As economists Clifford Cobb, Ted Halstead, and Jonathan Rowe have pointed out, “the GDP not only masks the breakdown of the social structure and the natural habitat upon which the economy — and life itself — ultimately depend; worse, it actually portrays such breakdowns as economic gain.”
Costs associated with psychological counseling, social work, and addiction treatment, which arise from the neglect of the nonmarket realm, are tallied as economic gains. Crime adds billions to the GDP due to the need for prison buildings, increased police protection, and repair of property damage. Similarly, the depletion of our natural resources, the clean up and medical treatments associated with industry’s toxic byproducts, the costs of ecological disasters such as the Exxon Valdez and recent British Petroleum oil spills, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the devastation caused by wars, and the hundreds of billions of dollars allocated in emergency stimulus packages — all register as improvements to a nation’s economy by the curious standards of the GDP."
"New Money for a New World" by Bernard Lietaer & Stephen Belgin (2012). The quote within the quote was from"If the GDP is Up, Why is America Down?" Atlantic Monthly, October 51-8
And this is why GDP is actually a terrible way to measure a country’s economic health and overall well-being.
This was the year I took swimming lessons,
learned to take deep breaths, relax muscles, float
on the warm, white surface,
Dive shallow, no need to plug
my nose breath out
keep it all from rushing in
I could just stay
squinting into sunlight, no need to see
strange stirring fish
on the rocky bottom, sharp and beautiful
but soon, eventually, comes the deep dive,
chest burn, head pressure, salt-sting eyes,
cold and alive in the undercurrent
on the bottom floor
where sunken treasures rust
Frey, B S; Benesch, C; Stutzer, A (2007). Does watching TV make us happy? Journal of Economic Psychology, 28(3):283-313.
What a thing to post the day after an eight-hour TV binge! I’m usually pretty good, though.
by Penny Goring
when I worked in the pet shop I sunk my arse in the fish tanks
sunk my tits in the freezer at the supermarket
sunk my brain in the stacks at the library
sunk my looks in the lights at the club
sunk my liver in the glass at the bar
on a day trip to the london aquarium, I felt the ennui of the squid, puked at the drift of the jellyfish, saw through the eye of the shark, stroked the sadness of the stingray, longed for the lapping of water
I sunk my hope in your shallows"
This poem hit me the way a good song hits you when you turn on the radio and find yourself memorizing lyrics so you can google them when you get home and find the artist and play the song obsessively for a week.
I went to visit the house of a friend of the family yesterday and was very impressed by the beauty of her home and her confidence and competence as a mother. While I admired her home and family, I was surprised to find I didn’t feel jealous of her. I don’t disagree with any of the choices she’s made for herself, but I know that if I were to make those choices for myself they would feel unauthentic simply because we’re different people.
This step comes easily enough to me, but the next is harder: she is living in a way that is more socially accepted/admired than I am, and so I quickly come to feel like I’ll be judged by her and other people who compare our lifestyles. When I feel judged, I get defensive, and when I get defensive I get mean and petty and pathetic. I’m tempted to criticize her life choices (if only in my head) to make myself feel better. I’m tempted to act the way a jealous person would act, which makes me question whether or not I truly am jealous.
I’m not, though. When I look deep down, I find that I’m generally very contented with my life. My house is not magazine-worthy, but I’m generally pretty content with it. The same can be said for my body, my job, my husband and my friends. Each day, I am moving towards a life that feels more authentic to me, and I feel content in that.
Goal: To celebrate the life choices of others, especially when they’re very different from my own, while maintaining a feeling of contentment and confidence in my own choices and NOT getting defensive, mean and judgmental.
Are you prone to comparison and defensiveness? Any advice?