But then they say, "But look at their GDP." Or "Our productivity is so much higher." And I say, "what does our higher GDP buy us?" It seems to me that wealth is a means to an end, not the end itself. Once you have a good quality of life, the marginal benefit of increased wealth diminishes.
Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times describes a very positive trend in western economic thought which says that money isn't everything.
Research suggests that, once a certain level of comfort has been attained, there is no connection between greater wealth and greater happiness. It is also hard to think of a moral philosopher – not even Adam Smith – who argued that the pursuit of wealth should be an end in itself. Slogans such as “Poverty sucks” and “The one who dies with the most toys wins” are bumper stickers favoured by junior investment bankers, rather than quotes from the great philosophers.