Public Ethics Radio: Discretionary Time

January 9, 2009

What does it mean to live well? The U.S. Census Bureau informs us that an individual American with an income of less than $10,590 lives below the poverty line and is eligible for federal assistance. Add children and the number rises slowly: a father and two young children, say, is poor when their income is less than $16,689.

Certainly these numbers strike us immediately as indicative of low well being. But, as we are informed by Robert Goodin and Lina Eriksson, income figures don’t tell the whole story. Missing from this picture is the degree of control an individual has over how her time is spent.

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