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The transition to an ‘economy of enough’

A hundred years ago many New Zealanders were content with a bowl of porridge in the morning made from oats produced in Southland and Otago. Photo: Newsroom.

My latest article on Newsroom asks what if we made sufficiency a central guiding principal of our economy, as countries such as France are starting to do? It draws on earlier advocacy of the late Jeanette Fitzsimons, who argued for an 'economy of enough'.

On one autumnal afternoon in 2013, the late Jeanette Fitzsimons addressed a hall full of people in the leafy town of Waikanae on the Kāpiti Coast. Unusually, for a former academic and seasoned politician, she began her address with a story about a certain slow-witted but very likeable bear – who had indulged in a bit too much honey while visiting his friend Rabbit and got stuck in Rabbit’s doorway on his way out.
In the story much discussion ensued on ways to resolve this predicament, including Rabbit moving to a bigger tree, or cutting a bigger doorway. But in the end it was Christopher Robin who sagely concluded, “Pooh, you will just have to stay there and not eat any more until you lose weight”.
Through this story, Fitzsimons was deftly providing an analogy for the current human predicament. She went on to describe the need to transition to an “economy of enough”. That is, rather than Rabbit upsizing to allow for more honey consumption, Pooh just needed to cut back a bit. He needed to understand how much honey was enough and be satisfied with that.
Ten years have passed, and the need to transition to an economy of enough has only become more urgent. The words “overshoot”, “polycrisis”, “metacrisis” and “collapse” are now scattered through everyday conversations in lecture halls, meeting rooms, cafes and living rooms around the country as our awareness of the situation deepens.

Continue reading the article on Newsroom.


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