Enough is Plenty: Public and Private Policies for the 21st Century, by Anne B. Ryan

O Books, 2010, x + 215 pp, pbk, 1 84694 239 6, £11.99

‘The concept of enough is developed throughout this book … enough is relevant to public policies and personal resources … enough is not uniform throughout the world; it can take different forms and expressions for individuals and for cultures.’ (pp.1,2)

The author explores the ecological, aesthetic, moral and spiritual aspects of ‘enough’; discusses the limitations of monetarization of the economy and of GDP measurement; and describes industrialised agriculture as ‘suicidal’ (p.50). Solutions are suggested: individualised carbon trading, a Citizen’s Income, locally-traded food: and the principles underlying these proposals are explored.

There is much here that echoes E. F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful (HarperCollins, latest printing 2001) and John V. Taylor’s Enough is Enough (SCM Press, 1975: sadly now out of print), and there is a rather rigorous treatment of many of the areas of interest in Tony Fitzpatrick and Michael Cahill, eds., Environment and Welfare (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). Discussions of these three books would have enhanced the book under review. There is no bibliography and no index, which is a pity.

Of particular interest to readers of this Newsletter will be chapter 5 on a Citizen’s Income. A Citizen’s Income’s effects on employment patterns are discussed, as are possible objections to the policy and options for paying for a Citizen’s Income. The author concludes: ‘The principles informing a Citizen’s Income help us to ask radically new questions about the nature of work and security.’ (p.115)

This wideranging book addresses us with the questions: ‘Do all of these problems and proposed solutions hang together?’ ‘Could they hang together?’ The answer to the first is ‘Not necessarily’, and the answer to the second ‘Possibly’. There might be little in this book that is really original, but for the positive answers which it gives to these questions the book is worth reading.