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The US switched off of GNP and onto GDP sometime in the eighties, I think; sorry I can't recall the date, but a quick browser search would nail it down.  My interest:  get off of GDP and onto something like the Index for Sustainable Economic Welfare.  This index corrects several flaws in GDP:

  1. GDP doesn't count draw down of natural capital as an expense item.  We lose goods and services (and the quality of life they support) when we lose natural capital.

  2.  GDP counts as benefits a lot of transactions that should be counted as costs.  You dent your car, and go get it fixed:  GDP goes up, though the accident was pure cost, not a benefit to you.  Pollution leads to lung disease, which sufferers seek treatment for:  the health care costs go into the ledger as benefits--additions to GDP--when in any sane measure they'd be counted as costs against the productive activity that produced them.

Changing from GDP to ISEW might be as simple as having a president appointing a council of Econmic Advisors who will support it.  There's no law that I know of that says we have to use GDP or GNP or any particular measure.  

And it would be great if NPR's "Marketplace" would start reporting the ISEW everytime they report on GDP.  Come to think of it, that's an idea I'll see if I can get anywhere with.

Industrial society is not sustainable. Unsustainable systems change--or disappear.

by Eric Zencey (Eric dot Zencey at UVM dot EDU) on Thu Mar 13th, 2008 at 02:43:08 PM EST
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