Did this subject make the headlines in YOUR favorite paper?  Were people talking about this at the water cooler where you work? I wish they were!

In late September, the G20 got together in Pittsburgh—pretty dull so far, huh?  In itself this expanded economic gathering marks a shift in power to China and India and the Southern hemisphere’s “developing” nations. But on the way there, the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is considered a conservative among the foundational G8, made a “passionate plea” for a broader vision of the economy.

Sarkozy has created a special commission to revamp France’s national statistics-gathering. A new study by economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen has argued that calculating the Gross Domestic Product as a measure of the economy gives nations a skewed policy picture. I was jumping up and down, I was so happy hearing this!

Why? Because I love freedom-fries?  Freedom-Fries--Other-Stupidity-Well-Have-ToBecause French workers get 36 vacation days and a 35-hour work week, not to mention national healthcare?  Yes, yes, all that—but no, I was most excited because this is something Marilyn Waring, a young New Zealand Minister of Parliament, said 30 years ago!

She published a great book titled If Women Counted. Waring toured the world, talking about the way the GDP and its statistics left earth’s and women’s foundational contributions economically invisible. As a result, she said, our mother earth and family/social life didn’t “count” in our economic measures, and she showed the damaging results in the environment, food systems and our quality of life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Waring

We are still living with those GDP results now.  This story from Joe Wisenthal, a business writer here in the U.S., calls the GDP a “crappy” measurement. See the details of why The Business Insider published this here.


As an American, you might also be interested in this story on Sarkozy, the GDP, and Canada’s positioning compared to the U.S.  in The Star in Toronto. By Martin Regg Cohn, it’s titled “How to measure Gross National Happiness,” something Bhutan is already doing.


As I’ve often argued on this blog, biology gets left out of the “economy” all together with GDP measurements. All the garbage gets externalized to Gaia. Passionate parents and lovers of all kinds get lumped together and misnamed the “informal economy.” The informal economy only cares and sacrifices and enjoys and supplies the gifts of life and makes an economy socially possible. Our juiciest, most valuable times, the reasons we work at all, should be renamed the “essential economy,” the “foundational economy.”  I call it our Eros economy because, without our deepest passions valued,  we’re dead without knowing it.

Eros’ love economy can be made visible. Some countries, like Canada and Britain, are already shaping policy around more holistic time and movement accounts. Without these measurements, our lives and the earth’s will remain the unnamed starving elephant in the room. A few will make out like bandits and leave the rest of us footing the bill. The GDP enables this description of the economy as warfare, something Waring also pointed out.

The GDP was originally designed by John Maynard Keynes, to help England rationalize and finance World War II. Later adopted by the U.N., the GDP’s measurement system has reliably helped world leaders view and sell war as something good for the economy.

Duh. No wonder. It conveniently leaves uncounted any debits that come from war, including environmental destruction, or damage to women and children and families and social functioning. And here’s the bonus. According to the GDP, the more expensive the war machinery, the more profit we get to add to our Gross Domestic Product! So corporations can count on fat national contracts—and citizens get to pay for it. Click here to see how much we’ve spent already on the two most recent wars. http://costofwar.com/

.The GDP is not only skewed and crappy, it is destructive.