What Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim can tell us about economics
WHAT is the point of economics? It often seems that the objective is to make the world richer. When global GDP is growing quickly, dismal scientists rejoice; their only misgiving is that growth might slow. Yet this is the season when, for devout Christians at least, the ineffable supplants the material (and the other way around for most folk). That makes it a good time to ponder whether maximising income should really be the be-all and end-all of economic policy.
Few people consider a big income as an end in itself—with the notable exception of Ebenezer Scrooge, the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping” anti-hero of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”. But we do sense that [...]