Thank you, Robert Peston, for saying the sanest thing I’ve yet to hear about how we might get ourselves out of this mess: “Maybe we [the middle class] should make some sacrifices and be a bit poorer” (Interview: ‘I’m not saying Britain is finished, but our current problems are not a blip’, 25 November).
The whole interview had me making connections with other Guardian writers. Sure, we can keep living the way we do, consuming what we want, as long as we’re somewhat altruistic (Giles Fraser: It’s called effective altruism – but is it really the best way to do good?, 24 November), but we’d not be making any significant changes to the system that keeps so many humans and so much of our environment enslaved to our desires (George Monbiot: Our annual festival of relentless consumption is trashing the planet, 22 November).
Is Robert’s suggestion to reconfigure our own economic relationship with the world (becoming poorer) some of the answer to the achingly beautiful hope of “private sufficiency and public luxury” that George sets before us?
Public intellectuals, please keep this conversation about money public, and audible.
Helen Channer Aupperlee
Robert Peston is absolutely right that the well-off middle classes have to “make some sacrifices” to avoid civil unrest.
Rightwing acquaintances, once they discover that we are somewhat lefty Guardian readers, look at our period house and comfortable lifestyle in Cambridge and accuse us of being “champagne socialists”. My husband’s riposte is that any leftwing leanings are driven by our self-interest, not ideology. He tells them we’d cheerfully vote away a portion of our good fortune to help the struggling masses, so as to prevent a mob arriving at the door with pitchforks and tumbril. That usually shuts them up.