Blake Borgeson, in blog form

suspected facts. validated opinions.

Posts Tagged ‘economist

what does a higher gdp get you? national influence, not citizen happiness

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I was reading the leader in the 4/11 economist regarding america’s slowing growth, and the following line of the economist made me think about gdp, happiness, spending, etc: “spending will be supported by tax rebates in the second half of the year”. I feel like it relates to some things that umair (umair haque–see my blogroll) has discussed recently, though a lot of it comes from some of the ideas behind god and gold–that national influence comes first from economic strength.

Briefly, reading this statement made me go through the following connections, which I thought just passed the interestingness bar for something worth sharing.

  • The government thinks consumer spending is good, and will give people money to spend when they see the economy (gdp growth) slowing.
  • The reason they see consumer spending as a good thing is not out of any particular care for the happiness or well being of people in the short term, but it’s because they want the size of the economy to continue to grow, in terms of output and consumption.
  • The reason they want output and consumption to grow is behind a lot of the discussion in god and gold as to how england realized that commerce was driving their ability to lead the world in military power and general influence.
  • The more the country produces and consumes, the harder the country works in general, and even if the wealth decays (people buy crappy tvs at walmart that break in a year and get thrown away), people working harder means the government has more possibilities to accumulate and grow militarily, and it also means the government can use that economic turnover as leverage in dealing with other countries.
  • This isn’t doing any good for the people in the country necessarily per se, except that it allows the country to have its way with the rest of the world, enforcing its values and interest.

Just to sum up, I’m not saying that I think economic growth and development is pointless (I think national influence can be and generally is a good thing) or harmful (unless it comes at the expense of peace, general prosperity, or other sources of value on a national or global scale). All things being equal, and as long as the costs of environmental damage and resource usage are properly allocated, which they currently aren’t, I think economic growth is fundamentally a very good thing, and that progress and technological development make the world a better place. But focusing only on national and world gdp, as currently measured, as our main measurement of progress doesn’t perfectly target what we really should value. We just need to be aware of where our metrics don’t line up with our true goals, and work to change and hone those metrics.

Please feel encouraged to drop a comment and let me know what you think.

Written by blakeweb

April 20, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Karl Rove to an economist interviewer: take your best guess

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Here’s a great snippet of an interview by the economist magazine of Karl Rove, discussing Rove’s take on the Barack-Hillary matchup. Sorry to spoil the best part, but hopefully you’ll be encouraged to read the rest on their site:

… I get the sense you respect Hillary more than you respect Obama.

Off the record?

Please don’t go off the record.

Off the record… [Yeah, it’s good. Sorry.]

Damn! Now say that on the record.

No. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Written by blakeweb

April 3, 2008 at 7:40 pm