Economic measurement

I just finished reading Fritz Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful”, and it reminded me of a speech by Robert F. Kennedy that I wanted to share:

Too much and for too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over eight hundred billion dollars a year, but that GNP — if we should judge the United States of 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 the people who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and it counts nuclear warheads, 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 can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

About Jorge Aranda

I'm currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the SEGAL and CHISEL labs in the Department of Computer Science of the University of Victoria.
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2 Responses to Economic measurement

  1. Pingback: measuring what we value

  2. gasca says:

    I just watched this movie “The 11th hour” and for the first time, it became clear in my mind how the natural environment is giving a subsidy to our economic system.

    Each time we buy anything, we are not paying the environmental damage, maybe is still difficult to measure this damage, but I think now we can wonder certain cost to try to fix the problem. Specially on those products causing the bigger environmental issues.

    Nice speech, I think the conclusion is the same, the current economic concepts are considering humans as owners of each aspect of his environment. And, maybe in an unconscious way, is considering that money can buy everything.

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