What do we want our economy to do? Misuse of GDP

by Divorced one like Bush
(successfully I might add)

I had the following quotes sitting around for awhile. Like May of 07. Being that we have a “crisis” with our economy (I have a hard time with the word crisis being used, it implies suddenness, unseen), a new governing philosophy in place and we really, really, really have to broaden our discussion, I feel this is the time to post some thoughts on GDP. It goes along with asking what I think is the most important, “In the beginning”, big bang question to ask now that we have been a “great social experiment” for TWO HUNDRED and THIRTY TWO years: What do we want our economy to do for us?

I think it’s about time we ask this question, No? The “for us” is the important subject of the question.

But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife. And the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
Robert Kennedy, University of Kansas. 3/18/68

Unfortunately GDP figures are generally used without the caveat that they represent an income that cannot be sustained. Current calculations ignore the degradation of the natural resource base and view the sale of non-renewable resources entirely as income. A better way must be found to measure the prosperity and progress of mankind”
Barber Conable,
former President of the World Bank, 1989

Simon Kuznets – GDP’s creator – in his very first report to the US Congress in 1934 said[2]:
…the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income. If the GDP is up, why is America down? Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what.