Witter in the Sunday Times
The Sunday Times
| Sunday, January 12, 2014
The world’s fastest interview: 140 characters max per answer — the economist, 74, on happiness, taxation and loyalty in politics
Witter: You’ve consumed political parties with abandon. Now you’re a cross-bencher. Are you at all loyal to any of the parties you have belonged to?
RS: I do not accept Disraeli’s dictum: “Damn your principles! Stick to your party.” Political parties deserve no more than conditional loyalty.
Are there any principled politicians left?
There must be some principled ones left, but you don’t hear them because they almost never rise to the top.
Who do you most admire in modern politics and why?
I think the greatest politicians of the last 30 years, by the scale of their achievements, were Mikhail Gorbachev andContinue reading...
Your book, How Much Is Enough?, asks the ancient question of what constitutes a "good life". It examines in particular John Maynard Keynes's belief that in this century the spread of wealth would create a greater spread of leisure, and a great flowering of human potential. Wasn't that always a utopian idea?
I think the book is utopian in the light of what is going on at the moment. But I think it is also based on pretty hard economic reasoning. The calculation that Keynes made was that, if we got more money for less work, then we would want to work less. It was based on a notion of the satiability of human wants, which he got wrong of course to some degree.
Did aristocratic elites always use their leisure well?
No; of course a lotContinue reading...