Posted by: aboutalbion | June 1, 2014

GNP … the icon of modern economic thought

A few days ago, the UK Office for National Statistics [ONS] put out a statement to the effect that it was going to include explicit reference to the sex trade and the drugs trade in its regular calculation of the UK’s Gross National Product.

This announcement chimed in with a quotation that I came across recently that questions the pivotal role that GNP has in discussions in the public square.

The book is by Michael Rowbotham, and the quotation is from James Goldsmith.

“Gross National Product is the official index used to assess prosperity.  But GNP only measures activity.  It measures neither prosperity nor wellbeing.  For example if a calamity occurs, such as a hurricane or an earthquake, the immediate consequence is a growth in GNP because activity is increased so as to repair the damage.  …  GNP is not a qualitative measurement but only a measure of activity, good and bad.  And our plans are subservient to it.  …  The fact that growth is achieved at the cost of social stability is ignored.”

[Goldsmith, James (1994) The Trap.  Macmillan.
Rowbotham, Michael (1998) The Grip of Death.  Charlbury: Jon Carpenter, p55.]


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