“You only have to look around you at all the people who are dieting and jogging to realize that, with respect to some needs at least, a large part of the advanced countries' populations have not only reached but passed the point of satiety.” So noted economist Tibor Scitovsky in his essay “Growth in the Affluent Society” (1987/1995, 97).

Almost sixty years earlier, John Maynard Keynes in his essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren” had envisioned a not-so-distant future society in which the economic problem, the struggle for subsistence and absolute needs, would be solved. The problem then, he stressed, would be to shed the old habits belonging to that struggle and to embrace “the new-found bounty of nature” (1931/1972, 328). Keynes anticipated that, with time ...

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