California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

ARTICLE: Jiggering the Metrics: Jonathan Rowe on the Calculus of the GDP

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Jonathan Rowe, member of the CSA steering committee, wrote a fine article for the June 2008 issue of Harper’s on what the GDP measures: “stuff,” not people’s well-being, he says.

The article is called, “Our Phony Economy.”

“Governments have sought to catalogue the national wealth for purposes of taxation, confiscation, planning, and mobilization in times of war. They have not designed these catalogues to be measures of national well-being or of quality of life. Yet that is how the national wealth inventories have come to be used, especially the GDP. Somehow the tool has become the task.”

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