Most of the economic models in the West (which have now spread to the East) are focused on economic growth, more specifically (Gross Domestic Product) better known as GDP. If we analyse what GDP is we see that it is the measure of the goods and services produced within a country in a year.
GDP is used to measure per capita output, an indicator of a country’s material standard of living. With so much emphasis by governments and corporations to promote never ending GDP growth by producing more and more stuff, is it any wonder there is so much separation from our true nature? Is GDP growth really a true and accurate reflection of what is happening within our society?
If a country or company deforests land, digs up and exploits mineral resources, overfishes its territorial waters and produces vast amounts of pollution, their GDP goes up. Unfortunately these externals are not accurately reflected or accounted for under our current economic paradigm. Bobby Kennedy gave a moving speech in 1968 about using Gross National Product (similar to GDP, however GNP allocates production based on ownership as opposed to a geographical area) that is just as relevant today, only some of the themes have changed.
“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over eight hundred billion dollars a year, but that GNP — if we should judge America by that — counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans”. Bobby Kennedy
The unexpected side effect of globalization has impacted local economies and society causing unintended consequences and vulnerability: problems that once would have stayed local—say, a bank lending out too much money—now have consequences worldwide.
But still, countries operate independently, as if alone on the planet. Simon Anholt is an independent policy advisor who has worked to help develop and implement strategies for enhanced economic, political and cultural engagement with other countries. He has been considering ways to shift the current paradigm to one that is more in line with reality.(1) Simon takes a different approach to looking at how the world works, in particular he is fascinated with what makes a country ‘good.’ His ideas and the development of this ‘good country’ index are a move in the right direction in the hope that it inspires countries and governments to embrace a more positive approach to looking at what is important within a society. Simon has dreamed up an unusual scale to get governments thinking outwardly: The Good Country Index. In a riveting and funny talk, he answers the question, “Which country does the most good?” The answer may surprise you (especially if you live in the US or China). (2)
For more information on the Good Country Index visit: http://www.goodcountry.org/overall
(2) TED talks
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