I think GNP’s outdated (domestic rather than national) these days, but still:

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – 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 those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. 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 tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”
Robert F. Kennedy Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968 (via)

One thought on “I think GNP’s outdated (domestic rather than national) these days, but still:

  1. suntzusays says:

    GDP does operate as a quick and dirty shortcut. It measures a lot of meaningless crap but there's also a fairly large sector of the economy that it doesn't measure through bartering that still produces meaningful goods and services. I agree though that simply doing things to make it go up for the sake of making it go up could result in some dumb policies. Bhutan still does it's national happiness product. I'm skeptical that happiness can be quantified in the same way that money can be, but it's at least closer to an idea of what it is that people want and desire in their communities as opposed to what it is that they must purchase as a consequence of calamity and privation. GDP often goes up in the wake of terrible disasters for example (9-11, Katrina, even the recent oil spill). There's some good substitution effects. For instance when people have more money they buy better food or take vacations, move their children to better schools/neighbourhoods, and so on. But overall it's just a shortcut.

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