Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I notice Polly Toynbee casually refers to 'healthy GDP growth' and wondered why miserableness flourishes in such a climate. When will we be rid of this palpably stupid idea of GDP as any kind of measurement of, well, anything but certainly not of economic well-being? I draw your attention to the very sane testimony of Jonathan Rowe before a Senate Committee and to this old article. To put the point in a nutshell: the American economy, as measured by GDP, would undergo an unprecedented boom if every citizen were to contract a very slow acting cancer that required fabulously expensive drugs and heroic surgical interventions while simultaneously being subjected to appalling storms, earthquakes and fires that destroyed their homes and workplaces. So that's one way, Polly, in which miserableness and healthy GDP growth would march hand in hand. GDP is a contemporary superstition, a product of economists' science envy at its most virulent.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 12:17 am