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I have also seen it claimed here on ET that the one thing for which GDP is useful is to extimate a country's tax base.

Taxation is also the reason why barter is discouraged.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 07:54:16 AM EST
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So, then:

1. What does GDP measure?
Tax base.

2. Why does it need to grow?
To enable politicians to keep their promises, wheter in expanding services but not increasing taxes or lowering tax percentages while keeping services constant. Or both. Few run on a platform of increased taxes and lowered services. Or on a reality-based platform where you need to pay for what you eat. Fiscal conservative is just a oppostion position, when in power you need to keep promises.

3. Does the need for GDP growth outweigh any other policy goal?
Policy is set by politicians right? Then - almost always - yes.

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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 08:47:56 AM EST
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