a book those of us working toward steady state goals can share with the lay reader, preparing them too for a “seismic shift.”